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Professor Nick Lane, University College London

Professor Nick Lane’s research is about how energy flow has shaped evolution over four billion years. He uses a mixture of theoretical and experimental work to address the origin of life, the evolution of complex cells and downright peculiar behaviour such as sex. This lecture will outline how a simple cycle at the heart of metabolism drove some of the most important revolutions in the history of life. By turning gases into organic molecules and back again, this deep chemistry links the origin of life with photosynthesis, the abrupt appearance of animals, cancer, and even the emergence of consciousness.

Nick Lane (PhD, FRSB, FLS) is Professor of Evolutionary Biochemistry in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London. He was a founding member of the UCL Consortium for Mitochondrial Research, and is Co-Director of the UCL Centre for Life’s Origin and Evolution (CLOE). He was awarded the 2009 UCL Provost’s Venture Research Prize, the 2011 BMC Research Award for Genetics, Genomics, Bioinformatics and Evolution, the 2015 Biochemical Society Award for his outstanding contribution to molecular life sciences and 2016 Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize and Lecture, the UK’s premier award for excellence in communicating science. Professor Lane is the author of five acclaimed books on evolutionary biochemistry, which have sold more than 150,000 copies worldwide, and been translated into 25 languages. His most recent book, Transformer: The Deep Chemistry of Life and Death (Profile/Norton 2022) explores the elusive chemical logic of life.