Dr Della David and Dr Peter Rugg-Gunn receive Wellcome Discovery Awards

Dr Della David and Dr Peter Rugg-Gunn receive Wellcome Discovery Awards

Dr Della David and Dr Peter Rugg-Gunn receive Wellcome Discovery Awards

Key points:

  • Dr Della David and Dr Peter Rugg-Gunn have received Wellcome Discovery Awards. The award scheme provides funding for bold and creative research that is expected to deliver significant shifts in understanding in areas with potential to improve human life, health and wellbeing.
  • Dr Della David's research will advance our knowledge of protein quality control outside of cells and the role regulatory molecules play in ageing of the brain.
  • Dr Peter Rugg-Gunn’s project will advance our understanding of the epigenetic environment of human early embryo development and reproductive health.

The Institute is delighted to congratulate two of our group leaders on being awarded Wellcome Discovery Awards in the round of awards made at the end of 2022. Dr Della David and Dr Peter Rugg-Gunn will pursue bold and ambitious research projects, pushing the boundaries of our knowledge of fundamental biology.

Dr Simon Cook, Institute Director, said: “I am delighted to see Della and Peter's success in securing these very prestigious awards, which are so well deserved. Both Della and Peter are outstanding researchers and excellent colleagues with creative and novel approaches to their science. These awards mark them out as international leaders and I am excited to see their projects get underway.”

Dr Della David, Group Leader in the Signalling research programme, will investigate the mechanisms that protect against excessive extracellular protein accumulation in C. elegans and extend this research to mouse models (read the project outline on the Wellcome website). There is currently very little work in this area using live simple models, which has so far limited our knowledge of how misfolded proteins are targeted for degradation. Dr David’s project is therefore designed to fill in the gap by identifying extracellular protein quality control factors and honing in on their contribution to waste protein management in the brain, during normal ageing and in diseases like Alzheimer’s.

 “It is very exciting to be driving forward our understanding of protective extracellular processes. Ultimately, I hope that our findings will be able to inform strategies to promote lifelong health.” said Dr David. “I am also looking forward to working with my colleagues at the Institute.”

Dr Peter Rugg-Gunn’s project focuses on the epigenetic environment of early-stage human embryos (read the project outline on the Wellcome website). He will develop new approaches and technologies to map the molecular changes that happen in the first 14 days of development, which is an important and understudied stage of development. The project will focus on the epigenetic processes that direct cells to decide on their future identity and enable successful development.

“Completing this research will provide a step-change in the mechanistic understanding of human development; establish post-implantation embryos as an experimental system; and advance our knowledge and use of stem cell-based embryo models.” said Dr Rugg-Gunn, Group Leader in the Epigenetics research programme.

Both of the proposed projects will see the lead researchers assemble multi-disciplinary teams by collaborating with colleagues from across the Institute’s research programmes and scientific facilities, and with other international research groups, working together to increase our understanding of lifelong health.

Notes to Editors

Press contact

Honor Pollard, Communications Officer, honor.pollard@babraham.ac.uk

Image description: Dr Della David and Dr Peter Rugg-Gunn outside the Institute's lab building

About the Babraham Institute

The Babraham Institute undertakes world-class life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. Our research focuses on cellular signalling, gene regulation and the impact of epigenetic regulation at different stages of life. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and support healthier ageing. The Institute is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, through Institute Strategic Programme Grants and an Institute Core Capability Grant and also receives funding from other UK research councils, charitable foundations, the EU and medical charities.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £451 million in world-class bioscience in 2019-20. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.