Sir Stephen Jackson FMedSci FRS

Steve Jackson has unravelled the complex processes by which cells protect their genetic information. His research has also led to a new type of cancer drug that is being used to treat ovarian cancer and that holds promise for treating various other intractable cancers with minimal side effects.

He discovered various DNA repair proteins and showed how they function in yeast and human cells. He also connected their dysfunction to cancer, developmental defects, ageing and immunodeficiency. Based on his academic work, Steve founded a company that developed various drugs with anti-cancer potential; several are in clinical trials by a large pharmaceutical firm and one, Olaparib, has become a registered drug in the European Union and United States.

He has since launched a new company developing small molecules that intervene in DNA repair pathways. Steve was the youngest person to be elected to a chair at the University of Cambridge since Isaac Newton: amongst other prizes, he won the inaugural BBSRC Innovator of the Year Award in 2009 and the Royal Society Buchanan Medal in 2011.

Professional position

  • Professor of Biology, University of Cambridge
  • Associate Faculty Member, Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge
  • Chief Scientific Officer, MISSION Therapeutics Ltd
  • Senior Group Leader, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology

    Cell biology (incl molecular cell biology)


  • Buchanan Medal

    For his outstanding contributions to understanding DNA repair and DNA-damage-response signalling pathways.

  • Royal Society Mullard Award

    For pioneering research on DNA repair mechanisms and synthetic lethality that led to the discovery of olaparib, which has reached blockbuster status for the treatment of ovarian and breast cancers.

Sir Stephen Jackson FMedSci FRS
Elected 2008