Gideon Davies, currently the Royal Society 'Ken Murray' Research Professor, has made ground-breaking discoveries relating to the role of specific parts of an enzyme’s structure in the catalysis of carbohydrate synthesis, modification and breakdown reactions. His insights mean that precision chemical tools can be designed to mimic or interfere with these reactions, allowing chemical knockout of function, the development of precise probes for imaging and capturing enzymes as well as offering potential new treatments for conditions such as neurodegeneration and cancer.
Enzymes are essential to the metabolic processes of living things, greatly speeding up reactions in a highly selective way. As well as the importance of enzyme structure, Gideon’s work has yielded fascinating insights into the role of small distortions in carbohydrate structure as reactions proceed. Gideon is now using his expertise to explore the role of intestinal microbiota in human health and his work continues to have major impact in plant polysaccharide breakdown in society.
The many accolades received by Gideon for his scientific contributions include both the Gabor Medal and the Davy Medal of the Royal Society and the Khorana Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2014.
Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of York
Interest and expertise
Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
Biochemistry and molecular biology, Biophysics and structural biology
Carbohydrates, Glycobiology, Enzyme structure, Chemical reactions, Biofuels
For his field-defining work in determining the reaction chemistry of enzyme-catalysed carbohydrate transformations with major applications in medicine and biotechnology.
For his highly interdisciplinary work into the three-dimensional structures and reaction coordinates of enzymes, which has transformed glycobiochemistry.