The Network is managed by an Executive Group working with a Management Board.

The Executive Group is made up of Network Director Professor Gary Foster (University of Bristol), Network Deputy Director Professor Neil Boonham (Newcastle University and Fera Science Ltd) and Network Managers Dr Diane Hird and Dr Nina Ockendon-Powell (University of Bristol).

The Management Board is made up of scientific and agricultural experts with a wide range of expertise relating to vector-borne disease. Full list here.

Management Board terms of reference

  • To advise and monitor the Executive Group and safeguard the interests of the Network
  • To shape Network strategy and advise on Network scope
  • To receive reports on progress towards the Network’s aims and objectives
  • Evaluate and allocate Network member applications for pump-prime funding and training funds

Prof. Gary Foster (Director)

University of Bristol, UK

Professor Gary Foster is a leading Professor of Molecular Plant Pathology, and has authored over 100 scientific papers, reviews and books. He established the international multidisciplinary journal Molecular Plant Pathology and served as its Editor-in Chief from 2000 – 2012.

His research is focused on a range of interconnecting themes that include plant virology, plant pathology, plant molecular biology, molecular mycology and biotechnology.

He has delivered highly applied work internationally, such as identification and test development work for viruses that cause Cassava brown streak disease, one of the most devastating plant diseases for smallholders in East and Central Africa. His cassava research was highlighted as a major breakthrough by the UK government. He has also been involved in the production of guidelines for international safe movement of vegetative germplasm, relevant to root and tuber crops

He has served as President of the British Society for Plant Pathology and on a range of BBSRC Committees and Network Groups. Additional roles have included Panel Member and Chair of a wide range of international funding bodies and agencies, including Member & Chair of a subgroup of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), and GM adviser to the Food Standards Agency, UK. These  roles  have  afforded  him  an excellent  overview  of  the  research  landscape,  policy  needs, biotechnology  opportunities  and constraints,  as  well  as supporting him  to  develop  first-rate  networks.

Twitter: @Prof_GD_Foster

More about Professor Gary Foster

Prof. Neil Boonham (Co-Director)

University of Newcastle, UK

Professor Neil Boonham  is a  molecular  plant  pathologist  at  the Institute  for  Agrifood  Research  Innovations  (IAFRI)  at University  of  Newcastle .


In recent years he has specialised in the development of  novel  methods  and  approaches  for  the  detection  of pathogens  and  the  identification  of  pests.  He  has  a  particular  interest  in  the  development and  deployment  of  field  tests  as  well  as  the  development  of  highly  parallel  laboratory diagnostic  techniques,  based  on  microarrays  and  next  generation  sequencing.


His plant  pathology  research group works on the application  of  post-genomic  technologies  to  provide solutions  to  detection,  identification  and  diagnosis  of  plant  diseases.  This  includes  work  in  Sub-Saharan  Africa  on cassava  brown  streak,  cassava  mosaic  disease, maize  lethal  necrosis  and sweet potato  viruses.


More about Professor Neil Boonham