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Bernal Lecture

Established in 1968, this annual lecture commemorates the life and work of JD Bernal (1901-71), with a particular focus on structural biology, X-ray crystallography and, especially, the social consequences of science. 

Bernal was Professor of Physics (from 1938) and Chair of Crystallography (from 1963) at Birkbeck. He also established the Biomolecular Research Laboratory in Torrington Square with a group of researchers, including Rosalind Franklin and, later, Aaron Klug. He served as a scientific adviser during the Second World War and was President of the World Peace Council (1958-65). 

2019

Professor Steve Jones: 'Nature, nurture or neither: the legacy of eugenics'

2017

Professor Dame Anne Glover: 'Why evidence can be your best friend' 

2016

Baron Peter Piot: 'Preparing for pandemics: no time to lose' Read a report about this lecture for Lancet Infectious Diseases 

2015

Sir Venki Ramakrishnan: 'The termination of translation in bacteria and eukaryotes (audio recording)

2014

Dame Janet Thornton: 'The importance of genomics and bioinformatics for the future of medicine and agriculture (audio recording)'  

2013

Professor Glaucius Oliva: 'From structural biology of neglected diseases to Brazilian science' 

2012

Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science: 'Bernal, science, risk and regulation' (cancelled owing to scheduling problems).

2011

Professor Jim Al Khalili: 'The hidden story of medieval Arabic science' 

2010

Professor Harry Kroto: 'Science and society in the twenty-first century' 

2009

Professor Julia Goodfellow, CBE: The University in society

2008

Professor Roy Macleod: 'The World, the Flesh and the Devil: a vision revisited' 

2007

Professor K. C. Holmes: 'Machina Carnis' 

2006

Jenny Uglow: 'The Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made the Future' 

2004

Dr Andrew Brown: 'Scientists and the analysis of war' 

2003

Professor Tom Blundell: 'Post-genomic science, structural biology and drug discovery: opportunities and challenges' 

2002

Sir John Krebs: (Lecture title not recorded)

2001

Sir Richard Sykes: 'University challenge: meeting the needs of a knowledge-based society' 

2000

Professor Sir Robert May: 'Science advice, policy-making and public trust'

1999

Professor Steven Rose and Professor Hilary Rose: 'Bernal: a life in three colours' 

1998

Professor Sir John Pattison: 'Biology, society and the edible' 

1997

Sir John Meurig Thomas: 'Bernal and the world of catalysis' 

1996

Professor Peter Goodfellow: 'Genetics and society' 

1995

Dr Olga Kennard, OBE: 'Bernals's vision: from data to insight' 

1994

Sir Aaron Klug: 'Explorations in biological structure'

1993

Professor R. J. P. Williams: 'Science and the good life' 

1992

Lord Porter of Luddenham, OM: 'Light and evolution - past and future' 

1991

Sir David Phillips: 'Science policy: order and spontaneity' 

1990

Earl of Selborne, KBE: 'Agricultural research: the global requirements' 

1989

Professor Lewis Wolpert: 'The social obligations of scientists' 

1988

Professor Patricia H. Clarke: 'New directions in biology: basic science and biotechnology' 

1987

Roy Gibson: 'Britain and space'

1986

Sir Walter Bodmer: 'The public understanding of science'

1985

Professor Sir Hermann Bondi, KCB: 'Science and government' 

1984

B. W. Oakley, CBE: 'Cooperation in information technology' 

1983

Dr R. Riley: 'The case for agricultural research' 

1982

Sir Frank Hartley, CBE: 'Freedom and licence for drugs and medicines' 

1981

Sir John Mason, CB: 'Modern techniques of weather forecasting' 

1980

Dr John Maddox: 'Can British university science survive, and, if so, how?' 

1979

Lord Flowers: 'The European Science Foundation: an experiment in international collaboration in science and the humanities' 

1978

Professor Christopher Freeman: 'Government policies for industrial innovation' 

1977

Professor Margaret Gowing: 'Science and politics' 

1976

Professor Sir Sam Edwards: 'Lifelong education' 

1975

Professor E. H. S. Burhop: 'The social future of science' 

1974

Professor John Ziman: 'Ideas move around inside people' 

1973

Professor R. V. Jones, CB: 'Command and complementarity' 

1972

Professor Freeman J. Dyson: 'The World, the Flesh and the Devil'

1971

D. Joseph Needham, CH: 'The refiner's fire: the enigma of alchemy in East and West' 

1969

Professor Dorothy Hodgkin, OM, CBE: 'Birkbeck, science and history'