Bruce Cattanach Prize

The Bruce Cattanach Prize, funded by Mouse News Letter Ltd., is a 2022 addition to the Society award portfolio. The prize will be awarded annually for an outstanding PhD thesis related to the use of non-human in vivo animal models, to celebrate Bruce’s tireless nurturing and encouragement of junior scientists in the use of animal models.

The £500 prize money should be spent by the recipient to advance their science interests and career.

The recipient will be invited to present their work at a Genetics Society Scientific Meeting.

Nominations for the prize should be sent to by midnight 1st September 2023, with the name of the award included in the subject line:

•    a two-page nominee CV, including publications
•    a one-page letter of recommendation outlining their contributions and suitability for the prize
•    a draft or completed copy of the nominees thesis

Self-nominations are not accepted and the nominator must be a Genetics Society member.

Past Winners

2023 Dr Matthew Higgs

2022 Dr Louisa Zoliewski


Bruce Macintosh Cattanach was born in 1932 in Glasgow.  His interest in animal breeding started early and as a teenager, he was breeding and showing pedigree dogs.  This sparked an interest in genetics and his first degree was in agricultural botany at Durham University, the only course he could find that offered any genetics.  He then moved to Edinburgh to undertake a PhD with Charlotte Auerbach, the discoverer of chemical mutagenesis.  He described the induction of translocations in mice by the chemical triethylenemelamine, (TEM), the first instance of chemical mutagenesis in a mammal, in a letter to Nature in the second year of his PhD.  This was the first of many ground-breaking discoveries throughout his career, all based on breeding studies and careful observation of mice.

One of the translocations induced by TEM, an X-autosome translocation, stimulated a career-long interest in X chromosome inactivation, a new concept at the time.  This translocation enabled progress in understanding X chromosome inactivation on several fronts including the spread of inactivation and the identification of the Xce locus which affects the choice of X chromosome for inactivation.  Following two years at Oak Ridge Tennessee and a return to Charlotte Auerbach’s unit in Edinburgh Bruce moved to California for three years to join Susumu Ohno to continue working on X chromosome inactivation.  During this time, he identified the sex-reversed Sxr mutation which became pivotal for understanding sex determination in the mouse. He returned to the UK in 1969 to join the Genetics Division of the MRC Radiobiology Unit at Harwell where he stayed for the remainder of his career, continuing to work on mutagenesis, X chromosome inactivation, sex determination and developing new interests.  He found numerous large cytogenetically visible deletions among the offspring of irradiated males and identified many mutants of biological and medical importance.  Of all his major findings it was his discovery of autosomal imprinting that probably had the greatest impact.  This came about with his observations of differences in young mice according to parental origin and his recognition of the biological significance of the findings.

Bruce’s career was characterized by a remarkable number of fundamental discoveries in mammalian genetics, including in mutagenesis, X chromosome inactivation, sex determination, and imprinting.  All of these were achieved by thoughtful experiments and careful analysis of their outcomes.  He was a lifelong enthusiast for genetics and its power to give astonishing new insights into biology.