Senior ILRI advisor takes up new work in Australia for agricultural development

Bio-Innovate launch: Gabrielle Persley, senior advisor to ILRI's director general

Gabrielle Persley, senior advisor to the director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (photo credit: ILRI/MacMillan).

Gabrielle Persley, senior advisor to the director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), is leaving her position at ILRI this month to take up work for Australia’s Crawford Fund.

Persley has a rich knowledge of African agriculture and food security and the transformative role agricultural science, and biosciences in particular, must play in Africa’s economic development. Persley contributed to development of a Bio-Innovate Program, officially launched yesterday with funding from the Swedish International Development Agency and co-located at ILRI’s Nairobi laboratories. She helped to bring another joint initiative, the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub, also located at ILRI, from infancy to young adulthood, helping to secure original funding from the Canadian International Development Agency and then the Syngenta Foundation and supporting the resulting transformation of existing laboratories into state-of-the-art facilities for the whole region. These flagship platforms will help accelerate biosciences innovations in and for Africa.

ILRI director general Carlos Seré writes:
‘Gabrielle has had a long association with ILRI and its predecessors—the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) and the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA)—going back to the mid 80s when she first started visiting both institutes as the Australian aid representative responsible for Australian contributions to these and other centres belonging to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). She has returned on many occasions over the ensuing 25 years to help us face new challenges and mobilize support for our work.

‘Gabrielle will be leaving ILRI at the end of March to take up a new assignment with the Crawford Fund in Australia. Her work will focus on “Expanding the horizons in International Agricultural Research”, as part of enhancing the Crawford Fund’s role as a think tank on Australian aid policy, particularly in regard to identifying new investment streams for international agricultural research, and in working with like-minded foundations internationally.

‘Gabrielle has spent many years supporting the growth of science and technology in Africa, most recently at ILRI through her current role as senior advisor to the director general. In other incarnations, she has been the architect of an Intermediary Biotechnology Service of the International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR), now a Program on Biosafety Systems at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)), biotechnology advisor for the World Bank in Washington, D.C.,  for almost a decade, and chair of the Doyle Foundation in Scotland.’

Persley is giving a farewell seminar this afternoon (17 March 2011) at ILRI’s Nairobi headquarters.

Synopsis of Gabrielle Persley’s seminar today
Africa, science and agriculture: a 25-year perspective,’ through the eyes of Gabrielle Persley, who has been a scientist in Africa, a donor, a partner, a senior advisor and a friend of ILRI and its predecessor, ILCA and ILRAD, and the CGIAR, and who is a friend of Africa and Africans.

At the seminar Gabrielle will share reflections about the co-creation of BecA by ILRI and its partners in Africa and internationally over the past several years; a vision of where BecA may go in the future, including through partnerships with new programs such as Bio-Innovate on product incubation; looking further into the future in broadening the horizons of international agricultural research by identifying emerging issues and new funding streams beyond the traditional CGIAR investors; and the enabling environment necessary for creating a vibrant research-for-development culture on campus.

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