Largest-ever philanthropic investment into budding rice scientists

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IRRI scientists doing rice research

To help unleash the great potential of promising students in Asia to help feed the region into the future, a US$ 3 million donation has established the Lee Foundation Rice Scholarship Program to educate and train a new generation of rice scientists.

"This is the largest and most important investment in the education and training of Asian rice scientists by a philanthropic foundation based in Asia in IRRI's 53-year history," said IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler. "We are incredibly grateful to the Lee Foundation for its vision and leadership. We hope this will inspire other philanthropists in Asia to also invest in rice research."

IRRI's 2013 annual reportSince 1962, more than 15,000 scientists have been trained at IRRI and they now have lead roles in many agricultural research systems. The Lee Foundation Rice Scholarship Program will help secure a strong cadre of highly competent graduates who are essential to continuing this legacy to directly affect regional food security.

"This exciting new program will offer young Asians a unique opportunity to gain an international education in a key area of rice science and help ensure that Asia will never have an empty bowl again," said Dr. Zeigler.

With IRRI's partnerships with top institutions across the world, it will also build a strong bond between rice research in Asia and international development. The major beneficiaries will be young rice scientists from South and Southeast Asian countries.

With the Lee Foundation's support, the scholarship will fund 15-18 PhD scholars for 3-4 years. It will cover all their costs to study at IRRI headquarters or in regional locations alongside the world's leading rice scientists. The scholars will work on four strategic themes involving rice food security: gene discovery and bioinformatics, modern rice breeding, future rice systems to ensure food security, and economics and policy. They will also participate in the landmark 3-week "Rice: Research to Production" course known worldwide for its unique ability to build a deep understanding of the challenges related to rice food security.

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