Fleming Prize Winners

Since the award was instituted, 44 early career microbiologists have been awarded the Fleming Prize and many of them have gone on to achieve distinguished careers, honours and in one case (Paul Nurse) a Nobel Prize.

Find out more about what winning the Fleming Prize meant to them and how it helped them to establish themselves as early career microbiologists below. 

Fleming Prize Lecture Winners


Dr Tanmay Bharat

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK

Structural Studies of Prokaryotic Cell Surfaces

"The Fleming Prize is a very elite prize, there have been a lot of famous people who have received this prize in the past whose research I actively follow: Tracy Palmer, Nicola Stanley-Wall, Sarah Coulthurst, Edze Westra and many others. It validates that what we are doing in the laboratory actually matters. I am proud to receive the prize, of course, but I am also delighted for our entire lab. My name is there on the website, but the recognition definitely has to be shared with everyone who has contributed to the work, which is the lab."
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Dr Christopher Stewart

Newcastle University, UK

Diet-microbe-host interaction in early life

“I have sat in the audience at many a Microbiology Society conference in awe of the Fleming Prize lecture presentations. To find out I have been awarded the Fleming Prize for 2022 is really quite mind-blowing, but I could not be more thrilled and thankful. The award is testament to the many inspiring researchers around the world with whom I have been fortunate to work with. While there are too many to name, I want to pay particular tribute to Professor Stephen Cummings, who had seen a scientist in me long before I did, and to Dr Janet Berrington and Professor Nick Embleton for their unwavering support over the past decade. I am also grateful to my research group, who have truly bought into my passion for microbiology and continue to drive the research to new heights.
The upcoming Microbiology Society conference in Belfast will be my first in-person meeting for over two years and I cannot wait to feel the buzz and to chat all things microbiology with new friends and old!”
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Professor Britt Koskella

University of California, Berkeley, USA

The challenges and opportunities for understanding the factors shaping the plant microbiome

“I am truly thrilled and thankful for this nomination and prize, which highlights to me that microbiology is a field which embraces inter-disciplinary exploration and testing of ideas based in theory that can be applied across systems from the lab to natural communities. The prize reflects the creativity, enthusiasm, and hard work of my wonderful lab group and collaborators, with whom I continually feel very lucky to work. I am also grateful to the Society for being a hub for research that crosses boundaries of plant and animal research, brings together ecology, evolution, and molecular biology, and emphasises that microbial organisms are the engines of biodiversity on earth.”
Image credit: Britt Koskella


Professor Edze Westra

University of Exeter, UK

Evolution and Ecology of CRISPR-Cas

“I am absolutely delighted to have been selected for the 2020 Fleming Prize, the oldest accolade of the Microbiology Society. It is a huge and unexpected honour to be recognised in this way for my work on the molecular mechanisms and evolutionary ecology of CRISPR-Cas systems. I would like to thank the Microbiology Society for this prestigious award and the University of Exeter for their support during my research trajectory. I also want to acknowledge my talented lab members and collaborators whose dedication, persistence and creativity have formed the foundation for this award.”


Professor Peter Fineran

University of Otago, New Zealand

Resistance is (not) futile: bacterial innate and adaptive immune systems

“I was really delighted and honoured to get the news that I will receive the Fleming Prize. Research is a such team effort, so I want to acknowledge many talented lab members and collaborators – past and present.”
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Dr Sarah Coulthurst

University of Dundee, UK

How to kill your rivals: type VI secretion system-mediated bacterial warfare

“I was delighted to hear that I have been awarded the Fleming Prize. I have been a member of the Microbiology Society since the beginning of my PhD and have been inspired and supported by the community it represents ever since. Therefore, receiving this award is a great honour.”


Professor Stephen Baker

Oxford University Clinical Research Unit

The collateral damage of antimicrobial access in Asia

“Winning the Fleming Prize from the Microbiology Society is an unexpected but fantastic honour. Looking down the list at previous winners is pretty intimidating, but I hope I can continue my work and follow a similar career path."


Professor David Grainger

University of Birmingham, UK

The unexpected complexity of bacterial genomes

“Winning this award is an immense honour and a reflection on the hard work of many individuals over numerous years. I admire many of previous Fleming Prize lecturers and hope to make an equally important contribution to the field of microbiology over the course of my career.”


