King's Fellow wins prestigious biomedical award

Azim Surani Gurdon Institute
Photo credit: brandAnonymous

Professorial Fellow Azim Surani has been awarded the prestigious Canada Gairdner International Award in recognition of his contribution to the field of biomedical science. Professor Surani, who is Director of Germline and Epigenetics Research at the Gurdon Institute, has been jointly awarded the honour alongside Dr Davor Solter of the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, “for their discovery of mammalian genomic imprinting that causes parent-of-origin specific gene expression and its consequences for development and disease”.

In 1984, both scientists published pioneering studies demonstrating the concept of "memory" and lineage in chromosomes, with Surani coining the term "imprinting" to describe the concept. This idea has since been shown to have a number of effects on embryonic and foetal development in mammals, as well as roles in regulating body temperature, metabolism and behaviour among adults. Their work is one of the key discoveries that started the field of epigenetics, the study of heritable changes in gene function without changes in the DNA sequence.

The Gairdner Foundation announced:

"Together, the work of Dr Solter and Dr Surani contributed to the understanding of the developmental consequences and molecular mechanisms of genomic imprinting… Their work is one of the key discoveries that started the field of epigenetics, the study of heritable changes in gene function without changes in the DNA sequence."

On receiving the award, Professor Surani said:

"I am very pleased that the discovery of genomic imprinting and its significance has been recognised in the long term. I send my thanks to all my colleagues who believed in it and worked hard to advance the field”.

Professor Surani has been a Fellow of King's since 1994, and was appointed CBE for services to science in 2007. Along with the other laureates, he will be formally presented with his award on October 25, 2018 at the annual Canada Gairdner Awards Gala in Toronto.

3 April 2018