Professor Frances Ashcroft FRS, Fellow and Professor of Physiology, has been appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, for services to Medical Science and the Public Understanding of Science.
Dame Frances is Professor of Physiology at the Department of Physiology Anatomy and Genetics. Her research focuses on the molecular mechanism that links an increase in the blood sugar level to secretion of the hormone insulin. She identified a missing link in this process, a tiny pore in the cell membrane known as the ATP-sensitive potassium channel. She unravelled how genetic mutations in this protein cause a rare inherited condition, known as neonatal diabetes, in which patients develop diabetes soon after birth. Her work with Professor Andrew Hattersley (Exeter University) has enabled many people with neonatal diabetes to switch from insulin injections to tablet therapy.
Together with Dr Stephen Tucker, Professor Ashcroft runs a doctoral training programme in Ion Channels and Membrane Transport in Health and Disease. She is also an outstanding communicator of science, whose popular book Life at the Extremes: the Science of Survival became an international bestseller. Her most recent book is The Spark of Life: Electricity in the Human Body.