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Inaugural Ceremony for the UK Blavatnik Awards

The Blavatnik Family Foundation Hosts the UK’s First Blavatnik Awards Ceremony at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in Collaboration with The New York Academy of Sciences

A gala evening celebrating the UK’s most promising young faculty-level scientists, the 2018 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the United Kingdom, was held on March 7, 2018 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The evening was a glamorous event attended by the UK’s top leaders in science, business, and philanthropy.

The Blavatnik Awards, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in the United States in 2007 and administered by The New York Academy of Sciences, celebrate the past accomplishments and future potential of young faculty researchers, aged 42 years and younger. 

These awards recognize scientists working in three disciplinary categories of science: Life Sciences, Chemistry, Physical Sciences & Engineering.  

This occasion marked the inaugural year of the Awards in the UK.

Distinguished guests that attended the ceremony included Chief Medical Officer for England, Prof. Dame Sally Davies; ethologist and author, Richard Dawkins; Chief Executive of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Ms. Katherine Mathieson; 2014 Nobel Laureate Prof. John O’Keefe, 2017 Nobel Laureate Prof. Richard Henderson.

Ellis Rubinstein, President and CEO of The New York Academy of Sciences served as Master of Ceremonies for the Blavatnik Awards Ceremony and provided opening remarks.  A processional of students from the SouthBank International School carried flags representing the honorees’ academic and research institutions into the ceremony.

In each category, two Finalists were awarded medals plus a prize of $30,000 and one Laureate in each category was awarded a medal and a prize of $100,000. Sir Leonard Blavatnik presented medals to the three Laureates and six finalists:


  • Clare Gray, of the University of Cambridge, introduced 2018 Blavatnik Awards UK Laureate in Chemistry Prof. Andrew L. Goodwin of University of Oxford and his work on ground-breaking research in theoretical and applied studies of disorder and flexibility in materials.

Physical Sciences & Engineering

  • Sir Richard Friend, from the University of Cambridge, introduced 2018 Blavatnik Awards UK Laureate in Physical Sciences & Engineering, Prof. Henry Snaith, also of University of Oxford, and highlighted his research in developing new, low-cost and high-efficiency solar cells based on metal halide perovskite materials.

Life Sciences

  • Veronica van Heyningen, Honorary Professor at University College London and University of Edinburgh, introduced 2018 Blavatnik Awards UK Laureate in Life Sciences, Dr. M. Madan Babu of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology, with the award for his insights into the structural biology and molecular logic of key proteins and protein motifs, including GPCRs [G-protein Coupled Receptors] and intrinsically-disordered protein regions.

The evening concluded with 2009 Nobel Laureate and President of the Royal Society Professor Sir Venki Ramakrishnan giving the keynote speech on elevating science through scientific awards and the importance of honoring scientists early in their career versus lifetime achievement awards.


Academy Communications Department
This article was written by a member of the Academy Communications team.