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Max Perutz Science Writing Award 2020 shortlist announced

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Ten outstanding articles have been shortlisted for the 2020 Max Perutz Science Writing Award, the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) annual writing competition.

The award is named in honour of one of the UK’s most outstanding scientists and communicators, Dr Max Perutz. Dr Perutz, who died in 2002, was awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work using X-ray crystallography to study the structures of globular proteins.

Dr Perutz was the founder and first chairman of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, the lab which unravelled the structure of DNA. He was also a keen and talented communicator who inspired countless students to use everyday language to share their research with the people whose lives are improved by their work.

Judging panel

This year, our prestigious VIP judging panel is made up of:

  • Professor Fiona Watt, MRC Executive Chair
  • Dr Roger Highfield, MRC Council member and science director of the Science Museum Group
  • Andy Ridgway, journalist and senior lecturer in science communication at the University of the West of England, Bristol
  • Ian Tucker, science and technology editor of The Observer
  • Samira Ahmed, journalist and broadcaster.

Applicants, who are all MRC PhD students, were asked to write and submit an article about a research in their field, discuss why it matters, and do this in a format that would hold the interest of a non-scientific reader.

The overall winner of the Max Perutz Award, who will receive a £1,500 prize and have their article published in The Observer (our media partner), will be announced at our virtual awards ceremony on 13 October 2020.

Shortlisted writers

We received the highest number of entries ever this year, with 140 applicants, and the quality of the articles was extremely high. Thank you to everyone who applied and many congratulations to the following shortlisted writers:

  • Kirsty Balachandran, Imperial College London
    Progesterone: An Untapped Resource for Treating Breast Cancer?
  • Miranda Buckle, MRC Doctoral Training Partnership, University of Oxford
    Baby, What’s on Your Mind?
  • Isabella Goldsbrough, Imperial College London
    Finding the Path of Least Resistance
  • Jonathan Lewis, MRC Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research, University of Birmingham
    To Infinity and Beyond: Finding Treatments for Space Travel Bone Loss
  • Maria Stavrou, The University of Edinburgh
    Undoing the Straitjacket
  • Fernanda Teixeira Subtil, Francis Crick Institute
    From the Palace to the Favela
  • Sarah Taylor, MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at The University of Edinburgh
    Curing the Incurable: Teaching an Old Drug New Tricks to Fight Ovarian Cancer
  • Elisabeth Trinh, MRC Doctoral Training Partnership, The University of Manchester
    A New ‘Gold Standard’ in Infection Diagnosis
  • Stepheni Uh, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge
    The Tip of the Self-harm Iceberg
  • Julia Wiktoria Wcislo, University of Dundee
    The Game of Hide-and-Seek.

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