Alun Davies is a developmental neuroscientist who has made extraordinary advances in understanding the signalling molecules that determine the survival and connections of nerve cells. Alun’s work has filled in the steps between the initial outgrowth of nerve fibres and the exquisite specificity of the networks of connections that make up the nervous system.
His sensitive culture techniques with normal and genetically modified cells have revealed how target tissues and nerve cells themselves tailor their output of molecular signals throughout development to bring about precise patterns of connectivity. In addition to defining the roles of molecular signals, Alun has discovered the operation of intrinsic programmes of nerve cell survival and nerve fibre growth in early development.
For his work in unravelling this molecular sequence, Alun was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Member of EMBO (the European Molecular Biology Organisation) in 2000, and became a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2010.
Distinguished Research Professor, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University