Sir John Walker FMedSci FRS

John Walker is a Nobel Prize-winning chemist who has shed light on the mechanisms responsible for the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate or ATP, a molecule of great biological significance that provides energy across all forms of life to power core physiological processes.

John’s valuable work on ATP synthase, the complex enzyme responsible for the formation of ATP, has uncovered its key structural features. It has led to an understanding of how the energy released by oxidation of high-energy compounds in foodstuffs is coupled to the synthesis of ATP by a mechanical rotary mechanism. He continues to conduct research into the way in which living creatures produce energy in mitochondria — the cell-based organelles where ATP is produced.

A leading figure in the world of biochemistry, John received the 1997 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and was knighted for his services to science in 1999. Amongst his numerous other accolades, he has received the Biochemical Society’s Keilin Medal, as well as the 2012 Copley Medal of the Royal Society.

Professional position

  • Research Scientist, MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit, University of Cambridge
  • Fellow Emeritus, Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge
  • Trustee of the Board, EP Abraham Cephalosporin Fund, University of Oxford

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology

    Biophysics and structural biology


  • Copley Medal

    For his ground-breaking work on bioenergetics, discovering the mechanism of ATP synthesis in the mitochondrion.

  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry

    One half jointly with Paul D. Boyer for their elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

  • UK-Canada Rutherford Lecture

    On 'How energy is converted in biology'.

Sir John Walker FMedSci FRS
Elected 1995