University of Dundee

Dundee scientist wins prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry Prize

09 May 2016

Professor David Lilley, from the University of Dundee, is the Royal Society of Chemistry Khorana Prize winner for 2016.

The Khorana Prize recognises outstanding achievement award for research at the chemistry and life science interface. Professor Lilley receives £5000, a medal and a certificate.

Professor Lilley said, “I am honoured to receive the Khorana Prize, and most grateful to the RSC for awarding this to me. I regard this as a recognition of the work of my laboratory as a whole. I have a wonderfully talented group of postdoctoral colleagues who are incredibly productive and full of insight. It is a pleasure to work with them all, and I am happy that they can share in this recognition.

“Lastly, I am especially pleased to receive an award in the name of Gobind Khorana, who was one of the most pioneering nucleic acid chemists of all time. I was lucky enough to know him a little.”

Professor Lilley holds a Chair in Molecular Biology and is Director of the Cancer Research UK Nucleic Acid Structure Research Group in the School of Life Sciences at the University.

Nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) are the cell's key genetic molecules. Determining their structure is a major key to understanding how they work. Professor Lilley’s group studies the junctions in DNA that are responsible for repairing damage, and the enzymes that recognise and process them. He also studies RNA molecules that act like enzymes to accelerate chemical reactions. These probably played a critical role in the evolution of life on the planet in the early stages, and they still perform some of modern cells' most important reactions.

In addition to his research, Professor Lilley is very active in promotion of links with science in China. He is a visiting professor at Xiamen University, a consultant for AB Life in Wuhan and has collaborative links with Shanghai Fudan University.

An illustrious list of 47 previous winners of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Awards have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their pioneering work, including Harry Kroto, Fred Sanger and Linus Pauling.

Dr Robert Parker, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said, “It is an honour to recognise the illustrious achievements of our prize and award winners in our 175th anniversary year.

“We were founded in 1841 by a group of academics, industrialists and doctors who understood the power of the chemical sciences to change our world for the better. Our winners share that vision and are advancing excellence in their fields, whether through innovative research or inspirational teaching and outreach.

“We are proud to celebrate and support the work of inspiring and influential individuals, whose work has the potential to improve so many lives.”

Award winners are evaluated for the originality and impact of their research, as well as the quality of the results which can be shown in publications, patents, or even software. The awards also recognise the importance of teamwork across the chemical sciences, and the abilities of individuals to develop successful collaborations.

Notes for editors

Rewarding Excellence and Gaining Recognition

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Prizes and Awards recognise achievements by individuals, teams and organisations in advancing the chemical sciences. We want to reward those undertaking excellent work in the chemical sciences from across the world.

There are over 60 Prizes and Awards available in the main portfolio, covering all areas of the chemical sciences.  So whether you work in research, business, industry or education, recognition is open to everyone.

The Royal Society of Chemistry

We are the oldest chemical society in the world and in 2016 we’re celebrating 175 years of progress and people in the chemical sciences. Throughout the year, we’re sharing the stories of how our members past and present have helped to change the world with chemistry.

With over 50,000 members and a knowledge business that spans the globe, we are the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists; a not-for-profit organisation with 175 years of history and an international vision of the future.

We promote, support and celebrate chemistry. We work to shape the future of the chemical sciences – for the benefit of science and humanity.

More information on Royal Society of Chemistry Prizes and Awards