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Nobel prize winners

2010s

2014: Professor John O'Keefe – the brain's 'inner GPS'

Professor John O’Keefe, Director of the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits & Behaviour at UCL, is awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain - an ‘inner GPS’ - that enables us to orient ourselves.

2013: Professor James E. Rothman – a major transport system in our cells

James Rothman shares the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof “for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells”. Professor Rothman is establishing a laboratory at UCL under the Yale-UCL collaboration.

2013: Professor Peter Higgs – origin of mass of subatomic particles

Peter Higgs and François Englert win the Nobel Prize in Physics “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider”. Higgs studied at UCL before going on to become a lecturer in mathematics.

2000s

2009: Professor Charles Kao – transmission of light in fibres for optical communication

Professor Charles Kao…

Charles Kao is a pioneer in the development and use of fibre optics in telecommunications and in 2009 is awarded the Nobel Prize for his "groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibres for optical communication". Kao, who is known as the 'Godfather of Broadband', received his PhD degree in electrical engineering in 1965 from UCL.

2007: Professor Sir Martin Evans – gene modifications in mice

Sir Martin Evans wins the Nobel Prize for "discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells". Today, genetically modified mice are considered vital for medical research.

2001: Sir Paul Nurse – key regulators of the cell cycle

Sir Paul Nurse, Leland H. Hartwell and Tim Hunt win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries of key regulators of the cell cycle”. Sir Paul goes on to become the first Director of the Francis Crick Institute, in which UCL is a founding partner.

2000: Professor James Heckman – analysing selective samples in Economics

James Heckman wins the Nobel Prize in Economics "for his development of theory and methods for analysing selective samples". At UCL, Professor Heckman holds the Distinguished Chair of Economics.

1990s

1991: Professor Bert Sakmann – single ion channels in cells

Bert Sakmann shares the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for discoveries concerning the function of single ion channels in cells" and the invention of the patch clamp. In 1971, Sakmann moved from Munich to UCL, where he worked in the Department of Biophysics under Bernard Katz.

1980s

1988: Professor Sir James Black – propranolol and cimetidine development

Sir James Black is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for work leading to the development of propranolol and cimetidine, a drug used to treat stomach ulcers. He spent his career teaching and carrying out research in several universities in the UK.

1970s

1970: Professor Ulf Svante von Euler – humoral transmittors in nerve terminals

Alongside Sir Bernard Katz and Julius Axelrod, Ulf Svante von Euler wins the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1970 "for their discoveries concerning the humoral transmittors in the nerve terminals and the mechanism for their storage, release and inactivation". Von Euler’s father Hans von Euler-Chelpin won the Nobel Prize in 1929 for his research in the field of Chemistry.

1970: Professor Sir Bernard Katz – humoral transmittors in the nerve terminals

Professor Sir Bernard Katz…

For his PhD, Sir Bernard Katz studies under Professor A. V. Hill at UCL, after which he leaves to continue his research in Australia. He returns to UCL once again in 1946, rejoining A. V. Hill's research unit as Assistant Director of Research and Henry Head Research Fellow (appointed by the Royal Society). Alongside Professor Ulf Svante von Euler and Julius Axelrod, he is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for discoveries concerning the humoral transmittors in the nerve terminals and the mechanism for their storage, release and inactivation".

1960s

1967: George Porter (Baron Porter of Luddenham) – fast chemical reactions and short pulses of energy

Baron Porter of Luddenham, Manfred Eigen and Ronald G. W. Norrish win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for their studies of extremely fast chemical reactions, effected by disturbing the equilibrium by means of very short pulses of energy". The same year, Baron Porter becomes Visiting Professor at UCL.

1963: Professor Andrew Fielding Huxley – ionic mechanisms and the nerve cell membrane

Professor Andrew Fielding Huxley…

In 1960, Andrew Fielding Huxley becomes head of the Department of Physiology at UCL and wins the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1963 during his tenure. He is awarded the Prize alongside Sir John Eccles and Alan L. Hodgkin "for their discoveries concerning the ionic mechanisms involved in excitation and inhibition in the peripheral and central portions of the nerve cell membrane".

1962: Professor Francis Harry Compton Crick – molecular structure of nucleic acids

Francis Crick…

Francis Crick, his good friend James Watson and Maurice Wilkins are awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material". Around the same time, he is also elected as a Fellow of UCL where he had obtained his BSc in Physics.

