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Fellows Directory

Janet Thornton

Janet Thornton

Dame Janet Thornton DBE FMedSci FRS


Elected: 1999





Janet Thornton is a pioneer of structural bioinformatics who uses computational analysis to further our understanding of the three-dimensional structure and function of proteins. The tools and techniques that Janet develops facilitate the analysis of biological data and have the potential to make a major impact on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Her earliest contributions enabled prediction of the ‘supersecondary’ structures of a protein, such as alpha-helix hairpins and beta–alpha–beta motifs. These help to sculpt a protein’s overall three-dimensional — or tertiary — structure. She has also developed widely used algorithms and databases for predicting, checking and classifying protein structures, including PROCHECK and CATH.

As Director of the European Bioinformatics Institute, Janet now guides strategic developments in the field of bioinformatics. She is also working to integrate computational biology techniques within clinical settings in the UK. In recognition of her services to bioinformatics, Janet was awarded a CBE in 2000, followed by a DBE in 2012.

Professional positions

Director of European Bioinformatics Institute (EMB), European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI)

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Biophysics and structural biology
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