March 10, 2022

Praised for his Innovative Leadership in Plant Science

Dr. Roger Freedman, Founder and Chairman of the 2Blades Foundation, has stepped down from his roles at 2Blades, the organization announced today. He will continue his work pursuing further development of transgenic wheat that is resistant to rust disease.

“Roger has played a significant role for more than 35 years in bringing to fruition major research initiatives in plant science,” said 2Blades board member Eric Ward. “His understanding of emerging trends in basic science, and vision for advancing them through directed philanthropic investments led to the establishment of The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, England, and the Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University,” he said.

Dr. Freedman launched 2Blades in 2004 to capitalize on significant advances in understanding the biology of plant-pathogen interactions, driving toward their practical application in food crops. Dr. Freedman’s vision for 2Blades championed a novel way to do technology transfer that went beyond simple out-licensing from a university.

Under Dr. Freedman’s leadership, along with the long-term vision and generous support of David Sainsbury’s Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the organization has had significant successes, including: broad licensing of enabling technology for genome editing, proof-of-concept of transfer of resistance to Asian soybean rust from a wild legume into soybean, demonstration in the field of transgenic resistance to bacterial spot and wilt in tomato, and significant corporate partnerships including with Corteva and Bayer.

Dr. Freedman’s efforts to develop stem rust-resistant wheat, working with collaborators at CSIRO in Australia and the University of Minnesota, produced successful field-level resistance in lines expressing 5 resistance genes. He will continue to guide next steps in this program, including development of additional transgenic lines, and field testing will be undertaken in the US and in Africa in cooperation with CIMMYT, the International Maize and Wheat Center of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

The 2Blades Foundation, based in Evanston, Illinois, is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to the discovery, advancement, and delivery of durable disease resistance in crops. 2Blades establishes and manages development programs addressing significant unsolved crop disease problems in collaboration with leading research institutions around the world and at the 2Blades Group in The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, UK.