Early Career Research Awards recognise the impact of research carried out in the molecular biosciences by early career scientists.
It is expected that successful candidates will have produced international quality research outputs, and be able to demonstrate ambitions and aspirations consistent with the potential to achieve world-leading status.
The recipient is given:
- A grant to attend a relevant event or training course
- A medal
- The opportunity to present a lecture at a Society event or webinar
- An invitation to submit an article to one of our journals, with any fees waived
- The opportunity to be mentored by one of the Biochemical Society Journal’s Associate Editors
- Awarded for the impact of research carried out in the molecular biosciences
- Nominees should be early career, typically within 10 years of receiving their highest qualification
- Nominees should have produced international quality research outputs
- Nominees should be able to demonstrate ambitions and aspirations consistent with the potential to achieve world-leading status
- Open to nominees based in the UK or internationally
- This award is only open to individuals
The Awards Committee will consider the following aspects of all nominations for the Early Career Research Awards as appropriate:
- Originality of research
- Impact of research
- Quality of outputs – publications and/or patents and/or software
- Quality of international research outputs
- Collaborations and teamwork
- Independence and/or ambitions
- Commitment to build, support, and nurture future talent e.g., public engagement or outreach
- Other indicators of esteem demonstrated by the nominator
Upcoming Award Lecture
Amy Vincent will present her Award Lecture at Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Neurodegeneration meeting between 20-21 April 2023.Register now!
For further information please get in touch with the Awards department.
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One of two 2023 Early Career Research Awards will be presented to Dr Amy Vincent. Amy is a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow at the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research (Newcastle, UK). Her work focuses on studying the pathological mechanisms underlying mitochondrial myopathy and disease progression. Her recent work investigates the contributions of mitochondrial DNA replication, mito-nuclear signalling and cell and mitochondrial morphology to the clonal expansion of mitochondrial DNA deletions and the spread of mitochondrial DNA mutations and dysfunction through muscle fibres.
Amy says: “I am delighted to be recognised with this award and incredibly grateful to Prof Chrzanowska-Lightowlers for nominating me. This award is very much a reflection of the highly talented people I have the pleasure of working and collaborating with and those who have and continue to support me. I would particularly like to thank Prof Sir Doug Turnbull who has been an inspiration, exceptional supervisor and mentor.”
One of two 2023 Early Career Research Awards will be presented to Dr Tom Deegan. Tom has been a Programme Leader at the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh since September 2021. Prior to this, Tom undertook his PhD with John Diffley (The Francis Crick Institute, London) and postdoctoral work as a Sir Henry Wellcome postdoctoral fellow with Karim Labib (University of Dundee).
Throughout this time, Tom’s research has focussed on the fundamental molecular mechanisms that eukaryotic cells use to replicate their DNA prior to cell division. In recent years, Tom has harnessed innovative biochemical and structural biology approaches to unpick the ill-defined ‘termination’ stage of this fundamental biological process.
Tom says: “I am absolutely delighted to have won this award. The list of previous winners is very impressive; I’m honoured to join them, and I hope this will be a springboard for starting my group at the MRC Human Genetics Unit. I would like to thank all the people who supported my nomination, particularly Drs. John Diffley and Karim Labib, who have been fantastic mentors to me, as well as all the brilliant scientists that I have had the pleasure to work alongside over the years.”
Tom presented his Award lecture at the UK DNA Replication meeting in September 2022.
Maria Marti Solano
Maria Marti Solano
The 2022 Early Career Research Award was presented to Dr Maria Marti Solano. Maria is a FEBS Long Term and Marie Skłodowska-Curie postdoctoral fellow at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Her research focuses on the study of the relationships between structure, signalling, and phenotype that underlie receptor function. In her most recent work, Maria has integrated data on multi-omics, receptor sequence and structure, and molecular pharmacology to analyse how G protein-coupled receptor isoform structural and functional variation across human tissues can contribute to system-specific receptor signalling in response to endogenous ligands and drugs.
