Babraham scientist elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society



Dr Phill Hawkins, a Group Leader in Signalling at the Babraham Institute, has today been elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society. A leading authority on biochemical signalling pathways, Dr Hawkins studies how cells respond to signals and communicate with each other to ensure the healthy development of an individual.

His research has given profound insight into understanding the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway, which is fundamental to a great diversity of activities inside cells, such as cell growth, metabolism, movement, hormone action and the generation of immune responses.

Professor Michael Wakelam, Director of the Babraham Institute, said, “We are delighted that Phill’s research, providing insightful observations into how this critical signalling pathway influences our physiology in health and disease, has been recognised by election to the Royal Society. His research continues to provide new understanding of how the pathway is regulated and how this controls cellular functions throughout life. This is a wonderful acknowledgement of the world-leading research being undertaken at the Babraham Institute, with three elections to the Royal Society in the last four years.”

The Royal Society is the UK’s leading scientific organisation, its Fellowship comprising over 1400 of the most distinguished scientists from the UK, the commonwealth and the Republic of Ireland. Today The Royal Society has elected 44 new Fellows and 8 new Foreign Members.

“I am obviously delighted to have been elected a Fellow of The Royal Society,” said Dr Hawkins. “Although a personal honour, in reality this recognises the work carried out by myself and my colleague Len Stephens and the many members of our research group over the last 25 years. We have investigated the molecular composition of a particular intracellular signalling pathway in eukaryotic cells that links the activation of cell surface receptors to several cell responses.

“The key component of this pathway is an enzyme family called PI3K, which synthesise a phospholipid messenger in the plasma membrane controlling major regulators of cell growth and movement. Although we first studied this pathway for purely academic reasons, our detailed knowledge may now offer novel therapeutic strategies to treat pathologies in which PI3Ks are inappropriately activated, including cancer and autoimmune disorders.”

The Babraham Institute, which receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is a centre for studying the basic biology of signalling inside and between cells, supporting BBSRC’s mission to drive advances in bioscience to underpin pharmaceuticals and for better health and wellbeing.

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive, BBSRC said, “We are delighted to see yet more BBSRC-funded researchers continuing to join the ranks of some of the world’s most eminent researchers. BBSRC funds world-leading bioscience and it is wonderful to see acknowledgement of the excellence in our community through election to Fellowship of the Royal Society. I am really delighted to see Phill’s superb and ground-breaking work recognised with this important honour.”

The Babraham Institute, which receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), undertakes international quality life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. The Institute’s research provides greater understanding of the biological events that underlie the normal functions of cells and the implication of failure or abnormalities in these processes. Research focuses on signalling and genome regulation, particularly the interplay between the two and how epigenetic signals can influence important physiological adaptations during the lifespan of an organism. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and healthier ageing. (

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond. Funded by the UK Government, and with an annual budget of around £445M, we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see:
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Dr Claire Cockcroft  
Head of External Relations, The Babraham Institute
Tel:       +44 (0)1223 496260
Mobile:  +44 (0)7786 335978

Dr Phill Hawkins


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