When Richard Roberts is four years old the family moves to Bath.
Richard Roberts is born in Derby, the only child of John Roberts, a motor mechanic, and Edna Allsop.
Richard Roberts is appointed Research Director at the New England Biolabs, a small private company of 150 individuals making research reagents, most notably restriction enzymes, and carrying out basic research. In 2005 he becomes Chief Scientific Officer.
Richard Roberts receives one half of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine along with Phillip A. Sharp "for their discoveries of split genes". Their discovery led to decisive progress in many fields including cancer research.
Richard Roberts and his team establish that the genes of the adenovirus are discontinuous: the segments of DNA that code for proteins (exons) are interrupted by lengthy stretches of DNA that do not contain genetic information (introns). Previously biologists believed that genes consisted of unbroken stretches of DNA, all of which encoded protein structure. It has since been established that the discontinuous gene structure is the most common structure found in higher organisms (eukaryotes).
David Ollis, the Professor of Organic Chemistry accepts Roberts as Ph. D. student. He studies the neoflavonoids found in a piece of heartwood from a Brazilian tree, which happens to contain new compounds. Thanks to Kazu Kurosawa, Robert learns a great deal. In these years he reads a book by J. Kendrew and is first exposed to molecular biology. He is hooked and decides to look for a laboratory doing biochemistry that might accept an organic chemist and provide a pathway into molecular biology.
Richard Roberts enters the Christ Church infant school at Bradford on Avon.
Richard Roberts enters the City of Bath Boys (today Beechen Cliff School). During these years he receives a chemistry set as a present and he decides that he will become a chemist. During these years he discovers also chess, billiards and snooker, which become his passions, along with caving.
Richard Roberts enters Sheffield University. In his first year he takes Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, and as a subsidiary subject in the second year he takes Biochemistry, which he hates. He graduates in Chemistry in 1965 with an upper second class honours degree.
Roberts accepts a position as Senior Staff Investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to sequence SV40 DNA. Roberts makes preparations of Endonuclease R and of few other restriction enzymes. Three quarters of the world's first restriction enzymes will be discovered or characterized in his laboratory. Roberts works with a talented technician, Phyllis Myers and instead of studying the SV40 DNA, he turns his attention to Adenovirus-2 DNA. In 1986 Roberts becomes Assistant Director.
Richard Roberts enters the St. Stephen's junior school. As a young pupil he expresses an interest in logical problems and mathematics. Roberts recalls the headmaster of the school, Mr. Broakes, as his first mentor, because he stimulates the passion of the young Roberts preparing for him problems and stimulating puzzles to solve.
Jack Strominger offers Richard Roberts a position as a postdoctoral fellow in the Biological Laboratories at Harvard to sequence a tRNA that is involved in bacterial cell wall biosynthesis. In early 1972 he attends a seminar at Harvard Medical School given by Dan Nathans, who describes an enzyme, Endonuclease R, which could cleave DNA into specific pieces. This notion will shape much of Roberts’s research career.
Richard Roberts spends an exciting month in the Frederick Sanger's lab in Cambridge to learn a new method to sequence tRNAs.