Maria said: “I am delighted to receive this award. I would like to thank my nominators, especially Dr M. Madan Babu, who is not only a really inspiring scientist but also an excellent mentor. Due to its multi-disciplinary nature, my research would not have been possible without the outstanding experimental and computational collaborators I’ve been lucky to work with in the past years, so I’d like to take this chance to thank them all for their continued support.”
Maria presented her Award lecture at the Small G proteins meeting in September 2022.
The 2022 Early Career Research Award was presented to Dr Hendrik Messal. Dr Messal completed his PhD in 2017 in the lab of Axel Behrens at the Francis Crick Institute London. He is currently a postdoc with Jacco van Rheenen at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, where he uses 3D whole organ microscopy to explore the molecular mechanisms that shape tissue morphology in the normal and cancerous breast and pancreas.
Hendrik said: “I am delighted to be the recipient of the Biochemical Society’s Early Career Research Award. I thank my nominators and mentors for their continuous support. Above all, this award honours the many outstanding minds I have had the pleasure working with along the years."
Hendrik will be presenting his Award Lecture at Dynamic Cell V in 2023.
The 2021 Early Career Research Award was presented to Dr Kirsty Wan at the University of Exeter, UK. Kirsty is a Senior Research Fellow and group leader at the Living Systems Institute (LSI), University of Exeter. Her main research interests concern the motile behaviour and dynamics of microorganisms, with emphasis on exploring novel interdisciplinary approaches. She obtained her undergraduate (mathematics) and PhD degrees (biological physics) from the University of Cambridge, UK, where she was also awarded a Nevile Research Fellowship from Magdalene College (2014-2017) for her postdoctoral work. In 2019, Kirsty was the recipient of an ERC Starting Grant to begin a major new project on single-cell cognition.
On receiving the Early Career Research Award, Kirsty said: “I am absolutely delighted with this news! It is a real pleasure to have been given this award from the Biochemical Society. This is further justification for the value of interdisciplinary research – something that was instilled in me early on by my mentors. I take this opportunity to thank my PhD (and postdoc!) supervisor Professor Ray Goldstein who has been a constant source of inspiration throughout my career. I am also extremely grateful to my colleagues at Exeter for making and shaping the LSI and cultivating a unique and stimulating working environment. I look forward to the many scientific discoveries that we will continue to make together."
Kirsty presented her Award lecture at the Online ‘Dynamic Cell IV’ conference on 14-19 March 2021.
The 2021 Early Career Research Award will be presented to Dr Roser Vento-Tormo at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK. She completed her postdoctoral studies under the supervision of Professor Sarah Teichmann as an EMBO and HFSP fellow. Here she developed CellPhoneDB, a unique resource of ligands, receptors and their interactions, integrated with a statistical framework to build cellular communication networks from single-cell transcriptomics data. Roser has used this cutting-edge computational framework to study maternal-fetal communication during early pregnancy in humans. More broadly, CellPhoneDB has also been key to identifying cell-cell interactions mediating fundamental biological processes including hematopoiesis and the tumour microenvironment.
Roser Vento-Tormo presented her award lecture ‘Mapping development and regeneration in vivo and in vitro’ as part of the Biochemistry Focus webinar series. View the recording.
On winning the Early Career Research Award, Roser said: “I am thrilled to receive the Early Career Research Award by the Biochemical Society, which recognises the work of my superb team and collaborators. Together, we combine computational and experimental expertise to define novel cell identities, their regulation and functional role in health and disease. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my nominators and mentors for their support during the early stages of my career as an independent investigator.”
One of the two 2020 Early Career Research Awards was presented to Andrew Hammond of Imperial College London, UK.
