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.

2019 Winner

Professor Benjamin Cravatt

2019 Jeremy Knowles Award Winner

Professor Benjamin F Cravatt, The Scripps Research Institute

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

  • Only RSC Members can nominate for this award
  • Nominees may NOT nominate themselves
  • This award is open to nominees based in the UK and internationally
  • Nominees should be an established career scientist, typically with no more than 30 years of full-time equivalent professional experience. 
  • This should be experience gained as part of a scientific career excluding time spent in full-time education. Time spent as a postgraduate student should not be included e.g. Masters, PhD. Time spent as a post-doctoral researcher should be included. 
  • Nominators will be asked to provide details of the nominee's professional experience, in relation to the above criteria.   
  • Career breaks will be recognised, and applications are particularly encouraged from those whose career has spanned a break due to caring responsibilities or personal circumstances e.g. a period of parental/adoption leave, family commitments, illness, or other exceptional circumstances. 
  • 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 a summary of their 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 award and will not be accepted    

The RSC reserves the right to rescind any Prize or Award if there is reasonable grounds to do so. All nominators will be asked to confirm that, to the best of their knowledge, there is no confirmed or potential impediment to their nominee receiving this prize/award related to their professional standing. Our Professional Practice and Code of Conduct can be referred to as a guide on expected standards.

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Selection Criteria for RSC Awards

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 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       

Chemistry Biology Interface Division Awards Committee

  • Mark Bradley, University of Edinburgh (Chair) 
  • Kira Weissman, University of Lorraine
  • Dominic Campopiano, University of Edinburgh   
  • Jane Thomas-Oates, University of York
  • Steve Archibald, University of Hull 
  • Bonnie Wallace, Birkbeck, University of London

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.

Contact and Further Information

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