Institute of Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries (IPBO)
Department of Molecular Genetics
Before becoming chair of IPBO in 1999, Marc Van Montagu was full-professor and director of the genetics laboratory at Ghent University, as well as scientific director of the genetics department at the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB). He also founded the biotech company CropDesign and helped start Plant Genetic Systems, Inc., serving as its scientific director for several years.
Known for his discovery (with J. Schell) of the gene transfer mechanism between Agrobacterium and plants, Dr. Van Montagu went on to develop methods of altering Agrobacterium to create an efficient delivery system for producing genetically engineered plants. He also contributed to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of how plant cells proliferate and differentiate, and of plant responses to abiotic stresses such as intense light, ozone, and drought. His work with poplars resulted in engineering trees with improved pulping qualities, and he was able to construct the first transgenic crops resistant to insect pests and tolerant to novel herbicides.
Dr. Van Montagu has more than 1000 publications in international and national journals and books and holds six honorary doctoral degrees. He has received numerous awards for his pioneering work, including the Japan Prize. In 1990 he was granted the title of "Baron" by Baudouin I, King of the Belgians.
He is a member of the Belgian Royal Academy of Sciences and several foreign academies, including the Agricultural Academy of Russia, the Academy of Engineering of Sweden, and the Agricultural Academy of France. He is a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Science.