Professor Colin Blakemore receives knighthood

Monday 16 June 2014

Renowned neuroscientist Professor Colin Blakemore has been knighted in the Queen's Birthday honours for his groundbreaking research in vision and the development of the brain, and for his contribution to scientific policy and outreach.

Currently director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses at the University of London's School of Advanced Study, Professor Blakemore is widely known for his forthright views on the need for scientists to talk openly about the risks and potential benefits of medical research.

He said of the award: ‘Life has its ups and downs: this is definitely an up! Being a scientist is a delight, but also a privilege. The progress of science depends on the confidence of the public and politicians, and I’ve always believed that scientists have an obligation to share their excitement, their knowledge and also their concerns with the whole of society.

‘Scientists must be prepared to engage in debate and dialogue, even on difficult and challenging issues, if we are to maintain the trust of society and the support of government. I’m especially pleased, then, that this honour has recognised my efforts to contribute to the dialogue between science and society. I hope that it will be seen as recognition for the efforts of all those scientists who devote time and energy to public communication.’

Professor Blakemore joined the School in 2012 where, a year later, he spearheaded the launch of The Human Mind Project (, and now leads an international group of leading researchers from the humanities and the sciences who are working together to understand the nature and significance of the human mind. This interdisciplinary project is pioneering collaboration between many fields including those of philosophy, cognitive neurosciences, language studies, social science and evolutionary biology, as well as the visual and performing arts.

Professor Blakemore is also the Principal Investigator for a large (nearly £2m) grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, leading a project entitled Rethinking the Senses, which is aimed at unifying philosophical and scientific approaches to the study of perception (

As an influential scientist, Professor Blakemore is an esteemed speaker and adviser on a number of issues and also a Fellow of the Royal Society. Over the years, his many accolades include ten honorary degrees from British and overseas universities and the Friendship Award, which he received from China in 2012, the country’s highest award for ‘foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to the country's economic and social progress’.

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Notes for editors:

1. For further information please contact Dee Burn at the School of Advanced Study, University of London at / 020 7862 8670 / 07900 401 240. Images available on request.

2. Professor Sir Colin Blakemore, FRS, FMedSci, is a renowned neuroscientist and one of Britain’s leading researchers. He is director of the Institute of Philosophy’s Centre for the Study of the Senses – which pioneers collaborative sensory research between philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists – and Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. He speaks and advises on a number of public issues, including chairing the Royal Society’s recent Brain Waves project and reviewing the policy implications of developments in neuroscience. Colin Blakemore is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and was a previous head of the Medical Research Council. He has been a Reith Lecturer and given the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. He has been honoured by many countries, including India and China, and has ten honorary degrees. He was named on 14 January 2014 as one of the Science Council’s 100 leading UK scientists.

3. The Centre for the Study of the Senses (Censes) at the Institute of Philosophy has an international Scientific Board comprising philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists. The aim of the centre is to foster interdisciplinary research on the senses by identifying research groupings to pursue specialised topics of benefit to the participating disciplines.

4. The Institute of Philosophy (IP) was founded in 2005, building upon and developing the work of the Philosophy Programme between 1995 and 2005. The Institute’s mission is to promote and support philosophy of the highest quality in all its forms, both inside and outside the University, and across the UK. Its activities divide into three kinds: events, fellowships and research facilitation. The Institute of Philosophy is a member institute of the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

5. The School of Advanced Study, University of London (SAS) is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its 10 member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2012-13, SAS: welcomed 833 research fellows and associates; held 2,231 research dissemination events; received 21.7 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 194,529 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. Find out more at or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews

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