Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Dr Stephen Clark, Cambridge Independent Researcher of the Year 2019

Senior researcher Stephen Clark named Researcher of the Year

Key points:
  • Dr Stephen Clark, a senior research scientist in the Epigenetics programme, has been named as the Researcher of the Year in the Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards 2019.
  • The award recognises Dr Clark’s involvement in the development of pioneering techniques that connect parallel processes affecting gene expression, allowing a more comprehensive insight into the activities happening in a single cell.
  • Dr Clark developed and uses these methods to understand what influences cell fate decisions during development.  
Dr Stephen Clark, a senior research scientist in the Reik lab, part of the Institute's Epigenetics programme, has been named as the Researcher of the Year in the Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards 2019. The award recipients were announced in a ceremony at the Bradfield Centre on Cambridge Science Park on 30th October.
The award was presented by Sabine Jaccaud and Shaun Grady from AstraZeneca, who sponsored the Researcher of the Year category. The finalists were judged on the impact of their work.
Mr Paul Brackley, Editor of the Cambridge Independent, said: “The award category showcases some of the fascinating work that is going on in the laboratories and institutes in and around Cambridge. In recognising Dr Clark as our 2019 Researcher of the Year, we applaud his key role in developing world-leading experimental techniques.”  
Reflecting on the award, Dr Clark said: “I’m honoured to receive this award and would like to thank the judges for their excitement about my research. The work would not have been possible without the significant involvement of my collaborators at the Sanger Institute and European Bioinformatics Institute. I’d like to acknowledge their contribution, as well as the support from my co-workers within the Reik lab and my colleagues at the Institute, especially from the Kelsey lab who were essential partners in the collaborative work.”
Dr Clark joined the Institute in 2014 as a junior postdoctoral researcher. His PhD studied human genetics at Imperial College London and he has a first degree in biochemistry from the University of Bath. His current research focuses on understanding the earliest cell fate decisions in mammalian embryo development, giving rise to the three distinct layers of the embryo which in turn establish the body’s systems and organs(for example, the nervous system, circulatory system and stomach) at later developmental points. His co-invention of the first single-cell multi-omics method ever was published in Nature Methods in 2016, describing a technique that allowed the parallel read-out of the transcriptome and the methylome from the same single cell. A more recent paper in Nature Communications in 2018 reported an extension of the method to develop the first single-cell method (scNMT-seq) for three genomic layers, the transcriptome, methylome, and chromatin accessibility. These papers have attracted huge attention, with global impact as the methods are used to further our understanding of biology though single-cell analysis, By using the techniques, researchers are able to gain a comprehensive overview of simultaneous events in a single cell, revealing connections between between gene expression, DNA methylation and gene accessibility.
Professor Wolf Reik, Head of the Epigenetics programme at the Institute and leader of the research group of which Dr Clark is a member, said: “Since joining the group, Stephen has been instrumental in all our single-cell multi-omics technology developments, in which the lab is seen as a world leader. Not only has Stephen developed the key wet lab technologies, but he has also acquired an exceptional level of computational expertise. I’m delighted that his contributions have been recognised by this award.”   

Notes to Editors

Press contact
Dr Louisa Wood, Babraham Institute Communications Manager,, 01223 496230
Additional/related resources:
News: New technique offers insights into early life 22 February 2018
Press release: New method allows study of DNA methylation and gene expression in the same cell 11 January 2016
Image description
Dr Stephen Clark with his award.


6 November, 2019