Unilever Colworth Prize Winners

Since the award was instituted, 18 microbiologists have been awarded the Unilever Colworth Prize and many of them have gone on to achieve distinguished careers and honours.

Find out more about what winning the Unilever Colworth Prize meant to them and more about their outstanding contributions to the discipline of microbiology. 

Unilever Colworth Prize Winners

2021

Professor Azra Ghani

Imperial College London, UK

Getting back on track: the tools and strategies needed to achieve malaria elimination and eradication

"I am delighted to receive this award from the Microbiology Society. Particular thanks go to all the former and current staff and students with whom I have had the pleasure of working and who have managed to juggle the underpinning science alongside the translation of our work into policy-relevant outputs – not least during the current COVID-19 pandemic. I am also grateful to colleagues in the international malaria community in academia, industry and public health agencies for their continued engagement, support and enthusiasm as we work together to end malaria.”
Image credit: Mark Henley, WHO, 2017

2020

Professor Manu Prakash

Stanford University, USA

Frugal science: a practical guide to making science accessible to all

“I am truly humbled and inspired to be accepting this award. Our work to share scientific tools and democratize access to science is only possible due to the passionate foldscope users that bring frugal science tools to communities far and wide. I also want to acknowledge the tireless efforts of every one in the foldscope team, and all my former and current students who make science fun every day.”

2018

Professor Sharon Peacock

University of Cambridge, UK

Translating findings from bacterial whole genome sequencing into clinical practice and public health policy

“I am thrilled to win this prestigious prize, which reflects the immense hard work and dedication of my outstanding research group over the last 10 years. I am grateful to each of them, who are all as passionate as I am about the work they do and have a shared purpose to translate a technology that will improve the quality and impact of diagnostic and public health microbiology. A big thank you!"

2017

Professor Martin Ryan

University of St Andrews, UK

The 2A protein co-expression system: a lesson learnt from viruses to make therapeutic proteins, transgenic plants and animals, cures for cancer and pluripotent stem cells

“It’s gratifying, because all the work that people have done in my lab throughout the years has been recognised. We know the work is valuable via citation numbers, but it’s a thrill for me personally because it shows the contribution is well regarded by others.”

2016

Professor Gurdyal Besra FRS

University of Birmingham, UK

The mycobacterial cell wall: assembly and new drug targets

“People who know me know that I’m very modest and don’t like to play up what I do – I’ve always looked at it as just going to work and not doing anything special compared to what anyone else is. When you receive a prize you feel a great sense of value in having others in the research community recognise what you do in a wider context.”

2015

Professor George Lomonossoff

John Innes Centre, UK

Turning diseases to commodity: working on a plant virus for fun and profit

“There’s nothing better than being recognised by your peers. There are times as scientists that we tend to doubt whether what we do is important, so getting recognition of my work – and the work of my group – is very important. I’m representing a lot of people who have done a lot of work over the years.”

2013

Professor Jeffrey Almond

OSIVAX, France

Vaccines R&D: challenges for the 21st century

Image credit: Jeffrey Almond

2011

Professor George Salmond

University of Cambridge, UK

Bacterial Sociology: Quorum Sensing, Virulence, Antibiotics and Survival

Image credit: iStock/Rost-9D

2009

Professor Geoff Gadd

University of Dundee, UK

Metals, Minerals and Microbes: Geomicrobiology and Bioremediation

Image credit: iStock/photosbyjim

2007

Professor Paul Williams

University of Nottingham, UK

Look Who's Talking: Communication and Co-operation in the Bacterial World

Image credit: iStock/3dalia

2005

Professor Rick Titball

University of Exeter, UK

Gas Gangrene, an Open and Closed Case

Image credit: iStock/Dr_Microbe

2003

Professor Thomas Humphrey

Swansea University, UK

Oh for an 'Ome of My Own'. Salmonella and Campylobacter as Zoonotic Pathogens

Image credit: iStock/urfinguss

2001

Professor Philip Marsh

University of Leeds, UK

Are Dental Diseases Examples of Ecological Catastrophes?

Image credit: iStock/Dr_Microbe

1999

Professor Lynne Macaskie

University of Birmingham, UK

Applications of Micro-organisms to Heavy Metals and Nuclear Wastes Decontamination

Image credit: iStock/kirstypargeter

1997

Professor Graham Stewart

UNiversity of Surrey, UK

Challenging Food Microbiology from a Molecular Perspective

Image credit: iStock/anusorn nakdee

1995

Professor Mervyn Bibb FRS

John Innes Centre, UK

Understanding and manipulating antibiotic production in Streptomyces

Image credit: iStock/ClaudioVentrella

1993

Professor Gordon Dougan FRS

University of Cambridge, UK

Microbial Pathogens as Probes of the Mucosal Immune System

Image credit: Gordon Dougan

1991

Dr Philip Minor

National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, UK

The Molecular Biology of Polio Vaccines

Image credit: Nicola Stonehouse and Oluwapelumi Adeyemi

1989

Professor Geoffrey Yarranton

Humanigen, USA

Efficient Expression of Heterologous Genes in Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells

Image credit: iStock/selvanegra

1991–2000

A new location and modernising Microbiology

The continued growth of the Society and its affairs meant that the Society headquarters, at Harvest House, had become too small. In 1991, the Society purchased Marlborough House, in a village seven kilometres south of Reading town centre. 

In 1994, the Journal of General Microbiology was relaunched with a modernised format, and it’s title was changed to Microbiology. On-screen editing was introduced in the Editorial Office in the mid-1990s. 

Image: Branding used for the journal of Microbiology today. 
Image credit: iStock/ClaudioVentrella