Rank Prize Funds 2018 New Lecturer Awards in Nutrition

 We are delighted to announce four recipients of the New Lecturer Award in nutrition for 2018. Dr Phillippa Borrill and Dr Estrella Luna Diez, both from Birmingham University, Dr Sebastian Eves-van den Akker, from the University of Cambridge and Dr Daniel Owens from Liverpool John Moores University. The awards are intended to help early career researchers establish their careers as independent reseachers and can be used in any way to support the direct costs of research.

Dr Borrill will be working on "Transcription factors regulating senescence and grain nutrient content in Wheat". Dr Luna Diez received the award for a project entitled "Plant defence strategies in the arms race with fungal disease". Dr Eves-van den Akker's project is on "The “readers” and the “regulators” of plant-parasitism by nematodes of global agronomic importance". Dr Owens is working on a project with the overall aim to identify whether there is a causal relationship between vitamin D bioavailability and mitochondrial adaptations to exercise training in humans.

Professor John Mathers, Chair of the Rank Prize Funds Nutrition Committee said: 

"There was an exceptionally strong field of applications in 2018, with proposals covering human and animal nutrition and crop sciences. The successful applicants gave excellent presentations to our Committee and showed a keen understanding of the potential impact of their research as well as scientific excellence and commitment to developing their careers in their chosen field. It is a great pleasure to be able to support future research leaders through our New Lecturer Awards scheme and we look forward to seeing the future outcomes of their research."  


Arthur Ashkin wins 2018 Nobel Physics Prize


Congratulations to Arthur Ashkin who has won a Nobel prize for his invention of "laser tweezers", work for which he and his colleague, Joseph Dziedzic, were awarded the Rank Prize for Optelectronics, in 1993. The work on laser tweezers, used for trapping and manipulation of living material such as bacteria, viruses, and cells dated back to the 1960s and culminated in 1986 while Ashkin was working at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey.




Professor Keith Frayn becomes first recipient of Nutrition Society’s Blaxter Award

Professor Keith N. Frayn has been awarded the 2018 Blaxter Award for his research entitled 'Turning over our fat stores: the key to metabolic health'. Professor Frayn,who recently retired as a member of the Rank Prize Funds’ Nutrition Committee, is the first recipient of the award, which was established in 2017.


A new series of three papers published by The Lancet calls for greater awareness of preconception health and improved guidance, with greater focus on diet and nutrition. The Series draws on existing evidence from around the world to redefine the preconception period, outlines how preconception risk factors affect the unborn baby and lifelong health risks, and proposes interventions to help improve preconception health. To help improve health in future generations, the authors call for a joint focus, including better guidance and support for individuals planning pregnancy, and increased public health measures to reduce obesity and improve nutrition. They suggest that behaviour change interventions, supplementation and fortification could lead to preconception health improvements.


Professor John Mathers, Chair of the Rank Prize Funds Nutrition Committee commented “I am delighted to welcome publication of this series of papers in The Lancet on Preconception Health. It’s good to see that discussions at one of our mini-symposia have stimulated researchers from many disciplines to focus on the nutrition in the critically-important period before conception which has potential benefits for the health of the next generation”.



Committee News - Retirements and New Members:

Thanks go to Professor Keith Frayn who retired from the Nutrition Committee in April after 10 years of excellent service.  The Committee welcomed Professor Susan Ozanne to the Nutrition Committee.

Thanks also to Mrs. Susan Bristol and to Mrs Judith Delaney for their outstanding contribution to the administration of the Funds over many years.  The Trustees and Committees wish them well in their retirement.



Professor Donal Bradley awarded honorary degree by Hong Kong Baptist University


 Prof Donal Bradley


At its 58th Commencement and Honorary Doctoral Degrees Conferment Ceremony on Monday 13 November, Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) awarded a Doctor of Science, honoris causa to Professor Donal Bradley, Head of the MPLS Division ‘for his untiring efforts in scientific research and internationally acclaimed contributions to the development and application of molecular electronic materials’.


