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Fellows Directory

Rex Dawson

Dr Rex Dawson FRS


Elected: 1981


Rex Dawson has made significant contributions to the field of phospholipid biochemistry. He developed a new method for investigating phospholipid structure with which he obtained the first reliable analysis of membrane phospholipids and discovered and characterised 11 additional phospholipids. He recognised the complexity of the polyphosphoinositide fraction in the brain, and isolated triphosphoinositide, and showed that the movement of phospholipids between cell membranes could be effected by exchange proteins existing in the cytoplasm.

In elucidating the pathways of phosphatidylinositol breakdown in tissues, he discovered four new enzymes. He showed that certain phosphodiesterases can act as cyclising transferases forming cyclic phosphates of inositol and glycerol, compounds which he has detected in tissues. Rex’s investigations revealed a new series of dimethyl-branched long-chain dicarboxylic acids occurring as major components of the lipids of Butyrivibrio species. He has shown that in the ruminant, dietary choline cannot be used for vitamin requirements; the turnover of liver phospatidylcholine is dramatically curtailed so that intrinsic synthesis of choline from phosphatidylethanolamine supplies the animals’ needs.