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Royal Society awards recognise MRC scientists

Four members of the Medical Research Council community were recognised for their contribution to science by the Royal Society today.

Professor Ronald Laskey has been awarded one of the Royal Society's 2009 Royal Medals for his pivotal contributions to our understanding of the control of DNA replication and nuclear protein transport, which has led to a novel screening method for cancer diagnosis. Prof Laskey, joint director of the MRC Cancer Cell Unit and vice-president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, has also previously been awarded the Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine, the Medical Futures Cancer Innovation Award and the Tomorrow’s World award for Health Innovation.

On the receipt of his award Professor Laskey said, 'It feels both flattering and humbling to see the list of past recipients but it is particularly pleasing to receive this level of recognition from your peers.

'I am particularly grateful to the past and present members of my research team, whose efforts have made this recognition possible.'

Professor Ashok Venkitaraman, Joint Director of the MRC Cancer Cell Unit with Professor Laskey, said: "Ron Laskey's work over the years has provided a foundation for many topical and important fields in biomedical research, ranging from nuclear transfer and embryo cloning, to mammalian DNA replication.

“The way in which he has translated his fundamental research on DNA replication to the development of important new tools for the early diagnosis of human cancers is a lesson in how biological knowledge can be used to benefit human health. He has mentored and nurtured the careers of many younger colleagues. I am delighted that Ron's outstanding contributions to the biomedical sciences have been recognised by the Royal Society."

Also recognised by the Royal Society today is Sir Martin Evans, who receives the Royal Society’s Copley medal for his seminal work on embryonic stem cells in mice, which revolutionised the field of genetics. Sir Martin, an MRC-funded scientist and Nobel prize winner, is Director of the School of Biosciences and Professor of Mammalian Genetics at Cardiff University.

Dr Jason Chin, from the Division of Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, has been chosen to present the annual Francis Crick Lecture for the Royal Society in November. Former MRC chief executive Professor Colin Blakemore will deliver the Ferrier Lecture at the Society next year.

The Royal Society, the UK’s independent academy for science, awards in recognition of their achievements in a wide variety of fields of research - the uniting factor is the excellence of their work and the profound implications their findings have had for others working in their relevant fields.

Three Royal Medals are awarded annually for the most important contributions to the advancement of natural knowledge and for distinguished contributions in interdisciplinary or applied sciences.

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