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The John Kendrew Award


2024 Award

The 2024 Award winner will receive an increased cash prize of €15,000, and the award will be presented as part of the 50th Anniversary two-day scientific symposium.

Award Ceremony: Friday 5 July 2024, EMBL ATC Klaus Tschira Auditorium, Heidelberg.

Nominations and applications for the 2025 John Kendrew Award are now open.

Open to former members of the EMBL International PhD Programme (EIPP) or postdoctoral fellows who left EMBL between 2017-22. The eligibility period can be extended beyond seven years in specific cases, for example for parental leave or sickness.

About the award

The John Kendrew Young Scientist Award (JKA) was launched in 2007 as an initiative from the EMBL Pensioner’s Association to honour EMBL’s first Director General, Sir John Kendrew (1975-1982), and to support scientists in the early stages of their career. It has been sponsored by Roland Specker since 2011.

The Award recognises excellence in science and/or science communication. It is open to all pre- and postdocs two to seven years AFTER leaving EMBL. The award consists of a gold-plated medal, a cash prize of €15,000 and the logistical costs of bringing the winner to EMBL Heidelberg to present a talk at the Award Ceremony on EMBL Lab Day.

Criteria for applicants

To qualify, candidates should:

  • Be former members of the EMBL International PhD Programme (EIPP) or postdoctoral fellows.
  • Be registered members of the EMBL Alumni Association (EAA).
  • Have left EMBL two to seven years before the application deadline. The 2025 award is open to former members of the EMBL International PhD Programme (EIPP) or postdoctoral fellows who left EMBL between 2017 and 2022. (The eligibility period can be extended beyond seven years in specific cases – for example for parental leave or sickness).

Please note that we do not encourage joint applications, but outstanding collaborative achievements may be considered.

If your application is unsuccessful in a given year, it can be resubmitted in the subsequent years that you are eligible. We also welcome nominations for the award by any member of the EMBL community. Nominees will be contacted by the EMBL Alumni Relations Office.

EMBL supports fair and responsible research assessment, which includes its alumni awards processes. We recognise a range of research outputs including publications, open data sets, databases, code, software, pre-prints, patents, commercial products, instruments, clinical practice developments, educational products, policy publications, and any other relevant outputs. We discourage inappropriate use of proxies such as journal impact factors, and value research outputs based on their intrinsic merit. EMBL is a signatory of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).

How to nominate and apply

To nominate someone, please email the Alumni Relations team by 30th August 2024 with the name and contact details of your nominee. We will then contact the nominee and provide them with the application form.

To apply yourself, please complete the application form by 30th September 2024.

List of winners

2024 winner: Thibaut Brunet

EMBL: Postdoc, Arendt Group, Developmental Biology, 2011-2016.

2024: Group Leader, Department of Cell Biology and Infection, Institut Pasteur, Paris.

“EMBL is the place I was born as a researcher, and remains one of the places I’m watching the most closely for exciting scientific developments – with the current scientific program ‘Molecules to Ecosystems’ feeling especially close to my heart. I feel that one remains a lifelong member of the EMBL diaspora and that one carries everywhere with oneself a special connection to the place and to its community, as well as to its spirit of boldness, creativity, rigour, and generosity. It is thus a special honour to receive this award, which I dedicate to all the colleagues who have trained and inspired me, at EMBL and elsewhere.”

Announcement of winner: March 2024

2023 winner: Veli Vural Uslu

EMBL: Predoc, Spitz Group, Developmental Biology, 2009-2015.

2023: Group Leader, RLP AgroScience Plant Research Institute, Neustadt, Germany/ Director, ScicomHD Science Communication Training, Heidelberg, Germany.

“As the recipient of the John Kendrew Award, I am grateful for the recognition of performance art in science communication, not only as an educational stage for scientists to share their research and enthusiasm with society but also as a sanctuary for scientists to protect their mental health –especially after leaving EMBL. Feeling the support of the EMBL community makes me very happy and more motivated than ever for exploring unorthodox yet effective ways of making science accessible to the public.”

Announcement of winner: March 2023

Watch Alumni Awards Ceremony

2022 winner: Maria Antonietta Tosches

EMBL: Predoc, Arendt Group, Developmental Biology, 2007-2014.
2022: Assistant Professor, Columbia University, New York, USA.

