Sir Keith Peters, Robin Lovell-Badge and Demis Hassabis have received honours for their outstanding contributions to science in Britain's New Year's Honours list.
Sir Keith Peters
Sir Keith Peters has been appointed Knight Grand Cross (GBE) for his impact on medicine and science, while Professor Robin Lovell-Badge becomes a CBE for services to genetics, stem cell biology and the public understanding of science. DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassibis, who sits on the Crick's Scientific Advisory Board, becomes a CBE for services to science and technology.
The Honours Committee citation states that: "Sir Keith Peters is one of the UK's most influential clinical academics who has made a series of lasting impacts on medicine and science."
The award citation recognises his major contribution to the conception and establishment of the Francis Crick Institute. It also credits his work on immune mechanisms in kidney disease at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith, the transformation of the Clinical School in Cambridge and the development of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.
Sir Keith was interim director of the Medical Research Council (MRC)'s National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), one of the parent institutes of the Crick, from 2006 to 2008 when new locations for NIMR were being identified. He became a member of the Crick's Executive Committee in 2012, with a special role advising on clinical, translation and innovation strategy. In this role he was able to use his own clinical experience as a kidney specialist, and his industry experience at GSK, to inform and influence the Crick's strategy.
Sir Keith was instrumental in the development of the original idea behind the Crick, helping to expand the MRC's initial need for a new NIMR location into the reality of the Crick as it is today, with six different founding partners, an enviable location, a state-of-the-art building and an innovative strategy emphasising clinical and translational research.
Robin Lovell-Badge is a Group Leader at the Crick, having worked at the National Institute of Medical Research, the Crick's parent institute, since 1988.
On the award of his CBE, Robin says: "I am delighted to receive this honour, but of course I am indebted to all those who have contributed to the science over many years and to all those who have helped me with or tolerated my absences due to my efforts in public engagement. The honour should go to you and I hope we can celebrate together."
Robin has longstanding interests in the biology of stem cells, in how genes work in the context of embryo development and in how decisions of cell fate are made. Major themes of his current work include sex determination, development of the nervous system and pituitary, and the biology of stem cells within the early embryo, the central nervous system and the pituitary.
He is also very active in both public engagement and policy work, notably around stem cells, genetics, human embryo and animal research, and in the ways science is regulated and disseminated. In this way, Robin makes an enormous contribution to public discourse and the Crick's public profile.
Demis Hassabis is the co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, a neuroscience-inspired AI company that develops general-purpose learning algorithms to help tackle some of the world's most pressing challenges. He sits on the Crick's Scientific Advisory Board, advising on all aspects of the development and implementation of the institute's scientific strategy.
On the award of his CBE, Demis told the BBC that he was "very proud" of his team at DeepMind.
"This is recognition of the immense contribution they have already made to the world of science and technology, and I'm excited about the potential for many more breakthroughs and societal benefit in the years ahead," he said.
Demis is a former child chess prodigy, who once ranked second in the world for his age. He then coded the multi-million selling simulation game Theme Park aged 17. Following graduation from Cambridge University with a Double First in Computer Science he founded the pioneering videogames company Elixir Studios. After a decade of experience leading successful technology startups, Demis returned to academia to complete a PhD in cognitive neuroscience at University College London, followed by postdocs at MIT and Harvard, before founding DeepMind. The journal Science listed his research connecting memory with imagination as one of the top ten scientific breakthroughs of 2007.
Demis is a five-time World Games Champion, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and the recipient of the Royal Society's Mullard Award and the Royal Academy of Engineering's Silver Medal. In 2016, Demis received WIRED magazine's Leadership in Innovation Award and in 2017 he was named in the Time 100 list of the world's most influential people.