Sir Shankar Balasubramanian is the Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Cambridge and senior group leader at the Cambridge Institute. He works on the chemistry, structure and function of nucleic acids. He co-invented the leading next generation DNA sequencing methodology that has made routine, accurate, low-cost sequencing of human genomes a reality. He’s invented chemistry to decode several modified (epigenetic) DNA bases and DNA secondary structures (G-quadruplexes) in the genome and made seminal contributions towards the understanding of their dynamics and function. His work on small molecule recognition of nucleic acids has revealed molecular mechanisms that can be exploited to modulate the biology of cancer. He was knighted in 2017 for his services to science and medicine and awarded the Royal Society’s Royal Medal in 2018. In 2021, he was jointly awarded the 2020 Millennium Technology Prize and the 2022 Breakthrough Prize for Life.
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