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Fellows Directory

Julian Davies

Julian Davies

Professor Julian Davies FRS


Elected: 1994


Julian Davies is an internationally acclaimed microbiologist best known for his work on the biology of small molecules and antibiotics. Julian’s studies are wide-ranging and he has made fundamental discoveries relating to antibiotics and antibiotic resistance. For example, he uncovered the origin and evolution of antibiotic resistance genes — an important step in our ability to treat infectious diseases.

He identified that resistance genes, originally the response of bacteria to their exposure to small — sometimes damaging — bioactive molecules in the environment, are spread by ‘horizontal’ gene transfer between species and even genera. Consequently, his work has been central to the development of drugs to overcome antibiotic resistance.

Julian’s research output has resulted in hundreds of publications in scientific journals, six books and numerous guest lectures. He has received many awards, including the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and Society for General Microbiology Gold Medals, and the Bristol–Myers Squibb Award. He is former President of the ASM, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Sciences.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Molecular microbiology
  • Other
    • Science education at secondary level


Antibiotic discovery and mode of action, Antibiotic resistance mechanisms and their origins., Bioremediation


  • Leeuwenhoek Medal and Lecture

    On 'Microbial molecular diversity - function, evolution and applications'.

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