Highgate scientist Dr Tomas Lindahl wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Dr Tomas Lindahl has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Picture: The Francis Crick Institute

Dr Tomas Lindahl has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Picture: The Francis Crick Institute - Credit: Archant

A Highgate scientist has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for pioneering research on DNA repair in cells.

Dr Tomas Lindahl, 77, was awarded the £633,000 prize on Wednesday alongside two other scientists for work on DNA repair which has led to the development of new cancer treatments.

Retired Dr Lindahl is emeritus group leader at the King’s Cross-based Francis Crick Institute and emeritus director of Cancer Research UL at Clare Hall Laboratory in Hertfordshire.

The long-term Highgate Village resident and his fellow laureates are said to have transformed our understanding of the way potential cancers are prevented by cellular mechanisms which repair damaged DNA.

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “I’m absolutely delighted for Tomas, one of our most brilliant scientists and leaders.

“Thanks to his vision and creative genius, he was one of the first scientists to spot the process of DNA repair - something we now know plays a fundamental role in the development of cancer.

“His work led to a deeper understanding of why the disease develops and, crucially for patients, treatments that target cancer’s weak spots in DNA repair.”

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Swedish-born Dr Lindahl was awarded the prize alongside Paul Modrick, of the US, and Aziz Sancar, of Turkey.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said their work “has provided fundamental knowledge of how a living cell functions”.

Professor Malcolm Alison, from Barts Cancer Institute based at Queen Mary, University of London, said: “Tomas Lindahl has been a pioneer in this incredibly important area since all our genomes are continually subjected to millions of DNA-damaging mutations, yet cancer is relatively rare because of these repair mechanisms.”