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2014 Royal Medal for science awarded to Jersey-resident Mass Spectrometry pioneer

4 August 2014

Professor Howard Morris FRS, Jersey resident and founder of MS-RTC, Jersey's high-tech analytical facility for discovery research in the fields of medicine, forensic and environmental sciences, has been awarded the 2014 Royal Medal for his pioneering work in biomolecular mass spectrometry including strategy and instrument design and for outstanding entrepreneurship in biopharmaceutical characterisation.

The Royal Medal, also known as the Queen's Medal, is awarded annually by the Sovereign for the most important contributions in the physical, biological and applied sciences. 

Research by Professor Morris, an Emeritus Professor of Biological Chemistry at Imperial College, has improved our understanding of living systems at the molecular level, in health and disease, by using advanced spectrometry to elucidate the structures of newly discovered, biologically active materials.  He has worked in the field for almost 50 years. He received his BSc and PhD from the University of Leeds, where he achieved the first mass spectrometric sequencing of protein-derived peptides in the late 1960s. He spent his initial post-doc days at the University of Cambridge Chemical Laboratory, and then at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge. 

Professor Morris joined Imperial College in 1975 and subsequently founded the Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry Group. He spent much of his career addressing the limitation of the design of mass spectrometry instruments and by working to improve the design and push the boundaries of instruments so that they could address more effectively the special problems of size, polarity, complexity and sensitivity associated with important biological problems, contributing to a number of developments now used worldwide.

Professor Morris also founded two businesses to apply his mass spectrometry mapping and sequencing strategies to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. He was founder and Chairman of the consultancy and analysis company M-Scan Group, set up in 1980 (now SGS M-Scan), which provides advanced analytical services to the Pharmaceutical and Chemical Industries worldwide.  He also founded Biopharmaspec in 2014 to work on pre-clinical projects, such as characterising a new class of pharmaceutical known as antibody drug conjugates.