UCL News


UCL scientist wins Origin of Life Challenge

15 June 2012

UCL scientist Dr Matthew Powner is one of two British chemists to be awarded first prize for the Origin of Life Challenge.

Dr Matthew Powner

Along with Cambridge scientist John Sutherland, the chemists received a joint prize of $50,000, in addition to receiving a $150,000 one-year grant to pursue their research in the field.

The Origin of Life Challenge was started in 2011 by retired California chemist and entrepreneur, Harry Lonsdale who issued a challenge to the origin of life scientific community to come up with novel ideas for explaining the mechanism of life's origin.

The Powner-Sutherland team focused on understanding the chemistry of the replication mechanism of first life. Their winning proposal was selected by an international panel of experts from the dozens of submissions which were received. Lonsdale announced the winners earlier this week in collaboration with the Origins Project at Arizona Sate University and its director Laurence Krauss.

Harry Lonsdale explains the aims of the challenge: "Ultimately, it is my hope that within a decade or two the fruits of this research will help provide answers to the origin of life question, and that a rational model for life's origin will be taught in every biology classroom in the world."

Related Links:

Dr Matthew Powner

The Origin of Life Challenge