Royal Society announces 2011 award winners

20 July 2011

Eminent scientists have received recognition from the Royal Society for excellence in their field of work and the implications of their findings for others.

Among those honoured were Dr Robin Holliday and Dr Tim Bliss, both formerly of the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR; now part of the Francis Crick Institute), and Dr Simon Boulton a Senior Group Leader at Cancer Research UK's London Research Institute (LRI; also now part of the Francis Crick Institute).

Dr Robin Holliday, a former head of the Division of Genetics at the NIMR, received a Royal Medal which is awarded for important contributions in the physical, biological and applied sciences.

He is recognised for his influential discoveries of the 'Holliday junction' molecular structure (formed whenever the breakage and rejoining of DNA occurs in chromosomes) and the function of DNA methylation (a process vital for normal development in humans, in which DNA is chemically modified).

The honour of delivering the Royal Society's annual premier lecture in the biological sciences, the Croonian Lecture, in 2012 went to Dr Tim Bliss.

Dr Bliss is a world renowned expert in the physiology of memory and former head of the Division of Neurophysiology at the NIMR. He published the first detailed account of long-term potentiation (LTP), one of the major cellular processes underlying learning and memory, in 1973.

Dr Simon Boulton, who heads up the DNA Damage Response laboratory at the LRI's Clare Hall site, was awarded the Francis Crick Lecture 2011 for his groundbreaking research. The Francis Crick Lecture is given annually in any field in the biological sciences. Preference is given to genetics, molecular biology and neurobiology, the general areas in which Francis Crick worked, and to fundamental theoretical work, which was the hallmark of Crick's science.

Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society and Chief Executive of The Francis Crick Institute, said:

"We're very pleased to be able to recognise these outstanding scientists in this way. The Society's awards and medals are a crucial part of our work in highlighting excellence in science across the disciplines. This year's recipients represent the very best science taking place across the globe."

Scientists from both the NIMR and the LRI will work together in the new multidisciplinary biomedical research centre, The Francis Crick Institute, when it opens in 2015. The Institute will draw on the strengths of its founder organisations to conduct groundbreaking research into the biological mechanisms controlling cell, tissue and body function.