Richard J. Roberts

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Sir Richard Roberts
Roberts, Richard John (1943).jpg
Richard Roberts
Born Richard John Roberts
(1943-09-06) 6 September 1943 (age 72)[1]
Derby, England, UK
Nationality British
Fields molecular biologist
Alma mater University of Sheffield
Thesis Phytochemical studies involving neoflavanoids and isoflavanoids (1969)
Known for Work on introns
Restriction endonucleases
DNA methylation
Computational molecular biology[1]
Influences David Ollis[2]
John Kendrew[2]
Jack Strominger[2]
Daniel Nathans[2]
James Watson[2]
Notable awards

Sir Richard John Roberts (born 6 September 1943) is an English biochemist and molecular biologist. He was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Phillip Allen Sharp for the discovery of introns in eukaryotic DNA and the mechanism of gene-splicing. He currently works at New England Biolabs.[9][10]

Early life, education, and career[edit]

Roberts was born in Derby, the son of Edna (Allsop) and John Roberts, an auto mechanic.[11] When he was four, Roberts' family moved to Bath. In Bath, he attended City of Bath Boys' School.[12] As a child he at first wanted to be a detective and then, when given a chemistry set, a chemist.

He graduated from the University of Sheffield in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and a PhD in 1969.[1] His thesis involved phytochemical studies of neoflavonoids and isoflavonoids.[8] During 1969-1972, he did post doctoral research work at Harvard.[13] He then moved to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he was hired by James Dewey Watson, a co-discoverer of the structure of DNA and a fellow Nobel laureate. In 1992, he moved to New England Biolabs. The following year, he shared a Nobel Prize with his former colleague at Cold Spring Harbor Phillip Sharp.

Awards and honours[edit]

In 1992 he received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Medicine at Uppsala University, Sweden.[14] After becoming a Nobel Laureate in 1993 he was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) by the University of Bath in 1994.[15]

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1995.[7] In 2005, a multimillion-pound expansion to the chemistry department at the University of Sheffield, where he had been a student, was named after him. A refurbished science department at Beechen Cliff School (previously City of Bath Boys' School) was also named after Roberts, who had donated a substantial sum of his Nobel prize winnings to the school.[16]

Roberts is an atheist and was one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto.[17][18] He was knighted in the 2008 Birthday Honours. Roberts is a member of the Advisory Board of Patient Innovation, a nonprofit, international, multilingual, free venue for patients and caregivers of any disease to share their innovations.

Roberts has been a keynote speaker at the Congress of Future Medical Leaders (2014, 2015, 2016)


  1. ^ a b c d e ROBERTS, Sir Richard (John). Who's Who. 2015 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc.  (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c d e "Richard J. Roberts - Autobiography at". 
  3. ^ Shampo, M. A.; Kyle, R. A. (2003). "Richard J. Roberts—Nobel Laureate for Discovery of Split Genes". Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 78 (2): 132. doi:10.4065/78.2.132. PMID 12583523. 
  4. ^ Bartnik, E. (1994). "Nobel prizes in physiology, medicine and chemistry in 1993". Postepy biochemii. 40 (1): 4–5. PMID 8208634. 
  5. ^ Boman, H. (1993). "The 1993 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine--split genes". Tidsskrift for den Norske laegeforening : tidsskrift for praktisk medicin, ny raekke. 113 (30): 3666–3667. PMID 8278945. 
  6. ^ "Nobel goes to discoverers of "split genes"". Nature. 365 (6447): 597. 1993. doi:10.1038/365597a0. PMID 8413620. 
  7. ^ a b "Sir Richard Roberts FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-10-06. 
  8. ^ a b Roberts, Richard John (1969). Phytochemical studies involving neoflavanoids and isoflavanoids (PhD thesis). University of Sheffield. 
  9. ^ Roberts, R. J.; Chang, Y. -C.; Hu, Z.; Rachlin, J. N.; Anton, B. P.; Pokrzywa, R. M.; Choi, H. -P.; Faller, L. L.; Guleria, J.; Housman, G.; Klitgord, N.; Mazumdar, V.; McGettrick, M. G.; Osmani, L.; Swaminathan, R.; Tao, K. R.; Letovsky, S.; Vitkup, D.; Segrè, D.; Salzberg, S. L.; Delisi, C.; Steffen, M.; Kasif, S. (2010). "COMBREX: A project to accelerate the functional annotation of prokaryotic genomes". Nucleic Acids Research. 39 (Database issue): D11–D14. doi:10.1093/nar/gkq1168. PMC 3013729free to read. PMID 21097892. 
  10. ^ Roberts, R. J.; Varmus, H. E.; Ashburner, M.; Brown, P. O.; Eisen, M. B.; Khosla, C.; Kirschner, M.; Nusse, R.; Scott, M. (2001). "Information Access: Building A GenBank of the Published Literature". Science. 291 (5512): 2318a. doi:10.1126/science.1060273. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Nobel Prize website
  13. ^ "Richard J. Roberts - Biographical". Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Honorary Graduates 1989 to present". University of Bath. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  16. ^ Beechen Cliff School website
  17. ^ "Humanist Manifesto II". American Humanist Association. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  18. ^