Andrew completed his PhD at Imperial College London working on gene drives. Gene drives have incredible potential to modify entire populations of the malaria mosquito by biasing their own inheritance. Andrew’s PhD was focused upon finding suitable targets in the mosquito genome, and establishing CRISPR technologies in the mosquito to test its potential as a gene drive. Andrew’s primary PhD research demonstrated the first gene drive system designed to suppress populations of the malaria mosquito, including the first use of CRISPR in the African malaria mosquito. Andrew found that in caged release experiments, these gene drives spread, but were soon forced out of the population as a result of evolved resistant mutations. Andrew then focused on targeting sites in the genome that might be unable to tolerate the types of mutations that had previously been shown to confer resistance, identifying an extremely conserved site in the a region of the doublesex gene that is required for female development and built a gene drive designed to target this. By building in additional improvements to the drive design, it was able to spread very quickly through caged populations, without selecting for resistance, and ultimately eliminating the entire mosquito populations. Alongside this research, Andrew also co-developed the first CRISPR-based system to bias the sex ratio – a key process needed to develop several strategies for pest and vector control. Andrew has recently been awarded a Sir Henry Wellcome Fellowship to initiate a new line of research aimed at understanding the neurobiology underlying mosquito attraction to humans. This work will be undertaken at John’s Hopkins University, Imperial College London, and the University of Oxford.
Andrew said: “I cannot express how delighted I am to be awarded the Early Career Research Award from the Biochemical Society! I have been incredibly fortunate to have been based in such a fantastic lab over the past 7 years, with brilliant colleagues such as Dr Roberto Galizi and Kyros Kyrou. I must thank Professor Austin Burt who has been an inspirational mentor throughout my career and whose theory of gene drive first attracted me to the research. The two people I am most grateful to are my PhD supervisors, Dr Tony Nolan and Professor Andrea Crisanti – who have showered me with abundant motivation, advice and support throughout my PhD and post-doctoral research.”
On 11 June 2020, Dr Andrew Hammond, one of the Biochemical Society's Early Career Research Awards recipients, presented his work on 'Building gene drives to beat malaria' as part of the Biochemistry Focus webinar series. View the recording
Sara Priego Moreno
Sara Priego Moreno
One of the two 2020 Early Career Research Awards will be presented to Dr Sara Priego Moreno of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, USA.
Sara’s research has focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms that govern the poorly characterized termination stage of eukaryotic DNA replication. Using egg extracts from the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis to run in vitro DNA replication reactions, Sara was able to characterize for the first time the biochemistry underlying one of the most important events taking place during replication termination: Replisome disassembly upon replication forks convergence. Sara discovered that ubiquitylation of the replisomes by the ubiquitin ligase Cullin2LRR1 during termination of replication forks and further processing by the segregase p97 drove the extraction of the replisomes from the DNA. These discoveries had a very strong impact in the replication and genome instability fields as they have unveiled fundamental molecular mechanisms and improved understanding of the termination stage of DNA replication. After completing her PhD and a six month postdoctoral position at the University of Birmingham, Sara joined the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, USA. Sara’s research is now focused on the understanding of replication mechanisms required for the maintenance of the essential telomeric DNA in human primary and cancer cells.
Sara said: “I was absolutely delighted and extremely happy when I found out that I was a recipient for The Early Career Research Award 2020 of the Biochemical Society. I want to give a big thanks to my wonderful PhD supervisor, Dr Aga Gambus, for her constant support throughout my PhD project and for always transmitting her enthusiasm and passion for science. I also want to thank my great colleagues, for the time and effort they spent towards my project and for making the lab a very friendly, exciting and fun place to work every day. I may be the one wining this award but this would not be possible without their help.”
Sara presented her Award lecture on Thursday 16 July 2020 as part of the Biochemistry Focus webinar series. View the recording.
The 2019 Early Career Research Award for Biotechnology was awarded to Michael Booth from the University of Oxford, UK. Michael developed novel DNA sequencing techniques for the detection of two newly discovered modified DNA bases. These newly discovered modified bases had been implicated in human development and disease progression; however, there were no sequencing techniques to precisely map them in the genome to uncover their functional relevance. Furthermore, these sequencing techniques have been patented and spun-out into a company, Cambridge Epigenetix. Cambridge Epigenetix now markets the technique as a kit under the name ‘TrueMethyl®’. Michael currently based in the group of Hagan Bayley as a postdoctoral researcher, and was awarded a Junior Research Fellowship at Merton College Oxford, held from 2014-2017. Here Michael synthesised light-activated DNA and demonstrated its use to stringently control protein expression in synthetic tissues. These synthetic tissues act as functional mimics of neuronal transmission that can be controlled in a precise way.
