Martin Evans


Professor Sir Martin John Evans FRS FMedSci (m. 1960), is an English biologist who, with Matthew Kaufman, is credited for discovering embryonic stem cells.

Evans was born on 1 January 1941 in Stroud, Gloucestershire. He went to middle school at St Dunstan's College, an independent school for boys in South East London, where he started chemistry and physics classes, and studied biology. Evans then won a scholarship to Christ’s College. He graduated from Christ's College with a BA in Natural Science in 1963, although he did not take his final examinations, because he was ill with glandular fever.

He moved to University College London where he took a position as a research assistant, learning valuable laboratory skills. He was awarded a PhD in 1969 and became a lecturer in the Anatomy and Embryology department at University College London, where he did research and taught PhD students and undergraduates. In 1978, he moved to the Department of Genetics, at the University of Cambridge, where his work in association with Matthew Kaufman began in 1980. They developed the idea of using blastocysts for the isolation of embryonic stem cells.  After Kaufman left to take up a professorship in Anatomy in Edinburgh, Evans continued his work.

In the 1990s, he was a fellow at St Edmund's College, Cambridge. In 1999, he became Professor of Mammalian Genetics and Director of the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University, where he worked until he retired at the end of 2007. Evans was appointed president of Cardiff University and was inaugurated into that position on 23 November 2009. Subsequently Evans became Chancellor of Cardiff University in 2012.

He became a Knight Bachelor in the 2004 New Year Honours in recognition of his work in stem cell research and in 2007, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies for their work in discovering a method for introducing homologous recombination in mice employing embryonic stem cells.

Evans published nearly 150 scientific papers during his career. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a founder Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and holds Honorary Doctorates from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and from Bath University.

In February 2008, he was Kirsty Young's castaway on the BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs