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Professor Woolfson awarded Humboldt Research Prize

2 June 2020

BBI Director Professor Dek Woolfson has received the prestigious Humboldt Research Award.

The award, valued at €60,000, is given by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany to a maximum of 100 people across all disciplines each year. It is reserved for nominees from outside of Germany who are internationally renowned for their academic research and are expected to continue to make contributions to their respective disciplines. As a winner, Professor Woolfson is also invited to spend periods of time at research institutions across Germany. 

Dek Woolfson is Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Principal Investigator of BrisSynBio, a BBSRC/EPSRC-funded Synthetic Biology Research Centre; Director of the Bristol BioDesign Institute at the University of Bristol; and Founder of Rosa Biotech.

He took his first degree in Chemistry at the University of Oxford, UK in 1987. In 1991, he gained a PhD in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. He conducted postdoctoral research at University College London from 1991 to 1992, and at the University of California, Berkeley from 1992 to 1994. He returned to the UK to take up a Lectureship in Biochemistry at the University of Bristol in 1994. From 1996 to 2005 he was Lecturer through to Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Sussex. He moved back to Bristol in 2005 and became a joint chair in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Professor Woolfson’s research has always been at the interface between chemistry and biology, applying chemical methods and principles to understand biological phenomena such as protein folding and stability. He has a long-standing interest in the challenge of rational protein design, and how this can be applied in synthetic biology and biotechnology. He has placed particular emphasis on making completely new protein structures not known to natural biology using a combination of rational and computational design. The current focuses of his group are the parametric design of protein structures, assemblies and materials; and porting these into living cells to augment natural biology.

In 2011, he became the first recipient of the Medimmune Protein and Peptide Science Award of the Royal Society of Chemistry; in 2014, he received a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award and gained an ERC Advanced Grant; in 2016, he won the Interdisciplinary Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

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