Benchmark hires Roslin’s Professor Ross Houston

Professor Ross Houston

Benchmark Genetics has recruited the Roslin Institute’s Professor Ross Houston as Director of Innovation, Genetics.

A leading scientist in his field, Professor Houston currently holds a Personal Chair of Aquaculture Genetics at The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, where he leads the aquaculture genetics team. He is also the Roslin Institute’s Deputy Director for Translation and Commercialisation.

Professor Houston will be joining Benchmark Genetics on 1 March 2022.

He began his career with a PhD in pig genetics at the University of Aberdeen in 2004 before moving into salmon genetics in a postdoc position at Roslin. Ever since, he has built an international reputation in the field, including discovering a major QTL (quantitative trait locus) associated with resistance to infectious pancreatic necrosis in 2008, which remains an exemplar of using genetics to help control disease and improve health.

Professor Houston leads several high-profile international aquaculture research projects focussing on application of genomics and genome editing technologies to improve disease resistance. He has authored and co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications and has received several awards for his contributions to the scientific community.

In the role of Director of Innovation, he will lead BG’s strategic development of innovation and R&D to support business growth and secure the company’s competitive advantages. He will also develop and lead collaborative projects both internally and externally, including harnessing synergies on innovation across the field of genetics, health, and nutrition within the Benchmark Group as a member of Benchmark’s cross-divisional Innovation Board.

The new role will also involve product development for the Benchmark Genetics in-house breeding programmes in salmon, shrimp, and tilapia, and expanding the portfolio of external clients for applied genetics consultancy services.

Announcing the news, Dr Morten Rye, Director of Genetics in Benchmark, said: “Getting Ross Houston on board significantly strengthens our genetics R&D capacities and is also a great acknowledgement to the reputation of our organization. Genetics technologies are rapidly advancing, and I am convinced that having Ross to lead our strategic development of innovation and R&D will place Benchmark in the forefront of this progress”.

Professor Houston said: “I have been collaborating with Benchmark scientists for several years, and I am impressed about how the genetics business area has developed during this time. I’m very motivated by translating the latest scientific developments into commercial practice, to benefit the organization as well as enhancing the sustainability of the industry”.