Following a PhD in plant genetics from the University of East Anglia, Richard Mithen spent four years working on the collection, conservation and use of wild crop relatives in south central Africa. Subsequently, he led a research group at the John Innes Centre in plant genetics, where he was responsible for the introduction of the high-glucoraphanin (GR) trait from the wild Brassica villosa into commercial broccoli lines through marker-assisted wide-crossing.
An increasing interest in the interface between plant science and human health research took Richard to the University of Nottingham, where he became Professor of Crop Science in 1999.
He moved to Quadram Institute Bioscience in 2003 (formerly the Institute of Food Research) where he led the Food and Health programme before moving to the University of Auckland as Professor of Human Nutrition at the Liggins Institute and Chief Scientist for the New Zealand High Value Nutrition National Science Challenge. His main research interests are in human nutrition and the role of plant specialised metabolites in promoting and maintaining human health.