Prof. Sir Tom Blundell

Department of Biochemistry
Structural biology, bioinformatics and drug discovery
University of Cambridge, UK

Director of Research, University of Cambridge, UK

Awards: Knight Bachelor (1997), EMBO Member (1986), Honorary Doctorates from 16 universities.


Sir Thomas Leon Blundell, FRS FRSC FMedSci MAE (born 7 July 1942) is a British biochemist, structural biologist, and science administrator. He was a member of the team of Dorothy Hodgkin that solved in 1969 the first structure of a protein hormone, insulin. Blundell has made contributions to the structural biology of polypeptide hormones, growth factors, receptor activation and signal transduction, and DNA double-strand break repair, subjects important in cancer, tuberculosis, and familial diseases. He has developed software for protein modelling and understanding the effects of mutations on protein function, leading to new approaches to structure-guided and Fragment-based lead discovery. In 1999 he co-founded the oncology company Astex Therapeutics, which has moved ten drugs into clinical trials. Blundell has played central roles in restructuring British research councils and, as President of the UK Science Council, in developing professionalism in the practice of science.

Awards and Honours
Blundell was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1984. His nomination reads:
Professor of Crystallography, Birkbeck College, University of London. Distinguished for his work on crystal and molecular structures and biochemistry of protein hormones, enzymes, and proteins of the eye lens. He had an outstanding part in solution of the insulin crystal structure. He has related his structure for glucagon to receptor binding of this hormone.
Blundell became one of the first fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 1998. He was elected a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) in 1985; A member of the Academia Europaea in 1993 Founding Member, Academy of Medical Sciences 1999. International recognition has come in his election as a Foreign Member of the Indian National Science Academy, the Chilean Academy and The World Academy of Sciences TWAS.

Alcon Award for Vision Research in 1986; Gold Medal, Institute of Biotechnology in 1987; Krebs Medal FEBS1987; Ciba Medal, Biochemical Society in 1988; Feldberg Prize in Biology and Medicine in 1988; Gold Medal, Society of Chemical Industry in 1996; First Recipient, Pfizer European Prize for Innovation in 1998 and Bernal Lecture, Royal Society 1998. Most recently he received the 2013 Biochemical Society Award and Cambridge University Science Prize called the Philosophical Society Fellows Prize & Lecture 2014. He has been President, UK Biosciences Federation (2003–2009); President, Biochemical Society (2009–2011); and President, UK Science Council (since 2011).

Blundell’s contributions were recognised by a knighthood in 1997. He has been awarded Honorary Doctorate degrees from 16 universities and was interviewed by Kirsty Young on the BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs in 2007.