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Dame Kay Davies

CBE, DBE, F.MedSci., FRS


Kay Davies was an undergraduate at Somerville College and a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford. She was a Fellow of Green College 1989-95. She was elected Professor of Genetics in 1995 and a Fellow of Keble College. In 1998, she was elected as Dr Lee’s Professor of Anatomy at the University of Oxford in the Department of Physiology Anatomy and Genetics. She was Head of Department from 2008 to 2011 and Associate Head of Division for Development Impact and Equality in the Medical Sciences Division at Oxford 2011-21.  She is currently Dr Lee’s Professor of Anatomy Emeritus and co-director of the MDUK Oxford Neuromuscular Centre.

Her research interests lie in the molecular analysis of human genetic disease, particularly the genetic basis of neuromuscular and neurological disorders. She first became interested in muscular dystrophy more than 30 years ago and many of her research group are dedicated to finding an effective treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. She has considerable experience of biotechnology companies as a conduit for translating the results of experimental science into new therapeutics and diagnostics. She is co-founder of Summit Therapeutics and Oxstem.

In 1999, she set up the MRC Functional Genomics Unit aimed at exploiting genome information for the analysis of the function of genes in the nervous system. In 2000, she co-founded the Oxford Centre of Gene Function with Professors Ashcroft (Physiology) and Donnelly (Statistics) to bring together genetics, physiology and bioinformatics in a new multidisciplinary building which was completed in 2003.

She has an active interest in the ethical implications of her research and in the public understanding of science. She is a founding editor of “Human Molecular Genetics” and a founding fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (HUGO). She has been a Governor of the Wellcome Trust since 2008 and became Deputy Chairman in October 2013. She was made Dame Commander of the British Empire for services to science in 2008.