PD/GWSS Board Selects Nancy Irelan as Research Director


Sacramento, Calif., Oct. 2, 2006 – California’s Dept. of Food & Agriculture’s (CDFA) Pierce’s Disease/Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter (PD/GWSS) Board, which has funded over 120 research projects relating to PD/GWSS, announces the appointment of Nancy Irelan as research director.

Nancy IrelanIrelan will provide strategic oversight of the Board’s research program, including reviewing the program’s efficiency and productivity, developing a strategic plan, managing active projects and overseeing the ongoing search for new research avenues and opportunities.

“Nancy brings valuable experience to the effort with her abilities to build coalitions, understand the complex scientific research and convey the importance of that research to the rank and file members of the industry,” said PD/GWSS Board Chair Pete Downs. “Her scientific background and communication skills are exactly what we need at this time in the battle to control, understand and combat this potentially devastating disease.”

“I look forward to working closely with the CDFA, and our industry and research partners to achieve our program goals of finding a timely and sustainable solution to Pierce’s disease,” Irelan said.

Before joining the Board, Irelan spent 12 years with Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery. Previous roles include: vice president of enology and viticulture technology; senior director and director of life sciences; research leader for genetics; and senior research scientist for technology.

Irelan is affiliated with 11 industry organizations, including the National Grape and Wine Initiative; the Viticulture Consortium, American Viticulture and Enology Research Network; and the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology. She also holds three patents and has co-published seven scientific research papers related to the wine industry.

In addition to her Board duties, Irelan is the owner of The Answer Grape, a technical consulting company, a partner of Rogue Vineyards and president of Red Tail Ridge Winery, all located in Penn Yan, N.Y. She is also an adjunct professor in the department of food science and technology at Cornell University’s New York Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y. Irelan earned a doctorate in genetics from the University of California, Davis, and a bachelor’s in biology from Glassboro State College.

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The PD/GWSS Board was established in July 2001 to support scientific research to find a cure for Pierce’s disease. An annual assessment paid by winegrape growers supports its research efforts.  The PD/GWSS Board also advises the California Department of Food and Agriculture on a variety of other issues pertaining to Pierce’s disease and the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter.

The work of the Board is underlined by the fact that Pierce’s disease has no known cure and, if left unchecked, could be devastating to the grape industry and several other California crops. A study recently released by the Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers showed that the total annual economic impact of California’s winegrape industry is estimated at $45.4 billion.

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