Of winning the Early Career Research Award for Biotechnology, Michael said: “I was absolutely delighted to find out I have been awarded the Early Career Research Award in Biotechnology by the Biochemical Society. I would very much like to thank two important mentors from my research career, Sir Shankar Balasubramanian and Hagan Bayley, and their respective research groups.”
Michael presented his award lecture at the Biochemical Society conference ‘Synthetic Biology UK 2019‘ on 9-10 December 2019 at University of Warwick, UK.
The 2019 Early Career Research Award for Genes was presented to Ana Casañal from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, University of Cambridge, UK. Ana has been working on the determination of the structure and function of the cleavage and polyadenylation factor (CPF) from yeast. In eukaryotes, mRNA 3′-end processing is a key step in gene expression regulation that involves both cleavage and polyadenylation of the nascent RNA transcripts. CPF is 1 MDa complex that cleaves the nascent mRNA, adds a poly(A) tail and dephosphorylates RNA polymerase II to coordinate transcription. mRNA polyadenylation is deregulated in human diseases and is hijacked by viruses. Therefore it is critical to understand how the mRNA 3’-end processing machinery functions and how its activity can be regulated. Ana’s research provided a breakthrough towards the understanding of 3’-end processing showing a new architecture of CPF and the first cryo-EM structure of its poly(A) polymerase module. Ana’s work provides detailed insight into polyadenylation, and also has broad relevance in gene expression, RNA biology, and multi-protein assemblies.
Of winning the Early Career Research Award for Genes, Ana said: ”I am delighted and honoured to have been selected for the Early Career Research award of the Biochemical Society. This would not have been possible without the support from my PhD and postdoc supervisors, Prof. Valpuesta, Dr. J. A. Marquez and Dr. Lori Passmore. I am extremely grateful to Dr Lori Passmore and Dr David Barford for their encouragement through my challenging research and my colleagues for their contributions to my work and great team effort.”
Ana presented her award lecture at the Biochemical Society conference ‘Translation UK 2019‘ on 3-5 July 2019 at Strathclyde Business School, Glasgow.
The 2019 Early Career Research Award for Signalling was presented to Qian Wu from the University of Cambridge, UK. Qian’s research focuses on understanding the functional mechanism of human DNA damage response and repair signalling network and identifying potential targets for future drug discovery. By combining different methods, her research explores three major properties of this complicated signalling network: 1. Spatial architecture of individual and protein complexes; 2. Temporal arrangement of these protein complexes; 3. Regulation of protein-protein interaction through post-translational modification. She has made significant contribution to the field by characterizing the structure, function and assembly of various key protein complexes in human Non-Homologous End Joining (NHEJ) pathway for repairing DNA double-strand breaks, which is the most toxic DNA damage types in our cells.
Read Qian's article published in Biochemical Society Transactions - Structural mechanism of DNA-end synapsis in the non-homologous end joining pathway for repairing double-strand breaks: bridge over troubled ends.
Of winning the Early Career Research Award for Signalling, Qian said: “I was absolutely thrilled and extremely happy when I found out that I got this award! It is a great honour as an early career researcher to have my research recognized by the award committee. I can’t achieve this without the strong support from my mentor Professor Tom Blundell since my Ph.D and all these wonderful colleagues in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge. More excitingly, I am really looking forward to take the encouragement from this award to initiate my own independent research in the Astbury Centre for Structural and Molecular Biology, University of Leeds.”
Qian presented her Award lecture at the joint Biochemical Society, British Pharmacology Society and The Physiological Society conference ‘Life Sciences 2019: Post-Translational Modifications and Cell Signalling‘ on 17-18 March 2019 at the East Midlands Conference Centre.
The 2018 Early Career Research Award for Molecular Structure and Function was awarded to Wojciech Galej from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, France. Wojciech has made outstanding contributions to the understanding of the molecular mechanism of pre-mRNA splicing through his structural analysis of the spliceosome and its component using X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy. He determined the crystal structure of the Prp8 protein, the largest and most conserved protein in the spliceosome. This protein plays crucial roles in organising the RNA catalytic core of the spliceosome and its structure also provided important insight into the evolutionary origin of the spliceosome. Wojciech played a key role in the structure determination of the fully assembled, 44-subunit catalytic spliceosome using single particle cryo-electron microscopy.
