Prestigious Chinese award for Professor Dale Sanders

18 January 2021

Director of the John Innes Centre Professor Dale Sanders has received the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) International Science and Technology Cooperation Award.

The prestigious annual award was established in 2007 to reward the outstanding international talents who have made contributions in long-term co-operation with CAS. Since its launch 40 experts have won the award

Professor Sanders is one of three international experts to receive the 2020 award which was announced by Yaping Zhang, vice president of the CAS at the 2021 CAS Annual Working Meeting.

This year, experts were unable to visit to China to receive the award due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Professor Sanders’ academic achievements, efforts to promote Sino-UK cooperation and his award speech were shown at the meeting.

Professor Sanders was instrumental in setting up and continuing the development of the Centre of Excellence for Plant and Microbial Science (CEPAMS) a collaboration between the John Innes Centre and CAS.

A leader in the field of plant ion signaling and mineral nutrition, he has obtained important results in the study of calcium channels, membrane transporters, cell signaling and ion penetration.

Accepting the award today Professor Sanders said: “I thank the Academy for this great honour. I also thank the Academy and its members for their assistance and friendship in the last ten years as we have built our world-leading Sino-UK venture together. Although it is a wonderful personal recognition of my cooperation with China, I would like to receive this award on behalf of the CEPAMS family and in gratitude for all their work.”

Launched in 2014, CEPAMS has been described as the most advanced Sino-UK collaboration in the life sciences. It was further consolidated in 2020 with the signing of a new five-year agreement between the three partner institutes in Beijing, Shanghai, and Norwich.

Professor Sanders continued: “I thank those at CAS for nurturing our collaboration and especially President Bai Chunli and Vice-President Zhang Yaping. I also thank those at BBSRC, especially the Executive Chair Melanie Welham and Head of International Tim Willis.

“The secret of CEPAMS’ success relies on the trust, respect and friendship between the partner institutes. It is the CEPAMS family that drives our scientific excellence and I warmly congratulate my fellow institute Heads, Weicai Yang and Bin Han for all that we have achieved together. I send all my gratitude to CEPAMS’ Directors Xiaofeng Cao and Ray Dixon for their vision and leadership.”

Professor Sanders, said the challenges of 2020 had reinforced the importance of sharing time with colleagues in person and concluded with a saying on the importance of friendship from the Chinese philosopher Confucius:

“Even if the season be cold, we know that pines and cypresses are evergreen.”

Watch the acceptance speech video!