Professor Alan Raybould (1963-2022)

17 October 2022

We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Alan Raybould, Chair in Innovation in the Life Sciences at the University of Edinburgh and Innogen co-director.

Alan joined The University of Edinburgh in 2019 as Chair of Innovation in the Life Sciences, following a long and successful career at Syngenta AG.  This important chair position was jointly held between the Science Technology and Innovation Studies group (STIS) and the Global Academy for Agriculture and Food Systems (GAAFS).

Alan attained his PhD in Population Genetics at the University of Birmingham, before going on to work as a Principal Scientist at the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.  He then joined Syngenta and worked in the Product Safety department, leading preparation of environmental risk assessment as part of Syngenta’s global regulatory submission for transgenic crops. It was in this role that he first worked closely with colleagues at Innogen, as he was the main Syngenta contact and partner in a joint ESRC/Syngenta-funded knowledge exchange project ‘Engaging with Uncertainty and Risk in Agricultural Biotechnology Regulation’. He continued to stay in close contact with Innogen colleagues after the project was completed, before joining us as a valued colleague.

At Edinburgh, Alan was a co-organiser of the undergraduate course Innovation in Sustainable Agri-Food Systems, co-organiser on the postgraduate course Innovation in Sustainable Food Systems and had designed a postgraduate course Making Science Relevant to Policy and Decision-making, which after just one year of delivery had gained in popularity amongst postgraduate students. Alan made important contributions in consolidating and extending Innogen’s research work into the regulatory and commercial challenges of novel agricultural technologies, whilst building important and enduring links with GAAFS.

Alan was the Chief Specialty Editor for Biosafety and Biosecurity section of Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology. He was also a member of the Editorial Board of GM Crops and Food.  In recognition of his wide expertise, Alan was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE), an advisory public body sponsored by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. In this role, Alan was one of a small group of experts who provide statutory advice to government ministers on the risks to human health and the environment from the release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Alan was a gentle, calm and approachable colleague and friend who brought a rich blend of industry, policy, and science experience to both his teaching and collaborative projects; we had developed a unique way of co-teaching a course we co-organised. Teaching the same course currently without Alan is hard going! He will be deeply missed, and may his soul rest in eternal peace,” said Geoff Banda, Deputy Director of Innogen and Lecturer in Global Food Security and Innovation at The University of Edinburgh.

 “Alan was a much loved and respected Innogen member, making excellent contributions to annual retreat discussions and supporting our research and consultancy services, he will be sorely missed by his colleagues and students,” said Theo Papaioannou, Director of Innogen & Professor of Politics, Innovation and Development at The Open University.