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University of Iowa News Release

April 7, 2004

Noted Biologist To Visit UI April 12-14

Marc Van Montagu, internationally renowned biologist and professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics at Ghent University, Belgium, will visit the University of Iowa April 12-14 as an Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor.

His free, public lecture, "From the Green Revolution to the Gene Revolution: Sustainable Agriculture in Developing Countries," will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 12 in Shambaugh Auditorium, Main Library.

He is also scheduled to deliver two technical seminars. He will speak on "Agrobacterium tumefaciens and gene transfer in plants revisited," at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, in Lecture Room 2, Van Allen Hall. "The Future of Plant Sciences," will be presented at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 14, in Kollros Auditorium, Room 101, Biology Building East.

Together with colleague Jeff Schell, Van Montagu discovered the gene transfer mechanism between Agrobacterium and plants, resulting in the development of methods to alter Agrobacterium into an efficient delivery system for gene engineering in plants. He developed the molecular mechanisms for cell proliferation, differentiation and response to abiotic stresses (intense light, ozone, cold, salt and drought) and constructed transgenic crops (tobacco, rape seed, corn) resistant to insect pests and tolerant of novel herbicides. His work with poplar trees has resulted in the engineering of trees having improved pulping qualities. He is especially interested in the use of genetic engineering of plant crops to help develop sustainable agricultural economies in developing countries.

Van Montagu, who has served as director of the Ghent University Laboratory of Genetics, also has been scientific director and a board member of Plant Genetic Systems Inc., Belgium.

His many awards include the prestigious "Japan Prize" and being named a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Science (since 1986) and the Russian and French agricultural academies. In 1990, Baudouin I, King of the Belgians, granted him the title of "Baron."

His UI visit is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences and the Ida Cordelia Beam Visiting Professor Program.

Ida Beam, a native of Vinton, willed her family farm to the UI Foundation in 1977. Her only university connection was a relative who graduated from the College of Medicine. With proceeds from the sale of the farm, the UI established a fund to bring top scholars in a variety of fields to the university for lectures and discussions.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. Persons with disabilities who require an accommodation in order to participate should contact the department of biological sciences at 335-1050.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu