Professor Stephen Jackson was born in Nottingham, U.K., in 1962. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Leeds in 1983, and completed his Ph.D. research on yeast RNA splicing at the Imperial College, London and the University of Edinburgh. Thereafter, he carried out post-doctoral research on the regulation of transcription at the University of California, Berkley. Upon his return to the U.K. in 1991, he was appointed Junior Group Leader at the Gurdon Institute (then known as Wellcome CRC Institute) and became Senior Group Leader and Fellow of St. John’s College at Cambridge University as of 1995. He was also appointed Fredrick James Quick Professor of Biology at the Department of Zoology from 1995 to 2009, then Fredrick James Quick and Cancer Research U.K. Professor of Biology at the Department of Biochemistry at Cambridge University from 2009 to the present. Professor Jackson was also appointed Associate Faculty Member at the Sanger Institute in Cambridge. He served as Deputy Director of the Gurdon Institute from 2001-2004 and is currently Head of the Cancer Research U.K. Laboratories, and the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research U.K. Gurdon Institute at Cambridge University. Professor Jackson is a Member of the Biochemical Society, the Cambridge Philosophical Society and the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). He is also a member of numerous national and international scientific committees and advisory boards in his field of specialization.
Professor Jackson’s research focuses primarily on understanding how cells detect and repair DNA damage. Towards this objective, his laboratory uses a broad range of techniques and approaches to obtain a deeper insight of the cellular pathways that will yield a better understanding of the diseases that can arise when such pathways are lost e.g., hereditary and sporadic cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, developmental defects, immune deficiencies, infertility and premature aging, and will suggest new treatment strategies for these diseases. Many of his prolific publications have appeared in prestigious journals. Besides, he is credited for his innovative approach to bring his findings into tangible therapeutic products for cancer treatment. In 1997, he founded KuDOS Pharmaceuticals, a drug discovery and drug-development company which seeks to develop new treatments for cancer based on knowledge of cellular DNA damage response pathways. The company was acquired by AstraZeneca in 2005. In 2011, he founded MISSION Therapeutics to develop drugs to improve management of life-threatening diseases, particularly cancer.
Professor Jackson’s outstanding contributions to understanding DNA repair and DNA damage response signaling pathways have earned him many awards including the Biochemical Society Glaxo Smith Award (2008), the BRSRC Innovator of the Year (2009) and the Ganga A. and Ch. Van Hock Prize (2015). He was also elected a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization in 1997, a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences in 2001 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2008.
Professor Stephen P. Jackson was awarded the prize because he is recognized for his outstanding contribution to defining the link between the basic mechanism of genomic DNA instability and its relationship to cancer. Specifically, he unraveled the salient components of the pathway involved in DNA repair. He is also credited with an innovative approach to bring his findings into tangible therapeutic products to treat cancer.