Professor Michael Brockhurst

University of Sheffield, UK

Rapid microbial evolution: From the lab to the clinic and back again

Image credit: iStock/selvanegra


Professor Nikolay Zenkin

Newcastle University, UK

Multiple personalities of RNA polymerase active centre

“I looked at the list of previous winners and saw that a couple of them were Nobel laureates – I’m very proud. It’s my first big prize so I’m delighted with the recognition.”
Image credit: iStock/selvanegra


Associate Professor William Hanage

Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, USA

Plagues and Populations - Patterns of Pathogen Evolution

“To be awarded this prize is really a very great honour, especially as some of the previous recipients are people I admire and respect most in science. I’m especially pleased because Brian (Spratt) my postdoc advisor won this prize thirty years ago.”


Professor Peter Cherepanov

Imperial College London, UK


Structural Biology of Retroviral DNA Integration

Image credit: iStock/Rost-9D


Dr Steve Diggle

Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

Microbial Communication and Virulence: Lessons from Evolutionary Theory

Image credit: iStock/alice-photo


Professor Nicola Stanley-Wall

University of Dundee, UK

The Complexity of Biofilm Formation by Bacillus subtilis

“I am very pleased and honoured to receive this award from the Microbiology Society. Understanding how bacteria form biofilms is a large and expanding field and I am extremely grateful that my own research contributions have received this accolade at this stage of my career.”


Professor Cameron Simmons

Monash University, Australia

Understanding Emerging Pathogens: H5N1 Influenza and Dengue in Vietnam

Image credit: iStock/ClaudioVentrella


Professor Greg Challis

University of Warwick

Mining Microbial Genomes for New Natural Products and Biosynthetic Pathways

“It was a great honour as somebody who was trained as an organic chemist and so I was very grateful to the Microbiology Society for accepting the research from other disciples in order to make positive contributions to microbiology”


Professor Frank Sargent

Newcastle University, UK

Constructing the Wonders of the Bacterial World: Biosynthesis of Complex Enzymes

Image credit: iStock/selvanegra


Professor Adrian Whitehouse

University of Leeds, UK

Understanding the Latent-Lytic Switch in Gamma-2 Herpesviruses

“I am very pleased and honoured to receive this award from the Microbiology Society. Understanding how bacteria form biofilms is a large and expanding field and I am extremely gratified that my own research contributions have received this accolade at this stage of my career.”


Dr Mark Paget

University of Sussex, UK

Managing Redox Stress in Bacteria

Image credit: iStock/SPL


Professor Chris Boshoff

Pfizer Oncology

AIDS-associated Cancer and KSHV/HHV-8

Image credit: iStock/Artem_Egorov


Professor Tracy Palmer FRS and Professor Ben Berks

Newcastle University, UK and University of Oxford, UK

Moving Folded Proteins Across the Bacterial Cell Membrane

"We had two separate ideas that turned out to be the same. It was just amazing, a highlight of your scientific career, to be recognized as an independent scientist and for other people to recognize the importance of that discovery."


Professor Brendan Kelly

University of Pennsylvania, USA

Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli - a Crafty, Subversive Little Bug

Image credit: iStock/Dr Microbe


Professor Peter Simmonds

University of Oxford, UK

The Origin and Evolution of Hepatitis Viruses in Humans

Image credit: iStock/Dr Microbe


Professor David Richardson

University of East Anglia, UK

Bacterial Respiration: a Flexible Process for a Changing Environment

“Winning the Fleming Prize was probably the proudest moment of my research career. It gave me self-belief and the confidence to try out new ideas and forge new collaborations.”


Professor Colin J. Stirling

Finders University, Australia

Protein Targeting to the Endoplasmic Reticulum in Yeast

Image credit: SPL/Kateryna Kon 


Professor Antony Carr

University of Sussex, UK

Cell Division and Mitosis in the Fission Yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe

Image credit: iStock/jarun011


Professor Jane McKeating

University of Oxford, UK

Biological consequences of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 envelope polymorphism: does variation matter?

Image credit: iStock/Rost-9D


Professor Charles Dorman

Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

DNA Topology and the Global Regulation of Bacterial Virulence Gene Expression

Image credit: Guillermo Pérez


Professor Ian Roberts

University of Manchester, UK

Bacterial Polysaccharides in Sickness and in Health

"Winning the Fleming Prize had a dramatic effect. On a personal level I felt it was the first recognition I had received from my peers and professionally it opened doors for my promotion."


Professor Neil Gow FRS

University of Exeter, UK

Directional Growth and Guidance Systems of Fungal Pathogens

"Winning the Fleming prize was a major event in my early career. The exposure helped me to build my network of collaborators, which was perhaps even more valuable at a time that predated the era of electronic communication and social media."


