Head of Genetic Resources, Pre-breeding and Gene Bank Operations ICARDA Morocco


Reports to: Director of Biodiversity and Crop Improvement Program (BCIP)


Location: Rabat, Morocco


Advertisement date: 20 March 2019



Closing date: 30 April 2019

(or until the position is filled)


Main purpose of position

ICARDA is seeking a principal scientist to Head the Genetic Resources, Pre-breeding and Gene Bank Operations of ICARDA, within the Biodiversity and Crop Improvement Program (BCI). ICARDA has a global mandate for the improvement of barley, lentils and faba bean in developing countries, and it works in close collaboration with CIMMYT under One Global Wheat Program, and with ICRISAT under One Global Chickpea Program. The ICARDA genebanks hold currently 157.000 accessions of barley, wheat, legumes, temperate forage and rangeland species. The Genetic Resources, Pre-breeding and Gene Bank Operations of ICARDA  is developing practical approaches to manage and enhance the use of plant genetic resources (biodiversity) and curates ICARDA’s mandated species using best practices for multiplication/regeneration, characterization/evaluation, documentation, distribution, and acquisition.


The responsibilities of Head of the Genetic Resources, Pre-breeding and Gene Bank Operations fall under the following main areas:

1)      Research leadership: a) Developing practical approaches to managing and enhancing the use of plant genetic resources (biodiversity); b) Curation of ICARDA’s mandated species using best practices for multiplication/regeneration, characterization/evaluation, documentation, distribution, and acquisition; c) developing and publishing high quality research to support the above-mentioned activities

2)      Management: effective and efficient management of the human and financial resources of the Genetic Resources, Pre-breeding and Gene Bank Department.




The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) is an international autonomous, non-profit, research organization supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).


ICARDA’s mission is to reduce poverty, enhance food, water and nutritional security, as well as environmental health in the face of global challenges including climate change. We do this through innovative science, strategic partnerships, linking research to development and capacity development that take into account gender equality and the role of youth in transforming the dry areas. ICARDA works in partnership with governments, universities, civil society, national agricultural research organization, other CGIAR research Centers, and the private sector. With its temporary Headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, ICARDA operates in regional and country offices across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. For more information: www.icarda.org



Main responsibilities

  • Set annual objectives and work plans for the Department
  • Overall coordination of genetic resources activities in close collaboration with the genebank managers in Lebanon, Morocco and Syria
  • Ensure best practices for efficient conservation of genetic resources held by ICARDA including the production of Standard Operating Procedures for various ICARDA core genebank activities
  • Contribute to the implementation of various core genebank activities as required
  • Supervise the documentation and maintenance of database
  • Supervise the conservation of rhizobium collection
  • Ensure that the seed and rhizobium collections conserved by ICARDA and their related information are safe duplicated in other locations
  • Coordinate with seed health testing, that all incoming and outgoing shipments are tested against quarantine diseases
  • Contribute to general public awareness, through the dissemination of the publications and other outputs of the gene bank activities, using appropriate communication channels.
  • Advising students and interns and coordinating training courses related to conservation and use of genetic resources
  • Develop and nurture effective collaborations with other researchers and partners
  • Publish research results in international referred (ISI) journals, international fora and in popular media
  • Advise NARS leaders and policy makers as requested on policies and legislations related to access and benefit sharing of genetic resources
  • Represent ICARDA in the Genebank Platform and in other fora related to conservation and use of genetic resources
  • Leverage additional funding to ensure proper conservation of genetic resources
  • Coordinate the activities related to acquiring the infrastructure and the equipment needed in the relocation sites as well as the process of reconstruction of active and base collections in Lebanon and Morocco, and safety duplication in reliable genebanks and Svalbard Global Seed Vault
  • Ensure proper reporting to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the FAO commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the Genebank Platform and others as requested
  • In the context of ICADA’s risk management framework, effectively manage the risks associated with management of genebank activities
  • Introgress useful genes/alleles identified from various crop genepools, contribute to field evaluation by breeders, and association mapping techniques
  • Develop marker systems to track the identified useful alleles 
  • Maximize time /efficiency of introgression by means of molecular techniques, including genomic selection as a pre-breeding approach (landrace x landrace, landrace x elite, elite x elite)
  • Establish and/or maintain collaborations with Global Centers of Excellence to review, validate and implement new techniques for pre-breeding 
  • Provide training to staff of the national programs, including provision of training materials
  • Effectively manage the financial resources of the Section, including budget development and spending oversight, and submission timely financial reports to donors
  • Lead, motivate and effectively manage the scientific and support staff of the Section.


Education, qualifications and experience

Essential qualifications and competencies

  • ·         PhD in Genetics, taxonomy, bioinformatics or other related areas
  • ·         At least twelve years’ experience combining scientific research related to conservation of genetic resources and management of genebanks and management of financial and human resources
  • ·         Strong publication record in relevant international referred journals
  • ·         Proven track record in fund raising
  • ·         Demonstrated ability to effectively build, lead and manage diverse teams of talented scientists from different disciplines and cultures
  • ·         Excellent interpersonal and organizational skills and ability to work cooperatively and effectively in a multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural environment
  • ·         Strong communication skills with the ability to effectively interact and communicate research outputs and impacts with diverse audiences
  • ·         Excellent written and spoken English
  • ·         Knowledge of international legislations and policies related to access and benefit sharing of genetic resources
  • Knowledge of Arabic and/or French is an advantage


Desirable qualifications and competencies



Terms of appointment, salary and benefits

This is an internationally recruited position for which ICARDA offers an attractive compensation package including a competitive salary, housing allowance, non-contributory retirement plan, medical insurance, 30 days of annual leave, five months’ maternity leave, 15 days’ paternity leave.  All benefits are denominated and paid in US Dollars. The successful candidate will be offered an initial contract of 3 years, renewable subject to continued need for the position and satisfactory performance. The first year will be probationary period.


How to apply

Please apply online at www.icarda.org/iea/ by 30 April 2019. Applications will still be considered until the position is filled.


ICARDA is committed to increasing women representation in its workforce and strongly encourages applications from women.

Applications will be acknowledged, but only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Bioloxy


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