“I am truly honoured and humbled to receive the 2022 John Kendrew Award. EMBL is the special place where my journey in science began and has been a source of inspiration for me ever since. I am incredibly proud to be part of a community of alumni who are spreading the EMBL spirit all over the world, sharing the vision that scientific excellence and innovation thrive in a collaborative, diverse, and supportive environment.”

Announcement of winner: June 2022

Watch Alumni Awards Ceremony

2021 winner: Ilaria Piazza

EMBL: Predoc, Haering Group, Cell Biology and Biophysics, 2009-2014.
2021: Group Leader, MDC Berlin, Germany

“I am incredibly honoured to receive the John Kendrew award. I can convincingly say that I would not have made scientific research a profession without having been a PhD student at EMBL. I met so many people who deeply changed my perspective, thus I am and will always be proud to be in the EMBL alumni network!”

Announcement of winner: April 2021

Watch Alumni Awards Ceremony

2020 winner: Giorgia Guglielmi

EMBL: Predoc, De Renzis Group, Developmental Biology, 2011-2016.
2020: Science Writer, Freelance, Cambridge, USA.

“I’m honoured to join such an excellent group of awardees, and I’m grateful to the committee for showing their support to independent science journalism. This recognition is a sign that in an era where alternative facts are competing on an equal footing with experts and peer-reviewed research, rigorous science communication is valued and appreciated. This award is an encouragement for me to keep providing independent, accurate analyses of scientific findings and exploring the intersection of science and society.”

Announcement of winner: March 2020

Watch Alumni Awards Ceremony


2019 winner: Tanmay Bharat

EMBL: Predoc, Briggs Group, Structural and Computational Biology, 2008-2013.
2019: Group Leader, University of Oxford, UK.

“As a structural biologist, I am honoured to be selected for the John Kendrew Award. I admire all the past winners, and am delighted to be in this group of outstanding scientists. EMBL has been a big part of my scientific development, and indeed in the development of my entire field of research (cryo-EM). I look forward to going back in July to meet everyone at EMBL.”

Announcement of winner: February 2019

2018 winner: Nils Gehlenborg

EMBL: Predoc, Brazma Group, EMBL-EBI, 2006-2010.
2018: Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.

“Receiving the John Kendrew Award is a great honour for me, and I am humbled to be joining the ranks of the previous recipients. None of this would have been possible without the many people who influenced my career at EMBL and Harvard Medical School, in particular, my past and present mentors. To me, the John Kendrew Award is not only a recognition of my achievements. I also consider it an acknowledgment of the importance of my field—visualisation of biomedical data—which was in its infancy when I started my PhD at the EMBL-EBI in 2006.”

Announcement of winner: March 2018

2017 winner: Philipp Keller

EMBL: Predoc, Stelzer group, Cell Biology and Biophysics, 2005-2010.
2017: Group Leader, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USA.

“I am very grateful to receive the John Kendrew Award from the institute I owe so much to. The entire EMBL framework, from its exceptional graduate program and collaborative scientific environment to the outstanding researchers I worked with, was instrumental in my training as a scientist and preparing me to be an independent investigator. I am thus happy to see that EMBL has served as an inspiration for other research institutes, including my current home, the Janelia Research Campus.”

Announcement of winner: March 2017


2016 winner: Jop Kind

EMBL: Predoc, Akhtar group, Genome Biology, 2002-2008.
2016: Group Leader, Hubrecht Institute, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

“I am deeply honored to be awarded the 2016 John Kendrew Award and find my name among this select group of excellent scientists. I can’t wait to be back at the EMBL for the award ceremony and re-experience the buzzing atmosphere of this magical institute.  The innovative and out-of-the-box approach to science at the EMBL really shaped me as a scientist and was hugely important en route towards independence.”

Announcement of winner: January 2016


2015 winner: Melina Schuh

EMBL: Predoc, Ellenberg Group, Genome Bioloy, 2004-2008.
2015: Group Leader, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

“I feel very honoured to be awarded the 2015 John Kendrew Award. John Kendrew has been a constant companion for me – first, during my PhD studies in Jan Ellenberg’s group at EMBL and now as a group leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, where John Kendrew has pioneered protein crystallography. It is a particular honour to receive an award that is named after him.”

