Salim Al-Babili received his PhD from the University of Freiburg (Germany), followed by a Rockefeller Postdoctoral Fellowship for developing the “Golden Rice”. He was a group leader at the University of Freiburg, where he received his Habilitation in 2007, and joined KAUST in 2013. He has made essential contributions to combating micronutrients deficiency by genetic engineering, and discovered the metabolite carlactone that deciphered the biosynthesis of the plant hormone strigolactone. Al-Babili is currently heading an international consortium, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to control the parasitic plant Striga, a major threat to global food security in sub-Saharan Africa.
Al-Babili has longstanding expertise in genetic engineering of biofortified crops and elucidating metabolic pathways. His BioActives Lab is currently working on basic and translational aspects of plant metabolism and hormone research, focused on strigolactones and on identifying novel small molecules regulating crop resilience and performance. In addition, he is developing hormone-based chemistries to combat the root parasitic plant Striga, and is establishing the molecular toolkit required for improving the resistance and performance of pearl millet, a nutritious and important cereal for arid and hot climates.