Tom Blundell

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Sir Tom Blundell
Born Thomas Leon Blundell
(1942-07-07) 7 July 1942 (age 73)[1]
Institutions University of Cambridge
University of Oxford
University of Sussex
Birkbeck, University of London
Alma mater Brasenose College, Oxford[1]
Thesis The determination by X-ray diffraction methods of the crystal and molecular structures of some coordination compounds (1969)
Doctoral advisor Dorothy Hodgkin[2]
Doctoral students
Notable awards
Spouse Bancinyane Lynn Sibanda[1]

Sir Thomas Leon "Tom" Blundell, FRS, FMedSci (born 7 July 1942) is a British biochemist and science administrator. Up until 2009, he was the Sir William Dunn Professor of Biochemistry and former head of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge.[9][10][11][12]


Born in Brighton in 1942, Blundell was educated at Steyning Grammar School.[13] His Master of Arts degree and DPhil are from the University of Oxford, working with Dorothy Hodgkin.


Blundell's early posts were at the University of Oxford and the University of Sussex. In 1976, Blundell joined the Department of Crystallography at Birkbeck, University of London, becoming head of department in 1978.

In 1991, he moved into science administration, as Director General of the Agricultural and Food Research Council (1991–94) and then the founding Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) (1994–1996). Other administrative posts include Chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (1998–2005). He is a former President of the Biosciences Federation (2004–06). In June 2011 he became President of the Science Council.

In 1995 he became the fifth Sir William Dunn Professor of Biochemistry and head of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge; he currently also holds the Chair of the School of Biological Sciences at that university. He is a fellow of Sidney Sussex College. His specialty is molecular biology and his research on identifying the chemical processes of diseases has led to the development of drugs to treat Aids, cancer, cataracts and diabetes. He is the co-founder of two drug discovery companies, Astex Technology Ltd and Biofabrika.

On 15 September 2010, Blundell, along with 54 other public figures, signed an open letter published in The Guardian, stating their opposition to Pope Benedict XVI's state visit to the UK.[14]


Blundell's research interests lie in elucidating macromolecular structure using methods from biochemistry, protein crystallography, bioinformatics, and structure-based drug design. Systems studied include DNA repair, hormones and growth factors, cellular signalling, crystallins (lens proteins), renin and HIV protease. His group has also written several bioinformatics programs.[15][16]

Awards and honours[edit]

Blundell was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1984[17] His nomination reads:

Blundell became one of the first fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 1998.[19] He was knighted in 1997, and has also received numerous awards and medals[20] as well as being a guest on Desert Island Discs.[21] He was awarded an Honorary degree from the University of Pavia in 2002.


  1. ^ a b c "BLUNDELL, Sir Thomas Leon, (Sir Tom)". Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press. (subscription required)
  2. ^ Blundell, T.; Cutfield, J.; Cutfield, S.; Dodson, E.; Dodson, G.; Hodgkin, D.; Mercola, D.; Vijayan, M. (1971). "Atomic positions in rhombohedral 2-zinc insulin crystals". Nature 231 (5304): 506–511. Bibcode:1971Natur.231..506B. doi:10.1038/231506a0. PMID 4932997. 
  3. ^ Hubbard, Tim (1988). The design, expression and characterisation of a novel protein (PhD thesis). University of London. (subscription required)
  4. ^ Overington, John (1991). Knowledge based protein modelling (PhD thesis). London, Birkbeck College. (subscription required)
  5. ^ Pearl, Laurence (1991). Crystallographic studies of endothiapepsin (PhD thesis). London, Birkbeck College. (subscription required)
  6. ^ Sali, Andrej (1984). Modelling three-dimensional structure of a protein from its amino acid sequence (PhD thesis). London, Birkbeck College. 
  7. ^ BBSRC Chair's biography: Sir Tom Blundell
  8. ^ Find an EMBO member
  9. ^ List of publications from Microsoft Academic Search
  10. ^ Šali, A.; Blundell, T. L. (1993). "Comparative Protein Modelling by Satisfaction of Spatial Restraints". Journal of Molecular Biology 234 (3): 779–815. doi:10.1006/jmbi.1993.1626. PMID 8254673. 
  11. ^ Mizuguchi, K.; Deane, C. M.; Blundell, T. L.; Overington, J. P. (1998). "HOMSTRAD: A database of protein structure alignments for homologous families". Protein Science 7 (11): 2469–2471. doi:10.1002/pro.5560071126. PMC 2143859. PMID 9828015. 
  12. ^ Shi, J.; Blundell, T. L.; Mizuguchi, K. (2001). "FUGUE: Sequence-structure homology recognition using environment-specific substitution tables and structure-dependent gap penalties". Journal of Molecular Biology 310 (1): 243–257. doi:10.1006/jmbi.2001.4762. PMID 11419950. 
  13. ^ "Professor Sir Tom Blundell FRS FMedSci". British Humanist Association. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "Letters: Harsh judgments on the pope and religion". The Guardian (London). 15 September 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  15. ^ Lewis, T. E.; Sillitoe, I; Andreeva, A; Blundell, T. L.; Buchan, D. W.; Chothia, C; Cuff, A; Dana, J. M.; Filippis, I; Gough, J; Hunter, S; Jones, D. T.; Kelley, L. A.; Kleywegt, G. J.; Minneci, F; Mitchell, A; Murzin, A. G.; Ochoa-Montaño, B; Rackham, O. J.; Smith, J; Sternberg, M. J.; Velankar, S; Yeats, C; Orengo, C (2013). "Genome3D: A UK collaborative project to annotate genomic sequences with predicted 3D structures based on SCOP and CATH domains". Nucleic Acids Research 41 (Database issue): D499–507. doi:10.1093/nar/gks1266. PMC 3531217. PMID 23203986. 
  16. ^ Lewis, T. E.; Sillitoe, I; Andreeva, A; Blundell, T. L.; Buchan, D. W.; Chothia, C; Cozzetto, D; Dana, J. M.; Filippis, I; Gough, J; Jones, D. T.; Kelley, L. A.; Kleywegt, G. J.; Minneci, F; Mistry, J; Murzin, A. G.; Ochoa-Montaño, B; Oates, M. E.; Punta, M; Rackham, O. J.; Stahlhacke, J; Sternberg, M. J.; Velankar, S; Orengo, C (2015). "Genome3D: Exploiting structure to help users understand their sequences". Nucleic Acids Research 43 (Database issue): D382–6. doi:10.1093/nar/gku973. PMID 25348407. 
  17. ^ "Lists of Royal Society Fellows 1660-2007". London: The Royal Society. Retrieved 20 July 2010. [dead link]
  18. ^ "EC/1984/03: Blundell, Sir Thomas Leon". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2014-06-02. 
  19. ^ Academy of Medical Sciences: Fellows: Sir Tom Blundell (accessed 6 January 2009)
  20. ^ Dept of Biochemistry, Cambridge (includes CV and publications list)
  21. ^ Desert Island Discs: Castaway Tom Blundell
Academic offices
Preceded by
Hans Kornberg
Sir William Dunn Professor of Biochemistry, Cambridge University
1995 - 2009
Succeeded by
Gerard Evan
Government offices
Preceded by
CEO of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Succeeded by
Ray Baker