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Awards and recognition

The MRC is proud to present a series of awards to recognise the exceptional and high-quality research being carried out by MRC scientists. The MRC holds two annual competitions for MRC-funded researchers, including the prestigious Millennium Medal presented to mid- to senior-level researchers, as well as the Max Perutz Science Writing Award for PhD Students. Many of our researchers have also been recognised by prestigious external awards, such as the Nobel Prize and recognition via the Queen’s Honours list.

MRC Millennium Medal 2021 logo

MRC Millennium Medal

We are delighted to announce the launch of the MRC Millennium Medal 2021 competition, which is the MRC’s most prestigious personal award presented annually to an exceptional scientist who has made a major contribution towards the MRC’s mission to improve health, quality of life and wealth creation.

We are inviting nominations for outstanding scientists that have currently or previously received MRC funding for their research. The winner will receive a prestigious medal that is specially created by The Royal Mint and will be listed amongst the most highly influential and impactful researchers in the UK. The recipient will deliver a lecture and be presented with the medal at an awards ceremony, the last one being presented to Professor Sir Rory Collins in 2020. A full list of previous winners is below.

The competition will be open for nominations from 19 July 2021 for 7 weeks and will close on 10 September 2021 at 17:00. The nominations will be reviewed by a dedicated MRC Prize Committee, which will recommend a winner to MRC Council to be announced in December 2021. The winner will be presented with the medal at a dedicated award’s ceremony in March 2022.

Eligibility

Higher education institutions (HEIs) and independent research organisations (IROs) are invited to submit nominations for individuals meeting the below criteria. Nominations must be endorsed by a member of the institution’s senior management team (e.g., the Vice Provost, Vice Principal or Pro-Vice Chancellor for Health or Research, or the Director for IROs). Each organisation can nominate a maximum of three current or former employees.

The MRC is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and welcomes nominations from all. Nominations for women, those with a disability and members of minority ethnic groups, who are currently under-represented in some sectors of the research and innovation community, are therefore especially encouraged.

  • An individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the MRC mission to improve health, quality of life and wealth creation.
  • Any individual whose work is, or has in the past been, supported by the MRC. This could be through grant funding or based within an MRC Centre, Unit or Institute. MRC funding should have provided a significant contributing factor to the research for which they are nominated.
  • The nomination may be for basic, clinical or applied research, or any combination of these, that has made an outstanding contribution to the MRC mission to improve health.
  • Nominees should demonstrate scientific excellence and have international recognition in their field. Their achievements may have contributed towards breaking barriers in research; forging new fields of research or enabling new frontiers for the way that science is conducted.
  • They may be mid-career or more senior researchers.
  • The nomination may be made for contemporary work that shows clear potential to revolutionise the field, or for work that has already had a major impact. A wide variety of research outputs and impacts will be considered, including the development of resources such as datasets and reagents and influence on policy and practice.
  • Nominees must have demonstrated a commitment to improving the wider research environment by enabling national and/or global research capabilities, for example through championing research integrity, development of infrastructure and influencing policy and practice; and developing the research base, for example through advancing equality, diversity and inclusion in the research community, or via training or fostering collaborations.
  • We encourage nominations for the broad diversity of MRC-funded researchers, particularly with regard to gender and ethnicity.
  • The award may be made to someone whose scientific achievements have already been well recognised in other ways but are particularly encouraged for those whose work or support for the research community has not gained the attention it merits outside their immediate research community.
  • HEIs and IROs can nominate a maximum of three individuals for this 2021 award and are strongly encouraged to consider the diversity of their nominations.
  • Nominees put forward for the previous MRC Millennium Medal 2020 round are eligible for re-nomination this year. For future rounds, there will be a resubmission policy of 1 year (individuals can be nominated once every 2 years).

