Professor Ben Simons, Affiliated Group Leader at the Wellcome Trust/ Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, has been awarded the Royal Society’s Gabor Medal 2015, in recognition of his “work analysing stem cell lineages in development, tissue homeostasis and cancer, revolutionising our understanding of stem cell behaviour in vivo”.
The Gabor Medal specifically recognises distinction in “interdisciplinary work between the life sciences with other disciplines”. Professor Simons spent twenty years as a theoretical physicist before taking up a biological quest to understand how mammalian tissues are maintained by cell renewal. Studies of cell turnover and lineage tracing can generate very large datasets, to which Simons applies data analysis techniques from physics to tease out previously unknown properties of stem cell populations. This work has advanced our understanding of how tissues are maintained in both health and disease.
Simons splits his time between the Gurdon Institute and the Cavendish Laboratory of the Department of Physics where he holds the Herchel Smith Chair.
The Gurdon Institute is also home to a previous winner of the Gabor Medal, Professor Azim Surani, who was awarded the medal in 2001 in recognition of his discovery of mammalian genomic imprinting.
The Gabor Medal was created in memory of the engineer Dennis Gabor FRS (1900-1979). The first award was made in 1989. The medal is silver gilt and is accompanied by a gift of £2000.