MRC Millennium Medal

The MRC Millennium Medal is MRC’s most prestigious personal prize. It is presented annually to an exceptional researcher who has made a major contribution towards MRC’s mission to improve human health through world-class medical research.

During award cycles, higher education institutions (HEIs) and independent research organisations (IROs) are invited to submit nominations for outstanding scientists who have currently or previously received MRC funding for their research.

Nominations must be endorsed by a member of the institution’s senior management team.

Nominees should demonstrate outstanding scientific excellence, impact and wider contributions to improving the research environment and culture.

The winner will:

  • receive a prestigious medal, specially created by The Royal Mint
  • be listed amongst the most highly influential and impactful researchers in the UK
  • deliver a lecture and have their research and achievements showcased at an awards ceremony in spring 2024 where they will receive the medal

A full list of previous winners is outlined in the ‘past winners’ section.

Nomination opening and closing dates

The MRC Millennium Medal will run every second year. Eligible organisations will be invited to submit nominations in spring 2025.

Who can submit a nomination

Higher education institutions (HEIs) and independent research organisations (IROs) are invited to submit nominations which must be endorsed by a member of the institution’s senior management team at a minimum level of:

  • the Vice Provost, Vice Principal or Pro-Vice Chancellor for Health or Research
  • the Director for IROs.

Each organisation can nominate a maximum of three current or former employees.

Nominees must meet the criteria set out in ‘who you can nominate’.

Who you can nominate

Nominees are eligible if their work is, or has previously been, supported by MRC. This could be through grant funding or work being based within an MRC centre, unit or institute. MRC funding should have provided a significant contributing factor to the research for which they are nominated.

Nominations can be made for someone who:

  • has made an outstanding contribution to MRC’s mission to improve human health through world-class medical research
  • demonstrates scientific excellence and impact, and has international recognition in their field. Their achievements may have contributed towards breaking barriers in research, forging new fields of research, led to key innovation, commercial or translational impacts, or enabled new frontiers for the way that science is conducted
  • has improved the wider research environment by enabling national or global research capabilities. Examples can include but are not limited to:
    •  contributions to capacity building
    • research integrity, open research and reproducibility
    • enabling sustainable science practices
    • establishment of infrastructure for use by the wider community
    • involvement in consortia, forums and interest groups
    •  public and patient involvement and engagement
    •  activities in influencing policy and practice
  • has advanced research culture. Examples can include but not limited to:
    •  contributions to academic leadership and mentoring
    •  enabling and supporting team science including by supporting and recognizing contributions from their research teams
    •  enabling career development in peers
    •  advancing equality, diversity and inclusion in the research community
    • fostering collaborations across disciplines and geographies
    • supporting mobility of researchers

The research for which the individual is nominated for can be for basic, clinical or applied research (or any combination of these) that has made an outstanding contribution to MRC’s mission to improve health through world-class medical research.

The work can be contemporary, showing clear potential to revolutionise the field, or work which has already had a major impact. A wide variety of research outputs and impacts will be considered, including the development of resources (such as datasets and reagents), innovation and commercial impact and influence on policy and practice.

The prize recipient could be someone whose scientific achievements have already been well recognised in other ways. However, we particularly encourage nominations for those whose work or support for the research community has not gained the attention it merits outside their immediate research community.

Nominations will be valid for three cycles of the award. For example, any nomination submitted in 2023 will be included in a submission pool and will be reconsidered on an annual basis until 2025.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. We especially encourage nominations for people who are currently under-represented in some sectors of the research and innovation community. This includes:

  • women
  • those with a disability
  • members of minority ethnic groups

Higher education institutions (HEIs) and independent research organisations (IROs) can nominate a maximum of three individuals and are strongly encouraged to consider the diversity of their nominations.

How to make a nomination

To make a nomination, representatives from Higher education institutions (HEIs) or independent research organisations (IROs) will need to complete the information in the MRC Millennium Medal nomination portal (SurveyMonkey) and attach:

We must receive your completed nomination by 30 June 2023 at 4:00pm.

Nomination form

The MRC Millennium Medal 2023 nomination form must:

  • detail the nominee’s research achievements and their significance and impact
  • demonstrate the nominee’s activities dedicated to improving both the research environment  and research culture, for example via championing equality, diversity and inclusion in the research community
  • summarise the overall contribution of the nominee to MRC’s mission and how the nominee embodies the characteristics to be the next MRC Millennium Medal winner

The nomination form must have been endorsed by a member of the institution’s senior management team at a minimum level of:

  • Vice Provost, Vice Principal or Pro-Vice Chancellor for Health or Research
  • Director for IROs

The form must include an explanation of the local process that led to the selection of the nominee from a diverse pool of researchers taking into account equality, diversity and inclusion and mitigation of bias during the selection process.

How we will assess nominations

A dedicated MRC prize committee oversees the MRC Millennium Medal competition.

The committee is chaired by the MRC Executive Chair and comprised of 24 members from:

  • MRC boards, panels and overview groups
  • MRC strategy board
  • MRC council
  • industry and external representation

The committee will review and score nominations against the following five areas:

  • scientific excellence
  • science impact
  • dedication to improving the research environment
  • dedication to improving research culture
  • contributions towards MRC’s mission

The committee will select the winner who will be announced in December 2023. The prize will be awarded at an MRC awards ceremony in spring 2024.


Since its launch more than 20 years ago, the MRC Millennium Medal has been presented to truly outstanding individuals, spanning the full breath of medical research and innovation. Several of these researchers have also gone on to receive a Nobel Prize or be listed on the Queen’s Honours list for scientific excellence in their field.

Timeline of the past MRC Millennium Medal winners between 2000 and 2023:

  • 2023: Professor Sir Simon Baron-Cohen, transformative research into the causes of autism and reshaped public perception of neurodiversity
  • 2022: Professor Lisa Hall CBE, outstanding impacts in biotechnology and biosensor design
  • 2022: Professor Sarah Tabrizi, pioneering work in Huntington’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases
  • 2021: Professor Sharon Peacock CBE, pioneering work in pathogen sequencing, visionary leadership of COVID-19 Genomics UK consortium (COG-UK) and outstanding contributions to advance equality, diversity and inclusion in research
  • 2020: Professor Sir Rory Collins, transformative contributions to cardiovascular disease and visionary leadership of UK Biobank
  • 2017: Professor Janet Darbyshire, transformative work on clinical trials, resulting in major advances in diseases including tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS, and cancer
  • 2015: Professor Sir Brian Greenwood, reinventing field research in tropical medicine
  • 2013: Professor Sir Gregory Winter, development of humanised monoclonal antibodies
  • 2013: Professor Sir Philip Cohen, outstanding collaborative work with the pharmaceutical industry
  • 2006: Professor Sir Edwin Southern, invention of the southern blotting technique and DNA microarray technology
  • 2004: Sir Peter Mansfield, development of MRI imaging
  • 2002: Professor Tom Meade, contribution to UK health, particularly in cardiovascular disease
  • 2000: Dr César Milstein, pioneered work on monoclonal antibodies


For more information email the MRC Millennium Medal team.


Last updated: 28 February 2024

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