Professor Ronald Laskey awarded a Royal Medal

In collaboration with the Press Association

Professor Ronald Laskey has been awarded a Royal Medal by the Royal Society, the UK's independent academy for science.

Professor Laskey is a world-renowned expert on the copying or 'replication' of DNA inside cells and has been funded by Cancer Research UK since 1983. He currently holds the Charles Darwin Chair in the University of Cambridge's Department of Zoology and is also joint director of the MRC Cancer Cell Unit at the Hutchison/MRC Research Centre.

His research is helping to lay the foundations for new ways to detect cancer at an earlier and more treatable stage, particularly focusing on measuring the levels of certain proteins - called MCM proteins - in people's bodily fluids, including urine.

MCM proteins are involved in DNA replication, and seem to be present in elevated levels in people with certain cancers. A diagnostic test based on MCM proteins is currently in large-scale clinical trials.

Just three Royal Medals are awarded by the Queen each year, upon the recommendation of the Royal Society's Council.

The medals are presented to scientists who have made an outstanding contribution to their field of research, in recognition of the excellence of their work and the implications their findings have had for other researchers in their field.

Professor Ashok Venkitaraman, joint director of the MRC Cancer Cell Unit, said that Professor Laskey's work "has over the years provided a foundation for many topical and important fields in biomedical research, ranging from nuclear transfer and embryo cloning, to mammalian DNA replication".

"The way in which he has translated his fundamental research on DNA replication to the development of important new tools for the early diagnosis of human cancers is a lesson in how biological knowledge can be used to benefit human health."

Professor Venkitaraman noted that Professor Laskey has mentored many younger colleagues and said that he is "delighted that Ron's outstanding contributions to the biomedical sciences have been recognised".

Professor Laskey said: "It feels both flattering and humbling to see the list of past recipients, but it's particularly pleasing to receive this level of recognition from your peers. I'm very grateful to the past and present members of my research team, whose efforts have made this recognition possible."