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Cambridge Global Food Security

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

A coalition of international expertise, based in Cambridge, dedicated to feeding the world.

The Crop Science Centre is a coalition between the University of Cambridge, Department of Plant Sciences, and NIAB. This coalition focuses on translational research in crops with real-world impact. They combine the diverse skills and expertise of the University and NIAB, providing an environment for research excellence with the capability to apply discoveries to crop improvement in the field.

Their research is interdisciplinary and of global relevance. We strive to improve both staple crops such as maize, wheat and rice, but also the specific crops of relevance to small-holder farmers, particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Centre provides leadership in crop sciences, with a creative and dynamic research culture, motivated by improvement of agriculture for the betterment of society.



Increasing prosperity, changing lifestyles and urbanisation are placing huge demands on global agriculture. A major approach to feeding the world’s growing population is to increase our crop yields in a sustainable way. This will rely on making significant progress in the fundamental science of plants, microbes and soils, and translating them into applied agricultural solutions.


The Crop Science Centre draws together a coalition of international expertise in plant sciences in Cambridge with a focus on real-world impact. Serving as a global hub for crop science, it translates the University of Cambridge’s strong fundamental plant research into new, sustainable approaches for farmers, processors and consumers. This involves:

  • A world leading programme of research, international exchange and collaboration, led by Russell R Geiger Professor of Crop Science, Giles Oldroyd. Strategic research areas will include fundamental science to underpin enhancement of crop yields; crop breeding; and agritech outreach and training courses.
  • Recruiting and training the best young researchers from around the world in interdisciplinary science, including in plant genetics, bioinformatics, computational modelling and statistics. This equips them with the skills to tackle research into the development of a wide range of staple and orphan crops.

We envisage that the Crop Science Centre crop technologies will enable higher crop yields and lower environmental impact for crop-based food production – as well as contributing to improved dietary health.


Professor Sir David Baulcombe, Head of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences and project lead for the University.


Researchers from the University’s Department of Plant Sciences and Sainsbury Laboratory, the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), and other UK and international research institutes work at the CSC.

The delivery of both public goods and economic growth is essential for today’s plant scientists, with the need to produce sufficient healthy nutritious food without harming the environment being at the top of the international agenda.

Dr Tina Barsby, CEO and Director of NIAB.

The Crop Science Centre has established connections with major industry partners, which are vital to understanding how societal and industry requirements feed into research design and translation, as well as agricultural supply chain networks such as the Cambridge University Potato Growers Research Association. The Crop Science Centre collaborates with other regional institutes including the John Innes Centre in Norwich, and Rothamsted Research.

Interdepartmental partnerships have built on the existing University of Cambridge partnership with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) India, to support the training, development of skills and knowledge exchange for doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in India and the UK. In addition, the Crop Science Centre has capitalised on the MoU, signed in 2016, for a joint UK-India Collaboration in Crop Science involving Cambridge, NIAB, John Innes, Rothamsted Research, University of East Anglia, BBSRC, and DBT India.


In July 2017, £16.9 million was awarded from the HEFCE-managed UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, and a further £14.5 million from the NIAB trust. This enabled the construction of a state-of-the-art research laboratory at NIAB’s Cambridge site to house the Crop Science Centre, as well as field stations and offices at NIAB’s Histon site and glasshouses with full environmental controls.

Find out more here.


Global food security is a major research priority for UK and international science.

Cambridge Global Food Security is a virtual centre at the University of Cambridge. We promote an interdisciplinary approach to addressing the challenge of ensuring all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and preferences for an active and healthy life. 

Please contact the Programme Manager D.ssa Francesca Re Manning to request information, share information, or join our mailing list.