Referring to Professor Bradley as ‘one of the pioneers of plastic electronics’, Professor Cheah Kok Wai, Head and Chair Professor of the Department of Physics at HKBU, said ‘the invention of conjugated polymer LEDs launched the field of plastic electronics research and if one looks back along its subsequent path, one can see the many significant contributions to the science and application of molecular electronic materials and devices that Professor Bradley has made, leading to him becoming one of the most highly cited materials researchers in the world’.


Fibre Optic Project at the Telegraph Museum Porthcurno

Following a grant from the Funds, a new exhibition has opended at the museum.

There is a table display for interactive displays, designed by a team from UCL and the museum's own volunteers, demonstrating:

Digital optical communication, optical amplifiers, the global fibre network (via touch screen), wavelength division multiplexing and showing optical chip samples for wavelength (de)multiplexing.

The display boards show today's inventors, how light travels in fibres, what happens when you send an email or access the web, Cornwall's role and the superfast broadband connection to the Isle of Scilly.

There are also numerous samples of optical cables and a preform and various videos.

The engineers from Science Projects who manufactured the displays also contributed significantly.


 Post-Graduate Studentships in Human Nutrition

  • 2016 Award - The University of Nottingham (£10,000 per annum for 3 years)
  • 2017 Award - The University of Bath (£10,000 per annum for 4 years)
  • 2018 Award - Northumbria University (£10,000 per annum for 3 years)

New Lecturer Award 2017

Dr. Neil Martin (Loughborough) 

Rank Prize Lectures 2017


  • Diabetes UK (Harry Keen Memorial Lecture) - Professor Nita Forouhi
  • The Nutrition Society - Professor Daan Kromhout


  • The European Conference on Visual Perception - Professor Shin'ya Nishida


Nutrition Committee

Post-Graduate Studentships

Details for applications for 2019 

Applications from supervisors are invited for a Rank Prize Nutrition Fund Post-Graduate Studentship in Human Nutrition, to start in October 2019. This should be at a UK institution.  The maximum grant will be £10,000 pa for four years which can be used to fund partially a studentship with support from a Research Council, Charity or other source. Additional funds of up to £1,000 are available annually for the student to attend UK and/or overseas professional conferences. The application form can be obtained here. Any queries should be addressed to The Rank Prize Funds, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. One application to be submitted per Department, selected and approved by the Head. The closing date is midnight 6 November 2018 and the award will be announced by 14 December 2018.

 Nutrition Committee Travel Awards 2018 - Further details to follow

Awards of up £7,500 each are available to assist early- and mid-career scientists to learn new techniques and/or to make and establish contacts with international counterparts by spending time in an institution outside the UK. The awards are available in the broad areas of human nutrition and crop science to members of academic and research staff at UK universities and other organisations who are defined as eligible for funding under the criteria used by research councils. The scheme is not open to PhD students. Click here to download further details and application form.

Any queries should be addressed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Vacation Studentships 2018

- Nutrition Committee - Details for 2019 to follow

The Rank Prize Funds will be again be offering vacation studentships commencing in the Summer of 2018.  A total grant of £2500 per student (£250 per week for 10 weeks) together with up to £500 for consumables (the proposed amount should be justified on the application form)will be available for students to assist in research projects in the fields of human nutrition, animal nutrition and crop husbandry.  Topics should be within the remit of the Committee. Supervisors already actively engaged on appropriate projects can download the guidelines and application form here.

- Optoelectronics Committee 

The Optoelectronics Advisory Committee of the Rank Prize Funds will support a number of awards for students in the penultimate year of undergraduate studies at UK universities which have a major commitment to teaching and research in optoelectronics, including vision and the eye.  The scheme is intended to integrate students in the day-to-day activities of a research group/laboratory and will run during the summer of 2018.  For Guidelines and application form click here.  The deadline for applications is 28th February 2018.