Professor Dame Kay Davies

Honorary Fellow

Professor Dame Kay Davies is a geneticist and Dr Lee’s Professor of Anatomy at the University of Oxford.

She was an undergraduate at Somerville College and a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford and was subsequently elected to her professorship in 1998. She was Head of Department from 2008 to 2011.

Professor Davies’ 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 20 years ago and many of her research group are dedicated to finding effective treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and spinal muscular atrophy.

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. She is currently its Director. 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 is Co-director of this new initiative.

Professor Davies also has an active interest in the ethical implications of her research and in the public understanding of science. She is a founding fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2003.

Professor Davies kindly offered this reminiscence about her time at Somerville: “Somerville College played a major role in my career. I was reading Chemistry as an undergraduate, but had a greater interest in biology and genetics. The environment at Somerville, which focused on developing the individual, and the support of my tutors gave me the confidence to change fields and follow the subject I was passionate about.”

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