Industry Updates

Wellcome Book Prize 2016 announces new judges


02 October 2015

Joan Bakewell - SM

Acclaimed author, journalist and broadcaster, Baroness Joan Bakewell DBE, will chair an eminent panel of judges for the Wellcome Book Prize 2016, featuring leading figures from across the worlds of literature, academia, science and the media.

She is joined by Frances Balkwill OBE, Professor of Cancer Biology at Barts Cancer Institute and an author of science books for children; writer, columnist and salonnière, Damian Barr; award-winning novelist, Tessa Hadley; and award-winning journalist and author, Sathnam Sanghera.

Worth £30,000, the Wellcome Book Prize celebrates the best new books that engage with an aspect of medicine, health or illness, showcasing the breadth and depth of our encounters with medicine through exceptional works of fiction and non-fiction.

Joan Bakewell, chair of judges for the Wellcome Book Prize 2016, said:

“It’s a privilege to chair such a distinguished panel of judges for the Wellcome Book Prize 2016.  The space where medical science and literature meet remains one of the most informative and inspiring areas in publishing today as shown by the strong shortlists the Prize has enjoyed in recent years.  I look forward to this year’s submissions and finding a shortlist equally as fine.”

Wellcome Collection Publisher and Wellcome Book Prize manager Kirty Topiwala said:

“We are so thrilled to announce this exceptionally talented panel of judges for the 2016 Prize. This year’s judges embody an especially eclectic mix of personal experience and professional expertise – from literary to political, autobiography to biology. I think this will make for supremely exciting discussions and an insightful selection of books that spotlight the human experience at the heart of medicine.”

In April this year, Marion Coutts won the 2015 Prize for her critically lauded memoir, The Iceberg. Previous winners of the Prize also include: Andrew Solomon for Far From the Tree: Parents, children and the search for identity in 2014, Thomas Wright for Circulation in 2012, Alice LaPlante for Turn of Mind in 2011, Rebecca Skloot for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in 2010, and Andrea Gillies for Keeper: Living with Nancy – A Journey into Alzheimer’s in 2009.

The shortlist for the Wellcome Book Prize 2016 will be revealed in March next year, with the winner announced at the end of April. The Prize continues to grow in scale and impact, now supporting events and literary initiatives across the UK via partnerships with the Reading Agency, Booksellers Association, Hay Festival, The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, 5×15, and key retailers country-wide.


More information is available on the Wellcome Book Prize website or by following @wellcomebkprize on Twitter

Baroness Joan Bakewell DBE. Credit: Charlie Hopkinson

For all press enquiries please contact Chris Bone or Fiona McMorrough at FMcM Associates on 020 7405 7422 or /

Wellcome Book Prize 2016 judge biographies:

Baroness Joan Bakewell (Chair of Judges) has been a presence on British television since the 1960s when she co-presented the nightly BBC2 show Late Night Line Up. This ran from 1964 until 1972, earning itself – and her – a loyal following. In the 1970’s she went to Granada television, and pioneered the interactive audience programme Reports Action. In the 1980s she was back at the BBC, first as presenter of BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, then on BBC television where she was arts correspondent from 1981 to 1985.

In the late 1980s and 1990s she became reporter/presenter of BBC1’s The Heart of the Matter, which dealt with ethical issues arising from current affairs. The programme won many awards, and Joan herself won BAFTA’s Richard Dimbleby Award for television journalism. Since 2000, she has presented two personal series of her own: My Generation and Taboo. She currently presents a series for Sky Arts.

Her Radio work has included presenting PM and Critics Forum and, since 2009, Inside the Ethics Committee. She has written four radio plays for BBC Radio 4. In journalism, she has been a columnist for the Manchester Evening News, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Independent and The Times. Her books include The Centre of the Bed (autobiography) and Belief, published in June 2005. Her first novel All the Nice Girls was published in March 2009, and her second, She’s Leaving Home, in 2011. Her next book Stop the Clocks will be published in spring 2016. She was made a Dame in 2008, and a Peer in 2011.

Professor Frances Balkwill OBE FMedSci is Professor of Cancer Biology at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London where she leads the Centre for Cancer and Inflammation, and is Co-Research Lead in the Institute of Bioengineering. Frances is also involved in public engagement with science as Director of the Centre of the Cell, a biomedical science education centre and outreach project in East London, and an author of science books for children. There have been more than 100,000 participants in Centre of the Cell activities since September 2009. Frances received the 2004 EMBO prize for communication in the Life Sciences and the 2005 Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize. Frances is Chair of UAR (Understanding Animal Research) and serves on MRC and ERC grant committees. /

Damian Barr is a writer, columnist and salonnière.  He’s all about stories—true and just-maybe-true. ‘Maggie & Me’, his memoir about coming of age and coming out in Thatcher’s Britain, was a Radio 4 Book of the Week and Sunday Times Memoir of the Year winning the Paddy Power Political Books ‘Satire’ Award and Stonewall Writer of the Year.  He is a columnist for the Big Issue and the Sunday Times and often pops up on Radio 4.  As host of his infamous Literary Salon, which tours globally thanks to the British Council, he premieres new work from emerging and established writers. He is currently writing his first novel.

Tessa Hadley is the author of four highly praised novels including Accidents in the Home, which was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, Everything Will Be All Right, The Master Bedroom and The London Train. She is also the author of two highly acclaimed collections of short stories, Sunstroke and Married Love. She teaches literature and creative writing at Bath Spa University. Her stories appear regularly in The New Yorker, Granta and other magazines.

Sathnam Sanghera is an award-winning journalist, author and trustee and board chair for Creative Access, a charity which helps find internships in the creative industries for talented young people from under-represented backgrounds. He joined The Times as a columnist and feature writer in 2007, reviews cars for Management Today and has presented a number of radio documentaries for the BBC. He has won numerous prizes for his journalism, including Article of the Year in the 2005 Management Today Writing Awards, Newspaper Feature of the Year in the 2005 Workworld Media Awards, HR Journalist of the Year in the 2006 and 2009 Watson Wyatt Awards for Excellence and the accolade of Young Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards in 2002. Sathnam’s first book, The Boy With The Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton, was shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Biography Award, the 2009 PEN/Ackerley Prize and named 2009 Mind Book of the Year. His novel, Marriage Material, has been shortlisted for a 2014 South Bank Sky Arts Award and a 2013 Costa Book Award, been longlisted for the 2014 Desmond Elliot Prize, picked by The Sunday Times, The Observer and Metro as one of the novels of 2013, cited as one of the Guardian Readers’ Books of the Year in 2014, and is being developed as a multi-part TV drama by Kudos.

Wellcome Collection is the free visitor destination for the incurably curious. Located at 183 Euston Road, London, it explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. The venue offers visitors contemporary and historic exhibitions and collections, lively public events, the world-renowned Wellcome Library, a café, shop, restaurant and conference facilities as well as publications, tours, international and digital projects.

Wellcome Collection is part of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health. The Wellcome Trust provides more than £700 million a year to support bright minds in science, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine.

Source: Wellcome Press Release

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