School of Life Sciences


Sussex neuroscientist wins Nature award in recognition of positive impact his work has had on society

A neuroscientist at the University of Sussex has become the first winner of the Nature Research Awards for Driving Global Impact.

Professor of Neuroscience and elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, Tom Baden, was announced as the inaugural winner of the awards, which focused on brain science, at a ceremony in Beijing.

Established in partnership with Tencent, the Awards for Driving Global Impact aim to recognise early career researchers whose work has made, or has the potential to make, a positive impact on society.

The award comes in recognition of Professor Baden’s research, as well as his work to improve access to costly lab equipment.

Magdalena Skipper, Editor-in-Chief of Nature, said: “Professor Baden is a paragon for early career scientists, with a strong dedication to science and a broad vision and courage to drive science forward by addressing challenges facing the science community. His research has already changed the state of human knowledge enough to require a fundamental rewrite of neuroscience and medical physiology textbooks. What’s equally impressive is his open-source approach that could transform the access to lab instruments and has gone beyond his own field of neuroscience.”

Professor Baden’s research on zebrafish and mice has showed that eyes have greater computational powers than people previously thought, with the retina sending highly processed signals to the brain.

His work is thought to have had a significant influence on ophthalmological research and on the development of retinal prosthetics and even models of artificial vision.

Professor Baden has also designed and manufactured his own lab equipment using an array of techniques including 3D printing. Publishing his designs under open source licenses, he hopes to level the playing field in global science where equipment is otherwise expensive.

Professor Baden said: “I am humbled by this award, which recognizes the long standing dedication and commitment of a large number of people, including my many neuroscientist colleagues, the TReND in Africa team as well as countless members of the global open hardware community.”

The award ceremony came shortly after the Tencent WE Summit 2019; a TED-style event held in Beijing at which Professor Baden spoke about his research in front of an online audience of several million. Watch

Watch Professor Baden’s talk from 2 hours 47 minutes in:

Back to news list

By: Stephanie Allen
Last updated: Wednesday, 13 November 2019