Latest news

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

Watts up - aeroplanes go hybrid-electric

11 Oct 2016

Dr Jee Hyun Kang

03 Oct 2016

Congratulations to Dr Jee Hyun Kang, who was recently a Ph.D. student at Darwin, and has been appointed the first female Research Professor at the Graduate Institute for Ferrous Technology, POSTECH, South Korea. POSTECH is rated as the leading technical university in Asia.

Professor Carol Brayne - Dementia - Catching the memory thief

03 Oct 2016

Professor Carol Brayne is Professor of Public Health Medicine in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care in the University of Cambridge:

Professor Sir Patrick Sissons FRCP, FRPath, FMedSci

03 Oct 2016

Dr George Gomori book launch invitation

15 Sep 2016

The event will be held at 18.00 in The Audit Room. 
Ferenc Bekassy, Rupert Brooke's Unknown Rival (Poems and Letters), published by Skyscraper Publications.
The lives and work of those young English poets who perished during World War I has been
well documented, one in particular being Rupert Brooke. The poetry of Ferenc Békássy, has been neglected. He was a student at Kings College, Cambridge and was the first foreign member of The Apostles, He was a friend of Rupert Brooke and a close friend of the economist John Maynard Keynes. His love letters to Noel Olivier with whom Rupert Brooke was also in love, are published here for the first time along with most of the poems he wrote in English. The title of the book refers to the small memorial plaque, which is to be found in a side chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, on a separate wall to the main memorial plaque, as Békássy died fighting on the enemy side.
All welcome.

Graduate Open Day 2 November 2016

31 Aug 2016

The University of Cambridge is proud to be hosting the first Cambridge Postgraduate Open Day on Wednesday 2 November 2016.  The postgraduate work of 2 current Darwin College students, Rosie Freer and Victoria Bartels, is highlighted here

This unique event is organised by the Graduate Admissions Office in conjunction with the Colleges and University Departments.  If you would like to find out more information please go to:

Dr Amrita Narlikar

07 Jul 2016

Former Fellow, Dr Amrita Narlikar, now President of the German Institute of Global and Area Studies hosted the Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at GIGA's Distinguished Speaker Lecture Series.
More than 400 people were in attendance at Hamburg City Hall as the Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier delivered the inaugural lecture in the practitioners’ part of the GIGA Distinguished Speaker Lecture Series. In his talk, entitled “Bridges and Ruptures – German Foreign Policy in Turbulent Times,” Steinmeier addressed the current foreign affairs situation and Germany’s role in the world.
“What we are seeing is a contradictory and complex world. A world which, on the one hand, is increasingly growing closer, but whose contrasting elements are at the same time clashing ever more quickly and fiercely. We are seeing a world that is seeking a new order,” said Steinmeier. With regard to the rising powers in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Arab world, which “are increasingly calling into question regional power balances and agreed-upon rules,” he described Germany as an “honest intermediary.” This quality makes the country a sought-after partner, in general and “when it comes to the creation of new elements of the global order.” Steinmeier cited peace, justice, innovation, and partnership as the objectives of German foreign policy.
Academic expertise on key foreign- and security-policy issues is concentrated in Hamburg, Steinmeier said, highlighting the particular importance of the GIGA’s research: “The value of regional studies, as undertaken by the GIGA on Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East, must gain in importance in academia, research, and practice.”
The minister also noted his support for the approach formulated by GIGA president Prof. Amrita Narlikar, which proposes moving away from Western-centric methods and theoretical approaches towards truly global ones – in the practical sphere of foreign policy as well.
The highlight of the evening was the foreign minister’s announcement that Germany will again apply for a seat on the UN Security Council, for the years 2019–2020. “Our campaign starts today and will ramp up this fall,” said Steinmeier.
The event, organised by the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, drew more than 400 guests from politics, academia, the media, the non-profit sector, business, and the general public to Hamburg City Hall.
The GIGA is an independent research institute which provides policy advice to the Federal Foreign Office. Through the GIGA Distinguished Speaker Lecture Series, it brings the best and brightest minds in academia and policy to Hamburg from all over the world to stimulate public exchange on key global developments. The next lecture will be held in September.

