Latest news

Dr Jan Löwe appointed Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology

08 Mar 2018

Darwin Fellow, Dr Jan Löwe, has been appointed as the next Director of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB).

Dr Löwe, who became a Fellow of Darwin College in 2012, is currently the joint head of the Structural Studies Division at the LMB, and Deputy Director of the Institute.

Founded in 1962, the LMB is a multi-disciplinary research institute dedicated to the understanding of important biological processes at the levels of atoms, molecules, cells and organisms, towards solving key problems in human health. Scientists at the LMB tackle difficult long-term research problems and have made revolutionary contributions to science – such as in the sequencing of DNA and pioneering the method of X-ray crystallography to determine protein structure.

As Director, Jan will have control of a core-budget of some £190 million over five years and direction of over 700 research and support staff.

He said: “Not in my wildest dreams would I have thought in 1996 when I came here that I would one day be the director of this great institute. Being given such an important job makes me feel both excited and humbled. I will aim to preserve and develop LMB's very special culture and people, so that new ideas keep the LMB at the forefront of molecular biology, where it belongs."

The LMB continues to produce exceptional scientific outputs, and since its foundation, 15 LMB scientists have been awarded Nobel Prizes for their work, the latest being Dr Richard Henderson (who is also a Fellow of Darwin College), who was awarded the 2017 Chemistry Prize for the development of cryo-electron microscopy.

Darwin College has had a long and distinguished list of Fellows, Honorary Fellows, and alumni who have been associated with the LMB, including three Nobel Laureates: Max Perutz, Richard Henderson, and César Milstein.

Master is the Guest of Honour at opening of Rutherford Building

Professor Fowler with NZ Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern

22 Feb 2018

Darwin College's Master, Professor Mary Fowler, who is the great-granddaughter of Lord Rutherford, was the guest of honour at the opening of the new Ernest Rutherford building at the University of Canterbury (UC), Christchurch, New Zealand.

The new building, which is the first stage of the NZ$220 million Rutherford Regional Science and Innovation Centre, was opened by the Prime Minister of new Zealand, the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, with fanfare and fireworks, in front of hundreds of invited guests.  Lord Rutherford, one of the pre-eminent experimental scientists of the twentieth century, was one of UCs most famous alumni. 

Professor Fowler (l) and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (r) are pictured left holding some of Lord Rutherford's many medals. 

The new building, described as "complex as a hospital to construct", with over 30 gases and liquids piped into many different laboratories, the new building includes specialist teaching and research laboratories for physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, geography and biological sciences. Over five floors there are numerous laboratories, a UAV/drone room, 3D medical imaging, a cloud chamber, radioactivity lab, a superconduction magnet lab and a herbarium.

UC Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr said: "This building represents a significant investment by the Crown and the University following the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes when, in September 2014, the Crown signed a UC Futures agreement with the University to provide up to $260 million in funding for buildings that would accommodate the Colleges of Science and Engineering. Ernest Rutherford is the first of two buildings for the College of Science, and contains teaching and research laboratories alongside postgraduate areas, informal learning and social spaces for chemistry, physics, astronomy, geography, geology and biology.”

Before leaving New Zealand, Professor Fowler has spent time meeting alumni of Darwin College in Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland. 

External link: UC news story

To The North - Migration

12 Jan 2018

Political chaos and social distress are driving people northwards, and the pressures of climate change may yet force the movement even of those populations whose states and economies are presently stable.  In the scope of a small exhibition, curated by Libby Howie, ‘To the North’ uses works by three British artists, the sculptor, Sir Antony Gormley, the photographer Cristian Barnett, and the painter Billy Childish, to suggest ideas about what we will find,  what will challenge us, and what we will transform, as we make the journey north.

Cristian Barnett’s photographs record his encounters with the redoubtable individuals who inhabit the countries of the Arctic Circle.  Their portraits express self–reliance and sheer physical toughness, but also suggest that these men and women are freer to live as they please than the more regimented societies of the South, in spite of the challenges that their communities now face.  They endure – but they also extemporize, invent and enjoy.

The landscape of the North has been a lifelong theme for Billy Childish.  Sometimes his worlds of forests, rivers, ice, and cool light are peopled by fishermen or woodsmen, sometimes by the artist himself, sometimes only by ourselves as witnesses. They offer a sense of the north as a space in which we might move and enact our own liberty with only the constraint of harmonizing and working with our surroundings.

Antony Gormley’s ‘The Angel of the North’, is one of 12 maquettes made in 1996 for the huge steel sculpture that greets travellers as they journey north past Gateshead.  In a disordered world the figure abides, resolute and welcoming – and a reminder in its powerful physicality that migration is the movement, not of ‘swarms’ or ‘hordes’ but of individual, embodied human beings.

