Sir Shankar Balasubramanian

Sir Shankar Balsubramanian FRS is an Indian-born British chemist and Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry the University of Cambridge, Senior Group Leader at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He is recognised for his contributions in the field of nucleic acids. He is scientific founder of Solexa and Cambridge Epigenetix.


I was born in Madras (now Chennai) India in 1966 and moved to the UK with my parents in 1967. I grew up in a rural area just outside Runcorn in Cheshire and was educated at Daresbury (primary) and Appleton Hall High School (secondary). I am married to Veena Krishnan, a general practitioner, and we have two children, Sachin (born 2002) and Sashi (born 2004). I did my undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge (1985-88) and then carried out a PhD under the supervision of Professor Chris Abell (1988-1991). I travelled to the USA as a SERC/NATO Research Fellow and worked in the group of Professor Stephen J Benkovic at Pensylvannia State University (1991-1993). I started my independent academic career in 1994 in the University of Cambridge and have remained there ever since. I currently hold a joint appointment between the Clinical School and Department of Chemistry. I direct research laboratories in the Department of Chemistry and the CRUK Cambridge Institute at the Addenbrookes Biomedical Campus.


1988 - 1991
PhD (Enzyme Chemistry), University of Cambridge Chemistry, Department of Chemistry

1985 - 1988

BA (Hons) Natural Sciences First Class, University of Cambridge (Fitzwilliam College)

Professional History

2010 - 
Senior Group Leader at the CRUK Cambridge Institute

2008 - 
Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Cambridge

2007 - 2008
Professor of Chemical Biology at University of Cambridge

2003 - 2007
University Reader in Chemical Biology at University of Cambridge

1998 - 2003
University Lecturer at University of Cambridge

1994 - 
Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge

1994 - 1998
Royal Society University Research Fellow at University of Cambridge

1991 - 1993
SERC/NATO Research Fellow at Pennsylvannia State University USA



2022 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences
2020 Millennium Technology Prize

Honorary Doctorate, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Royal Medal (for sequencing)
Paul Ehrlich Award (Société de Chimie Thérapeutique)

ABRF Award for Outstanding Contribution to Biomolecular Technologies
Knight Batchelor

Honorary Doctorate University of Glasgow

Chemical Research Society of India (CRSI) Medal

Honorary Doctorate University of Liverpool
Biochemical Society Heatley Medal and Prize

Tetrahedron Prize for Creativity in Organic and Biomedicinal Chemistry

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS)
Elected member of EMBO

Elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences

BBSRC Innovator of the Year
BBSRC Commercial Innovator of the Year

Royal Society Mullard Award

2006 - 2007
The Howard Lectureship (Sydney Chemical Society Australia)

BBSRC Senior Research Fellowship

Corday-Morgan Medal and Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Vernalis Fellowship
Glaxo-Wellcome Award for Innovative Organic Chemistry

Royal Society University Research Fellowship

For my main University Staff Page please visit Shankar Balasubramanian