Professor Geoffrey L. Smith FRS

University of Cambridge, UK

Vaccinia Virus Glycoproteins and Immune Evasion

Image credit: Geoffrey L. Smith


Professor Lynne Boddy

Cardiff University, UK

The Ecology of Wood- and Litter-rotting Basidiomycete Fungi

"As a young lecturer winning the Fleming Prize was very important to me. The previous year I had won the equivalent award from the British Mycological Society, so I knew that mycologists thought that my work was interesting. Winning the Fleming prize meant that microbiologists in general thought that my research was valuable. This inspired me to keep on asking questions about a group of organisms that are crucial to the way that the ecosystems of our planet work, despite most people not realising this."


Professor G.J. Boulnois

Molecular Dissection of the Host-Microbe Interaction in Infection

Image credit: iStock/PhonlamaiPhoto


Dr Andrew Davison

University of Bristol, UK

Varicella-Zoster Virus

Iage credit: iStock/Design Cells


Professor Gordon Dougan FRS

University of Cambridge, UK

An Oral Route to Rational Vaccination

“I was working in industry when I won the Fleming Award and it was marvellous to get the boost of this academic recognition at the time. It encouraged me to stay close to my scientific goals.”


Professor Christopher Higgins

Durham University, UK

Molecular Mechanisms of Membrane Transport: from Microbes to Man

“Receiving the prize was a personal honour and provided external validation that my research was making a difference at an early stage in my career. The award gave microbiology a prominence it might not otherwise have had.”


Professor Douglas Kell

University of Liverpool, UK

Forces, Fluxes and Control of Microbial Metabolism

"A welcome recognition that microbiology was ready to move from a qualitative to a quantative science (my title was: Kell DB: Forces, fluxes and the control of microbial growth and metabolism, The twelfth Fleming lecture. Journal of General Microbiology 1987; 133: 1651-1665.”


Professor Jeffrey Almond

OSIVAX, France

Genetic Diversity in Small RNA Viruses

Image credit: Jeffrey Almond


Sir Paul Nurse FRS

Francis Crick Institute, UK

Cell Cycle Control in Yeast

“1985 was a time of major transition for me. I was awarded the Fleming Prize and after 12 years of being employed on short-term grants and fellowships, I got a tenured position in the Imperial Cancer Research Fund’s Lincolns Inn Fields Laboratory, and for the first time my research became well supported.”
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Professor Ray Dixon FRS

John Innes Centre, UK

The Genetic Complexity of Nitrogen Fixation

"I felt deeply honoured to be awarded the Fleming Prize. It reassured me that I was making an impact and was an important stepping stone towards the pursuit of exciting new challenges ahead."
Image credit: iStock/Dr_Microbe


Professor Robert Honess

The Herpes Complex: Diverse Observations and a Unifying Hypothesis.

Image credit: iStock/CreVis2


Professor Brian Spratt FRS

Imperial College London, UK

Penicillin-binding Proteins and the Future of ß-Lactam Antibiotics

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Professor David Sherratt

University of Oxford, UK

The Maintenance and Propagation of Plasmid Genes in Bacterial Populations

“It gave me the confidence that I was on the 'right track' as a Molecular detective passionate about DNA and Chromosomes”


Professor Duncan James McGeoch

Structural Analysis of Animal Virus Genomes

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Sir John Beringer CBE

University of Bristol, UK

The Development of Rhizobium Genetics

"For me, the Fleming Award came at a turning point in my life and in much biological science. Put crudely, and surely to upset many excellent scientists, an era of clone and sequence to answer "all" biological questions arrived. Thank you for enabling me to celebrate an extremely exciting and rewarding period in my life."
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Professor George A. M. Cross FRS

Immunochemical Aspects of Antigenic Variation in Trypanosomes

Image credit: SPL


Professor Peter Newell

Cellular Communication During Aggregation of Dictyostelium

"In 1977 the Fleming Prize Lecture was a new prize with the aim to encourage early career scientists to pursue a career in microbiology at a time when it seemed that it might be swamped by other related disciplines. I am grateful to the Society for their recognition of my early work as it gave me additional confidence in trying to project my microbial studies to the wider biological community."
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Professor Graham William Gooday

Biosynthesis of the Fungal Wall – Mechanisms and Implications

The winner of the 1976 Fleming Prize was Professor Graham William Gooday, University of Aberdeen, UK.
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