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Max Perutz Science Writing Award 2013

26 Sep 2013

MRC PhD student Scott Armstrong from Imperial College London has won this year’s Max Perutz Science Writing Award. Last night Scott received the first prize of £1,500 for his article – Saving the brain from itself – which is available in today’s Times Higher Education.

Image: 2013 Max Perutz Award winner, Scott Armstrong.

The runner-up prize of £1,000 was awarded to Clare Finlay from King’s College London for her article A step in the right direction for Parkinson’s disease treatment? Commendation prizes of £750 went to Nick Dand also from King’s, Ben Bleasdale from Imperial College London and Oliver Freeman at The University of Manchester.

The awards were announced by MRC Chairman and competition judge, Donald Brydon. On presenting Scott’s prize Donald said:

“This article not only fully tackled the question but was also very well written, fascinating and ended really strongly.”

The other judges on this year’s panel included: Jon Snow, Channel 4 newscaster; Roger Highfield, Director of External Affairs at the Science Museum and former New Scientist editor; Lizzie Gibney, Times Higher Education reporter; and last year’s Max Perutz Award winner Dr Andrew Bastawrous from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts MP, welcomed guests and announced the shortlist. In his address Mr Willetts said:

“It’s great to be part of such an imaginative MRC programme.”

He went on to say that as a layperson he was absolutely the target audience for the competition.

“When meeting scientists, there are some who can explain their research and others who can’t. Rising to that challenge of being able to communicate the broad sense of your ideas to a lay audience is a crucial test”

Image: Universities and Science Minister David Willetts meeting some of the 2013 Max Perutz Award shortlisted entrants.

The awards ceremony took place at the Science Museum, London, where members of the MRC’s Council and Management Board as well as colleagues from across the medical research community had the opportunity to congratulate the shortlisted entrants and meet the judges.

To mark the MRC Centenary this year, we also introduced a Centenary Challenge and Centenary Prize. The Challenge asked researchers to write 100 words on the future of their research area, and the Centenary Prize was awarded for the article with the best title.

Professor Robin Perutz, the son of the late Max Perutz, gave guests a wonderful insight into how the discoveries of one scientist can have a ripple effect over many years. He commented that it’s important that the Medical Research Council supports researchers even though it can be difficult to predict the future impact of their research.

The Max Perutz Award is in its 16th year and encourages MRC-funded researchers to communicate their work to a wider audience. Entrants are asked to explain why their research matters in just 800 words. Since the competition started in 1998, hundreds of researchers have submitted entries and taken their first steps in science communication.

The award is named in honour of one of the UK’s most outstanding scientists and communicators, Dr Max Perutz. Max, who died in 2002, was awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work using X-ray crystallography to study the structures of globular proteins. He was the founder and first chairman of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge, the lab which unravelled the structure of DNA. Max was also a keen and talented communicator who inspired countless students to use everyday language to share their research with the people whose lives are improved by their work.


  • Categories: Corporate
  • Health categories: Generic
  • Locations: London
  • Type: News article