Oxford chemist among Royal Society award winners

Oxford chemist among Royal Society award winners

Hagan Bayley

Professor Hagan Bayley FRS has been awarded the Buchanan Medal in this year’s Royal Society prizes.

Professor Bayley’s award recognises his role in founding the highly successful biotech company Oxford Nanopore Technologies. This was a spinout from his fundamental research into the assembly and function of bacterial
pore-forming proteins in mammalian cell membranes. Recognising the potential applications for biotechnology, Professor Bayley and his team engineered pores capable of interacting with molecules of interest, ranging from small organic molecules to
polymers of enormous length. In this way, they developed a method to identify and sequence molecules as they passed through the pore by measuring changes in an electrical current driven by a voltage applied across the nanopore.

In 2005, Professor Bayley founded Oxford Nanopore Technologies to develop a nanopore sensing platform. The company furthered the technology by building powerful portable nanopore-based devices for DNA and RNA sequencing. Oxford Nanopore devices have since revolutionised fundamental and clinical genomics and played a critical role in research across cancer, human genetics, and infectious diseases. Professor Bayley continues to conduct fundamental research into nanopore technologies, with current interests including protein variant characterisation;
understanding the making and breaking of individual chemical bonds; and building synthetic tissues in which nanopores allow the compartments to communicate with each other and the external environment.

Read more about Professor Bayley’s work here.

Professor Bayley said:

I am delighted to be recognised for the founding of Oxford Nanopore, the company that has developed a means to sequence DNA and RNA with an inexpensive portable device providing exceedingly long reads. Work on nanopore sensing and sequencing was initiated
by highly talented members of my academic laboratory and brought to fruition by the formidable team at Oxford Nanopore.

Each year, the Royal Society recognises exceptional research achievements by awarding a series of prestigious medals and prizes. Of the 25 awards for 2022-23, announced today, four honour
Oxford University researchers for their outstanding contributions to science and medicine.