David Baulcombe
  • 2008 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award


2008 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award British plant scientist and geneticist, Edward Penley Abraham Royal Society Research Professor. In 2008, he won the Albert-Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, for “discovering tiny RNAs that regulate gene function.”

Education and Work Experience

1973-1977, Botany Ph.D., University of Edinburgh
1980-1988, Higher Scientific Officer, Principal Scientific Officer, Cambridge Plant Breeding Institute
1988-2007, Senior Research Scientist and Head of Laboratory, The Sainsbury Laboratory
2007-2022, Royal Society Edward Penley Abraham Research Professor and Head of the Department of Plant Sciences

Honors and Awards

2006, Royal Medal the Royal Society
2008, Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award
2010, Wolf Prize in Agriculture
2012, Balzan Prize (for Epigenetics)

Major Academic Achievements

With Andrew Hamilton, David Baulcombe discovered the small interfering RNA that is the specificity determinant in RNA-mediated gene silencing. Baulcombe's group demonstrated that while viruses can induce gene silencing, some viruses encode proteins that suppress gene silencing. After these initial observations in plants, many laboratories around the world searched for the occurrence of this phenomenon in other organisms. David Baulcombe established that small RNAs silence genes in plants as well, thus catalysing discoveries of many such RNAs in a wide range of living things. His findings led to the identification of the biochemical machinery that unifies numerous processes by which small RNAs govern gene activity.