Skip to content


Fellows Directory

David Baulcombe

David Baulcombe

Professor Sir David Baulcombe FMedSci FRS


Elected: 2001


David Baulcombe is a bioscientist with a diverse interest in plant biology. David is credited with the discovery and characterisation of an RNA silencing system that protects plants against viruses. This system also affects the patterns of plant gene expression.

In some instances, these changes in gene expression can be passed on from one generation of plants to the next without having changed the DNA sequence. This type of change is referred to as ‘epigenetic’ and protects the genome against selfish DNA, helps plants adapt to a changing environment and may explain why hybrid plants are not like their parental plants in all respects.

David’s current research includes projects on hybrid tomatoes and on evolution in an alga. He is also genetically engineering maize to resist a lethal disease that is a problem in Kenya and nearby regions of Africa. As a sporadic contributor to Twitter, David disseminates information about his team’s work and his views on world events as diverse as genetically modified crops, Ebola and the benefits of exercise.

Professional positions

Head of Department, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Molecular microbiology
  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
    • Plant sciences / botany
  • Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology
    • Genetics (excluding population genetics)


Plants , Positive-sense RNA viruses, Small interfering RNAs, Epigenetics, Plant disease resistance, Genetically modified plants


  • Balzan Prize

    For epigenetics.

  • Humphry Davy and Claude Bernard Lectures

    No citation available for this award.

  • Royal Medals

    For his profoundly significant recent discoveries for not only plants but for all of biology and for medicine.

Was this page useful?
Thank you for your feedback
Thank you for your feedback. Please help us improve this page by taking our short survey.