Purdue president signs research agreement in China

May 3, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University President France A. Córdova has returned from a trip to China where she and the president of China Agricultural University signed an agreement in Beijing to create a joint research center that will address issues of global food security and hunger.

Also present at the April 25 signing were Purdue's Arden Bement, director of the Global Policy Research Institute, and Michael Brzezinski, interim dean of international programs.

Work at the CAU-Purdue Joint Research Center initially will focus on plant stress biology, including how to make crops better withstand drought and heat in Indiana, the United States and globally. The center will promote research collaborations and the exchange of information between the two institutions with the aim of increasing agricultural productivity.

The partnership demonstrates the importance of international collaborations in fundamental research, Córdova said.

Seven Purdue faculty members led by Karen Plaut, associate dean of Purdue's College of Agriculture and head of Agricultural Research Programs, will attend the first symposium sponsored by the research center. The May 10-12 event, partially funded by a Purdue/CAU strategic partnership grant, will focus on plant pathology.

With corn and soybeans being main crops in Indiana, the United States and China, both countries share common issues and goals. In addition, changing climate, water shortages, increasing salinity and pests are serious impediments to crop production all over the world.

Scientists from Purdue and CAU will combine their expertise in dissecting the fundamental basis of plant stress tolerance and devise methods to improve stress tolerance in crop plants.

"This research will help provide insights of value to Indiana and U.S. farmers on important questions about how to make our crops more drought- or heat-tolerant, for example," said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue's College of Agriculture. "And our Purdue Agriculture students will have a chance to study abroad in one of the world's most dynamic economies."

The CAU-Purdue Joint Research Center is an extension of the universities' 1997 memorandum of understanding that has enabled research collaborations and exchanges of students and faculty members between the two universities.

The center, to operate in existing facilities at CAU, will serve as a nucleus for advanced research programs, providing opportunities for Purdue faculty and students to conduct research in China, where CAU has unique natural resources and environments not available at Purdue.

It also will aid in recruiting highly qualified students from CAU for graduate school at Purdue. CAU sends more students to Purdue's College of Agriculture than any other institution in the world.

"We are excited about the potential of the new joint research center to enhance our already strong partnership with China Agricultural University," Akridge said. "It will promote research collaborations and idea exchange between our two institutions, provide a platform for the training of our students and foster future private-public sector partnerships."

CAU could benefit from the partnership in part through enhanced access to Purdue Agriculture's expertise and by building research capacity in fields related to food, nutrition, energy and the environment.

There also would be opportunities for the center to work with the newly created Purdue Global Policy Research Institute to address public policy issues for the betterment of food sustainability.

Purdue's International Programs in Agriculture and CAU's Office of International Relations will provide support to establish and run the research center.

Signing the agreement for CAU was that university's president, Ke Bingsheng.

Writer:  Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, robins89@purdue.edu

Sources:  France A. Córdova, president@purdue.edu

                  Jay Akridge, 765-494-8391, akridge@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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