Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

2019 LabTalks prize winners

Personal achievements recognised as part of annual LabTalks event

The Institute community recently came together at our annual LabTalks event to hear about latest research from across the three research programmes of Epigenetics, Signalling, and Lymphocyte Signalling and Development. The annual event provides an opportunity for researchers from PhD students to group leaders to present research projects while the Institute’s scientific facilities share updates and highlight new capabilities. The Institute was pleased to welcome Professor Katja Simon, Professor and Principle Investigator at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, University of Oxford, as the keynote speaker.
An important part of the LabTalks event is the award of the Institute’s annual prizes for research excellence (the Sir Michael Berridge Prize), knowledge exchange and commercialisation, public engagement, supporting equality and diversity, and creating an engaging scientific image.
Postdoc researcher Vicente Perez-Garcia (shown above, third from right) from the Hemberger lab was awarded the Sir Michael Berridge Prize for his key contribution to the research published in the journal Nature in March 2018: Placental defects are highly prevalent in embryonic lethal mouse mutants (news item on the research here: Placental defects key factor in prenatal deaths. The research was part of the Wellcome Trust-funded ‘Deciphering the Mechanisms of Developmental Disorders (DMDD)’ consortium and systematically studied the effect of genetic changes on the placenta using genetically edited mice. The research demonstrated that many more genes than previously thought are important for the formation of a healthy placenta and consequently a healthy embryo. This discovery represents a paradigm shift in our understanding of early mammalian development, and is likely to be highly relevant to complications during human pregnancy.
The Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation Prize recognised the commercial success of the team that run the Institute’s Flow Cytometry facility (represented by Isobel Darlington (second right) and Aleksandra Lazowska (right) in image above). In addition to providing a cutting-edge facility to support the Institute’s research, the team were recognised for their high level of service and expertise and success in their commercial partnerships, delivering training and developing new collaborations. 
The 2019 Public Engagement prize was awarded to the team of researchers who developed and delivered the Institute’s innovative science-based Escape Room: The Cell Escape. Chiara Pantarelli, Izzy Hampson, Richard Odle and Piotr Jung (shown left to right on the left of the image) were commended for their involvement with the Institute’s public engagement activities more widely, but received the award for their joint contribution to the development of the Cell Signalling Escape Room. The pop-up science-themed challenge launched at the Cambridge Science Festival this year and is booked for the Latitude festival this summer. Chiara, Izzy, Richard and Piotr were commended for their contribution to the design of the project and the level of their engagement with the public when discussing the underlying science.
The equlity4success Prize was presented to Jon Houseley (shown middle), a group leader in the Epigenetics research programme. Jon’s multiple nominations highlighted his support of his group, including his dedication to mentoring and development and for being instrumental in nurturing a positive and inclusive environment.
Coloured C.elegans wormsAfter an open vote, Institute staff voted for Célia Raimondi’s image of C. elegans (tiny nematode worms used in ageing research at the Institute) as the winner of the 2019 Image Prize (shown left). Visit the online gallery to view all entries.
After hearing all the presentations, the best student presentation award went to Richard Odle, a PhD student in Simon Cook’s lab, and best presentation by a postdoc went to Alex Whale from the Houseley lab for his talk on the mechanisms of environmentally-stimulated gene duplications (copy number variations) in yeast.
In addition to presentations, the LabTalks programme also includes a PhD student poster session where students share their research projects and results with the Institute community. Poster prizes were awarded to first, second and third year students:

First year student poster prizes:
1st place - Adam Bendall, Rugg-Gunn group, and 2nd place - Polly Machin, Welch group
Second year student poster prizes:
1st place - Georgia Lea, Hemberger lab, and 2nd place - Dorottya Horkai, Houseley lab
Third year student poster prizes:
1st - Gintare Sendzikaite, Kelsey lab, and 2nd place - Emma Minihane, Cook lab
Reflecting on the success of this year’s LabTalks, Institute Director Professor Michael Wakelam said: “LabTalks provides the opportunity for us to appreciate the amazing quality and breadth of science being carried out within the Institute. LabTalks also allows us to appreciate and recognise the close relationship between the research labs and the science facilities and the importance of this being just one example of the Institute’s inclusive and cooperative culture. I congratulate all the prize winners on their awards and thank the whole Institute community for their contributions.”
For an overview of the awards and past award winners visit the Impact Prizes page. For more information on our PE and KEC activities see the Institute’s Impact pages.

Press contact
Dr Louisa Wood, Institute Communications Manager,
Latest related news items:
News item: Placental defects key factor in prenatal deaths
Image gallery of the first teams tackling The Cell Escape at the 2019 Cambridge Science Festival
Image Prize 2019 description:
Colourful C.elegans by Célia Raimondi. View all 2019 entries here.


17 June, 2019