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CIMMYT genetic resources and biodiversity expert Kevin Pixley at 2017 Borlaug Dialogue

October 13, 2017


WHAT: Kevin Pixley, director of the Genetic Resources Program and the Seeds of Discovery Project at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), will moderate a panel entitled “How Can CRISPR Cas Technology Assist Smallholder Farmers Around the World?” at the Borlaug Dialogue symposium in Des Moines, Iowa.

WHEN: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 2:45 p.m. 

WHERE: Downtown Des Moines Marriott Hotel, 700 Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa.

ABOUT BORLAUG DIALOGUE: An annual three-day conference that attracts more than 1,200 delegates from around the world to discuss global food security and nutrition. The Borlaug Dialogue, which features scientists, policymakers, business executives and farmers, coincides with World Food Day and the awarding of the World Food Prize.

EVENT DETAILS: Kevin Pixley, who is available for remote or in-person media interviews will lead a discussion about CRISPR-Cas, an advanced breeding technology involving precise “editing” of genes aimed at developing healthy seeds through the use of the best characteristics in the plant. Panelists include: Neal Gutterson, vice president of research and development, DuPont Pioneer; Feng Zhang, Core Institute member, Broad Institute; Nigel Taylor, interim director, Institute for International Crop Improvement, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

ABOUT KEVIN PIXLEY: Kevin Pixley earned a B.S. in agronomy (Purdue University), an M.S. in crop physiology (University of Florida) and a Ph.D. in plant breeding (Iowa State University, 1990). He began working at CIMMYT as a postdoctoral fellow, becoming a maize breeder (1993) and team leader (1997) in Harare, Zimbabwe. After 11 years in Africa, he returned to CIMMYT Mexico to serve as director of the Global Maize Program before taking on his current role.


Julie Mollins, j.mollins [at] cgiar.org

ABOUT CIMMYT: The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center – is the global leader in publicly-funded maize and wheat research and related farming systems. Headquartered near Mexico City, CIMMYT works with hundreds of partners throughout the developing world to sustainably increase the productivity of maize and wheat cropping systems, thus improving global food security and reducing poverty. CIMMYT is a member of the CGIAR System and leads the CGIAR Research Programs on Maize and Wheat and the Excellence in Breeding Platform. The center receives support from national governments, foundations, development banks and other public and private agencies. CIMMYT website: http://www.cimmyt.org


The Seeds of Discovery (SeeD) initiative is a platform for utilizing maize and wheat genetic resources with lessons that can be applied to other crops. By characterizing the genetic makeup of maize and wheat collections, SeeD generates data that will accelerate the development of improved crop varieties to meet the demands of a growing population in a changing climate. SeeD achieves impact through 5 main components:

  • Genotyping: sequencing the genetic code of maize and wheat collections held in genebanks to identify and characterize diversity for traits that are valuable or essential to develop improved crop varieties
  • Phenotyping: characterizing the maize and wheat collections for their responses to stresses such as heat, drought or disease, and for quality traits such as nutritional or culinary attributes
  • Software tools: allow enhanced analysis of genotypic and phenotypic data generated by SeeD to select varieties with positive traits to add to breeding programs
  • Pre-breeding: transferring useful genetic variation from wild or exotic wheats and maizes held in genebanks into “Bridging Germplasm,” types or lines that breeders can readily use to develop improved varieties grown by farmers
  • Capacity building: to ensure equity in the use of genetic resources, building awareness, interest and skills to utilize our products to create impact

SeeD website: http://seedsofdiscovery.org

SeeD video: https://www.cimmyt.org/seed/


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