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President Steven Leath spoke about the role public universities play in confronting the grand challenges of global food security during the 2016 Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium at the World Food Prize on October 14.
 
A member of the  World Food Prize Council of Advisors , Leath explained that cross-disciplinary and public-private collaborations are crucial in making significant progress in agricultural research.
 
Leath referenced partnerships within Iowa State's Presidential Initiative for Interdisciplinary Research (PIIR) that launched in fall 2012. Since then, PIIR has already yielded significant results.
 
Research teams made up of more than 100 Iowa State faculty members from five colleges have attracted $42.6 million in external funding for research that will improve lives.
 
Two of the research projects that were awarded seed funding upon inception, are now ready to become interdisciplinary research centers. And many PIIR teams have developed far-reaching research collaborations. The Global Food Security Consortium, for example, has brought together 11 academic institutions, six international research centers, and five organizations to address international agricultural development.
 
Projects under PIIR address emerging societal challenges beyond the daunting problems of hunger and malnutrition such as next-generation vaccines, data accessibility, and big data projects to advance health and communities.
 
"We launched this initiative four years ago with the intent of creating a new culture of collaborative research at Iowa State, a culture of thinking big," Leath said. "Thinking big like this is how we'll live up to our mission of creating, sharing, and applying knowledge to improve our state and world."
 
Through PIIR, Iowa State has worked hard to create an environment that supports and fosters collaboration across fields, departments, colleges, institutions, and industry. When researchers of diverse backgrounds come together, major advances, discoveries, and technologies are sure to bolster agricultural production and sustainability to feed the world's growing population.
 
Did you know? This year marks the 30th anniversary of the World Food Prize, founded by Dr. Norman Borlaug (Cresco, IA) who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. The World Food Prize is headquartered in Des Moines.
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Iowa State's Mission:
Create, share, and apply knowledge to make
Iowa and the world a better place.
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The Alliance for Iowa State is a coalition of Iowa State alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, and friends.
The Alliance advocates Iowa State University's land grant mission throughout Iowa
while focusing its advocacy on state legislators and public policy makers.

The Alliance for Iowa State is maintained by the Iowa State University Alumni Association.