Edinburgh Infectious Diseases
EID logo 2019

Many congratulations to Edinburgh scientists recognised by recent high-profile awards

Researchers in the School of Biological Sciences and School of Physics and Astronomy have been honoured with a number of prestigious awards.

Royal Society medal winners

The Royal Society has announced the winners of 2018 medals and awards. The annual prizes recognise exceptional researchers who make outstanding contributions to science. 

Three medals have been awarded to researchers from the University of Edinburgh, two from the School of Biological Sciences and one from the School of Physics and Astronomy.

Royal Society medal winners
Medal winners left to right: Cait MacPhee, Adrian Bird and William Hill.

Professor Cait MacPhee, Medal winner 2018

The Gabor Medal 2018 is awarded to Professor Cait MacPhee CBE for her seminal contributions to understanding protein aggregation that informed our approach to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes, and opened up new opportunities for creating self-assembled functional biopolymers. 

Cait is Professor of Biological Physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy.

Cait's webpages

The Gabor Medal is now awarded annually for acknowledged distinction of interdisciplinary work between the life sciences with other disciplines.

The award was created in memory of the engineer Dennis Gabor FRS, Nobel Prize winner and inventor of holography. The first award was made in 1989 and the lectureship is accompanied by a medal and a gift of £2,000. 

Dennis Gabor (PDF)

Professor Adrian Bird, Buchanan Medal winner

Sir Adrian Peter Bird CBE FRS FRSE, receives Buchanan Medal for his discovery that the protein MeCP2 can reverse the autism spectrum disorder Rett Syndrome, demonstrating that such neurodevelopmental diseases can be curable.

Rett syndrome is a rare genetic disorder, occurring mainly in females, that affects brain function, resulting in severe mental and physical disability.

His research has accelerated understanding of this disorder and demonstrates that advanced Rett-like symptoms in mice can be reversed by putting back a functional MeCP2 gene.

The results demonstrate that Rett Syndrome in humans might be treatable and has stimulated an international search for potential therapies. 

Bird lab webpages

Professor William Hill, Darwin Medal winner

Professor William (Bill) Hill OBE FRS, receives the Darwin Medal for his contribution to the understanding of the genetics of quantitative traits and response to selection.

The Darwin Medal is awarded for work of acknowledged distinction in evolution, population biology, organismal biology and biological diversity.

He is distinguished for his theoretical contributions to the study of population and quantitative genetics, particularly in relation to selection and farm animal improvement programmes.

Application of these tools and development of statistical methods to utilise them have led to an enormous increase in productivity of farm animals for food production. 

There has been rapid genetic improvement of quantitative traits such as growth rate, reproductive rate, and feed conversion efficiency.

Much of his research is in collaboration with the Roslin Institute, SRUC, the animal breeding industry and related groups.

Professor Hill was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1979, a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1985 and appointed OBE in 2004.

Profile of Bill Hill

There have also been awards to three researchers in the Institute of Evolutionary Biology

Medal winners
Medal winners left to right: Deborah Charlesworth, Susan Johnston and Josephine Pemberton.

Professor Deborah Charlesworth has been awarded the Genetics Society Medal, recognising "outstanding research contributions to genetics”.


Dr Susan Johnston has been awarded the Genetics Society Balfour Lecture for 2019, to “mark the contributions to genetics of an outstanding young investigator”.

Professor Josephine Pemberton has been awarded the Darwin-Wallace Medal of the Linnean Society, "awarded to persons who have made major advances in evolutionary biology”.  

Very many congratulations to all awardees!