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Home > Laureates > Daniela RHODES
2023 WLA Prize Laureates

To Explore Uncharted Territories in Science

To Sculpt a Better Future

"For elucidating the structure of the nucleosome at the atomic level, providing the basis for understanding chromatin, gene regulation, and epigenetics."
Daniela RHODES
The 2023 WLA Prize Laureate in Life Science or Medicine
Emeritus Group Leader, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK
About the Laureate

Daniela Rhodes shares the 2023 WLA Prize in Life Science or Medicine with Karolin Luger and Timothy J. Richmond.

Prof. Daniela Rhodes (né Bargellini) was born near Florence in Tuscany, Italy. She grew up in Sweden where she studied chemical engineering. She first joined the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK in 1969, as a research assistant working on the crystal structure of tRNA and subsequently went on to do a Ph.D. with Sir Aaron Klug. Developing a novel technique, she could show that the helical periodicity of DNA changes from solution to packing into nucleosomes resolving the so-called "linking number paradox." The first breakthrough came in 1976 when she obtained crystals of the nucleosome core particle (NCP), previously characterized by Prof. Jean Thomas and Prof. Roger Kornberg. She also succeeded in reconstituting NCPs with DNA of homogeneous sequence and length that was essential for obtaining better diffracting crystals. This led to the 7Å resolution structure of the NCP in 1984 together with Prof. Timothy J. Richmond, revealing the fundamental architecture of the NCP.
Prof. Rhodes remained at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology as an independent group leader obtaining tenure in 1987, focusing her research on the nature and function of chromosomes. Her group determined the structures of important protein–DNA complexes involved in transcription, such as nuclear hormone receptors and zinc-fingers. Studying the structure of telomeres, the tips of chromosomes that are involved in both aging and cancer, her group made the unexpected discovery of proteins that bind and promote G-quadruplex formation as well as providing the first in vivo evidence for the role of such structures in biology.
In 2011 Prof. Rhodes moved to Singapore taking up a professorship at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). She was the founding director of the NTU Institute of Structural Biology and established a network of excellence focusing on telomere biology. 


1969, Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering, Örebro University, Sweden 
1982, Ph.D., University of Cambridge, UK 

Professional Experience

1969-1978, Research Assistant, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK
1978-1982 Graduate Studies at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK (supervisor Aaron Klug)
1983-2009, Research Scientist, Tenured Group Leader, Special Appointment, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK
1999/2005/2022, Visiting Professor, University of Rome ("La Sapienza"), Italy 
2011-present, Emeritus Group Leader, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK
2011-2020, Full Professor, School of Biological Sciences and Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore
2014-2020, Founding Director, NTU Institute of Structural Biology, Singapore 

Major Awards and Honors

1992, Official Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge, UK 
1996, Elected Member, European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) 
2007, Elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), UK
2011, Elected to the Academia Europaea 
2011, Ponte d'Oro Prize, Italy

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