Professor Hagan Bayley wins prestigious Royal Society award
30 August 2023
Chemistry Fellow Professor Hagan Bayley has been awarded the prestigious Buchanan Medal, one of 25 Royal Society medals and prizes announced today. Professor Bayley’s award recognises his role in founding the highly successful biotech company Oxford Nanopore Technologies. This was a spinout from his fundamental research into the assembly and function of bacterial pore-forming proteins in mammalian cell membranes. Recognising the potential applications for biotechnology, Professor Bayley and his team engineered pores capable of interacting with molecules of interest, ranging from small organic molecules to polymers of enormous length. In this way, they developed a method to identify and sequence molecules as they passed through the pore by measuring changes in an electrical current driven by a voltage applied across the nanopore.
In 2005, Professor Bayley founded Oxford Nanopore Technologies to develop a nanopore sensing platform. The company furthered the technology by building powerful portable nanopore-based devices for DNA and RNA sequencing. Oxford Nanopore devices have since revolutionised fundamental and clinical genomics and played a critical role in research across cancer, human genetics, and infectious diseases. Professor Bayley continues to conduct fundamental research into nanopore technologies, with current interests including protein variant characterisation; understanding the making and breaking of individual chemical bonds; and building synthetic tissues in which nanopores allow the compartments to communicate with each other and the external environment.
Professor Bayley said: ‘I am delighted to be recognised for the founding of Oxford Nanopore, the company that has developed a means to sequence DNA and RNA with an inexpensive portable device providing exceedingly long reads. Work on nanopore sensing and sequencing was initiated by highly talented members of my academic laboratory and brought to fruition by the formidable team at Oxford Nanopore.’
Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society said, ‘On behalf of the Royal Society, I offer my congratulations to all the 2023 recipients of Medals and Awards. The breadth and scope of scientific knowledge and experience reflected in this year’s nominations is nothing short of phenomenal. I am very proud to celebrate such outstanding scientific contributions from so many different specialisms around the world.’
The full list of medals and awards, including their description and past winners can be found on the Royal Society website.