Davies, Julian E. (1932- )

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Davies, Julian E. (1932- )

Welsh bacteriologist

Julian Davies is a bacteriologist renowned for his research concerning the mechanisms of bacterial resistance to antibiotics , and on the use of antibiotics as research tools.

Davies was born in Casrell Nedd, Morgannwg, Cymru, Wales. He received his education in Britain. His university education was at the University of Nottingham, where he received a B.Sc. (Chemistry, Physics, Math) in 1953 and a Ph.D. (Organic Chemistry) in 1956. From 1959 to 1962, he was Lecturer at the University of Manchester. Davies then moved to the United States where he was an Associate at the Harvard Medical School from 1962 until 1967. From 1965 to 1967, he was also a Visiting Professor at the Institute Pasteur in Paris. In 1967, Davies became an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin. He attained the rank of Professor in 1970 and remained at Wisconsin until 1980. In that year, Davies took up the post of Research Director at Biogen in Geneva. In 1983, he became President of Biogen. Two years later, Davies assumed the position of Chief of Genetic Microbiology at the Institute Pasteur, where he remained until 1992. In that year, he returned to North America to become Professor and Head of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UBC. He retained this position until his retirement in 1997. Presently he remains affiliated with UBC as Emeritus Professor in the same department.

While in British Columbia, Davies returned to commercial biotechnology . In 1996, he founded and became President and CEO of TerraGen Diversity Inc. Davies assumed the post of Chief Scientific Officer from 1998 to 2000. From 2000 to the present, he is Executive Vice President, technology development of Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Davies has made fundamental discoveries in the area of bacterial antibiotic resistance , including the origin and evolution of antibiotic resistance genes. He has identified bacterial plasmids that carry genes that carry the information that determines the resistance of bacteria to certain antibiotics. Furthermore, he demonstrated that this information could be transferred from one bacterium to another. These discoveries have crucial to the efforts to develop drugs that can overcome such antibiotic resistance.

Another facet of research has demonstrated how genetic information can be transferred between bacteria that are distantly related. This work has had a fundamental influence on the understanding of how bacteria can acquire genetic traits, especially those that lead to antimicrobial resistance.

Davies has also developed a technique whereby genes can be "tagged" and their path from one bacterium to another followed. This technique is now widely used to follow gene transfer between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. In another research area, Davies has explored the use of antibiotics as experimental tools to probe the mechanisms of cellular biochemistry, and the interaction between various molecules in cells.

This prodigious research output has resulted in over 200 publications in peer-reviewed journals, authorship of six books and numerous guest lectures.

Davies has also been active as an undergraduate and graduate teacher and a mentor to a number of graduate students. These research, commercial and teaching accomplishments have been recognized around the world. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society (London) and the Royal Society of Canada, and is a past President of the American Society for Microbiology. In 2000, he received a lifetime achievement award in recognition of his development of the biotechnology sector in British Columbia.

See also Microbial genetics

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Davies, Julian E. (1932- )

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