Professor Sir Michael Berridge, FRS
Professor Sir Michael Berridge, FRS, (b.1938) is an Emeritus Fellow at the Babraham Institute and Honorary Professor of Cell Signalling at the University of Cambridge. Graduating from the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Rhodesia in 1960 with First Class Honours, he attained his PhD at the University of Cambridge, UK, in 1965. He then carried out post-doctoral research in the USA (University of Virginia and Case Western Reserve University) before returning to Cambridge in 1969 to take up a position with the Agricultural and Food Research Council’s (AFRC) Unit of Invertebrate Chemistry and Physiology, based in the University’s Zoology Department. After a long professional association with the Babraham Institute he formally joined the Laboratory of Molecular Signalling at the Babraham Institute in 1990. He is a fellow of Trinity College and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1984. In 1997, he was knighted in the New Year’s Honours list for his contributions to science.
In September 2005 Professor Berridge was awarded the prestigious Shaw Prize, for his pioneering work in the field of cell signalling. His discovery of the key role that calcium plays in regulating cellular activity and orchestrating the complexities of cellular communication has given insight into some of the physiological processes behind medical conditions like hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia and heart failure, cancer and bipolar disorders such as manic depressive illness.
Professor Berridge’s discovery of the molecule inositol trisphosphate (IP3), and its role in the calcium signalling pathway, was a major breakthrough in understanding how a cell translates chemical stimuli at its external surface into an intracellular chemical language that enables the cell to elicit a physiological response. These breakthroughs have had a profound influence on diverse areas of biomedical research such as cell proliferation, fertilisation, neural activity, memory and learning, metabolism and muscle contraction.
The Shaw Prize, hailed as the Nobel Prize of the East, consists of three annual prizes in the fields of life science and medicine, astronomy and mathematical sciences, each bearing a monetary award of $1 million US dollars. This international accolade honours individuals who have achieved significant breakthroughs in academic and scientific research, and whose work has resulted in a positive and profound impact on mankind.
Professor Berridge’s ground-breaking research and leadership in the field have earned him a plethora of prestigious international awards, including: the Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics; the Gairdner Foundation International Award for outstanding achievement in biomedical research; the King Faisal International Prize in Science; The Wolf Foundation Prize in Medicine; the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award; and the Louis Jeantet Prize in Medicine.
Other honours include his election as Honorary Member of the Japanese Biochemical Society, the American Physiological Society and of the Society for Experimental Biology; as member of the Academia Europaea, EMBO and The Academy of Medical Sciences (London); and as Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Science (Washington).
In the words of one of his colleagues, "Mike... has pioneered a field that now infiltrates almost every area of biology and he has served as a distinguished ambassador for all who work in Ca2+ signalling".