King Faisal International Prize (KFIP) recognizes excellence in 5 categories: Service to Islam, Islamic Studies, Arabic Language & Literature, Medicine, and Science, since 1979

Professor Hugh R. Pelham

Laureate of the  
KFP Prize for  
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Topic: Biology


Nationality: United Kingdom

1996-Hugh-PelhamHugh Pelham was born in Snawford, Britain in 1954. He received his bachelor’s degree (Honors) and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Cambridge University and served, after his graduation, as a researcher at Cambridge before moving to the United Stated for a two-year fellowship at the Carnegie Institution in Washington’s Department of Embryology in Baltimore, Maryland. After his return, he held research positions at the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Cambridge and the Molecular Biology Institute at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. In 1992, he was appointed Co-Director of the Cell Biology Division of the MRC Molecular Biology Laboratory, and in 2006, he was selected Director of the Molecular Biology Laboratory.

Professor Pelham conducted seminal research on the regulation of intracellular molecular traffic. Working with heat shock proteins, he developed the chaperone concept, the molecules that aid protein folding and transport. Pelham also illustrated the mechanisms for the retrieval and retention of proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum of the cell. In a series of elegant experiments, he showed that a terminal four-amino acid sequence was the factor that kept a protein in the endoplasmic reticulum. He proved that the signal was required to retain rather than export the protein through its retrieval from the Golgi complex as part of the general movement of proteins within the cell. He also identified the gene that determined the specificity of this retention system in yeast cells, and isolated the human analog of that gene. Currently, Professor Pellham and his group are looking at how proteins find their right places in the cell and how mis-shaped proteins are broken down for re-cycling.

Professor Pelham’s outstanding contributions appeared in more than 100 scientific papers, and earned him wide recognition and several prestigious awards. In addition to the King Faisal International Prize for Science, he was awarded the Louis Jeantet Prize in Medicine, and the Colworth Medal of the Biochemical Scoiety. He was also elected Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society (London), the European Academy of Sciences, the European Molecular Biology Organisation and as member of the editorial boards of several major scientific journals.

Dr. Hugh Pelham is Head of the Division of Cell Biology at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology of the Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom Born in 1954. He was trained at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Pelham was elected to the Royal Society of London in 1988, and was awarded the prestigious Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine in 1991. He is the author of almost hundred original papers which have established him as one of the leading authorities in the study of protein transport.

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