Dear Friends and Colleagues,
While this Annual Report highlights our work from 2017, I want to reflect upon some achievements since the Danforth Center was founded. We celebrate our 20th anniversary in 2018, so let’s consider some of the Center’s impact over those two short decades.
Let’s start with scientific discovery. Did you know that Center scientists have documented over 1,100 scientific discoveries and contributions since inception? These include discoveries showing how plants resist disease-causing microbes, or as shown by Sona Pandey’s lab this past year, how plants use molecular “switches” to adapt to changes in the environment. These and other discoveries have contributed to dozens of technologies that have either found their way into the private sector, or are being applied to solve problems facing the developing world through humanitarian partnerships. Work of the Nigel Taylor and Todd Mockler teams are turning fundamental discoveries about RNA biology and plant genomes into food security for smallholder farmers and their families in East Africa.
How about the next generation of scientists? The Danforth Center has hosted nearly 670 trainees from around the world. They are now professors at major U.S. universities, lead scientists at research centers in Uganda and Tanzania, and innovators in St. Louis startup companies.
Speaking of companies, have you seen what has happened in 39 North, the innovation district surrounding the Danforth Center? Approximately 50 agtech companies have started up in, or moved to, BRDG Park, Helix Center, the Danforth Center campus, or neighboring facilities. Many of these companies, like NewLeaf Symbiotics, use Danforth Center technologies and employ former Center trainees.
Twenty years ago, the Danforth Center started as an idea to use plant science discovery and innovation to change our region and the world, and that idea has transformed into results. But just imagine what the next twenty years will bring. Thank you for your support!
James C. Carrington
January 1, 2018