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Buchanan Medal

For distinguished contributions to the medical sciences.

George Buchanan FRS

Professor Irwin McLean FMedSci FRSProfessor Irwin McLean FMedSci FRS

Professor Irwin McLean FMedSci FRS was awarded the 2015 Buchanan Medal for his major contribution to our understanding of the genetic basis of heritable skin diseases.

Professor Douglas Higgs FRS was awarded the 2013 Buchanan Medal for his seminal work on the regulation of the human alpha-globin gene cluster and the role of the ATRX protein in genetic disease.

See full list of all past winners of the Buchanan Medal.

The award

The award was created from a fund to the memory of the physician George Buchanan FRS (PDF), former Chief Medical Officer of the UK, and was first awarded in 1897. Originally it was awarded once every five years, but since 1990 it has been awarded once every two years. The medal is of silver gilt and is accompanied by a gift of £2,000.

The Buchanan Medal is awarded biennially (in odd years) “in recognition of distinguished contribution to the medical sciences generally”.


The call for nominations for the 2015 Buchanan Medal is now closed. Nominations for the 2017 medal will open in November 2016.

The recipient is chosen by the Council of the Royal Society on the recommendation of the Biological Sciences Awards Committee. The committee will consider the nomination a maximum of 3 times, before the nomination is retired. Re-nomination is possible after 1 round has passed.

The award is open to citizens of a Commonwealth country or of the Irish Republic or those who have been ordinarily resident and working in a Commonwealth country or in the Irish Republic for a minimum of three years immediately prior to being proposed.