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Copley Medal

Professor Richard Henderson FMedSci FRS

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

The award

The Copley Medal is the Society’s oldest and most prestigious award. 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 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 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.

Past winners

Professor Peter Higgs CH FRS was awarded the 2015 Copley Medal 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.

Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys KBE FRS was awarded the 2014 Copley Medal 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.


The call for nominations has now closed. The next round of nominations will open in November 2016.

The recipient is chosen by the Council of the Royal Society on the recommendation of the Premier 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.

There are no geographical restrictions on this awards, or limitations on the period in which the research achievements were made. The award may be given more than once to the same person.