13th May 2002

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute's Director Honoured: Allan Bradley Elected to Royal Society

Professor Allan Bradley, Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, has been elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society, an honour regarded as the UK's premier scientific accolade. The Royal Society today (13 May 2002) announced the election of 42 new Fellows and 6 Foreign Members from the fields of science, engineering and technology.

Professor Bradley took over as Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in 2000 to develop programmes to capitalize on decoding the human genome and other genomes. He is a world leader in the field of stem cell research - methods he and his colleagues developed in the early 1980s that today provide one of the most promising routes for understanding and treating genetic disease. Stem cells allow researchers to study in precise detail the role of individual genes and groups of genes.

Professor Bradley said: "It is a great honour to be included among an impressive list of new fellows elected by the Royal Society this year. The Fellows of the Royal Society are all scientists who have made major contributions to their fields, and all young researchers aspire to be recognized among its membership. This recognition is important for the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, we have exciting times ahead as we move to postgenomic research, this recognition in part reflects the importance of our future work."

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has played a key role in sequencing of the human genome and ensuring the results are freely available to all in the public domain. In October 2001, the Wellcome Trust announced new funding of £ 300M to support the Institute's plans to translate sequence information into biomedical benefit.

Under this plan, new areas of research will complement the existing skills in genomics to accelerate translation of genomic information into new biological knowledge and medical treatments. Professor Bradley's research is an integral part of the Sanger Institute's vision.

Dr Mike Dexter, FRS, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "I am delighted that this honour has been awarded to Professor Bradley. He has been instrumental in developing and exploiting stem cell technology to bring new understanding for biomedicine. His work at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute will bring real benefit from genome research, the overriding aim of the Human Genome Project."

Sir John Sulston, FRS, former Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said: "I'm very pleased that this has happened. It is a well-deserved tribute to 15 years' of Allan's work that has made possible the genetic manipulation of mice with all it entails for research in biology and medicine. You don't get elected to the Royal Society just for being worthy or for organising, but rather for your own science."

The Sanger Institute, funded largely by the Wellcome Trust, is completing one-third of the human genome, contributing to projects on the mouse and other animal genomes, as well as genomes of disease-causing organisms such as TB and malaria.

Note for editors

  1. The citation for Professor Bradley reads: Professor Allan Bradley, 42, Director, The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Professor Bradley's approach to changing mouse genes, using embryonic stem cells, has opened up a new era of research in biology. These alterations are of great importance in understanding the function of genes in the post-genomic era.
  2. Biography Allan Bradley, Director, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute Professor Bradley completed his PhD studies in genetics at the University of Cambridge in 1984. During his time in Cambridge Dr Bradley co-developed the embryonic stem cell system with Elizabeth Robertson and Martin Evans. Embryonic stem cells can be isolated from mouse embryos, grown and modified in culture, and then used to produce mice carrying defined mutations. In 1987, Dr Bradley moved to Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to full Professor in 1995. In 1993 Dr Bradley received an appointment as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. While at Baylor, Dr Bradley's laboratory pursued the analysis of gene function using knockout mice and has published the function of numerous genes using this technology. Dr Bradley's laboratory has also developed novel methods to engineer the genomes of mice, including point mutations and large chromosomal changes. Dr Bradley is the author of over 160 scientific articles and book chapters. He has been active in commercialising technology from his laboratory by founding several companies including a publicly traded genomics company, Lexicon Genetics Inc. In November 2000, Dr Bradley assumed his appointment as Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
  3. The Royal Society is an independent academy promoting the natural and applied sciences. Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles, as the UK academy of science, as a learned Society, and as a funding agency. It responds to individual demand with selection by merit, not by field. The Society's objectives are to:
    • recognise excellence in science
    • support leading-edge scientific research and its applications
    • stimulate international interaction
    • further the role of science, engineering and technology in society
    • promote education in the sciences and actively engage the public in scientific issues
    • provide independent authoritative advice on matters relating to science, engineering and technology
    • encourage research into the history of science
  4. Fellows are elected for their contributions to science, both in fundamental research resulting in greater understanding, and also in leading and directing scientific and technological progress in industry and research establishments. A maximum of 42 new Fellows, who must be citizens or residents of Commonwealth countries or Ireland, may be elected annually.
  5. Up to 6 Foreign Members, who are not eligible to become Fellows because of citizenship or residency, are elected annually for their contributions to science.
  6. The new Fellows of the Royal Society include candidates recognised for achievements ranging from the creation of Dolly, the first cloned sheep, to the design of one of the world's leading computer microchips. Four women are among the 42 new Fellows.
  7. Lord May of Oxford, President of the Royal Society, said: "We are delighted to welcome these outstanding individuals to the Fellowship of the Royal Society and look forward to their contributions to our future activities. We rely heavily on our Fellows and Foreign Members to help us carry out a wide range of activities and ensure that the UK, and indeed the Commonwealth, continues to nurture and develop successive generations of world class scientists. We are fortunate that the Fellowship enables us to play a leading role in UK science by giving us the benefits of their tremendous expertise, willingly and free of charge."

Royal Society Contact Information

Contact Details
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Don Powell Media and Public Relations Manager
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, Cambs, CB10 1SA, UK

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