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Copley Medal

The award

The Copley Medal is the Society’s oldest and most prestigious award. The medal is now awarded annually for outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science. The award alternates between the physical and biological sciences (odd and even years respectively). The Copley medal will be awarded in 2017 for the physical sciences.

First awarded in 1731 following donations from Godfrey Copley FRS (PDF), it was initially awarded for the most important scientific discovery or for the greatest contribution made by experiment. The Copley Medal is thought to be the world's oldest scientific prize and it was awarded 170 years before the first Nobel Prize. Notable winners include Benjamin Franklin, Dorothy Hodgkin, Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin.

Nominations for the Copley Medal 2017 have now closed. Medallists will be announced in July with the next round of nominations opening in November 2017.

Copley Medallist 2016

The Copley Medal 2016 is awarded to Dr Richard Henderson FMedSci FRS in recognition of his fundamental and revolutionary contributions to the development of electron microscopy of biological materials, enabling their atomic structures to be deduced. To find out more about Dr Henderson's research you can read the related news article.

Dr Henderson was presented with a medal of silver gilt, and a gift of £25,000 at the Premier Awards dinner in Autumn 2016.

Past winners

Professor Peter Higgs CH FRS was awarded the Copley Medal 2015 for his fundamental contribution to particle physics with his theory explaining the origin of mass in elementary particles, confirmed by the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.

Sir Alec Jeffreys KBE FMedSci FRS was awarded the Copley Medal 2014 for his pioneering work on variation and mutation in the human genome

To find out more about past winners you can read this series of blogs.

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