Isamu Akasaki (30 January 1929 - 1 April 2021)

We were saddened to learn that 1998 Rank Prize winner and Nobel Laureate, Isamu Akasaki, has died aged 92. Akasaki shared the 1998 Rank Prize with Prof H. Amano, Dr S. Nakamura, and Prof J. I. Pankove; it was awarded for contributions to the invention of nitride based blue and green semiconductor diode lasers. In 2014, Akasaki was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics with Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura, for their invention of blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs), an energy-efficient technology now used in everything from light bulbs to televisions. 



John Selborne (24 March 1940-12 February 2021)

It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death of John Palmer, the Fourth Earl of Selborne.

Lord Selborne was the Chairman of the Rank Prize Funds for nearly 30 years, retiring only in 2015. He led the organisation through its formative years with great wisdom and foresight as well as charm and charisma. His legacy is the universally high esteem in which the Rank Prize Funds are held today.

Lord Selborne was a highly respected voice in the scientific community. His influence on British science was vast, particularly in the areas of energy and environment, technology, and education. He was a member of the House of Lords from 1971 to 2020, with particular commitments to the Science and Technology Committee and Digital and Communications Committee. He was Chancellor of the University of Southampton between 1996 and 2006.

The Earl of Selborne had a particularly deep knowledge of UK agriculture and supported the sector tirelessly throughout his career. He was Chairman of the Agricultural and Food Research Council (AFRC) from 1982 to 1989 and President of the Royal Agricultural Society of England from 1987 to 1988. He was a member of the NEDC Food Sector Group and a patron of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management. Closer to home, he had a passion for British fruit production.

Alongside his role in the Rank Prize Funds, Lord Selborne provided leadership to many other learned societies, including the Royal Geographical Society and Royal Entomological Society. In 1991, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Our thoughts are with Lord Selborne’s family at this difficult time.



Lord Selborne (centre) as Guest of Honour at the 2018 Prizegiving


Donald Kasarda

We are saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Donald Kasarda, a past winner of the Rank Prize in Nutrition. Former Chair of the Nutrition Committee, Peter Shewry, has written the following appreciation:

Don Rank Prize 002

Donald Kasarda, recipient of the Rank Prize for Nutrition in 2002, has died aged 87. Don was born in Pennsylvania and completed his PhD in physical chemistry. After relocating to California he joined the Western Regional Research Centre (WRRC) of the USDA (located in Albany, Ca). This was one of four centres established to improve the utilisation of agricultural products and Don joined a group working on the structure and properties of wheat gluten proteins. He would subsequently lead this group for over 20 years and continue to collaborate with colleagues after his retirement.

Don made major contributions to our knowledge of wheat gluten proteins in several respects. Firstly, he introduced modern physical chemical approaches to elucidate their structures in relation to their physical properties. However, he soon became interested in the role of gluten proteins in activating coeliac disease, which led to collaborations with leading clinicians and a focus on identifying the protein motifs responsible for the activity. This required the development of protein sequencing and the establishment of a complementary group working on the molecular cloning and genomics of wheat gluten proteins: both among the earliest programmes in their field. Finally, Don’s studies of the comparative structures and sequences of gluten proteins and related proteins from other species have underpinned our understanding of how these proteins have evolved.

Don also had an important impact on cereal research by training and mentoring the career development of young scientists. In fact, his laboratory became a magnet for visiting scientists, particularly from Europe, many of whom subsequently made substantial scientific contributions.

Finally, Don will be remembered by his many friends and colleagues for his kindness and generosity, particularly to the overseas scientists and their families who he hosted. This was also reflected in his scientific life: although he was highly critical in his approach and his questioning could be incisive, his comments were invariably positive and constructive. Hence he was held in high regard by the research community.

Peter Shewry

Optoelectronics Committee News: Professor Donal Bradley Elected to the National Academy of Inventors 

Professor Donal Bradley (KAUST), the Chair of the Rank Prize Funds Optoelectronics Committee, has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Photo c. Khulud Muath


The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have created or facilitated outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society. Election as an NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.

