The Waddington Medal

Background & History

The Waddington Medal, the only national award in developmental biology, is awarded for outstanding research performance as well as services to the subject community. The medal is awarded annually at the BSDB Spring Meeting, where the recipient presents the Waddington Medal Lecture. Potential recipients may be nominated by BSDB members.

Waddington_medalConrad Waddington was a leading British embryologist and geneticist who was highly influential in the development of both subjects during the 1930s through to the 1960s. He stressed the importance of genes and the control of gene activity in embryonic development even before the chemical nature of the gene was discovered. He had started his career as a palaeontologist , and the design on the medal shows an ammonite, a type of animal whose shell structure reveals its entire life history. On the other side is a snake eating its tail, symbolising feedback control, and a Greek inscription meaning “one entity incorporates into itself all other entities of the universe.”

Waddington Medallists

Congratulations to Lewis Wolpert CBE FRS FRSL FMedSci who received the BSDB’s Waddington medal at the 2015 Spring Meeting in Warwick for his seminal contributions to Developmental Biology, in particular the concept of positional information. The Award lecture will be made available very soon, and an interview made on the day of the event will be published in the journal Development.

Past recipients

  • 2014 Philip Ingham – [lecture] – [interview]
  • 2013 Jim Smith
  • 2012 Alfonso Martinez Arias
  • 2011 Christopher Wylie
  • 2010 Robin Lovell-Badge
  • 2009 Liz Robertson
  • 2008 Pat Simpson
  • 2007 David Ish-Horowicz
  • 2006 Claudio Stern
  • 2005 Michael Akam
  • 2004 Jeff Williams
  • 2003 Julian Lewis
  • 2002 Jonathan Slack
  • 2001 Mike Bate
  • 2000 Peter Lawrence
  • 1999 Rosa Beddington
  • 1998 Cheryll Tickle

Look up the Waddington Medal on Wikipedia for more information.

Nominations for the Waddington Medal

Nominees should be outstanding developmental biologists who have made a significant contribution to UK developmental biology and who are still currently active in the field. Examples of significant contribution to UK developmental biology include: activity in the community, mentoring UK developmental biologists, and contributing to a significant textbook or other aspect of teaching and/or training.

The following nomination procedure has been agreed by the Committee:

  • Formal nominations should be made to the BSDB Secretary ( by the closing deadline each year, but can be received at any time.
  • Nominations should consist of a statement of support (maximum 1 page A4) from a Proposer and Seconder (both Society members), stating why the candidate is suitable for the Medal, giving a brief summary of his/her career history and listing five key publications.
  • All nominations received will be considered, and voted upon, by the Committee at the end of July each year.
  • The winner will be invited to present the Waddington Medal lecture at the following BSDB Spring Meeting, where the medal will be presented by the Chairman.

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