BLACKSBURG, Va., April 20, 2009 - Brett Tyler, professor at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) and in Virginia Tech's Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, has received the Virginia Tech 2009 Alumni Award for Excellence in Research. The annual award is sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association and is presented to faculty members who have made outstanding research contributions to the university.

Dr. Brett Tyler
Dr. Brett Tyler

Tyler has been a leader in the study of a unique group of plant pathogens called oomycetes that cause devastating diseases in a variety of plants, causing tens of billions of dollars of losses to agriculture, forestry, and natural ecosystems every year. Tyler's research group at VBI identifies and characterizes the genes and biological mechanisms that enable Phytophthora pathogens to recognize and overcome the defense systems of their plant hosts. The oomycete Phytophthora infestans was largely responsible for the Irish potato famine, while Phytophthora ramorum attacks trees and shrubs of coastal oak forests in California and the soybean pathogen Phytophthora sojae causes serious losses to the United States soybean crop. Tyler and his colleagues are laying the foundation for uncovering the interplay between Phytophthora and host genes during infection at the whole-genome level in the hope of finding much needed ways to tackle Phytophthora pathogens and the diseases they cause.

Tyler has authored or co-authored 85 publications during his career and, since joining VBI in 2002, received 15 extramural research grants totaling over $20 million.  Tyler has been a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Fund fellow, Willie Commelin Scholten Foundation Visiting Chair of Phytopathology at Wageningen University in The Netherlands, a Fulbright Lecturer, and a National Science Foundation Distinguished Lecturer. He received the 2008 Noel T. Keen award for research excellence in molecular plant pathology, which is the American Phytopathological Society's highest annual award in molecular biology. Tyler also serves as coordinator of the Oomycete Molecular Genetics Research Collaboration Network.

Tyler earned his bachelor's degree in genetics, biochemistry, and mathematics from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and completed his doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Melbourne, Australia. Before joining VBI, Tyler was a faculty member in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of California, Davis, for 14 years.

For further information please see the following press release from Virginia Tech:

2009 Alumni Award for Excellence in Research

About VBI

The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech has a research platform centered on understanding the "disease triangle" of host-pathogen-environment interactions in plants, humans and other animals. By successfully channeling innovation into transdisciplinary approaches that combine information technology and biology, researchers at VBI are addressing some of today's key challenges in the biomedical, environmental and plant sciences.

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Susan Bland

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Published by Susan Bland, April 12, 2009