The exhibition will run from 19th January until 9th March.  It will be open for public viewing on Sundays between these dates from 2pm to 5pm, and, in February only, on Mondays  from 5pm until 7pm.  Darwin College members and alumni are invited to visit the exhibition at any time in the period during weekday office hours when the room is not otherwise being used - check with the Porters in advance if you are making a special trip.

Honorary Fellow Professor Dame Jean Thomas announced as Chancellor of Swansea University

10 Jan 2018

She will present degree awards to graduates on 8 January during Swansea University’s winter degree ceremonies (8 January – 10 January 2018) to be held at the Great Hall at the University’s Bay Campus. More

Honorary Fellow Professor Nicola Padfield awarded QC honoris causa

04 Jan 2018

Nicky is Professor of Criminal and Penal Justice at the University of Cambridge. In addition to her academic work, she sat as a Recorder from 2002-2014. She is a Bencher of the Middle Temple, and is currently Vice-Chair of its Education and Training Committee. In addition the citation stated that she "has made a huge contribution to the criminal justice system in a practical capacity, in addition to her work in academia, where her research focuses on sentencing and parole". Professor Padfield is also Master of Fitzwilliam College. More

Dr Tanya Hutter, Henslow Research Fellow

07 Dec 2017

Prehistoric women’s manual work was tougher than rowing in today’s elite boat crews

30 Nov 2017

A new study comparing the bones of Central European women that lived during the first 6,000 years of farming with those of modern athletes has shown that the average prehistoric agricultural woman had stronger upper arms than living female rowing champions. More

Dr Richard Henderson wins Nobel Prize for Chemistry

04 Oct 2017

Congratulations to Darwin Fellow Dr Richard Henderson, who has today been announced as a winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, together with Jacques Dubochet and Joachim Frank, for "developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution".  Speaking after today’s announcement, Richard said “I am delighted for everybody in the field that the Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to acknowledge the success of cryo-EM.  I am particularly pleased that Jacques Dubochet has been recognised as the key person who kick-started the field in the early 1980s with his method of rapid freezing to make a specimen of amorphous ice, a crucial advance.”

Richard Henderson has been a Fellow of Darwin College since 1981, having previously studied at Edinburgh and at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He was the director of the Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge between 1996 and 2006, and became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1983. 

Darwin College now numbers four Nobel laureates amongst its former students and Fellows: César Milstein (Medicine, 1984); Eric Maskin (Economics, 2007); Elizabeth Blackburn (Medicine, 2009); and Richard Henderson (Chemistry, 2017).

Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2017
Dr Henderson's research group at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, and their press release
Dr Henderson interviewed on the Today programme, 5 October (begins at 1:22:40)
Article in Physics Today

Professor Larry Sherman receives a Vice-Chancellor's Impact Award

21 Jul 2017

Read more about Professor Sherman's work here

Dr. Angela Goncalves on the UK’s largest resource of human stem cells from healthy donors

22 May 2017

Reported in Nature last week, one of the largest sets of high quality human induced pluripotent stem cell lines from healthy individuals has been produced by a consortium involving two Cambridge institutes, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the European Bioinformatics Institute. Study co-author, Darwin College Postdoctoral Affiliate Dr. Angela Goncalves, explains: “Each of the 711 stem cell lines generated has been extensively characterised. These cells are publicly available, as are all the phenotypic data generated about them, ranging from measurements of gene expression and protein abundances to information about cell morphology. Our study investigated the determinants of variation in the properties of iPSCs from person to person and found that common genetic variation played a much more important role than any experimental factors.”

Helena Kilpinen and Angela Goncalves et al. (2017) Common genetic variation drives molecular heterogeneity in human iPSCs. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature22403


About the project:

What is a stem cell?

Darwin College Fellows elected as Fellows of the Royal Society

11 May 2017

Dr John Nilsson-Wright South Korean news article

10 Mar 2017

The College appoints a Development Director

08 Mar 2017

Sam is currently Deputy Development Director at Clare College.  After reading theology at University College, Durham, he worked in the Development Offices of Christ’s College, Trinity Hall, and Girton College, before moving to Clare in 2013 - where he is responsible for major gifts, legacies, and day-to-day management of the Development Office.

The joy and power of camaraderie - Vinayak Dalmia

10 Feb 2017

Vinayak is currently an Internet Entrepreneur at - a cloud based health company in India. He has previously worked for the Government of India. Vinayak writes regularly for the World Economic Forum and Quartz. Besides technology, his interests lie in public office / politics and the law.

