Jason Chin, joint Head of Division of the LMB’s Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry (PNAC) Division, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
The Royal Society is a Fellowship of the world’s most distinguished scientists. It is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, having started in 1660. Each year the Fellows of the Royal Society elect up to 52 new Fellows, and up to 10 new Foreign Members. Candidates must be nominated by two existing Fellows and have made a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science.
Commenting on the election of new Fellows, Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society said “It is an honour to welcome so many outstanding researchers from around the world into the Fellowship of the Royal Society. Through their careers so far, these researchers have helped further our understanding of human disease, biodiversity loss and the origins of the universe. I am also pleased to see so many new Fellows working in areas likely to have a transformative impact on our society over this century, from new materials and energy technologies to synthetic biology and artificial intelligence. I look forward to seeing what great things they will achieve in the years ahead.”
Jason Chin has been a Group Leader in the PNAC Division since 2003 and has pioneered methods to reprogram the genetic code of living organisms. He has rewritten the near-universal genetic code of natural life to create organisms that use new genetic codes. The new organisms show some remarkable properties: they are resistant to a wide-variety of viruses and can be programmed to make diverse non-canonical polymers.
To reprogram the genetic code Jason created new translational machinery (including orthogonal ribosomes and aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and tRNAs) and codons. He then completely synthesized a bacterial genome in which he reduced the number of sense codons in its genetic code. The codons thus unused were reassigned to encode the synthesis non-canonical polymers and macrocycles and proteins containing non-canonical amino acids. Jason’s fundamental advances have been widely used to drive discovery, including to define the molecular consequences of post-translational modifications, define protein interactions in cells, and provide mechanistic insight into enzymes.
Jason’s work has been recognized by several awards, including: the Francis Crick Medal and Lecture (Royal Society, 2009), the Corday Morgan Prize (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2010), the EMBO Gold Medal (European Molecular Biology Organization, 2010), the Louis Jeantet Young Investigator Career Award (Jeantet Foundation, 2011), the Sackler International Prize in Physical Sciences (Tel Aviv University, 2019), and the Meyerhof Medal and Lecture (Max Planck Institute Heidelberg, 2021). He is a member of EMBO (2010) and the Academy of Medical Sciences (2016).
Congratulations also to the LMB alumni elected to Royal Society Fellowship. Maria Leptin, a postdoctoral researcher with Michael Wilcox in the LMB’s Cell Biology Division from 1984 to 1988 and now President of the European Research Council, is elected a Foreign Member. Sally Ward, a postdoctoral researcher with Greg Winter in the LMB’s Cell Biology and PNAC Divisions from 1988 until 1990 and now a Professor of Molecular Immunology and Director of Translational Immunology at the University of Southampton has been elected a Fellow.
Finally, congratulations to LMB Fellow Paul Lehner, also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.