Rajeev Varshney, presently Global Research Program Director, Genetic Gains and Founding Director, Center of Excellence in Genomics & Systems Biology, has been serving ICRISAT in various capacities since 2005. In his dual appointment, he served CGIAR Generation Challenge Program (hosted by CIMMYT, Mexico) as Theme Leader for six years. Before joining ICRISAT, he worked at IPK-Gatersleben, Germany for five years.
Varshney is a recognized leader in the area of applied genomics and genomics-assisted breeding and an effective research leader/ manager in the area of translational genomics in international agriculture. He has genome sequences of 8 crops including pigeonpea, chickpea, peanut and pearl millet and several molecular breeding products in chickpea, peanut and pigeonpea to his credit. Varshney’s research is focused on developing genomic tools, understanding genome architecture, dissecting genetic basis of trait variation, and using this natural variation to improve crops in marginal environments in Asia and Africa. His research has provided insights into the genetic diversity of germplasm collections, the genetic architecture of complex traits, hybrid vigor, and the genes associated with tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress as well as nutritional traits. These research approaches and outputs have been applied to many crop species, and to genetics and breeding efforts around the world.
Varshney is an elected fellow/ member/ academician of Leopoldina- German National Academy of Sciences, The World Academy of Sciences, American Association of Advancement in Sciences (USA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), Indian National Science Academy and several other Indian science academies. Varshney has received the Bhatnagar Prize, the most covetd science and technology award from Government of India. He is receipient of numerous other prestigious awards including the Qilu Friedship Award from Shandong Province of Republic of China, the Young Crop Scientist Award of CSSA, the Illumina Agricultural Greater Good Initiative Award, Research Excellence India Citation Award of Thomson Reuters. Varshney is a prolific author and has been recognized as a Highly Cited Researcher by Thomson Reuters for the last four consecutive years.
In addition to being fequently invited speaker in international meetings, Varshney provides leadership to several organizations by serving member/chair for several committees, editorial boards, funding organizations and advisory boards. While serving international agriculture in developing countries, Varshney had a privilege to meet several high profile and influential personalities from science, society and politics that includes (Late) Dr Norman Borlaug, Noble Laureate, Mr Bill Gates, Co-Chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Mr Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India.