Jesse Dubin - Retirement

Dr. Jesse Dubin

In July, 1999, Dr. Jesse Dubin retired from CIMMYT after nearly 25 years of service to the Wheat Program. A plant pathologist, Jesse arrived at CIMMYT in March, 1975, hired by Dr. Norman Borlaug. He initially worked as a pathologist with the Wheat Program at CIMMYT Headquarters, during which time he helped lay the foundation for the incorporation of adult plant resistance to leaf rust. His work on classifying parents with this type of resistance made it possible to identify which genotypes were appropriate for this effort. Many commercial cultivars have since been released from those materials.

In 1976-77, Mexico had a leaf rust epidemic. The Mexican government decided to spray major wheat areas of northern Mexico based on information developed by Jesse and his team on the use of systemic fungicides for control of rust. The stopgap measure successfully controlled the epidemic until appropriate resistant cultivars could be released and was probably the first time systemic fungicides were used on a large commercial wheat area, and disastrous losses were averted.

In 1979, Jesse was sent out to represent CIMMYT in the Andean Region. While there, he and his colleagues showed that the severe yellow rust epidemic on barley in 1975 was caused not by a new race, but the f.sp. hordei, which had never before been seen in the Americas. Excellent resistance to this pathogen was identified, and the best genotypes were sent to the USDA barley collection for use by barley breeders worldwide. Jesse's work in Chile also showed the importance of BYD in South America. Based on this, CIMMYT initiated its BYDV-resistance breeding efforts in the late 1970s.

After 5 years in the Andean Region, Jesse and his wife Gloria were transferred to Nepal, where Jesse established CIMMYT's South Asia Regional Office, which covers Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. He worked with CIMMYT's Economics Program on a study of breeding research that revealed that this activity has had a very high rate of return due mostly to disease resistance, especially to leaf rust and Helminthosporium blight. The research also showed that yield potential was increasing about 1 % per year for wheat, the only major crop whose productivity was increasing at that time.

During Jesse's tenure as regional pathologist/breeder in Outreach, more than 40 young scientists were sent to Mexico for in-service training, and several master's and predoctoral students were supported as well.

In 1994, Jesse and Gloria went back to CIMMYT Headquarters in Mexico, where Jesse became the head of wheat crop protection and the Seed Health Unit. A few years later, in 1997, he was named Associate Director of the CIMMYT Wheat Program. In this difficult and challenging position, Jesse drew on his considerable experience in outreach and as an administrator. By the time he retired in 1999, Jesse had made myriad valuable contributions to CIMMYT and to developing world agriculture in general. Today, he continues to be active in his profession, putting his expertise to good use as a consultant.