Knighthood and Frontiers Award for Adrian Bird

Congratulation to Adrian Bird on his knighthood, awarded in the 2014 New Year Honours, for services to science. And further congratulations on the award of the BBVA international Frontiers of Knowledge prize for biomedicine, awarded "for his discoveries in the field of epigenetics", announced on 28 January.

Professor Adrian Bird CBE, FRS, FRSE, FMedSci was appointed to the Buchanan Chair of Genetics in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh in 1990. He subsequently played a prominent role in setting up the University’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, where he was Director from 1999 to 2011. Adrian’s research focuses on understanding DNA methylation and CpG islands, and their role in diseases such as Rett syndrome. As well as his outstanding scientific contributions, Adrian has taken on many roles supporting philanthropic and charitable organisations. He was a Governor of the Wellcome Trust, the world’s largest medical research charity, from 2000 to 2010, and was appointed Deputy Chairman from 2007-2010. He is a trustee and Chair of the Research Strategy Committee of Cancer Research UK and the Kirkhouse Trust. Adrian is past Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Rett Syndrome Research Foundation and has been a trustee of the Rett Syndrome Research Trust since its inception in 2008.

Adrian has received numerous previous awards and honours, including the prestigious Howard Hughes International Fellowship (1993-98), the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine (1999), the Gabor Medal of the Royal Society (1999), the Charles-Léopold Mayer Prize of the French Academy of Sciences (2008) and the GlaxoSmithKlein Medal of the Royal Society (2012). In 2011 Adrian was awarded a Gairdner International Award for his discoveries in the field of DNA methylation and its role in gene expression. He was made CBE in 2005 and is a Fellow of the Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh and of the Academy of Medical Science.

“Our work uses a broad range of technologies to answer questions about the role of DNA methylation in health and disease. At one extreme, we study animal models of the debilitating autism spectrum disorder Rett Syndrome to better understand the disease, while at the other, we collaborate with X-ray crystallographers to get at the atomic structure of proteins that read the DNA methylation signal. This breadth – from molecules to organisms - forces us to see biomedical issues at more than one level and keeps our research both exciting and cutting-edge.” - Professor Adrian Bird