Following the sad passing of one of the greats of Developmental Biology, Lewis Wolpert, the BSDB committee has decided to launch a new annual medal in his honour. Lewis was well known for his ability to distil our subject’s most engaging and fundamental problems into concise and well-grounded core concepts of Biology. This led to vastly important contributions to research in our field, but also to the communication of its problems to a broader audience. Through teaching, popular science writing and acting as a spokesperson for Science as a whole, Lewis inspired many of us into the deeper study of Developmental Biology. Therefore, our annual ‘Wolpert medal’ will be presented to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to the teaching and communication of Developmental Biology.We are very happy to announce that this year’s  winner of the BSDB Wolpert medal is Prof. Sally Lowell from the University of Edinburgh.


Until a few months ago, Sally was our BSDB meeting secretary and she was outstanding in this role, bringing many new initiatives including the BSDB childcare and disability travel awards. She pushed hard in many ways for diversity, inclusivity and sustainability, so that during her tenure the BSDB became one of the leading drivers of new ways of running conferences.  This climaxed with our recent hosting of the European Dev Biol Congress where she pushed for – and made work – a programme made up largely of ECR speakers from across Europe, with a unique three hub arrangement with interdigitating talks beamed in from Paris and Barcelona to the central host hub of Oxford.  This was a pioneering “experiment” that could have gone badly wrong, but instead worked exceptionally well, and will have set a precedent for others to follow. Several colleagues from sister dev biol societies across Europe congratulated us on how brave the BSDB was to run such a meeting and how successful it had been.  This kudos for the BSDB was largely down to Sally.

Over the years, Sally has also held and still holds numerous other, largely unsung, roles in the dev biol and broader scientific community.  Some of those that are most relevant in the context of this Medal for communication and outreach include:

She is a Director of the CoB and chair of their sustainable conferencing initiative;

She is Co-Organiser (since 2014) of the Hydra summer school in stem cell and regenerative medicine;

She is part of the “prelights” scientific advisory group, which promotes open science and supporting of ECRs.

She is a trustee and the treasurer of the stem cell education and charitable initiative to support various science education projects;

She is the member for education on the Int Soc Stem Cell Research committee;

She is the outreach coordinator for the “Self organising built environment” with the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, which explores links between dev biol and urban planning.

Sally instigated and has been involved in the set up and running of several sci-art exhibitions, linked to the BSDB Spring meeting. These have reached audiences outside of the developmental biology community.

All of these things that Sally has been doing for our community have helped popularise and widen participation in stem cell and developmental biology. In addition, she is also an outstanding scientist as reflected in her recent award in 2022 of the Int Soc Diffn, Anne McClaren Award for Outstanding Women in Dev Biol, and also being appointed a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (also in 2022). This makes her voice even more significant and she is a fabulous role model to all young scientists of how to be both collegiate and kind as well as an exceptional scientist.  We think she is someone who is worthy of the Wolpert medal through the numerous ways she enables and facilitates cross communication and success in others in our field, and we know she would be a fantastic ambassador for the BSDB when she gives her Wolpert medal tour lectures.

  • Paul Martin
  • Jens Januschke
  • Cynthia Andoniadou

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