Professor Sir Michael John Berridge was born in Gatooma, Rhodesia, in 1938. He obtained his B.Sc. degree from the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in Salisbury and Ph.D. degree from the University of Cambridge. He carried out postdoctoral studies at the University of Virginia and Case Western Reserve University in the USA. He joined the Invertebrate Chemistry and Physiology Unit of the Department of Zoology (now Laboratory of Molecular Signalling at the Brahman Institute) at the University of Cambridge since 1969.
Professor Sir Michael Berridge made seminal contributions to the study of cellular signal mechanisms. He discovered a new signal that regulates various cell activities. The precursor of that signal turned out to be a lipid component of the cell membrane which is cleaved by an external signal (e.g., a hormone) to give a water soluble messenger that diffuses into the cells, thereby exciting a great variety of different cellular processes. The discovery of that “second messenger” was a major breakthrough that triggered worldwide attention because of its role in numerous processes of metabolism, secretion, cell growth and division and other cell regulation mechanisms during health and disease.
Professor Sir Michael Berridge is a fellow of the Royal Society, Fellow of Trinity College (Cambridge), honorary fellow of the Institute of Biology, honorary member of the National Academy of Sciences, honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, honorary member of the Biochemical Society, honorary life member of the Society of Experimental Biology, Foreign Correspondent of the Academie Royale de Medecine de Belgique and member of the American Philosophical Society and the European Organization of Cell Biology. In addition to the King Faisal International Prize for Science, he received numerous prizes including the Gairdner Foundation International Award, Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, CIBA-GEIGY/DREW Award in Biomedical Research, Heiniken Prize, Royal Netherlands Academy of Science Prize, Wolf Prize and Shaw Prize. He is also the recipient of Doctor Honoris Causa Degree from Limburgs Universitair Centrum, Belgium, Honorary Doctoral Degree from the University of Liverpool, Baly Medal of the Royal College of Physicians, London, Dale Medal of the Society for Endocrinology and Royal Medal of The Royal Society. Professor Berridge also has a long list of honorary lectureships, and is a member of the editorial boards of several prestigious scientific journals.
After his retirement from Cambridge University in 1994, he was made honorary professor of Cell Signalling at Cambridge, and following his retirement as Head of Cell Signalling at Babraham in 2003, he was appointed an Emeritus Babraham Fellow at the Babraham Institute. He was knighted in 1997.
Dr. Berridge achieved a major breakthrough by the discovery of a new system for regulating cell activity. The precursor for the signal is a lipid component of the cell membrane which is cleaved by the external signal to give a water-soluble messenger. As this messenger diffuses into the cell, it excites a great variety of cellular processes including those occurring in muscles, glands, liver, eyes, nerves and eggs. Since many growth factors use this signal, it is evident that this new pathway is fundamental to our understanding of how cells grow. The discovery of a new second messenger has attracted world-wide attention because of its relevance to all aspects of cell regulation in both health and disease. The knowledge emerging from this discovery will benefit mankind through the new insights it gives into a number of disorders such as blood pressure, defects of blood clotting, inflammation, manic-depressive illness and cancer.