In 1996, Dr. Bob Nilan, former chair of Crop and Soil Sciences and dean of the College of Sciences, recruited Diter Von Wettstein to come to WSU and serve as the first Robert Nilan Distinguished Professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and the School of Molecular Biosciences. You see, at the University in Denmark where Diter was working at the time, faculty were required to retire once they reached a specified age. Bob probably felt that WSU might get 4 or 5 years of service from this renowned scientist, who is a member of 11 Academies of Sciences. Thirteen years later, Diter is still going strong.
On Wednesday, Washington’s Life Science Discovery Fund announced that Dr. Von Wettstein was one of just five researchers in the state to win a project grant. He will receive nearly $1.2 million to continue his work on developing gluten-free wheat for people who suffer from celiac disease. The award comes on the heels of a four-year, $837,000 award from the National Institutes of Health earlier this year. Several prominent researchers hypothesized that it was not possible to receive a Life Science Discovery Fund grant for work in the plant sciences. Diter refuted their hypothesis.
Diter is a great inspiration to all of us in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. He is living proof that one’s intellectual capital need not erode over time, as he continues to make great advances in science and in improving the quality of life for those individuals who suffer from this terrible disease. Thank you, Diter, for all that you do for CAHNRS and WSU!