Khorana Prize


The Khorana Prize recognises outstanding achievement award for research at the chemistry and life science interface.


2016 Winner

Professor David Lilley

Khorana Prize 2016 Winner

Professor David Lilley, University of Dundee


General information


  • Run biennially - NOT OPEN for 2017 nominations 
  • The winner receives 5000, a medal and a certificate
  • The winner will complete a UK lecture tour
  • Prize winners are chosen by the Chemistry Biology Interface Division Awards Committee        

Guidelines for Nominators


  • Nominations open on 01 October
  • Nominations close on 15 January 
  • Only RSC Members can nominate for this prize
  • Nominees may NOT nominate themselves
  • The prize is open to nominees based in the UK or internationally
  • There are no age restrictions associated with this prize
  • When nominating previous RSC prize or award winners, please remember that a person cannot be awarded 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 nominee's name and contact details 
  • An up to date CV for the nominee (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 (up to 4500 characters, not including spaces) 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 prize and will not be accepted

Selection Criteria for RSC Prizes


Our selection committees base their evaluations primarily on the overall quality of relevant contributions made by nominees and not simply on quantitative measures.

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

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

Chemistry Biology Interface Division Awards Committee


  • Tom Brown (Chair), University of Oxford
  • Patrick Steel, Durham University
  • Lyn Jones, Pfizer
  • Tom Heightman, Astex, Cambridge
  • Riki Eggert, King's College London   

Previous Winners

Khorana Prize Previous Winners

2010 - present

History of the Prize


Established in 2008 the Khorana award commemorates the work of Nobel laureate Har Gobind Khorana.

Born in 1922, in Punjab, Khorana's father was keen to educate his family making Khorana and his siblings the only literate children in the village.  Khorana attended high school in Multan where one of his teachers had a key influence on him.  After obtaining his MSc in 1945 from Punjab University, in Lahore, Khorana moved to Liverpool on a Government of India Fellowship to complete a PhD under the supervision of Roger Beer.  Following a postdoctoral year in Zurich, under the supervision of Vladimir Prelog, he continued his studies at Cambridge University where his interest in nucleic acids and proteins developed.  Khorana moved to Canada in 1952 to work on the synthesis of ribotrinucleotides for protein synthesis at Vancouver University.

In 1960, Khorana became a citizen of the U. S. where he spent the rest of his research years until retirement.  At the Institute for Enzyme Research at the University of Wisconsin he worked on nucleotide synthesis and cracking the genetic code.  During this time he proved the existence of codons and confirmed that nucleotide arrangement determines a cell's chemical composition and function.  From 1970 Khorana held the post of Alfred P Sloan Professor of Biology and Chemistry at M.I.T.  His research included synthesis of the first artificial copy of the yeast gene and exploration of molecular mechanisms associated with cell signalling pathways in vertebrate vision.

In 1968 Khorana received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Robert Holley and Marshall Nirenberg for "their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis".  In 2007, in Khorana's honour, the Government of India, the University of Wisconsin, and the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum founded the Khorana programme to develop an international community of industrialist, scientists, and social entrepreneurs.


Contact and Further Information

Awards
Royal Society of Chemistry, Thomas Graham House, Cambridge Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge, CB4 0WF
Tel: +44 (0)1223 420066