Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Frontiers in Chemistry and Biology Symposium

Frontiers in Chemistry and Biology, a symposium to celebrate the award of honorary degrees to Professor Bob Grubbs and Professor Richard Lerner will take place from 2 - 6pm on Tuesday 20th July in MS01 in the Mathematics Institute. This event is free and all staff, students, alumni and members of the public are welcome to attend.


Chair: Professor David Haddleton
Professor Bob Grubbs, California Institute of Technology
3pm Dr Andrew Dove, University of Warwick, Department of Chemistry
3:30pm Coffee

Chair: Professor Greg Challis
Dr Emma Anderson, University of Warwick, Department of Biological Sciences
4:30pm Professor Richard Lerner, Scripps Research Institute
5:30pm Reception

Professor Robert Grubbs: Hon DSc (Honorary Doctor of Science)

Nobel Laureate Robert Grubbs is Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), a position he has held since 1990. Professor Grubbs works in organometallic chemlstry and synthetic chemistry, concentrating particularly on catalysts. His research on olefin metathesis (a particular form of organic reaction often used in research and industry as key step to create medicines, polymers types of fuel) developed powerful, ruthenium based catalysts to enhance this reaction and its use in the fields of medicine and industry. In particular his work produced industrial and pharmaceutical methods that are more environmentally friendly: his citation for the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, which he won in 2005 with Richard R Schrock and Yves Chauvin, described it as ‘a great step forward in the development of “green chemistry”.’ Professor Grubbs has won many other awards and prizes during his career, including the American Chemical Society’s Benjamin Franklin medal in Chemistry and its Herman F Mark Polymer Chemistry Award in 2000, and the Tolman Medal in 2002. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1989, was made a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2004. He is the author of more than 400 publications and has over 80 patents.

Dr Richard Lerner: Hon DSc (Honorary Doctor of Science)

Dr Richard Lerner is President of the Scripps Research Institute, and a member of its Skaggs Research Institute for Chemical Biology, La Jolla, California. Richard Lerner graduated from Stanford Medical School in 1964 and worked for his PhD at what was then the Scripps Clinic. In the 1970s, he worked at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia before returning to La Jolla, where from 1982-86 he served as Chairman of the Scripps Institute’s Department of Molecular Biology before assuming the presidency of the organisation. Dr Lerner’s scientific achievements span diverse areas of biomedical research and include unique insights into protein and peptide structure and the identification of a sleep-inducing lipid. However, he is most well-known for his groundbreaking research in the field of catalytic antibodies, where he showed that antibodies can be employed as enzymes: this has relevance to conditions such as atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. As leader of the Scripps Institute, he has seen the organisation triple its laboratory space and quadruple its staff and has focussed its strength at the border between biology and chemistry. He has emphasised interdisciplinary work and fostered industrial collaboration agreements with major pharmaceutical companies. He also encouraged the establishment of Scripps Florida, a major science centre focussing on biomedical research, technology development and drug design which opened in 2009. During his long career, Dr Lerner has been the recipient of many international prizes and awards; he has been elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the United States National Academy of Sciences and has received honorary degrees from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 2003 and the University of Oxford, 2007.