1960: Professor Peter Brian Medawar – acquired immunological tolerance

Professor Peter Brian Medawar…

In 1951, Peter Medawar is appointed Jodrell Professor of Zoology at UCL, where he remains until 1962. During this time, he is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for the discovery of acquired immunological tolerance".

1950s

1959: Professor Jaroslav Heyrovsky – polarographic methods of analysis in electrochemistry

Studying under Sir William Ramsay, W. C. Mc. C. Lewis and F. G. Donnan during his time at UCL, Jaroslav Heyrovsky becomes particularly interested in working on electrochemistry. He is awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1959 "for his discovery and development of the polarographic methods of analysis".

1955: Professor Vincent du Vigneaud – biochemically important sulphur compounds

Vincent du Vigneaud wins the Nobel Prize in 1955 "for his work on biochemically important sulphur compounds, especially for the first synthesis of a polypeptide hormone". Du Vigneaud spent much time in both the United States and England where he carried out his research.

1940s

1947: Professor Sir Robert Robinson – plant products of biological importance

Considered one of the great synthetic organic chemists of the 20th century, Sir Robert Robinson wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1947 “for his investigations on plant products of biological importance, especially the alkaloids”.

1944: Professor Otto Hahn – fission of heavy nuclei

Although Otto Hahn's research was interrupted by his service in the First World War, he went on to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1945 (one year after it was awarded to him) "for his discovery of the fission of heavy nuclei".

1930s

1939: Professor Corneille Jean Francois Heymans – sinus and aortic mechanisms in respiration

Corneille Jean Francois Heymans is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for the discovery of the role played by the sinus and aortic mechanisms in the regulation of respiration". Heymans worked in Ernest Starling’s laboratory at UCL.

1936: Professor Otto Loewi – chemical transmission of nerve impulses

Loewi is jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Sir Henry Hallett Dale “for their discoveries relating to chemical transmission of nerve impulses”. Loewi met Dale while working in Ernest Starling's laboratory at UCL, where they became lifelong friends.

1936: Sir Henry Hallett Dale – chemical transmission of nerve impulses

Sir Henry Hallett Dale…

Sir Henry Hallett Dale and his lifelong friend Otto Loewi, whom he met while carrying out research at UCL, win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1936 "for their discoveries relating to chemical transmission of nerve impulses".

1920s

1929: Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins – discovery of the growth-stimulating vitamins

At the age of 22, Sir Frederick Hopkins goes to UCL where he takes the Associateship Examination of the Institute of Chemistry, later winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the research that led to his “discovery of the growth-stimulating vitamins".

1928: Professor Owen Willans Richardson – thermionic emission

Owen Willans Richardson's research and work on thermionic emission wins him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1928 and eventually led to the law named after him. Richardson was not however awarded the prize until a year later, in 1929.

1922: Professor Archibald Vivian Hill – production of heat in the muscle

Professor Archibald Vivian Hill…

Archibald Vivian Hill wins the Nobel Prize in 1922 (not receiving the prize until the following year, however) "for his discovery relating to the production of heat in the muscle". The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is divided equally between himself and German scientist Otto Fritz Meyerhof.

1921: Professor Frederick Soddy – chemistry of radioactive substances

Professor Frederick Soddy…

Working at UCL with Sir William Ramsay, Frederick Soddy makes significant advancement in his study of radium emanation and is awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for his contributions to our knowledge of the chemistry of radioactive substances, and his investigations into the origin and nature of isotopes".

1910s

1915: Professor Sir William Henry Bragg – analysis of crystal structure

Sir William Henry Bragg…

Sir William Henry Bragg, who was an honorary doctor of 12 universities, and his son William Lawrence are jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1915 "for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays".

It is entirely due to the Braggs' research that X-rays are used as an instrument for the systematic revelation of the way in which crystals are built.

1913: Rabindranath Tagore – voice of India's spiritual heritage

Rabindranath Tagore…

Celebrated principally for his poetry, Rabindranath Tagore became the voice of India's spiritual heritage. His talent was recognised in 1913 when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse".

1900s

1904: Professor Sir William Ramsay – discovery of helium, argon, neon, krypton and xenon

Professor Sir William Ramsay…

Having discovered the elements helium, argon, neon, krypton and xenon, Sir William Ramsay was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry not only for the discovery but also for his “determination of their place in the Periodic system”.