The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences hosted its fifth annual awards ceremony and gala dinner on February 28, 2022 to celebrate the nine honorees of the 2022 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the United Kingdom. After extensive museum renovations, the ceremony returned to the Raphael Gallery at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, where the first two Blavatnik Awards in the UK ceremonies were held in 2018 and 2019.
World-renowned surgeon, researcher, and leader of health care reform in the UK’s National Health Service, Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, OM, KBE, PC, FRS served as the presenter for the ceremony. Lord Darzi is the Co-Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation and the Paul Hamlyn Chair of Surgery at Imperial College London. 132 respected guests attended the 2022 ceremony comprising of leaders in British science, academia, business, and past Blavatnik Awards UK Laureates. Attendees included Nobel Laureates Professor John O’Keefe from University College London and Professor Didier Queloz from the University of Cambridge; Breakthrough Prize Winners Professor Martin Hairer of Imperial College London, Emeritus Professor Michael B. Green from the University of Cambridge, and Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell from the University of Dundee; Royal Medallist, Sir John Pendry; President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Professor Tom Welton; Editor in Chief of Nature Magazine, Magdalena Skipper; from the British Antarctic Survey, Professor Dame Jane Francis; author, philanthropist, and Professor of History, Peter Baldwin; from the Campaign for Science and Engineering, Professor Sarah Main; Former CEO of British Petroleum and the Past President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Lord John Browne; from the Victoria & Albert Museum Board of Trustees, Mr. Marc St John and from the Science Museum Board of Trustees Dame Mary Archer; from the Foundation for Science and Technology, Mr. Gavin Costigan. University leadership from the following institutions were represented: the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, University of Cambridge, City University of London, King's College London, University of Sussex, The Royal Veterinary College, Imperial College London, University College London, University of St Andrews and University of Surrey.
During his opening remarks, Lord Darzi commented on the achievements of the 2022 Blavatnik Awards in the UK Laureates and Finalists: “Their accomplishments show we have the capacity to address many of the challenges we face as a global community if we have the imagination to develop new approaches, the drive to implement them, and the humility to pursue true collaborations. My message to you as the new generation of scientists working in a world in which progress depends increasingly on the convergence of knowledge bases is to continue to be bold, to be unafraid of leaving your comfort zones, to be ready and eager to cross boundaries, to bolster your self-confidence, and to do the right thing.” He concluded by introducing the President of the New York Academy of Sciences, Nicholas B. Dirks. Prof. Dirks spoke about the Academy’s privilege of being entrusted to administer the Blavatnik Awards on behalf of the Blavatnik Family Foundation. He said “One of the characteristics of these awards is that they support the work of scientists who look beyond the walls of their labs, and beyond geographical boundaries, to solve global problems and improve life for us all.” Prof. Dirks also introduced the Awards Scientific Advisory Council and thanked the esteemed Awards jury.
To watch the honoree films played at the ceremony, click on the links to the honoree profile pages below:
- Madeline Lancaster, PhD (Life Sciences) – MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB)
- Matthew Brookes, PhD (Physical Sciences & Engineering) – University of Nottingham
- Kim Jelfs, PhD (Chemistry) – Imperial College London
- Erin Saupe, PhD (Life Sciences) – University of Oxford
- Sonja Vernes, DPhil (Life Sciences) – University of St Andrews
- Sarah Haigh, DPhil (Physical Sciences & Engineering) – The University of Manchester
- Anja Schmidt, PhD (Physical Sciences & Engineering) – Nominated by University of Cambridge
- Gonçalo Bernardes, DPhil (Chemistry) – University of Cambridge
- Stephen Thomas, PhD (Chemistry) – The University of Edinburgh
Lord Darzi introduced each of the Finalists and Laureates by each scientific category—Life Sciences, Physical Sciences & Engineering. Chemistry. Prof. Dirks bestowed medals upon each honoree as they walked to the stage. Prize monies were increased this year across all honors—Finalists were each awarded £30,000, and each Laureate was awarded £100,000. Life Sciences Laureate Madeline Lancaster and Chemistry Laureate Kim Jelfs both gave short scientific talks after receiving their medals. Physical Sciences & Engineering Laureate, Matthew Brookes, unable to attend, was honored in absentia. Brookes pre-recorded his scientific presentation which was played for the audience. 2021 Laureate in Chemistry, Prof. Daniele Leonori, nominated by the University of Manchester, and today at RWTH Aachen University in Germany, who was unable to attend the 2021 ceremony, received his 2021 Laureate medal on stage.
The ceremony concluded with the Blavatnik Awards tradition of making a “Toast to Science.” The following day, the honorees presented their award-winning research at the Blavatnik Awards public symposium entitled Discover, Design, and Diagnose: 9 Young Scientists Transforming Our World.