Imperial College London

Researcher and broadcaster honoured for work communicating science to the public

Dr Armand Leroi

Imperial researcher wins European award - <em>News</em>

Dr Leroi presented two-part show on Channel 4 earlier this year called 'What makes us human?' An Imperial College researcher dubbed 'the handsome biologist' by The Guardian has been given the 2006 EMBO Award for Communication in the Life Sciences, in recognition of his work as a scientific television broadcaster, popular author and print journalist.

Dr Armand Leroi from Imperial's Division of Biology receives the award from the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) for his extensive work to communicate the facts about genetics, mutations and human development to a wide public audience.

Dr Leroi's 2004 book Mutants addressed the fascinating and often misunderstood story of human development – and how genetic mutations can provide the key to who we are. It was published to critical acclaim and won the Guardian First Book Prize and the Aventis Prize for Science Books. In the same year he scripted and presented a television documentary series entitled Human Mutants for Channel 4 in the UK, and then in 2006 presented a two-part show on Channel 4 entitled What Makes us Human? Dr Leroi is also a regular contributor to newspapers including the Times, the Independent and the New York Times.

In addition to his prolific science communication work, Dr Leroi is a lecturer and researcher in the ecology and evolution group of Imperial's Division of Biology. He leads a research group looking at growth genetics and evolutionary developmental biology in the C. elegans worm, one of the most important species in modern biology.

On learning of his selection for the EMBO award, Dr Leroi said: "I'm delighted to receive this award from EMBO for communicating biology and genetics to the general public. Science is the most important and thrilling intellectual enterprise of our age, and telling the public about it is immensely rewarding – as well as being good for science. I hope that many other scientists, upon hearing about this award, will do so as well."

The EMBO selection panel added: "Leroi masters the worlds of science writing and broadcasting with the skill and versatility of a seasoned media professional, all the time remaining grounded in the science behind the story. This flair for communication combined with his attention to scientific detail brings a unique voice to the public communication of science."

A prize of 5,000 euro and a handcrafted medal will be presented to Armand Leroi on 3 November 2006 at the EMBL/EMBO Science & Society Conference in Heidelberg, Germany.

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