Browse/search for people

Professor Gary Foster

Professor Gary Foster

Professor Gary Foster
B.Sc. (QUB), Ph.D.(QUB)

Professor of Molecular Plant Pathology

Area of research

Molecular Plant Pathology and Fungal Biology

Office Life Sciences: 302
Life Sciences Building,
24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TQ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 39 41178


  • Plant Pathology
  • Plant Virology
  • Plant Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Virology
  • Molecular Mycology

Gary’s research is focused on investigating a range of interconnecting themes that include plant virology, plant pathology, plant molecular biology, molecular mycology and biotechnology. The interdisciplinary approach to this research is one of the strong selling points, along with a vibrant lab community and the strong supervisory team, which has been supported by a range of funding sources continuously since 1992. This has included funding from the BBSRC, DEFRA, LESARS, Royal Society, the Wellcome Trust, DfID/ODA, Rothamsted International, and collaborative funding with agricultural industries and institutes, such CSL-York, HRI-Wellesbourne, RHS-Wisley, PBI-Unilever. Funding has also come from international partnerships and collaboration that have created research links/interchanges and visitors to the research group. The molecular mycology and biotechnology areas have also covered projects on drug discovery and manipulation supported through interactions with a range of pharmaceutical companies including a major collaboration with GSK on antibiotic discovery and development.


Gary Foster graduated in Microbiology from the Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) in 1986 and received his PhD in Plant Virology in 1990 from QUB. After a short period of postdoctoral research at University of Leicester with Prof Rod Scott & Prof John Draper, he was awarded an AFRC (to become BBSRC) Advance Research Fellowship in 1992.  In 1996, he moved to the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, becoming Professor of Molecular Plant Pathology.  In 2011, he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Biology.

Gary is currently an elected Member of University Council and Lead Academic for New Life Sciences Building, a major new state-of-the-art building and facility for life sciences, due for completion in 2013, and a major commitment by the University to the future importance of Life Sciences.  He had previously held senior roles within the University as Chair of Science Faculty FQAT (Faculty Quality Assurance Team), Head of Teaching Biological Sciences, Member of Senior Management Team (Planning & Resources Committee) and Member/Chair of University Student Appeal Review Panel.

Additional Roles & Awards

He won the Norbrook Laboratories Medal 1988 for research, his AFRC Fellowship (BBSRC Advanced Research Fellowship) in 1992, and the Society for Experimental Biology President's Medal awarded for significant contribution to experimental biology in 1994. Professor Foster has authored more than 100 scientific papers, reviews and books. 

Professor Foster has served as a member of BBSRC Grant Committee and Network Groups, as well as involvement as Member of Review Panel of BBSRC Molecular basis of resistance and pathogenicity in plant disease programme, and as a Member of BBSRC RAE Institute Assessment Exercise Science Panel. Additional roles have included Panel Member of Biotech/ Molecular/ Biomedical Enterprise-Ireland Grant Board, member of the Adjudication Panel for Science & Technology R&D Funding in Ireland (Strand I), and then as Chair of the Adjudication Panel for Science & Technology R&D Funding in Ireland; and Commonwealth Studentship & Fellowship Advisory Panel.

He has contributed as an advisor/member to a range of national and international organisations, these have included Member & Chair of subgroup of International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, FAO/IPGRI Technical guidelines for the safe movement of germplasm, and GM adviser to the Food Standards Agency through the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) 2003 –2009.

He has served as an editor on a range of journals including Plant Pathology, Molecular Biotechnology, and Molecular Plant Pathology On-Line; and is currently the Editor-in-Chief ofleading international journal Molecular Plant Pathology (1999-present).   He has also has the pleasure of refereeing and assessing for a wide range of international journals and funding bodies, acting on Professorial selection panels, as well as roles as External Examiner on undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and PhD examinations (both national and international).


  • plant pathology
  • plant virology
  • plant molecular biology
  • molecular virology
  • molecular mycology
  • biotechnology
  • GM plants

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

Edit this profile If you are Professor Gary Foster, you can edit this page. Login required.

PDF versionDownload PDF