The Waddington Medal

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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. The medal was announced in 1997 [letter #36] and first awarded in 1998 (see below). BSDB members are invited to nominate suitable candidates.

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

The BSDB is delighted to announce William Harris FRS FMedSci, Head of the Department of Physiology, Development & Neuroscience, as the 2017 winner of the Waddington Medal. Bill has been awarded for his pioneering contributions to the understanding of retinal development. Through  his  passion  for  science,  his  leadership  and  his  mentoring  of  people  at  all  career  stages,  Bill  has  made  outstanding  contributions  to  Developmental  Biology.  Working  at  the  interface  of  Developmental  Biology  and  Neuroscience,  he  has  championed  the  field  within  Cambridge,  across  the  UK  and  throughout  the  world.  His  deep  interest  and  scientific  enthusiasm  have  led  to  major  insights  in  the  field  of  neuronal  specification  and  wiring. For more details of Bill’s career and work, please visit this blog post [letter #37/38], see the medal talk at the bottom of this page, or read an interview with Bill published in Development.

Past recipients (links to information about the awardees from our archives are provided)

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 BSDB 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.

Waddington medal lecture movies






  1. BMC Series blog Better off together: BSCB-BSDB joint conference - January 19, 2015

    […] highlight was the Waddington Medal winner’s talk by Phil Ingham. In an entertaining and warmly received description of his career to […]

  2. Waddington Medal-closing date for nominations 15 June 2012 | BSDB - British Society for Developmental Biology - June 7, 2012

    […] The Waddington Medal […]

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