Prof. Frances Ashcroft, FRS
(GlaxoSmithKline Royal Society Research Professor, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, Oxford)
Frances Ashcroft is the Royal Society GlaxoSmithKline Research Professor at the University Laboratory of Physiology, Oxford and a Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. She holds BA, PhD and ScD degrees from Cambridge University. Frances came to Oxford in 1982 to work in the Department of Physiology, where she began to study how a rise in the blood glucose concentration stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreatic beta-cells. Her studies showed that a potassium channel (the KATP channel) plays a central role in this process. Her recent studies have shown that mutations in the genes encoding the KATP channel cause a rare form of monogenic (neonatal) diabetes by enhancing channel activity. Because the channel can be closed by sulphonylurea drugs, this has led to a new therapy for children born with this condition.
Frances is the Director of OXION, a research and training and programme on the integrative physiology of ion channels, based at Oxford. Her awards include the 2007 Albert Renold Prize (European Association for the Study of Diabetes) and the 2007 Cannon Award (American Physiological Society). She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1999.
Frances is also actively involved in promoting the public awareness of science and her popular science book Life at the Extremes: the science of survival became a bestseller.