Biotech Updates

Global Wheat Rust Project Gets US$40 M Support

March 4, 2011

The United Kingdom's Department of International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will award a US$40 million grant to the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat (DRRW) project at Cornell University. The grant will support efforts to identify new stem rust resistant genes in wheat, improve surveillance, and multiply and distribute rust-resistant wheat seed to farmers. 

"We cannot overstate the importance of this announcement on the part of two of the most important funders of solutions for addressing the causes of poverty, hunger and disease in the developing world," said Ronnie Coffman, Cornell professor of plant breeding and genetics and director of the DRRW. "Against the backdrop of rising food prices, and wheat in particular, researchers worldwide will be able to play an increasingly vital role in protecting wheat fields from dangerous new forms of stem rust, particularly in countries whose people can ill afford the economic impact of damage to this vital crop."

Partners in the project include national research centers in Kenya and Ethiopia, and scientists at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). 

For more information on DRRW, go to