About Us:The Kirkhouse Trust was set up in September 2000. It is a small Scottish charity (No. SC 030508), funded by gift aid donations from Oxford Gene Technology IP Ltd, a UK company founded by Professor Sir Ed Southern. The Trust has identified "agricultural crop improvement research for the developing world, specifically legumes" as its current funding focus.
The Trust's main activities centre on the grain legumes. The Trust is working with plant breeders in seven countries of West Africa to improve cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) and in three countries of East Africa to improve the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) using marker assisted breeding. Within these programmes, the Trust provides support through scholarships, fellowships, training courses and attendance at international conferences. The Trust donates laboratory equipment and consumables to the participating institutions. It also funds smaller projects outside its main programmes, but only in exceptional circumstances would it support crops other than the grain legumes.
An overarching objective of the Trust is in schemes which link research projects with the training of scientists (for example, in modern molecular methods of crop improvement, such as marker assisted selection) to strengthen and promote research skills in the developing world. In this context, the Trust has funded legume sequencing projects (cowpea and common bean) to support in marker discovery. The data from a 1x gene space sequence (completed by Orion Genomics Inc.) of an African cultivar of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is held and used for marker discovery by the University of Virginia. Similarly, for the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), the data from a 1x gene space is held by the University of California at Davis (completed by Orion Genomics Inc. and Washington University Genome Sequencing Centre). Furthermore, the University of Virginia is using the common bean sequence data in a synteny study with cowpea.
In addition, the Trust provides small grants for travel to conferences and for short study visits. Please click here for more information and for guidance on how to apply.