Dr Tanya Hutter

01 Jul 2016

Eminent female scientists awarded Fellowships at 2016 L’Oréal UNESCO ceremony
Five of the UK’s most promising female scientists were last night named Fellows of the L’Oréal-UNESCO UK and Ireland For Women in Science programme, in recognition of their scientific achievements in areas as diverse as gene mutation and evolutionary change; molecular changes in the brains of acute head injury patients; and Chagas disease.
The winning scientists, selected from nearly 400 applicants, were announced at a prestigious ceremony hosted at the Royal Society. They are:
·         Dr Sophie Acton, University College London, Immunology/Cell Biology
·         Dr Maria Bruna, University of Oxford, Mathematics
·         Dr Sam Giles, University of Oxford, Palaeobiology
·         Dr Tanya Hutter, University of Cambridge, Physical Chemistry
·         Dr Louisa Messenger, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Public Health
The UK & Ireland fellowships have been designed to provide flexible financial help to outstanding female postdoctoral scientists to continue research in their chosen fields. The fellowships, worth £15,000 each can be spent on whatever they may need to continue their research.
This year, four of the five winners, who are mothers of young children, plan to use part of their prize money to help with childcare costs, ensuring that they can continue their research whilst also raising young families. In addition, the money will help fund expensive equipment and travel to international conferences.
The L’Oréal- UNESCO For Women in Science programme aims to support and help increase the number of women working in sciences. In the UK, women are still underrepresented in the science community, with only 15% of STEM roles taken by women.*
Further, the sector still suffers a perception problem which is even more acute in the UK than elsewhere in Europe; research has shown that when asked to think of a scientist, just 31% of people in the UK would picture a woman (compared with 41% across Europe), while 71% think men are more suited to being high level scientists, than women (60% in Europe.)**
In response to these issues, L’Oréal has launched a manifesto ( in association with UNESCO, encouraging people to show their support for increasing gender equality in science careers.
Dr Steve Shiel, Scientific Director at L’Oréal UK & Ireland, said:  “At a time when there’s still a significant gender imbalance in the UK science community, it’s vital that organisations like ours find ways to support women in getting into and staying in science. As a company founded on science, we are committed to helping breakdown the barriers standing between students and potential scientific careers because, simply, science needs women.”
Professor Dame Carol Robinson, Head of the Judging Panel and a L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Laureate, said: “We were really impressed by the research projects each our finalists is working on, and it was tough to decide on our winning group – each is working hard to solve a specific question. We are excited that they will benefit from the very real, flexible support provided in the Fellowship, at a critical stage in their careers.”

About the winning Fellows:
·         Dr Sophie Acton is a cell biologist researching the interactions between leukocytes and stromal cells within lymphoid organs as part of the body’s immune response.  Her research focuses on how dendritic cells help transmit danger messages to lymph nodes, what causes lymph nodes to swell and expand, and how these findings can be applied to a tumour microenvironment.
·         Dr Maria Bruna is a mathematician developing models which can improve the efficiency of particle separation technologies, which are critical to a wide range of sectors from the food and pharmaceutical industries to clinical research. In stem cell research, for example, individual stem cells must be identified and separated from many thousands of neighbouring cells before they can be used in therapies.
·         Dr Sam Giles is a paleobiologist who is using x-ray tomography to study the evolution of the brain and its surrounding bone structure in ray-finned fishes, the largest living group of vertebrates, containing over 30,000 species. By comparing the brains of modern fish with 3D reconstructions of their ancestors, the research will help understand how the evolution of the brain contributed to the success of this group, with significant ramifications for understanding rates of gene mutation and evolutionary change.
·         Dr Tanya Hutter is a chemist developing a real-time online sensor which can measure molecular changes in the brains of acute head injury patients. The technology will improve upon current labour- and time-sensitive medical techniques, saving time and money. It will also allow more patients to be monitored in critical care units – an intervention which can dramatically improve patient outcomes.
·         Dr Louisa Messenger is a specialist in public health, who is conducting research into Chagas disease which, in the Bolivian Gran Chaco region, affects more than 97% of adults - approximately 30% of those will develop cardiomyopathy, for which there is no curative adult treatment available. Her research will help develop new diagnostic tests to identify which patients are at highest risk of complications, and refer children for treatment.

Three runners up were awarded £1,000 prize money:
·         Dr Tatiana Habruseva is an optical physicist examining how the latest semiconductor and silicon nanotechnology can be used to develop new, cost- and energy-efficient optical devices providing increased bandwidth, compactness, and lower power consumption than existing technology. This will support the growing need for increased bandwidth to provide high-speed internet, cloud computing, data communication and multimedia broadcast systems.
·         Dr Tzany Kokalova Wheldon is a nuclear physicist studying how chemical elements are forged in the stars. Her research will examine the decay of the rotating Hoyle State in the carbon-12 isotope, a process which is key to understanding how elements are produced, to reveal its underlying structure and the forces which create elements such as oxygen and carbon.
·         Dr Nathalie Vriend is a physical scientist examining the physics behind the formation and movement of desert sand dunes, a fast-moving phenomenon which threaten the settlements and infrastructure of up to a billion people worldwide. The research will focus on the dynamics of sand dune migration from the formation of a small ripple to the full-scale movement of a mature dune.

*According to Women in Science and Engineering, UK STEM workforce, 2015:
**According to L’Oréal Change The Numbers research, 2015:

Dr Kazutoshi Ichikawa

23 Jun 2016

The award is from the Japan Society of Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers for the Invention and Application of Highly Ductile Steels for Ship Structures. This particular steel plate prevents tearing of the structure and oil leakage in the event of collision accidents and so it contributes to preserving the natural environment.


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