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Fellows Directory

Frances Ashcroft

Dame Frances Ashcroft DBE FMedSci FRS


Elected: 1999


Frances Ashcroft is a medical physiologist who studies ion channels — the tiny pores that conduct nerve and muscle impulses — and their role in the release of insulin from the pancreas in response to rising blood sugar levels.

In addition to identifying the potassium channel that closes in response to glucose metabolism, ultimately leading to insulin secretion, her work examines how this process is impeded in type 2 diabetes and how drugs can treat this condition. Her studies have helped people with a rare inherited form of diabetes caused by ion channel mutations to switch from insulin to tablet therapy.

Alongside her research, Frances is the author of a number of textbooks and popular science books. She has received many commendations for her work, including the Croonian Lecture of the Royal Society and the Walter B. Cannon Award of the American Physiological Society in 2007. She was the L’Oréal–UNESCO Award for Women in Science European Laureate in 2012.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Diabetes mellitus, Ion channels