Previous Fora / 2011


Chief Science Advisor to the Irish Government

Patrick Cunningham is Chief Scientific Adviser to the Irish Government and Professor of Animal Genetics in Trinity College, Dublin.   He holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees from the National University of Ireland, a PhD from Cornell University, USA, and Honorary Doctorates from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, the University of Dublin and University College Dublin.
He was formerly Deputy Director (Research) at the Irish National Agriculture and Food Research Institute(1980-88), visiting Professor at the Economic Development Institute, World Bank (1988) and Director of the Animal Production and Health Division, Food & Agriculture Organisation of the UN, Rome (1990-93). During this period he directed the Screwworm Eradication Programme for North Africa, the largest international campaign of biological control ever undertaken.
Prof. Cunningham’s early research focused on quantitative genetic methods of improving animal populations, and on the economic evaluation of breeding strategies. In the 1990s he exploited newly-developed methods of reading DNA to measure genetic diversity and plan livestock improvement in developing countries. The first results of this work rewrote the history of animal domestication, demonstrating for the first time the separate domestication of cattle in India on the one hand and in Africa and Europe on the other. This work has since been expanded by Prof. Cunningham and his colleagues to other species including horses, salmon and humans. Prof. Cunningham’s research has been published in some 100 papers in refereed journals, and has twice featured on the cover of Nature.
Following the BSE crisis in 1996, Professor Cunningham and his colleagues developed a system of DNA traceability for the meat industry, which has been used throughout Europe since.  They went on to establish a biotechnology company IdentiGEN, which deploys these technologies in Europe and the USA.  Professor Cunningham is the chairman of the company.
Prof Cunningham was a member of the High Level Group on Life Sciences which advised Commissioner Busquin. He is a former president of the European and World Associations of Animal Production.
In 2008 he led the Irish bid to host the “European City of Science” event in Dublin, in 2012.  In 2009 he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Science by University College Dublin for his contributions to science.



11:00-13:00 18 NOVEMBER
THEMATIC SESSION II. AAAS: “Developing a coherent and compatible science enterprise”

Science for Human Development – Lessons from cross-country experience

About two thirds of global investment in science is made by private capital, for the purpose of increasing the future value of corporations.  The one third which is invested by Governments has broader objectives, but is dominated in most countries also by economic aims.  This presentation looks at the contrasting experience of European and American policies, and suggests that there are lessons to be learned in both directions – lessons which have global relevance.