Professor Larry Sherman awarded Yale's Wilbur Cross medal

27 Jan 2017

The Director of the Cambridge Institute of Criminology will become the first criminologist to win Yale University’s highest graduate school medal in the half-century since the medal was established. Previous winners of Yale’s Wilbur Cross Medal include Federal Reserve Bank Chair Janet Yellen, Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin, and late Yale University President A. Bartlett Giamatti.
The Institute’s Wolfson Professor of Criminology Lawrence W. Sherman will receive the Wilbur Cross Medal of Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Alumni Association at a ceremony on the New Haven campus in October. He will also deliver a talk entitled “Understanding and Reforming the Police Institution,” including his own work on policing around the world.
The Medal, named after the late Governor of Connecticut and Yale Graduate School Dean Wilbur Cross, is the highest honor awarded by the School. The Medal recognizes achievements in “scholarship and scientific discovery, public service, service to professional organizations, and teaching and mentoring.”
Sherman is the founder of a global police reform movement he leads for “evidence-based policing,” which promotes public safety using methods similar to those used for public health: epidemiological forecasting, randomized field experiments, and real-time tracking of high-risk victims, places and offenders. A former President of the American Society of Criminology and the American Academy of Political and Social Science, he holds honorary doctorates or awards from the University of Stockholm, George Mason University, Denison University, the Royal Society of Arts in London, and the German Society of Criminology. King Karl XVI Gustav of Sweden appointed Sherman a Knight Commander of Sweden, for services to criminology and justice.
Since 2008, Sherman has led the growth of the Institute’s Cambridge Police Executive Programme from about 20 master’s students per year to over 150 students, all senior police officers from some 15 countries in Asia, Australia, North America and Europe. Recently elected the first President of the American College of Policing, a new organization that fulfills a recommendation of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st-Century Policing, to better educate chief executives of American police agencies,

Programming in the early days of the computer age

17 Jan 2017

Dr Joyce Wheeler, member of Darwin College, and widow of former Fellow Dr David Wheeler, was supervised for her PhD by astronomer Fred Hoyle. Here the BBC interviews Joyce about her research.

Dr Emily Shuckburgh's new Ladybird book on climate change

16 Jan 2017

This new peer-reviewed basic guide to climate change will be published later this month. It is part of a new series of Ladybird Books and is titled Climate Change. The authors are HRH The Prince of Wales, Tony Juniper and Dr Shuckburgh. Dr Shuckburgh opens the annual Darwin College Lecture Series on the theme of Extremes on Friday 20 January, with her talk on Extreme Weather


11 Jan 2017

The exhibition is curated by Ksenia Afonina, independent curator and researcher into the art of World War II, and Libby Howie, an independent curator with a specialist knowledge of graphic art. This project has been realised with the support of Sotheby’s and in collaboration with The Cambridge Russian-Speaking Society.

The exhibition, which will be centred on the lithographs of Marttila's Leningrad drawings, and her unique engravings, will take place in Darwin College, Cambridge, 20 January -19 March 2017, open Fridays (2-6pm) and Saturdays & Sundays (1-5pm).

Professor Jane Francis, New Year Honours

02 Jan 2017

Jane was only the fourth woman in history to receive the Polar Medal in 2002. Since being appointed Director of BAS in 2013, she has had a dual role of ensuring UK scientific polar excellence and promoting British sovereign interests in Antarctica. As the first female Director, she has embraced gender diversity and has been an inspiration and influential figure in the British scientific establishment. She is globally recognised as a leader in Polar Science and has made a significant contribution to our understanding of palaeo-climates. She has also undertaken a wide range of international roles which further promote the UK’s polar interests and sits on polar science advisory boards for other countries.

Memorial Service for Professor Sir Patrick Sissons

02 Jan 2017

In order that the family and the College know who is coming, and for catering purposes, we would like people to register for each event that they wish to attend, on the link shown below. The details for the day are:

The memorial service will be held at Great St Mary’s, the University Church at 14.30 to be followed by a tea reception at Darwin College, Silver Street, CB3 9EU.

Members of the University attending are requested to wear their gowns to the Service,  (black gown without hood).

On the morning of the memorial service we will be holding a short scientific symposium in honour of Sir Patrick.

This will take place in the Lecture Theatre, St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, CB2 1RL from 0900 – 1300 (4 February 2017) with a buffet lunch provided.

The symposium on ‘Host-pathogen interactions in persistent viral infections’ will include local as well as invited external speakers: Sir Andrew McMichael, Matthias Reddehase and Gavin Wilkinson.

*Please note you need to sign up for these events independently of each other by ticking the appropriate boxes on the registration form which is on


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