New Director for World-Renowned Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit

Published 13 February 2013

The University of New England and Department for Primary Industries (DPI) are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Robert Banks as Director of the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU).

The appointment of Dr Banks follows the retirement of Dr Hans Graser at the end of last year.

Dr Phil Wright, NSW DPI’s Chief Scientific Officer, and Professor Annabelle Duncan, UNE’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, welcomed the appointment.

Dr Wright said “Dr Banks has an excellent reputation in Australia’s sheep and cattle industries as a genetic innovator. His technical and communication skills will ensure AGBU continues to be the leading group for genetic evaluation in Australia and internationally.”

Professor Duncan said AGBU has been serving Australian agriculture since 1976 as a joint venture between UNE and DPI. “It is exciting to announce the appointment of Dr Robert Banks to continue the role of applying the science of genetics to Australia’s livestock industries,” Professor Duncan said.

“I would also like to pay tribute to outgoing Director, Dr Hans Graser, who has made an enormous contribution;” she added.

Dr Banks commented: “The role is a great privilege. I am looking forward to ensuring that our livestock industries take full advantage of the genomics revolution.”  He added: “There will be significant challenges around ensuring that breeders, commercial producers and the community as a whole can obtain the full benefits of genomics R&D, and this area will be a key focus for me.”

A PhD graduate of UNE, Dr Banks has a long history in the genetic improvement of Australia’s extensive livestock industries. He has worked for Meat and Livestock Australia for nearly 25 years.  In the late 1980s he led the development of the genetic evaluation system for the Australian Meat Sheep industry.

AGBU, a joint venture between the DPI and University of New England, is a world leader in R&D for genetic evaluation and improvement systems.