Jeremy Knowles Award

The Jeremy Knowles Award is to recognise and promote the importance of inter- and multi-disciplinary research between chemistry and the life sciences.

2015 Winner

Professor Herman Overkleeft

Jeremy Knowles Award 2015 Winner

Professor Herman Overkleeft, Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University

General information

  • Run annually
  • The winner receives 2000, a medal and a certificate
  • The winner will complete a UK lecture tour 
  • The winner will be chosen by the RSC Chemistry Biology Interface Division Awards Committee   

Guidelines for Nominators

  • Nominations open on 01 October 2015
  • Nominations close on 15 January 2016 
  • Only RSC Members can nominate for the 2016 Prizes and Awards Main portfolio 
  • Candidates may NOT nominate themselves
  • This award is open to candidates based in the UK and internationally
  • Candidates must be in their mid-career, therefore should be 55 years old or under on 31 January 2016. The age specified is intended to guide nominators and selection panellists; appropriate consideration will be given to those who have taken career breaks or followed different study paths
  • When nominating recent Award and Prize winners, please remember that a person cannot be rewarded twice for substantially the same body of work        

To make a nomination please use our online awards nominations system  to submit the following:

  • Your name, contact details, and membership number (please contact the RSC Membership team if you do not know your membership details)
  • The candidate's name and contact details 
  • An up to date CV for the candidate (no longer than one A4 side, 11pt text) which should include their date of birth, summary of education and career, a list of 5 relevant publications, total numbers of publications and patents (if appropriate) and website URL if relevant
  • A supporting statement (no longer than one A4 side, 11pt text) addressing the selection criteria 
  • A short citation describing what the nominee should be awarded for. This must be no longer than 250 characters (not including spaces) and ideally no longer than one sentence
  • References are not required for this award      

Selection Criteria for RSC Awards

The selection committee(s) will consider the following aspects of all nominations for scientific research Awards as appropriate:

  • Originality of research
  • Impact of research
  • Quality of publications and/or patents and/or software
  • Innovation
  • Professional standing
  • Independence 
  • Collaborations and teamwork
  • Other indicators of esteem indicated by the nominee/nominator      

Previous Winners

Jeremy Knowles Award Previous Winners

2009 - present

History of the Award

Jeremy Knowles
Founded in 1991, following a bequest from the late Professor Adrien Albert (formerly Professor of Chemistry at the Australian National University, Canberra), this award commemorates the work of eminent chemist and biochemist Jeremy Knowles, OBE.

Born in Rugby in 1935 Knowles studied first at Magdalen College School and then Balliol College, Oxford, where he developed an interest in kinetics and gained a first class degree in 1959.  Following a PhD, on aromatic substitution, he completed a two year postdoctoral fellowship at CalTech where he developed an interest in specificity and kinetics of the enzyme alpha-chymotrypsin.  He formed the Enzyme Group at Oxford in the 1970s before moving to America to become Professor of Chemistry at Harvard.

Knowles' enzymatic research at Harvard was fundamental for understanding enzyme function in illnesses, knowledge still use in current drug discovery.  Key areas of his work included: studying free-energy profiles of enzymes, defining the efficiency function (Ef) of enzymes in metabolic pathways, performing mutagenesis experiments to characterise the workings of triosephosphate isomerase, deducing inhibitor mechanisms from kinetic data without structural knowledge of the key enzyme, and developing a method to directly examine the mechanism of phosphor group transfer using isotopically labelled chiral phosphate monoesters and so determine the stereochemistry of the reaction. 

In 1991 Knowles stopped his research to fully focus on his new role as Harvard's Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  He arrived at a time of "budgetary crisis" but implemented successful measures to reduce Harvard's deficit and launch a fundraising campaign.  He was forward-thinking and planned investment in promising areas for discovery and application, such as genomics, computation, neuroscience and evolution, alongside improving opportunities for undergraduates to study languages.  In recognition of his services to the university they awarded him the Harvard medal in 2002.

Chemistry Biology Interface Division Awards Committee

  • Tom Brown (Chair), University of Oxford
  • Patrick Steel, Durham University
  • Mike Page, University of Huddersfield
  • Rein Ulijn, University of Strathclyde
  • Kira Weissman, Lorraine University, France       

Contact and Further Information

Royal Society of Chemistry, Thomas Graham House, Milton Road, Science Park, Cambridge, CB4 0WF
Tel: +44 (0)1223 432384
Fax: +44 (0)1223 423623