Sidney Fellow Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz has been awarded the 2022 NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award.

What causes a fertilised egg to divide and grow until it becomes 40 trillion cells? How do these cells know how to make a person? These are just a couple of life’s fundamental questions that Zernicka-Goetz's research tackles. She has developed methods for tracking living embryos to determine how stem cells are first created, establish their fates and work together to shape the body. She also pioneered methods to grow embryos beyond implantation, techniques that won the 2016 "People's Choice Scientific Breakthrough of the Year" in Science Magazine and saw her shortlisted as one of the ‘world’s top 10 thinkers for the COVID-19 age' courtesy of Prospect Magazine. Her team used these methods to create the first complete embryo models from stem cells that develop like natural embryos.

Established in 2016, the NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award is presented to "pioneering scientists and scholars who, through their innovative, groundbreaking research, have made a significant contribution to their respective fields and who inspire the world around them," according to the NOMIS Foundation.

Through her NOMIS-supported project, Opening the Black Box of Human Implantation, Zernicka-Goetz aims to illuminate the journey of an embryo from a fertilised single cell to a complex structure with multiple cell types and to discover the key pathways and events that set the stage for proper development. Her research will recreate and reveal a period of human development—the beginning of life—that has been entirely inaccessible until now and could lead to clinical interventions for many diseases, from developmental disorders to infertility.

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