Two Blades Foundation

 Management and Directors 


Dr. Roger Freedman - Chairman

Roger Freedman works for David Sainsbury, the settlor of the Gatsby Foundation and until recently the UK Minister of Science and Innovation.  Dr. Freedman established the Gatsby Foundation's programs in plant science and neuroscience and continues to serve the Foundation's much expanded plant science program.  He has been a member of the governing council of the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich since its establishment and is a member of the management board of the second Sainsbury Laboratory now established in Cambridge.  He initiated development of JICI (now PBL), the technology licensing company based at the John Innes Centre, remaining as a non-executive director of the company for the first ten years of its operation.  In parallel with these activities, he has also been involved in developing the practical applications of new technologies through commercial development.  Dr. Freedman has advised venture capital funds in the US and Europe on plant biotechnology investments and has acted as a scientific advisor, research director, director or chairman of start up technology companies in the UK and the US.  Dr. Freedman got his B.A. at Cambridge and received his Ph.D. for research in molecular genetics at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, before getting his first introduction to America as a postdoc at the Stanford Department of Biochemistry.



Dr. Diana Horvath - President, Director  

Diana Horvath’s interests are in the delivery of seed with improved disease resistance, particularly for subsistence farmers.  Before joining Roger Freedman to set up 2Blades, she served as Science Director at ATP Capital, a New York venture capital firm that invested in companies developing agricultural biotechnologies. Focusing on technology and intellectual property, she helped to build and manage a portfolio of companies involved in forestry biotechnology, transcriptome and proteome analysis, small molecule discovery, and embryonic stem cells. Prior to that, Dr. Horvath conducted research on the molecular mechanisms of plant disease resistance as a National Science Foundation fellow and Zeneca Plant Science fellow at the Rockefeller University.  Dr. Horvath received her Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Northwestern University.  She spent a year conducting research on maize and millet production in southern Africa at the Department of Agricultural Research in Botswana, after graduating from Tufts University with a BS in Biology.



Dr. T. Lynne Reuber - Program Director

Lynne Reuber's goal is to translate the recent revolutionary academic discoveries in plant pathology to disease resistant crops to the field.  Previously as a Director of Research at Mendel Biotechnology, Inc., she managed an inter-company collaboration to determine the mode of action of transcription factors providing yield and stress tolerance traits, led new trait discovery programs in the areas of yield, resource use efficiency, and disease resistance, and managed technology licensing relationships.  Dr. Reuber's scientific background is in the area of plant-microbe interactions; in her post-doctoral work at Harvard Medical School she studied the interaction of Arabidopsis thaliana with bacterial and fungal pathogens, after graduate work in Sinorhizobium-host interactions.  She holds a Ph.D. in Biology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. in Biology and Chemistry from Drury University. Dr. Reuber joined 2Blades in 2014.


Dr. Peter van Esse - Group Leader

Peter van Esse joined the 2Blades Group at the Sainsbury Laboratory in March, 2013, and leads a team of scientist to develop durable race-independent resistance against Asian Soybean Rust, rising to Principal investigator of the 2Blades GroupDr. van Esse started his career as a PhD student at Wageningen University in the Laboratory of Phytopathology working with Prof. Dr. Pierre de Wit and Prof. Dr. Bart Thomma. His studies focused on effector proteins secreted by the biotrophic fungus, Cladosporium fulvum. He was awarded his doctorate from Wageningen University in 2008 and continued his work on fungal effector proteins,  studying those secreted by the vascular pathogen Verticillium dahliae. In 2009, he was awarded a personal VENI grant from The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) to continue his studies on fungal effector biology.



Susan H. Nycum, Esq. - Director

Susan Nycum provides mediation and arbitration services in domestic and international IP and technology related disputes.  Formerly, she was an international partner of Baker & McKenzie where she was chair of the firm’s North America Intellectual Property (IP) and Information Technology (IT) practice group, a coordinator of the firm’s global IT practice group and a member of the firm’s governing bodies for North America and for Asia Pacific. Ms. Nycum was a member of the National Science Foundation advisory board that approved funding for the Internet.  She has been an advisor to the governments of Brazil, Canada, Finland, Germany, India, Israel, Singapore, Thailand and the United States for IT and IP policy. Susan Nycum is the former Chair of the ABA section of Science and Technology and former President of the Computer Law Association. She was the Chair of the International Bar Association committee on software protection and committee on computer crime. She was twice the ABA appointee to the National Conference of Lawyers and Scientists.  She is a member of the IP panel, the Commercial panel and the Large Complex Case panel of the American Arbitration Association; member of the CPR Technology panel and the Electronic Discovery panel; fellow of the College of Commercial Arbitrators, fellow of the American Bar Foundation, fellow of the ACM, fellow of the College of Law Practice Management; member of the California Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, Board member of the Mediation Society and several other international mediation organizations.  She is listed in the Best Lawyers of America and the Northern California Super Lawyers.



Dr. Eric Ward - Director

Eric Ward is the President of AgBiome.  Between 2007 and 2012, he served as the President of the Two Blades Foundation and as Principle Investigator of the 2Blades Group at the Sainsbury Laboratory.  Prior to that he served as CEO of Cropsolution, Inc., a crop protection chemical discovery company, and before that he was Co-President of Novartis (now Syngenta) Agribusiness Biotechnology Research, where he was responsible for a staff of 270, including researchers and all administrative functions, including finance, patents, business development, public affairs, human resources, and facilities.  Simultaneously, he was head of target discovery for Novartis Crop Protection AG, where he implemented a fully integrated agricultural chemical lead discovery program based on proprietary molecular targets.  This program relied on extensive interactions with biotech firms and academic labs.  Prior to that, he was a Research Director for the Novartis herbicide business unit, during which time his team invented Acuron™ herbicide tolerance technology, developed corn and sugar beet varieties engineered with the Acuron™ gene, and built the patent strategy to protect the technology.  In 1994-5, he worked in Basel, Switzerland as a project leader for Ciba Crop Protection in the Weed Control business unit.  Dr. Ward began his career in 1988 with Ciba-Geigy as a postdoctoral associate, during which time he pioneered methods for cloning of large DNA fragments from plants.  He received his Ph.D. in plant biology from Washington University in St. Louis in 1988, where he was a graduate fellow of the National Science Foundation.  He received his B.S in biology magna cum laude from Duke University in 1982.