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Howe receives 2017 MSU Innovation Center Award

Dr. Gregg Howe, an MSU Foundation Professor at the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, has been awarded the 2017 Innovation of the Year for his pioneering work challenging a long-held assumption that plants cannot both grow and defend optimally at the same time.

Dr. Howe was among the honorees recognized by the MSU Innovation Center at the 7th annual Michigan State University Innovation Celebration on April 12. The MSU Innovation Celebration is an annual showcase of innovative technologies and startups developed in campus labs, classrooms, and beyond. The event honors MSU researchers and students who have reported an invention, licensed a technology, or were awarded patents during the academic year.

Gregg Howe at the award ceremony
Gregg Howe at the award ceremony. Photo courtesy Moonsail North.

“The award recognizes a new technology that stems from our lab’s research showing that certain genetic modifications can effectively uncouple the antagonistic relationship between plant growth and defense,” Howe said. “If the approach can be successfully replicated in crop plants grown under natural field conditions, it may open up exciting avenues for improving agricultural yield.”

After filing a patent application describing how this technology may be used to boost the production of food and other plant-derived products, Howe was pleasantly surprised to learn that this idea was selected as the “Innovation of the Year” by the MSU Innovation Center.

Video screenshot
Innovation of the Year Video | MSU Innovation Center

“I have really enjoyed working with the MSU Technologies office over the years on various projects, and I’m grateful to all the students and collaborators who made this possible.”

Christoph Benning, Director of the PRL, says, “We at the PRL congratulate Gregg Howe on receiving this well-deserved recognition. Gregg has led a team of PRL scientists, supported by the US Department of Energy-Basic Energy Sciences collaborative grant. The discoveries that led to this invention disclosure are an example of how successful collaborative basic science lays the foundation for potentially practical applications that can benefit agriculture in the near future.”

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