Subscribe to Newsletter
Business & Regulation Business Practice, Trends & Forecasts

The Face of Science (and the Fifty Pound Note)

It is traditional in many countries for banknotes to feature historical figures. But asking the British general public to choose who will adorn the new £50 note seems a risky move; the same British public voted overwhelmingly to name a polar research ship “RSS Boaty McBoatface” (a decision that was overruled – a win for sensibleness – RSS Sir David Attenborough launched in July 2018). Anticipating a certain amount of very British silliness, the Bank of England quickly asserted in its “Think Science!” campaign that nominations must be i) a scientist and ii) deceased, and has firmly stated: “no fictional characters.” And, if all fails, the final decision will be down to a panel of scientists. If you’re not put off by all the sensible rules, you can submit a nomination here.

Hot contenders include Alan Turing and Stephen Hawking, as well as inspirational women whose achievements were somewhat overlooked in their lifetime. Rosalind Franklin, for example, who made crucial contributions to the discovery of DNA’s double helix structure, but missed out on the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. There is also Dorothy Hodgkin – another X-ray crystallography guru – but unlike Franklin, she did win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964, but her efforts weren’t taken seriously by all; a reported headline at the time was: “Oxford housewife wins Nobel” (1).

Personally, I think it would great for a female scientist to be awarded the honor – both to raise the profile of women in science generally (2) but also to act as a visible role model for the younger generation of potential scientists (just a shame about the lack of £50 notes in schoolchildren’s pockets).

The dead scientist appearing on the £50 banknote may only be of passing interest to our many non-UK readers, but I hope you will all once again get involved in our annual celebration of living scientists. The Medicine Maker’s Power List returns in April 2019 to honor 100 professionals involved in advancing the (bio)pharma industry. We welcome nominations from all fields within the world of medicine making – so development scientists, manufacturing gurus, industry advocates, regulators and business leaders alike are all eligible. You have until the end of January to nominate (and I can assure you that Boaty McBoatface will not make the final list).

Stephanie Sutton

Receive content, products, events as well as relevant industry updates from The Medicine Maker and its sponsors.
Stay up to date with our other newsletters and sponsors information, tailored specifically to the fields you are interested in

When you click “Subscribe” we will email you a link, which you must click to verify the email address above and activate your subscription. If you do not receive this email, please contact us at [email protected].
If you wish to unsubscribe, you can update your preferences at any point.

  1. Science Museum, “Women of Substance” (2011). Available at Last accessed November 12, 2018
  2. Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, “Study: Accomplished female scientists often overlooked” (2017). Available at Last accessed November 12, 2018
About the Author
Stephanie Vine

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent fourteen years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

Register to The Medicine Maker

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:
  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Medicine Maker magazine