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School of the Biological Sciences

Researchers in the School of Biological Sciences were recently recognised for their outstanding contributions to science. Professor Eric Miska was elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences Fellowship and Professor Christopher Jiggins and Professor William Sutherland were elected Fellows of the Royal Society.


Professor Eric Miska FMedSci

Herchel Smith Chair of Molecular Genetics and Head of Department of Biochemistry, Affiliated Senior Group Leader at the Gurdon Institute, Associate Faculty at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Fellow of St John’s College

Eric Miska is a molecular geneticist who has carried out pioneering work on RNA biology. His work led to fundamentally new insights into how small RNA molecules control our genes and protect organisms from selfish genes and viruses, and how RNA can carry heritable information across generations. Miska is Founder and Director of STORM Therapeutics Ltd, which creates novel therapies that inhibit RNA modifying enzymes for use in oncology and other diseases.

“Wonderful recognition of the work of an amazing team of researchers I have the pleasure to work with,” said Miska. “Most of our research has been done using the roundworm C. elegans. As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in Thus Spoke Zarathustra: ‘You have evolved from worm to man, but much within you is still worm’.”


Professor Christopher Jiggins FRS

Professor of Evolutionary Biology (2014), Department of Zoology, and Fellow of St John's College

Chris Jiggins studies adaption and speciation in the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). In particular, he is interested in studying how species converge due to mimicry as a model for understanding the predictability of evolution and the genetic and ecological causes of speciation. He demonstrated the importance of hybridisation and movement of genes between species in generating novel adaptations. He also works on the agricultural pest cotton bollworm and carries out genomic studies of the insect bioconversion species, black soldier fly.

He said: “I am amazed and delighted to receive this honour, and would thank all the amazing students, and postdocs that I have been lucky enough to work with over the years.”


Professor William Sutherland CBE FRS

Miriam Rothschild Chair of Conservation Biology, Department of Zoology and Professorial Fellow of St Catharine’s College

Bill Sutherland is a conservation scientist who is interested in improving the processes by which decisions are made. This has involved horizon scanning to identify future issues to reduce the surprises of future developments. His main work has been the industrial-scale collation of evidence to determine which interventions are effective and which are not and then establishing processes for embedding evidence in decision making. He has developed a free, online resource, Conservation Evidence, summarising evidence for the effectiveness of conservation actions to support anyone making decisions about how to maintain and restore biodiversity and an open access book Transforming Conservation: a practical guide to evidence and decision making.

He said: “I am delighted that our work on the means of improving decision making in conservation and elsewhere has been recognised in this way and thank my numerous collaborators.”



Read more:

Fellows elected to Royal Society and Academy of Medical Sciences in Cambridge.

Full list of this year’s Fellows of Royal Society and Academy of Medical Sciences.