Pioneer in bioinformatics Professor Dame Janet Thornton DBE honoured by the University

6 September 2018

Professor Dame Janet Maureen Thornton DBE has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Hertfordshire in recognition of her contribution to bioinformatics.

As one of the world's leading researchers in structural bioinformatics and highly recognised as both a pioneer and visionary in this field, Hemel Hempstead resident, Dame Janet was awarded with an Honorary Doctor of Science at a ceremony on Tuesday 4 September, held at St Albans Abbey.

'I am delighted to receive this honour from my local university, which has always had a strong scientific focus, training the next generation of scientists. To receive it in St Albans Cathedral - a magnificent mix of history and architectures - which we often visit during our cycling around Hertfordshire, was a particular pleasure,' said Dame Janet.

Dame Janet's career

Dame Janet has played a significant role in the development of a number of tools and techniques in the analysis of biological data, which could have a major impact on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. She is a senior scientist at the European Bioinformatics Institute, part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, an organisation known for its significant contributions to the advancement of biology through the development of open-source cutting-edge technology. She was formerly Director Emeritus and Senior Scientist at the Institute and played a key role in ELIXIR, an initiative that allows life science laboratories across Europe to share and store their research data as part of an organised network.

Dame Janet has also published more than 500 scientific papers and received many grants from the UK Government, The Wellcome Trust, the EU and the US National Institutes For Health.

Over the past 20 years, Dame Janet has been widely recognised for her work. In 1999, she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. She was awarded a CBE in 2000 and in 2002, she was elected an Extraordinary Fellow by Churchill College, Cambridge, an honour awarded to those who demonstrate ‘exceptional distinction’ in the advancement of learning and research. In 2012, Dame Janet was made a DBE in the Queen’s birthday honours for her services to bioinformatics and was appointed by the Prime Minister to the board of the Natural History Museum for a period of four years in 2016.


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