Announcement of winner: December 2014
Poster – Awards Ceremony, 10 July 2015

2014 winner: Martin Jinek

EMBL: Predoc, Conti Group, Structural and Computational Biology, 2002-2007.
2014: Assistant Professor, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

“I am very honoured to be receiving this award, not least because of my structural biology background. I am thankful for the recognition at this early stage in my independent career. The award really highlights why basic research matters – even seemingly obscure discoveries, such as our work on the molecular mechanism of the bacterial CRISPR systems, can have a major impact not only on other scientists’ research but also lead to new applications in biotechnology and biomedicine.”

Announcement of winner: December 2013


2013 winner: Katharina Ribbeck

EMBL: Joint postdoc, Ellenberg and Mattaj Groups, Genome Biology and Directors’ Research, 2002-2006.
2013: Assistant Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA.

“I am thrilled to receive this prestigious award! Thank you very much for the recognition. The tradition of this award is testament to the tight bond between EMBL and its worldwide alumni community. This award will give an understudied field of science a big boost as it continues to unfold.”

Announcement of winner: December 2012


2012 co-winner: Simone Weyand

EMBL: Predoc, Weiss Team, EMBL Hamburg, 2003-2007
2012: Research Associate, Imperial College London and Diamond Light Source, Oxford, United Kingdom.

“It’s a great honour to be selected for this award in particular because John Kendrew was one of the pioneers in crystallography.”

Announcement of co-winners: January 2012


2012 co-winner: Gáspár Jékely

EMBL: Postdoc, Rorth and Arendt Groups, Developmental Biology, 2000-2007
2012: Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Developmental biology, Tübingen, Germany

“I am very delighted and honoured to have been selected for the Kendrew award. …. Although I don’t known Simone Weyand, it is a pleasure to be co-awarded with a structural biologist, a field also close to my heart”.

Announcement of co-winners: January 2012


2011 winner: Amaicha Depino

EMBL: Postdoc, Gross Group, EMBL Monterotondo, 2004-2006
2011: Group Leader, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

“This recognition is a great encouragement for me to continue fostering the development of more science communication projects with more scientists. It would be nice to see the whole science community take the communication of science as their responsibility, shared with teachers and journalists. It has also inspired me to foster international collaborations in science communication between Argentina and Europe.”

Announcement of winner: January 2011


2010 winner: Preben Morth

EMBL: Predoc, Tucker Group, EMBL Hamburg, 2001-2005
2010: Assistant Professor, Aarhus University, Denmark

“I am incredibly proud to have received this award. John Kendrew was one of the founding fathers of protein crystallography, and to have received an award that carries his name will always stand out as an absolute highlight of my career.”

Announcement of winner and award ceremony: June 2010


2009 winner: Julius Brennecke

EMBL: Predoc, Cohen Group, Developmental Biology, 2001-2006
2009: Postdoc, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, NY, USA

“Fostering interactions between the scientific community and alumni is extremely valuable. While this is very established in the US, similar attempts in Europe are rare. The interaction I had at EMBL on the day of the award ceremony was fantastic and I will clearly benefit from reestablishing old bonds with scientists there. I very much hope that this prize will become a tradition at EMBL.”

Announcement of winner 2009


2008 co-winner: Giovanni Frazzetto

EMBL: Predoc, Bouwmeester and Cohen Groups, Developmental Biology, 1998-2002
2008: Society in Science-Branco Weiss Research Fellow, BIOS (London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom

“The John Kendrew award shows that unusual and rare research interests and approaches at the intersection between science and society are appreciated and valued. Since winning the award, I’m regularly invited to give lectures at courses and conferences, asked to present my research and to teach innovative, transdisciplinary courses. Also, the number of papers and grant proposals that I am requested to review has increased.”

Announcement of winner: October 2007


2008 co-winner: Antonio Giraldez

EMBL Predoc, Cohen Group, Developmental Biology, 1998-2003
2008: Assistant Professor, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

“The Kendrew award has all the ingredients to grow into a recognised award worldwide that will inspire young scientists in Europe to excel. Its early recognition of our achievements plays a fundamental role in feeding the motivation of young investigators to move forward to great discoveries.”

Announcement of winner: October 2007