Nomination Process

HEIs and IROs should download a nomination form (DOCX, 1.20MB) to be submitted via this link by 10 September 2021 at 17:00, including:

  • A citation:
    • detailing the nominee’s research achievements and their significance and impact;
    • demonstrating the nominee’s activities dedicated to improving both research capabilities and the research base, for example via championing equality, diversity and inclusion in the research community;
    • summarising the overall contribution of the nominee to the MRC mission and how the nominee embodies the characteristics to be the MRC Millennium Medal 2021 winner.
  • A short (2 page) CV.
  • The nomination form must have been endorsed by a member of the institution’s senior management team (e.g., the Vice Provost, Vice Principal or Pro-Vice Chancellor for Health or Research, or the Director for IROs), including an explanation of the local process that lead to the selection of the nominee from a diverse pool of researchers taking into account equality, diversity and inclusion and mitigation of bias during the selection process.


If you have any questions, then please email medal@mrc.ukri.org.

Selection Panel

A dedicated MRC Prize Committee has been established in May 2021 to oversee MRC personal prizes, including the MRC Millennium Medal competition. The Committee is composed of 23 members from across MRC Boards, Panels, Overview Groups, Strategy Board, MRC Council and external representation, and is chaired by Professor Fiona Watt. The Committee will review and score nominations received and will recommend a winner for MRC Council to ratify to be announced in December 2021.

The members of the MRC Prize Committee include:

  • Professor Fiona Watt (Chair), Medical Research Council
  • Professor Catherine Law, University College London
  • Professor Lisa Dikomitis, University of Keele
  • Professor Marcus Munafò, University of Bristol
  • Professor Christopher Yau, University of Manchester
  • Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, University of Liverpool
  • Professor Kim Graham, Cardiff University
  • Professor Eleanor Riley, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Fadi Issa, University of Oxford
  • Professor John Quackenbush, Harvard University
  • Dr Mark Toshner, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Tania Dottorini, University of Nottingham
  • Dr Diego Gomez Nicola, University of Southampton
  • Professor Paul Matthews, Imperial College London
  • Professor Sandosh Padmanabhan, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Sinead Brophy, University of Swansea
  • Professor Moira Whyte, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Glenn Wells, Medical Research Council
  • Professor Paola Dazzan, Kings College London
  • Professor Rosalind Smyth, University College London
  • Professor Philippa Saunders, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Matthew Lambon-Ralph, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Mark Lawler, Queen’s University Belfast

Past Winners

Since its launch over 20 years ago, the MRC Millennium Medal has been presented to nine truly outstanding individuals, spanning the full breath of medical research and innovation. Several of these researchers have also gone on to receive a Nobel Prize or listed on the Queen’s Honours list for scientific excellence in their field.  

Timeline of the past MRC Millennium Medal winners between 2000-2020

Timeline of the past MRC Millennium Medal winners between 2000 – 2020.

  • 2000: Dr César Milstein - Pioneered work on monoclonal antibodies
  • 2002: Professor Tom Meade - Contribution to UK health, particularly in cardiovascular disease
  • 2004: Sir Peter Mansfield - Development of MRI imaging
  • 2006: Professor Sir Edwin Southern - Invention of the Southern Blotting technique and DNA microarray technology
  • 2013: Professor Sir Philip Cohen - Outstanding collaborative work with the pharmaceutical industry
  • 2013: Professor Sir Gregory Winter - Development of humanised monoclonal antibodies
  • 2015: Professor Sir Brian Greenwood - Reinventing field research in tropical medicine
  • 2017: Professor Janet Darbyshire - Transformative work on clinical trials, resulting in major advances in diseases including tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS, and cancer
  • 2020: Professor Sir Rory Collins – Transformative contributions to cardiovascular disease and visionary leadership of UK Biobank

Max Perutz Science Writing Award

The Max Perutz Science Writing Award aims to support the career development of our current MRC PhD students, helping them build their skills to become tomorrow’s leaders in discovery science. It also aims to encourage and recognise outstanding written communication. More information about the Max Perutz Science Writing Award can be found here.

Nobel Prize Winners

Since the MRC was set up in 1913, 24 Nobel prizes have been awarded to MRC-supported scientists, shared among 33 individuals. Our prize winners have been spread across the Nobel categories of Physiology or Medicine and Chemistry. The links on the right-hand side of the page give more information about each of our Nobel Prize winners.