Professor Gary Foster

Professor Gary Foster studied microbiology, before seeing the light and specializing in plant virology and plant molecular biology.  Originally from Northern Ireland, he is now a Professor in Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, UK. He has served as an editor on a range of journals, including being founding Editor-in-Chief and Editor-in-Chief for the leading international journal Molecular Plant Pathology from 1999-2012. He has served as President of the British Society for Plant Pathology, and as a member on a range of BBSRC Committees/Network Groups. Additional roles have included Panel Member and Chair of a wide range of international funding bodies and agencies. He has been advisor/member to several national and international organisations, including Member & Chair of a subgroup of the ICTV, and GM adviser to the Food Standards Agency through the ACNFP. These roles have afforded him an excellent overview of the research landscape, policy needs, biotechnology opportunities and constraints in plant pathology, as well as supporting him in developing first-rate networks.  

Gary’s research is focused on investigating a range of interconnecting themes that include plant virology, plant pathology, plant molecular biology, molecular mycology and biotechnology. The molecular mycology and biotechnology areas have also covered projects on drug discovery and manipulation, supported through interactions with a range of pharmaceutical companies focusing on antibiotic discovery and development.   He has delivered highly practical work at the international level, such as identification and test development for viruses causing cassava brown streak disease, a devastating plant disease causing billions of dollars of damage to smallholders in East and Central Africa. His cassava research was highlighted as a major breakthrough by UK Gov. DfID. He has been involved in the production of guidelines for international safe movement of vegetative germplasm, relevant to root and tuber crops. To-date, Prof Gary Foster has authored more than 150+ scientific papers, reviews and books.

He is currently Director of CONNECTED: this is a vector-borne disease network based at, and led from, the University of Bristol, UK. It is funded by the UK government Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) which supports research on global issues affecting developing countries. CONNECTED is building a sustainable network of international scientists and researchers to address the challenges of vector-borne plant viruses in Sub-Saharan Africa.