John Innes Centre

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John Innes Centre
John Innes Centre, Norwich - - 28695.jpg
The John Innes Centre (JIC)
Headquarters Norwich, UK
Key people
Parent organization
John Innes Horticultural Institution (JIHI)
Formerly called
  • The John Innes Institute (JII)
  • Nitrogen Fixation Laboratory (NFL)
  • Plant Breeding Institute (PBI)

The John Innes Centre (JIC), located in Norwich, Norfolk, England, is an independent centre for research and training in plant and microbial science. It is a registered charity (No 223852) grant-aided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the European Research Council (ERC) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is a member of the Norwich Research Park.[1][2] In 2014, JIC was awarded a silver Athena SWAN Charter award for equailty in the workplace.[3]


The John Innes Horticultural Institution[4] was founded in 1910 at Merton Park, Surrey (now London Borough of Merton), with funds bequeathed by John Innes, a merchant and philanthropist. The Institution occupied Innes's former estate at Merton Park until 1945 when it moved to Bayfordbury, Hertfordshire. It moved to its present site in 1967.[5]

John Innes compost was developed by the institution in the 1930s.

In the 1980s, the administration of the John Innes Institute was combined with that of the Plant Breeding Institute[6][7][8][9] and the Nitrogen Fixation Laboratory. In 1994, following the relocation of the operations of other two organisations to the Norwich site, the three were merged as the John Innes Centre.[5]

The institute is divided into six departments: Biological Chemistry, Cell & Developmental Biology, Computational & Systems Biology, Crop Genetics, Metabolic Biology and Molecular Microbiology.[10]

JIC has a tradition of training PhD students and post-docs. PhD degrees obtained via JIC are awarded by the University of East Anglia. JIC has a contingent of postdoctoral researchers, many of whom are recruited onto the institute's Post-doctoral Training Fellowship programme. JIC also sponsors seminars and lectures, including the Bateson Lecture and the Biffen Lecture.


The research at JIC is divided into 4 Institute Strategic Programs (ISPs) which are funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) which combine research of multiple groups to address a greater aim:


JIC is also the Norwich base of the Sainsbury Laboratory,[13] an institute focused on plant disease. Although well integrated with JIC, The Sainsbury Laboratory is closely affiliated with the University of East Anglia.[14]

Along with the Institute of Food Research[15] and University of East Anglia (UEA)[14] it hosted the British Science Festival in September 2006.[16]


The John Innes Centre has been directed by:

Notable Staff and Alumni[edit]

Former staff and alumni include William Ormston Backhouse, Rowland Biffen, David Baulcombe, George Coupland, Liam Dolan, David Hopwood, Charles Leonard Huskins, Nicholas Harberd, Richard Anthony Jefferson, Georgii Karpechenko, Kenneth Mather, Elizabeth Anne Edwards, Giles Oldroyd, Leonard Francis La Cour, Alison Mary Smith, Morley Benjamin Crane, Dan Lewis, Cathie Martin, Mike D Gale, Mike Bevan and Clayton Oscar Person. Also Doctor Gordon Mark Leo Haskell who left in about 1958 to become Head of Genetics at the Scottish Crop Research Station, Invergowrie near Dundee until 1965 . He was then Head of Biology at Portsmouth Polytechnic until 1967 when he died suddenly aged 47.

John Innes Foundation[edit]

The John Innes Foundation (JIF) is an independent charitable foundation (registered Charity No. 1111527)and was formed in 1910 by John Innes. JIF set up the John Innes Horticultural Institution (JIHI) at Merton, London. Currently, the JIF owns the land and buildings at Newfound Farm, Colney and Church Farm, Bawburgh, Norfolk which are used by researchers from the John Innes Centre. The JIF trustees also play an active part in the management of JIC research and have the right to appoint three members of the Governing Council. They sponsor several graduate studentships each year, support for educational programmes and the infrastructure of the site. They also fund student awards for scientific excellence and science communication.[17] The Foundation owns a very significant collection of archive material held at JIC.[18]

The Special Collection and the History of Genetics Library[edit]

The John Innes Centre is home to a collection of rare botanical books, lab books, manuscripts and letters documenting the history of genetics and research carried out by its scientists. This includes a letter from William Bateson documenting the first use of the word "Genetics".[19] The History of Genetics library also contains the archives of the Genetical Society.[20][21]

Germplasm Resources Unit[edit]

An important part of the John Innes Centre is the JIC Germplasm Resources Unit (GRU).[22] This seedbank houses a number of germplasm collections, including the Watkins Landrace Wheat Collection, JIC Pisum Collection, BBSRC Small Grain Cereal Collection, Crop wild relative collection and several specialist genetic stocks collections. This material is extensively used by UK and non-UK researchers and breeders, and is an available upon request to research, academic and commercial efforts, subject to availability. The complete list of the material can be found in the GRU database.[23]


  1. ^ "The John Innes Institute". Nature. 202 (4930): 337–330. 1964. doi:10.1038/202337e0. 
  2. ^ Humphries, E. C. (1964). "The John Innes Institute". Nature. 204 (4955): 232. doi:10.1038/204232a0. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "The New John Innes Horticultural Institution". Nature. 165 (4207): 955. 1950. doi:10.1038/165955a0. PMID 15423565. 
  5. ^ a b c John Innes Centre, History. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
  6. ^ "Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge". Nature. 161 (4097): 714. 1948. doi:10.1038/161714b0. 
  7. ^ "Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge: Dr. G. D. H. Bell". Nature. 161 (4097): 714. 1948. doi:10.1038/161714c0. 
  8. ^ "Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge". Nature. 170 (4335): 913. 1952. doi:10.1038/170913f0. 
  9. ^ "The Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge". Nature. 176 (4480): 487. 1955. doi:10.1038/176487a0. 
  10. ^ John Innes Centre, Science Departments. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
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  13. ^ Sainsbury’s laboratory
  14. ^ a b University of East Anglia
  15. ^ Institute of food research
  16. ^ British Science Association
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