Sanger researcher invited to deliver 2022 Balfour Lecture 

The award marks Dr Sam Behjati’s contributions to genetics research, as an outstanding young investigator 

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Wellcome Sanger Institute Group leader, Dr Sam Behjati, has been invited to deliver the prestigious Balfour Lecture in 2022 for his research on the origins of childhood cancer.

Named after the Genetics Society’s first President, the Lecture is an award to mark the contributions to genetics of an outstanding young investigator. The only conditions are that the recipient of the award must normally have less than 10 years’ postdoctoral research experience at the time of nomination.

Sam’s research focuses on the origins of childhood cancer. In one line of enquiry, he uses somatic mutations as barcodes of human development, which enable the reconstruction of the embryology of tissues.

Sam applies this approach to study normal tissue development, most notably to the placenta and to childhood cancers. For example, in Wilms tumour, his analyses showed that many seemingly sporadic tumours arose from developmentally acquired clonal expansions. In another line of research, Sam studies single childhood cancer cells, through the direct comparison of cancer with developmental cells, to place childhood cancers on trajectories of human development.

“I’m honoured to have the opportunity to deliver the Balfour Lecture next year. Genetic research into the origins of childhood cancer is an incredibly important field that can improve lives, and I look forward to presenting my research in this area. I would also like to thank all of the fantastic colleagues and collaborators who have contributed to this field of research so far, the work we are doing would not be possible without the global scientific community.”

Dr Sam Behjati, Group Leader at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

More information

The lecture will be delivered during 2022 at a Genetics Society meeting, with the date to be announced.

Nominations are now being invited for the 2023 Balfour Lecture.