Professor Laurence Hurst, director of the Milner Center for Evolution at the University of Bath, has been recognized for his world-leading research in genetics and evolution with a prestigious Humboldt Award.
The Humboldt Prize, also known as the Humboldt Research Award, is an award presented by the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to internationally renowned scientists and scholars working outside Germany in recognition of their lifetime’s research achievements.
Named after Prussian naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, recipients of the award are academics whose “major discoveries, new theories or insights have had a significant impact on their discipline and who are expected to continue to produce cutting-edge academic results in the future” .
Professor Hurst, professor of evolutionary genetics at the University of Bath since 1997, is one of Europe’s most cited evolutionary biologists, author of over 300 research papers.
In 2014, he made the first discovery of “nave-like” stem cells, the so-called “holy grail” of stem cell science, which can be transformed into any other type of cell.
He also helped create the Milner Center for Evolution in 2018 to use evolutionary science to solve global challenges, as well as improve public engagement and evolution education in schools.
He became an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in 2004, was awarded the Science Medal of the Zoological Society of London in 2003 and the Genetic Society Medal from the Genetics Society in 2010.
In 2015 Professor Hurst was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, won the Publication of the Year Award from the German Stem Cell Society and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the UK’s highest scientific honour.
He served as president of the Genetics Society from 2018-21 and has been director of the university’s Milner Center for Evolution since its founding in 2018.
At Bath, he was previously the recipient of the Vice-Chancellor’s research prize and also recognized for training and mentoring the next generation of scientists with the inaugural Excellence in Doctoral Supervision Prize.
Professor Hurst will receive 60,000 prize money and intends to use it in part to fund a visit to his colleagues at the Max Delbrck Center in Berlin next spring, with whom he is collaborating to use knowledge of how genes and genomes evolve to improve medicine .
Professor Hurst said: ‘I am delighted and honored to have my research recognized in this way.
“Evolution is the fundamental foundation of biology. It not only explains the complexity of the living world around us and how things got that way, but it can also be applied to the global challenges we face today, such as fighting antibiotic resistance, increasing biodiversity and improving medical care for cancer and rare genetic diseases.
‘I have several established and very fruitful research collaborations with colleagues in Germany and therefore this award means a lot to me.’
University of Bath Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Ian White, said: ‘I would like to congratulate Professor Hurst on this most prestigious award, which rightly gives full international recognition to his world-leading research into the evolution of genes and of genomes.
“His work at the Milner Center for Evolution has established Bath as an international center of excellence for evolution research and I look forward to seeing how his discoveries translate into the advancement of medicine.”
Provided by the University of Bath
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