Read Wojciech's article published in Biochemical Society Transactions - Structural studies of the spliceosome: past, present and future perspectives.
Of winning the Early Career Research Award for Molecular Structure and Function, Wojciech said “I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to receive this award. What makes me particularly happy is that my research was recognized and appreciated by the Award Committee. I am very grateful to my PhD advisor and a long-time mentor Dr. Kiyoshi Nagai and all my colleagues at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology for their continuing support.”
The 2018 Early Career Research Award for Cells was awarded to Yasin Dagdas from the Gregor Mendel Institute-Vienna. His work on perturbation of selective autophagy by the Irish potato famine pathogen provided crucial insights on selective autophagy in plants. At the Gregor Mendel Institute, he is combining evolutionary analyses with mechanistic tools to dissect selective autophagy at a cell type specific resolution.
Of winning the Early Career Research Award in Cells, Yasin said “I am a very pleased, honoured and humbled to receive this award. I owe this award to my amazing mentors Sophien Kamoun and Nick Talbot and to the colleagues in their labs. I also would like to thank the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Halpin Trust for supporting my research at The Sainsbury Laboratory and University of Exeter, respectively.”
Yasin presented his award lecture at the 83rd Harden Conference: ‘Autophagy – from molecules to disease II’ on 3-6 June 2018 at Chesford Grange, Warwickshire, UK.
The 2017 Early Career Research Award for Biotechnology 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.
Read Alexander's review article published in the Biochemical Journal - The growth of amyloid fibrils: rates and mechanisms.
Thi (Kelly) Nguyen
Thi (Kelly) Nguyen
Maria Romina Girotti
Maria Romina Girotti
The 2016 Early Career Research Award for Biological Systems was presented to Anne-Marie Krachler of the University of Birmingham. Anne-Marie is an outstanding young researcher who has a passion for discovery, a determination to provide robust, ground-breaking data and an unquenchable enthusiasm to train the next generation scientists demonstrated through her pioneering the “IMI Summer School”, a week-long training scheme for sixth formers that has received overwhelming acclaim and is now heavily oversubscribed.
Anne-Marie presented her Early Career Research Award lecture at the University of Birmingham, UK on 28 April 2016.
Read Anne-Marie's article published in Biochemical Society Transactions - Against the tide: the role of bacterial adhesion in host colonization.
The 2016 Early Career Research Award for Cells was presented to Bungo Akiyoshi of the University of Oxford. As well as elucidating mechanisms with clear relevance to cancer and organismal homeostasis, Bungo employs trypanosomes as a model system, and his identification of a novel, trypanosome-specific apparatus of chromosome segregation will allow the future development of drugs that may combat parasitic diseases such as African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) in humans, or leishmanaiasis and nagana in livestock animals.
Bungo Akiyoshi was presented with his Early Career Research Award at the Cilia, Cytoskeleton and Cancer on 25-26 April 2016 at IGMM, Edinburgh, UK.
Read Bungo's article published in Biochemical Society Transactions - The unconventional kinetoplastid kinetochore: from discovery toward functional understanding.
The 2016 Early Career Research Award for Computational Biology was presented to Joseph Marsh of MRC HGU, University of Edinburgh for his work in producing an outstanding body of research, addressing diverse aspects of protein structure, dynamics, assembly and evolution using a variety of computational methods, often in combination with experimental data.
Joseph presented his award lecture at the Sanger Institute, Hinxton, UK on 8 November 2016.
Read Joseph's article published in Biochemical Society Transactions - Signalling assemblies: the odds of symmetry.
The 2016 Early Career Research Award for Molecular Structure and Function was presented to Anthony Roberts of Birkbeck, University of London for his work in producing research of the highest international standard focused on the structure and mechanism of cellular motor proteins.
Read Anthony's article published in Biochemical Society Transactions - Emerging mechanisms of dynein transport in the cytoplasm versus the cilium.