Stephen WEST

The Francis Crick Institute, UK

Stephen West received his PhD in biochemistry from Newcastle University, England, before joining the Department of Therapeutic Radiology at Yale in 1978. There, he was a post-doc with Paul Howard-Flanders, one of the early pioneers in the field of DNA repair. Steve moved back to the UK in 1985 to set up a laboratory at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (which became Cancer Research UK) where he was Senior Group Leader and Deputy Director of Clare Hall Laboratories. In 2015, Clare Hall became part of the new Francis Crick Institute, the largest research institute in Europe.

Steve’s work focused on the mechanisms of DNA repair by homologous recombination, and the links between repair defects, genome instability and cancer. His early work led to an understanding of homologous pairing by RecA and RAD51, and the resolution of recombination intermediates. Steve discovered the first cellular Holliday junction resolvase (E. coli RuvC), the bacterial branch migration complex (RuvAB), and the mammalian resolvase GEN1. His work currently revolves around the molecular functions of the BRCA2 tumour suppressor, and the roles and interplay of various Holliday junction resolvases that process recombination intermediates in human cells.

Steve has received numerous awards for his scientific achievements. These include election to EMBO (1994), he is a Fellow of the Royal Society (1995), the Academy of Medical Sciences (2000), and the European Academy of Cancer Sciences (2011). He has also received several prizes, including the prestigious Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine (2007). Other awards and prizes include the Swiss Bridge Prize for Cancer Research (2001 and 2009), the Leeuwenhoek Medal of the Royal Society (2002), the Novartis Medal from the Biochemical Society (2008), the GlaxoSmithKline Medal of the Royal Society (2010), and more recently the Genetics Medal (2012). In 2016 Steve was elected as a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences (USA).