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Health minister visits to find out more about our research

Minister Jamie Hepburn visited our Dundee site (c) James Hutton Institute

Mr Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, visited the James Hutton Institute and its commercial subsidiary James Hutton Limited on Tuesday 9 June. Mr Hepburn has recently been appointed joint chair of the Scottish Government's Life Science Advisory Board (LiSAB) and is visiting leading life science organisations throughout Scotland.

Mr Hepburn was received by Dr Jonathan Snape, Commercial Director of James Hutton Limited and a member of LiSAB. He heard presentations from Professor Derek Stewart, research leader, and Dr Rex Brennan, leader of the soft fruit breeding group at the Institute. Prof Stewart highlighted some of his research work looking at the health benefits of fruit, including promising results for controlling diabetes and slowing down the progression of Alzheimer's. Dr Brennan discussed progress in breeding new varieties of raspberries and blackcurrants. Mr Hepburn was particularly impressed to hear that an estimated 50% of the world's blackcurrants were bred in Invergowrie.

Dr Snape presented Mr Hepburn with a limited-edition bottle of Loch Ness beer brewed by Loch Ness Breweries in Inverness with added Loch Ness blackberries bred in Invergowrie and grown in Fife.

Mr Hepburn said: “The Scottish Government is committed to supporting our thriving and diverse life sciences industry so I was delighted to meet staff at the James Hutton Institute and learn more about their work, which is part of our investment in rural affairs, food and environment strategic research. I was particularly interested to hear about the Institute’s scientific studies into the health benefits of soft fruits, potatoes and barley. Research Institutes like the James Hutton Institute highlight Scotland’s strengths in this area and the value and importance of research and development to the Scottish economy.”

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.