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Brian Charlesworth

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Brian Charlesworth
Brian Charlesworth
Brian Charlesworth

(1945-04-29) 29 April 1945 (age 79)[5]
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge (BA, PhD)
(m. 1967)
Children1 daughter
Scientific career
FieldsEvolutionary biology
ThesisGenetic variation in viability in Drosophila melanogaster (1968)
Doctoral studentsMichael R. Rose
Other notable studentsGilean McVean (postdoc)[3][4]

Brian Charlesworth FRS FRSE (born 29 April 1945)[5] is a British evolutionary biologist at the University of Edinburgh,[6] and editor of Biology Letters. Since 1997, he has been Royal Society Research Professor at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IEB) in Edinburgh.[7][8][9][10] He has been married since 1967 to the British evolutionary biologist Deborah Charlesworth.


Charlesworth gained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biological Sciences from Queens' College, Cambridge,[5] followed by a PhD in genetics in 1969 for research into genetic variation in viability in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.[11]


Following his PhD, Charlesworth did postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago, University of Liverpool 1971–1974 and the University of Sussex under John Maynard Smith[12][13] 1974–82. He returned to Chicago, to be professor of ecology and evolution from 1985 to 1997 after which he moved to Edinburgh.[6]


Charlesworth has worked extensively on understanding sequence evolution,[14] using the fruit fly as a model species, and has also contributed theoretical work on aging, the evolution of recombination and the evolution of sex chromosomes.[15]

In April 2010, the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B was dedicated to honour Brian's contribution to the field of population genetics.[16]

Awards and honours[edit]

Charlesworth was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1991,[2] and won its Darwin Medal in 2000. He won the 2006 Frink Medal, of the Zoological Society of London and in 2010 was awarded the Darwin-Wallace Medal of the Linnean Society. His nomination for the Royal Society reads:

Distinguished for his theoretical and experimental studies of population genetics and evolutionary biology. He extended the theory of selection in age-structured populations which provides the genetical foundation for the study of the evolution of life-history patterns and ageing, and demonstrated experimentally genetic variation in such traits. He made major contributions to the theory of the related topics of selection for the rate of genetic recombination, the evolution of complexes of tightly linked genes and the evolution of separate sexes and outbreeding, and showed experimentally that recombination rates could be changed by selection. He has developed a theory for the population dynamics of transposable genetic elements which provide standard models for the analysis and interpretation of data on transposable element frequencies.[2]

In 2015, the Genetics Society of America awarded Charlesworth its Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal. This award is give to recognize "lifetime achievement in the field of genetics. It recognizes the full body of work of an exceptional geneticist," according to the Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal webpage.


  1. ^ Lande, R (2007). "2006 Sewall Wright Award. Brian Charlesworth". The American Naturalist. 169 (1): iii. doi:10.1086/510731. PMID 17209244. S2CID 82746856.
  2. ^ a b c "EC/1991/08: Charlesworth, Brian". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 8 July 2019.
  3. ^ Charlesworth, D.; Charlesworth, B.; McVean, G. (2001). "Genome sequences and evolutionary biology, a two-way interaction". Trends in Ecology & Evolution. 16 (5): 235–242. doi:10.1016/S0169-5347(01)02126-7. PMID 11301152.
  4. ^ McVean, G. A.; Charlesworth, B (2000). "The effects of Hill-Robertson interference between weakly selected mutations on patterns of molecular evolution and variation". Genetics. 155 (2): 929–44. doi:10.1093/genetics/155.2.929. PMC 1461092. PMID 10835411.
  5. ^ a b c "CHARLESWORTH, Prof. Brian". Who's Who. Vol. 2015 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. ^ a b "Brian Charlesworth at the University of Edinburgh". University of Edinburgh. 2015. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015.
  7. ^ Viegas, J (2015). "Profile of Brian Charlesworth". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112 (6): 1652–3. Bibcode:2015PNAS..112.1652V. doi:10.1073/pnas.1423862112. PMC 4330764. PMID 25564667.
  8. ^ Charlesworth, B. (1994). Evolution in Age-Structured Populations. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511525711. ISBN 9780511525711.
  9. ^ Evolution: A Very Short Introduction (with Deborah Charlesworth) Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-280251-8
  10. ^ Elements of Evolutionary Genetics (with Deborah Charlesworth) ISBN 978-0-9815194-2-5
  11. ^ Charlesworth, Brian (1969). Genetic variation in viability in Drosophila melanogaster (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge.
  12. ^ Charlesworth, B.; Harvey, P. (2005). "John Maynard Smith. 6 January 1920 – 19 April 2004: Elected F.R.S. 1977". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 51 (3): 253–265. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2005.0016. PMC 1448785. PMID 15579672. S2CID 85622626.
  13. ^ Charlesworth, B. (November 2004). "Anecdotal, historical and critical commentaries on genetics. John Maynard Smith: January 6, 1920 – April 19, 2004". Genetics. 168 (3): 1105–9. doi:10.1093/genetics/168.3.1105. PMC 1448785. PMID 15579672.
  14. ^ Brian Charlesworth's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  15. ^ "Evolution - the Molecular Landscape Interview with BRIAN CHARLESWORTH interviewed by Matt Ridley" Archived 9 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 23 June 2009
  16. ^ Loewe, L.; Hill, B. (2010). "Mutations and Brian Charlesworth". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 365 (1544): 1151. doi:10.1098/rstb.2009.0319. PMC 2871825. PMID 20308089.