Richard Henderson – a molecular biologist and biophysicist - was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in 2017 for developing cryo-electron microscopy techniques to determine in high resolution the structure of important biomolecules. He delivered the keynote speech at the Astbury Conversation 2022.
Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, said: “It is a great honour to have had Richard taking part in the Astbury Conservation. The work that is happening in structural biology is central to answering some of the toughest questions in biology, including ways that we can better treat or control cancer and other life-limiting diseases.
“The rich contribution that Leeds has made to the field of molecular biology will undoubtedly be continued by the researchers currently developing new ways to see inside cells.”
In 1915, Sir William Henry Bragg, who was Cavendish Professor of Physics at Leeds, was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize with his son Lawrence for their research that led to the creation of a new field of science called X-ray crystallography.
That technique has been used in many subsequent scientific advances and lay the foundation for the research which secured the Nobel Prize for Dr Henderson and his collaborators, which in turn has transformed science.
Dr Henderson said: “Because of Bragg and Astbury and other key scientists in the development of structural biology, not only in the UK but around the world, there are research powerhouses in this field of science – and Leeds is one of them.”
He works at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge and was formerly its director.
At the end of the Astbury Conversation – which was rescheduled from 2020 because of the COVID pandemic – Professor Buitendijk presented Dr Henderson with a specially created tapestry inspired by his work in structural biology. The tapestry was stitched by Tamsin Lines, a student in the School of Design at the University of Leeds.