Royal Society Fellowship for Ben Berks

4th May 2020

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Wadham’s Professor Ben Berks is among the exceptional scientists elected as a 2020 Fellow of the Royal Society.

On hearing of this honour, Warden of Wadham College Ken Macdonald QC said: “This is a wonderful affirmation of Ben’s scholarship and a source of great pride to the College, and a happy reflection of Wadham’s pre-eminent role in the creation of the successor to the Oxford Philosophical Club.” 

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said: “At this time of global crisis, the importance of scientific thinking, and the medicines, technologies and insights it delivers, has never been clearer. Our Fellows and Foreign Members are central to the mission of the Royal Society, to use science for the benefit of humanity. While election to the Fellowship is a recognition of exceptional individual contributions to the sciences, it is also a network of expertise that can be drawn on to address issues of societal, and global significance.”

Professor Ben Berks FRS is Professor of Biochemistry at University of Oxford. Describing his research he said: “We study the molecular machines involved in forming the bacteria cell envelope, with a special emphasis on those machines that transport macromolecules across the cell membranes. These nanomachines have crucial roles in pathogenesis, motility, and antibiotic resistance, and are amongst the most mechanistically interesting proteins in the cell.

“Our work is grounded in protein biochemistry and bacterial cell biology to which we add a full range of cutting edge molecular techniques. In particular, we collaborate with local colleagues on the structural analysis of the transporter complexes by cryoEM, X-ray crystallography, and other approaches, and we dissect the transport processes using live cell single molecule fluorescence imaging.”