Dr Nicholas Lydon FRS

Nicholas Lydon is a biochemist whose research has had a major impact on the field of cancer drug discovery. He is best known for the development of imatinib (sold as Gleevec), a drug that has saved the lives of thousands of patients with chronic myelogenous leukaemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumours.

Nicholas was amongst the first to show that cancer cells could be eliminated through specific targeting of molecules responsible for the formation of tumours. Imatinib emerged from his identification of protein kinases as a suitable target, which has since resulted in a tremendous upsurge of interest in their study. As of 2013, protein kinases alone make up over 50 per cent of cancer drug discovery funding.

Widely recognised for his landmark achievements in cancer therapy, Nicholas won both the 2009 Lasker–DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award and the 2012 Japan Prize. In 2014, he was awarded the GlaxoSmithKline Prize and Lecture by the Royal Society. Nicholas is currently a founder and member of the Board of Directors of Blueprint Medicines, AnaptysBio and Staurus Pharma.

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology

    Molecular immunology, Molecular microbiology, Biochemistry and molecular biology, Cell biology (incl molecular cell biology)

  • Health and human sciences

    Molecular medicine


  • Japan Prize

    In the field of healthcare and medical technology for development of a new therapeutic drug targeting cancer-specific molecules.

  • Royal Society GlaxoSmithKline Prize and Lecture

    For the development of the drug imatinib, a targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor that has transformed the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukaemia (CML) and is a paradigm for cancer drug discovery.

Dr Nicholas Lydon FRS
Elected 2013