Max Perutz Science Writing Award 2021 – now open

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Today marks the opening of the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) annual science writing competition for MRC PhD students, in partnership with The Observer.

Calling all MRC PhD students

Max Perutz Science Writing Award 2021 logo

Marking today with the opening of the Max Perutz Science Writing Award 2021, the MRC’s annual science writing competition for MRC PhD students.

The award aims to encourage and recognise outstanding written communication by MRC PhD students. It challenges students to explain why their research matters in 1,100-words for a non-scientific audience.

The MRC is delighted to be continuing its partnership with The Observer for the competition.

For the second year running the winner will have their article published in The Observer and win a cash prize of £1,500. There will also be cash prizes for the runners up and all those shortlisted.

Students are eligible to submit one article if they are:

  • MRC-funded PhD students in universities
  • PhD students in MRC units, centres, and institutes, regardless of source of funding
  • students currently enrolled on the masters’ segment of an MRC-funded integrated masters or PhD.

The legacy of Max Perutz

The award is named after the eminent scientist and Nobel Laureate Dr Max Perutz, an accomplished and natural communicator who died in 2002.

Dr Perutz was a molecular biologist who founded the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in 1962.

He won the Nobel Prize for his work deciphering the structure of the blood protein, haemoglobin.

He was also a passionate writer and speaker, committed to revealing the intricacies of science to new audiences.

Since the competition began in 1998, over 1,000 MRC researchers have submitted entries to communicate their research to the public.

Science communication

The 2020 winner, MRC PhD student Sarah Taylor from the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at The University of Edinburgh, said:

I believe that scientific development is one of the key ways that we can improve our society, and you can’t inspire people to feel the same way as you if they don’t understand the science. And that understanding has to start with good, clear science communication, from the researchers.

Enter now

The competition closes at 17:00 on 21 June 2021. Read the guidelines and find out how to enter on the MRC Max Perutz Science Writing Award 2021 information page.

MRC will be hosting two science writing webinars with the aim of giving advice to help you write a high-quality article. If you have any questions, please email:

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