The Institute is named in honour of Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug, "the father of the green revolution". Dr Borlaug officially inaugurated and designated the Institute on 31st May 1997. To mark the occasion he delivered a lecture entitled "Feeding a World of 10 Billion People: the Miracle Ahead".
The Norman Borlaug Institute initially comprised four centres of excellence in plant science: the UK Centre in Leicester, the Bulgarian Centre in Sofia, the Czech Centre in Prague and Olomouc, and the Chinese Centre in Beijing and Shanghai. Current developments will broaden the base of elite UK University and Research Institute support and add new Centres in India, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. The staff of the Institute are committed to developing strains of crop plants that require low inputs of chemicals and have a low environmental-impact, that give high yields of high quality produce. Such crops will be necessary to satisfy the need for efficient, sustainable agricultural production both in developed and emerging countries in the 21st century. In addition to the staff in the main centres, The Norman Borlaug Institute scientists benefit from their association with the members of the International Advisory Board, who are based at other institutions worldwide.
Staff in the UK carry out fundamental research into regulation of cell division, enlargement and differentiation as a basis for their applied work on crop improvement. The research is focused on the cereals rice, wheat and barley; the sugar producing crop, sugar beet, banana and the fodder crop, alfalfa. For a list of NBI research publications click here. The staff contribute to distance learning programmes in molecular and cell biology, plant biotechnology and crop improvement.
A very high ratio of permanent staff and post-doctoral fellows to research students ensures excellent research training. Staff of the institute supervise students who are studying for higher degrees (MSc, MPhil and PhD). Funding is provided by the EU, DEFRA, DFID, The Royal Society, the Research Councils and industry.