This election recognises Donal’s work as a pioneer of soluble semiconductors. Donal co-invented conjugated polymer electroluminescence and co-founded Cambridge Display Technology Ltd. Amongst many other contributions, he has facilitated the development of roll-to-roll printed solar cells by serving on the Board of Solar Press Ltd. in the UK and supporting CSEM Brasil in establishing Sunew. Most recently, he co-founded PeroLED Ltd., a perovskite-focused display and lighting company.

Donal and the rest of the Fellows will be inducted at the Tenth Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Inventors in June 2021, in Tampa, Florida.

Many congratulations to Donal!

Nutrition Committee News: Professor Malcolm Bennett Elected to the Royal Society

We are delighted to announce that Professor Malcolm Bennett, a member of the Rank Prize Funds Nutrition Committee, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. 62 scientists from across the globe have been elected this year for their outstanding contribution to scientific understanding.

Malcolm is a plant biologist based at the University of Nottingham. His pioneering research focuses on “the hidden half of plants”, exploring how roots grow, develop, and adapt to their soil environment. 


Further information about Malcolm’s research and his election to the Royal Society can be found here:

Rank Prize ECR Excellence Lecture in partnership with Monogram

This year, the Nutrition Fund is partnering with Monogram to launch the Rank Prize ECR Excellence Lecture, and we are pleased to announce that the award has been won by Dr. Philippa Borrill (University of Birmingham). As the Monogram meeting has been postponed this year, Philippa will deliver her paper at Monogram 2021 in Dundee. 


Philippa is a Lecturer in Plant Biology at the School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham. Her research investigates how the developmental processes of senescence determine the nutritional content of grain. She is also a former winner of the Rank Prize Nutrition Fund New Lecturer Award. 

Monogram is a network of UK-based researchers with an active interest in small grain cereal and grass (including the C4 energy grasses). Members come from a range of disciplines including plant genetics, physiology, pathology, breeding, and bioinformatics. 

monogram Logo

New Publication

'A systematic review and quantitative analysis of resting energy expenditure prediction equations in healthy overweight and obese children and adolescents', Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Lucy Chima, Hilda M. Mulrooney, Janet Warren, Angela M. Madden. First pub. 19 February 2020.

Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics

A Rank Prize Funds Vacation Studentship in Nutrition was used to support Lucy Chima in the early stages of this study (awarded 2016); additional funding was later provided by the University of Hertforshire. We are delighted that the findings have now been published. Congratulations to all involved! Read more here.


Rank Prizes 2020

Rank Prize in Nutrition - Awarded to Professor Sir Stephen O'Rahilly

For his outstanding research that has advanced understanding of genetic causes of obesity and its treatment


Rank Prize in Optoelectronics - Awarded to Professor Thomas W Cronin and Professor Justin Marshall

For their discovery of new visual mechanisms for the perception of colour and of circular polarization  

Latest Prizes from the Nutrition Committee 


Rank Prize Funds 2020 PhD Studentship Award

The 2020 PhD Studentship in Nutrition has been awarded to Professor Janet Cade at the University of Leeds. Professor Cade will supervise a doctoral student working on the topic 'Reducing the risk of hip fracture using data linkage: integrating diet and socio-economic characteristics in women'.

Rank Prize Funds 2019 New Lecturer Awards in Nutrition

 We are delighted to announce that the 2019 New Lecturer Awards in Nutrition have been awarded to Dr Laura Dixon (Leeds University) and Dr Marjorie Lundgren (Lancaster University).  

Nutrition Fund 2019 Vacation Studentship Report Winner

Congratulations to Lisa Rowan from the University of Ulster, whose report on her project 'An investigation into the effect of a seaweed fibre extract (P Palmata) consumption on lipid profile as well as markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in healthy adults' was judged the best out of the seven projects awarded vacation studentships in the summer vacation of 2019.  

 Optoelectronics - Vacation studentship winner 2018


klaudiaCongratulations to Klaudia Warowska from Sheffield University, whose project on Ultra-low power integrated optoelectronic photon transistors was judged best out of the ten projects awarded vacation studentships in the summer vacation of 2018.

Klaudia was presented with a certificate to celebrate her success by Professor Maurice Skolnick, a member of the Optoelectronics committee and Professor of Condensed Matter Physics at Sheffield University.



 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.

Arthur Ashkin, a former winner of the Rank Prize


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.


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