A critical need is to expeditiously expand the research base that is looking for solutions to HLB. Increasing intellectual capacity that mitigates HLB requires striking international and multidisciplinary scientific collaborations. Competitive research funding will attract new researchers and new ideas, potentially from divergent fields, that have the potential to make rapid progress. Rigorous evaluations, from scientific and industry perspectives, of research priorities, proposals, and progress are critical to ensure timely advancement in the field. An important metric will be the number and caliber of scientists entering the HLB field and progress of scientific advancements against HLB disease.
Mitigating HLB will require global cooperation in intellectual development, research funds, and biological resources. Particularly in the area of genetics and breeding, the capacity to evaluate and maintain large and diverse germplasm blocks is critical. This can be facilitated by access to counter-seasonal climate and to shared fields. A collaborative network of citrus geneticists and breeders coordinated from a single site can provide more strategic use of resources, reduce redundancy and accelerate progress in genetic improvement. The development of global collaborations and the leveraging of external research resources towards common objectives should be a measure of progress.
A research program that is targeted towards practical outcomes should embrace a philosophy of translational research from its inception. In concrete terms, translational research programs are characterized by investment in fundamental research that is required to understand the problem at hand but with close linkage to applied research programs that can rapidly translate the results to the field. This requires interdisciplinary research teams and the development of a research community that communicates frequently and easily. A culture for information sharing, publication, and scientific workshops and meeting should accelerate research and development. In addition, if the program is sponsoring transgenic research it should explicitly integrate an assessment of the “downstream” IP and regulatory issues at the outset of each project and invest in the expertise and strategies that will facilitate the deployment of successful research targets. A measure of progress should include early progress in adopting a translational research philosophy and in establishing processes of information sharing and accountability in terms of timelines and progress towards research deliverables.