20 Jan 2022
Professor Gonçalo Bernardes is a 2022 Blavatnik Award For Young Scientists in the UK winner, recognising his contributions in the field of Chemistry.
The Trinity Hall Staff Fellow and Director of Studies in Chemistry was recognised as a Finalist in the awards this week alongside eight other Finalists and three Laureates.
He leads a research program at the interface of chemistry and biology, focusing on the development of new reactions for the construction of new antibody-drug conjugates for the treatment of cancer. The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences announced the recipients this week. Now in its fifth year, the awards are the largest unrestricted prize available to UK scientists aged 42 or younger.
Professor Bernardes said: “Personally the news of this award made me feel great! I can look back on my life from primary school onwards as if it was a film; what I have achieved and where I go from now onwards.
“You know it gives even more value to the fact I was the first person in my family to go for a degree. When I left High School I knew I wanted a degree but I could never imagine where it would lead: to being a Professor in Cambridge at Trinity Hall!”
He added that the award recognised the contribution of many people to his research area. “I am lucky. I have a fantastic group of students and post-doctoral researchers and this is a reward in recognition of their hard work in creating new molecular tools and learning how to use them to design the next generation of medicines.”
Being part of a Collegiate system has enabled Professor Bernardes to think beyond his subject, something he was grateful for: “Trinity Hall has a vibrant, diverse and younger scholarship with broad interests and that is really important for me so I can get my brain to think about other topics; this really helps in the intellectual process and I think that is why Colleges are so strong. I am truly proud, and lucky, to receive this award and be part of this community.”
The Blavatnik Awards support research and those behind it hope they will expand the engagement and recognition of young scientists, providing a strong foundation on which science can prosper.
This year three Laureates in Physics, Chemistry and Life Sciences each received £100,000.
In each of the three categories—Chemistry, Physical Sciences & Engineering, and Life Sciences—a jury of leading scientists from across the UK also selected two Finalists, who will each receive £30,000. Professor Bernardes was finalist in the Chemistry category. Professor Nicholas B. Dirks, President and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences and Chair of the Awards’ Scientific Advisory Council noted, “Society cannot surmount world crises like the COVID pandemic without science. It is critical that we continue to invest in science and these young, trail-blazing scientists who have the energy, optimism, and brilliance to continue developing scientific solutions benefitting millions, even billions, of people.”
The award Laureates and Finalists will be honoured, as COVID-19 restrictions allow, at a dinner and ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, currently scheduled for 28th February 2022.
The following day, on 1 March 2022 from 11:00 to 18:00 GMT, the honourees will present their research with a series of short, interactive lectures at a free public symposium also to be held at the V&A.
More details about the symposium will be posted soon on the website of the New York Academy of Sciences, NYAS.org.
This year the awards received 94 nominations from 47 academic and research institutions across the UK.