The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015 has been jointly awarded to Crick emeritus scientist Tomas Lindahl, with Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar, for 'mechanistic studies of DNA repair'.
The scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015 for having mapped, at a molecular level, how cells repair damaged DNA and safeguard the genetic information. Their work has provided fundamental knowledge of how a living cell functions and is, for instance, used for the development of new cancer treatments.
Sir Paul Nurse, Director of the Francis Crick Institute, said: "I offer congratulations from everyone at the Francis Crick Institute and myself to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar for sharing the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. I am absolutely delighted that Tomas, an Emeritus Professor at the Crick Institute's Clare Hall Laboratory, has been recognised for his outstanding work on DNA. As director of the Clare Hall Laboratory of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and then Cancer Research UK from 1986 to 2005, Tomas has been an inspiration to his colleagues and peers for decades. This honour is most richly deserved."
Tomas Robert Lindahl FRS FMedSci, born 28 January 1938, is a Swedish scientist specialising in DNA damage and repair. He was director of the Clare Hall Laboratories from 1986 to 2005. He was awarded the Royal Society's Royal Medal in 2007 and the Copley Medal in 2010, and the INSERM Prix Etranger in 2009.
Tomas Lindahl's Mutagenesis Laboratory at Clare Hall characterised different DNA repair pathways in a long-term project to provide better understanding of the cellular defence mechanisms against damage to the human genome.
Damaged sites in the chromosomal DNA can result in cell death or cancer, but may be corrected by DNA repair enzymes prior to phenotypic expression. The properties of several nuclear enzymes that remove harmful lesions or local aberrant structures from DNA have been investigated. The absence of such DNA repair factors may result in an increased frequency of malignant transformation, or in some cases may be detected as immunological deficiencies.
Tomas closed his lab at the Clare Hall laboratories in 2009 but remains an Emeritus Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute.