Eleven distinguished scientists and exceptional early career researchers have been honoured in the Biochemical Society’s annual Awards.
The Awards recognize scientists for the excellence of their work and the profound impact their research has had on the scientific community and wider society. They also highlight outstanding work by early career researchers.
Professor Anne Dell, Chair of the Awards Committee, said: “The Biochemical Society’s Awards recognize scientists at all career stages, across the full spectrum of the molecular biosciences. The Award lectures in 2017 will showcase the outstanding contributions that the winners have made.”
All of our award prize and medal lectureships carry an honorarium and all award winners will be invited to submit an article to a Society-owned publication.
The 2017 Biochemical Society Award was awarded to Keith Gull from the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford. Keith has a special interest in the biochemistry of the microtubule cytoskeleton, cell motility and division. He has made a major contribution to understanding the molecular components of the microtubule cytoskeleton and how it operates in flagellar motility, cell division, and morphogenesis of the African trypanosome. His work has led to the establishment of novel insights into the evolution of the cytoskeleton and its components. He has served on numerous government, learned society and medical charity committees as well as the governing bodies and science advisory committees of many institutes in the UK and Europe. He has had a long-term interest in graduate education and the careers of young scientists. Professor Gull has organised many courses for young African scientists in sub-Saharan Africa.
The 2017 Centenary Award was awarded to Salvador Moncada from the University of Manchester. Salvador has been successively at the forefront of three areas of research in his career to date. Earlier in his career he pioneered prostaglandin pharmacology, he was then a central figure in nitric oxide biology and he has since led the way in understanding how energy metabolism can be regulated and adapted by various signalling pathways. In all of these areas, his work has been ground-breaking and widely recognised by the scientific community.
Another major aspect of Salvador’s career has been his leadership roles, first in the Wellcome Research Laboratories, then at UCL and more recently at the CNIC in Spain and in Manchester. In all these projects Salvador has built a reputation in building research institutions and in developing the careers of others. He has also driven the translation of much of this work into new products and start-up companies. In all of these his ability to straddle the two worlds of basic and applied science was a huge advantage that enabled him to drive basic breakthroughs in ways that led on to improvements in human health.
Salvador presented his award lecture at the Biochemical Society conference entitled ‘ROS and Mitochondria in Nervous System Function and Disease’, 27—29 March 2017, at Charles Darwin House, London, UK.
The 2017 Colworth Medal was awarded to Markus Ralser (University of Cambridge and the Francis Crick Institute) for his work revolutionising understanding of the origin of cellular metabolism during early evolution and the dynamic nature of metabolism that allows cells to adapt to stress situations. He is a leader in the exploration of the evolution of metabolic pathways, with his description of nonenzymic pathways.
Markus presented his award lecture at the Society conference ‘Synthetic Biology UK 2017’ 27 – 28 November 2017 at the Manchester Conference Centre, UK.
The 2017 Heatley Medal and Prize was awarded to Ian Graham from the University of York. During his career Ian has made major contributions to our understanding of plant metabolism and seed biology. Transformative research has shed new light on the production of small molecule natural products from plants such as the anti-cancer compound noscapine, morphinan-based analgesics such as codeine and morphine and the antimalarial drug artemisinin. He led the way in the genetic dissection of lipid mobilization in Arabidopsis oilseeds and most recently has discovered a role for oxylipins in controlling seed germination.
Ian presented his lecture at the 2017 Local Ambassador Day on 16 November 2017.
The 2017 Novartis Medal and Prize was awarded to Doreen Cantrell (University of Dundee). Doreen’s research interests are focused on T lymphocyte development and activation, a key process to the comprehension and manipulation of mammalian immune responses. Doreen’s contributions have provided great insight into how the T lymphocyte, interprets antigenic information both from foreign sources and from ‘self’ and makes appropriate responses.
Shehas applied varied and insightful approaches to rigorously interrogate this key biologicalsystem at the fundamental level of biochemical signal transduction. These insights offer new possibilities to manipulate the immune system to enhance desirable immune responses and eliminate undesirable ones
Doreen presented her lecture on 22 November at Charles Darwin House, London, UK. The lecture was live streamed, you can watch the video here.
Geoffrey D Holman
The 2017 Sir Philip Randle Lecture was awarded to Geoffrey D Holman from University of Bath. Geoffrey has made a major contribution to the field of insulin regulated glucose metabolism, principally the mechanism by which glucose enters cells in response to insulin stimulation through a regulated transporter translocation mechanism. His work has direct impact on our understanding of human insulin-resistant state and the development of Type 2 Diabetes.
Geoffrey presented his award lecture at the Society conference entitled ‘Insulin and exercise signalling for glucose homeostasis and metabolic health’ on 6-8 September 2017 at the University of Bath, UK.
The 2017 Thudichum Medal was awarded to David Rubinsztein from the University of Cambridge. David pioneered the strategy of autophagy upregulation as a possible therapeutic approach in various neurodegenerative diseases and has identified drugs and novel pathways that may be exploited for this objective. He has made key contributions to illuminating the relevance of autophagy defects as a disease mechanism and to the basic cell biology of this important catabolic process. He has also identified druggable pathways independent of autophagy that may be relevant to diseases caused by aggregate-prone proteins. These insights open novel avenues for developing potential therapies.
David presented his medal lecture entitled ‘Autophagy and neurodegeneration’ on 28 July 2017 at Charles Darwin House, London, UK.
The Biotechnology Early Career Research Award was awarded to Alexander Buell (University of Düsseldorf, Germany). Alexander has made ground-breaking contributions to the application of biophysical techniques to characterize the properties of biological molecules. In particular, he has participated in seminal advances in understanding of the molecular mechanisms of aggregation of amyloid forming proteins related to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Alexander presented his medal lecture at the Society conference entitled ‘New Approaches for Investigating Nascent Peptide Folding’, 11-13 December 2017.
The Energy and Metabolism Early Career Research Award was awarded to Edward Chouchani (Dana–Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, USA). Edward has worked to establish the mechanistic basis for cardioprotection by nitric oxide within mitochondria and developed a targeted therapy for treatment of acute myocardial infarction. Additionally, he has identified how novel metabolic pathways become activated to fuel mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production during IR injury. Edward has established how mitochondria can determine healthy function of adipose tissue in mice, which has uncovered new mechanisms that define the anti-obesity and anti-diabetic actions of thermogenic adipose tissue.
Edward presented his lecture at the Society conference entitled ‘ROS and Mitochondria in Nervous System Function and Disease‘, 27—29 March 2017 at Charles Darwin House, London, UK.
Thi (Kelly) Nguyen
The Genes Early Career Research Award was awarded to Thi (Kelly) Nguyen from University of Cambridge. Kelly’s work has made significant contributions to the understanding of the molecular mechanism of pre-messenger RNA splicing.
Kelly presented her lecture at the EMBO Conference – Helicases and nucleic acid-based machines: Structure, mechanism and regulation and roles in human disease: Sponsored by Harden Conferences, 23—28 July 2017 at Kloster Banz Conference Centre, nr Bamberg, Germany.