Iowa State University Announces New Iowa Corn Promotion Board Endowed Chair in Genetics

Patrick Schnable, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board Endowed Chair in Genetics

AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University has announced an investment from the Iowa Corn Promotion Board to establish an endowed faculty position in genetics in ISU’s Department of Agronomy.

The inaugural Iowa Corn Promotion Board Endowed Chair in Genetics will be held by Patrick Schnable, a Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences, a professor of agronomy and director of ISU’s Center for Plant Genomics.

“This investment reflects Iowa corn growers’ commitment to the future of corn genetics research at Iowa State,” said Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Their investment will help extend Iowa State’s legacy of more than 100 years of research and contributions to Iowa’s successful corn production.”

“Big picture, Iowa Corn is launching an industry-wide initiative to develop functional genomic information,” said Bob Bowman, a farmer from DeWitt and president of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. “We are investing additional funds with Dr. Schnable and researchers at other universities to develop a new public-private collaboration to accomplish this goal. This $2 million investment in both the endowment and functional genomics demonstrates our commitment to this important area of research for Iowa farmers.”

Bowman added, “Iowa Corn has a proud history of working with Dr. Pat Schnable, Iowa State and a coalition of other partners to produce the first sequence of the corn genome.”

Iowa Corn began working with university professors, industry representative and government officials in 1995 to build support for sequencing the corn genome. The first corn genome sequence was published in 2009. Schnable and other ISU researchers played an instrumental role in the national effort to sequence the corn genome. Schnable was lead author on the corn genome sequence paper published in the journal Science.

“The new endowed chair will further Iowa State’s prominence as a world leader in corn genomics,” said Kendall Lamkey, chair of the Department of Agronomy. “It will significantly enhance the work of Dr. Schnable, who is in the forefront internationally in unlocking the secrets of the corn genome that will translate into improvements for the corn industry.”

Schnable, who has been an Iowa State faculty member since 1988, has led wide-ranging research investigations of the corn genome and has developed a significant number of important genomic tools and resources. His research has been cited by thousands of other scientists. He has presented his work at more than 60 national and international scientific meetings over just the past three years. He also is the managing partner for Data2Bio LLC, a company that designs, conducts, analyzes and interprets research using next-generation genetic sequencing technologies.

Schnable is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, serves as an associate editor for the PLoS Genetics journal and is chair of the American Society of Plant Biology’s Science Policy Committee. He is a ChangJiang Scholar Professor at China Agriculture University in Beijing. Schnable received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and earned his doctorate in plant breeding and genetics from Iowa State. Prior to joining the ISU faculty, Schnable conducted research at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding in Germany.

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), works to develop and defend markets, fund research and provide education about corn and corn products. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) is a membership organization lobbying on agricultural issues on behalf of its 7,500 farmer members. Both organizations work on the joint mission to create opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability.