David Baulcombe

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Sir David Baulcombe

Sir David Baulcombe.jpg
David Charles Baulcombe

(1952-04-07) 7 April 1952 (age 70)[1]
Solihull, West Midlands
Alma mater
Known for
SpouseRose Eden (m. 1976)[1]
Children1 son, 3 daughters[1]
Scientific career
ThesisThe Processing and Intracellular Transport of Messenger RNA in a Higher Plant (1976)
Doctoral advisorJohn Ingle[6]
Doctoral students

Sir David Charles Baulcombe FRS FMedSci[9][10] (born 1952)[1] is a British plant scientist and geneticist. As of 2017 he is a Royal Society Research Professor and Regius Professor of Botany in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge.[5][11][12][13]


David Baulcombe was born in Solihull, West Midlands (then Warwickshire). He received his Bachelor of Science degree in botany from the University of Leeds in 1973 at the age of 21. He continued his studies at the University of Edinburgh, where he received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1977 for research on Messenger RNA in vascular plants supervised by John Ingle.[6]

Career and research[edit]

After his PhD, Baulcombe spent the following three years as a postdoctoral fellow in North America, first at McGill University (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) from January 1977 to November 1978, and then at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia, United States) until December 1980. Baulcombe returned to the United Kingdom then, where he joined the Plant Breeding Institute (PBI) in Cambridge and started his career as an independent scientist. At the PBI, Baulcombe initially held the position of Higher Scientific Officer, and was promoted to Principal Scientific Officer in April 1986.[14][self-published source?] In August 1988 Baulcombe left Cambridge for Norwich. He joined the Sainsbury Laboratory as a senior research scientist,[15] and also served as head of laboratory between 1990 and 1993 and between 1999 and 2003. In 1998 he was appointed honorary professor at the University of East Anglia, and given a full professorship there in 2002.[14] In March 2007 it was announced that Baulcombe would become the next Professor of Botany at Cambridge University as a Royal Society Research Professor, taking up his post in September 2007.[16] He serves on several committees and study sections,[17] was elected Member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation in 1997[3] and was president of the International Society of Plant Molecular Biology 2003–2004. As of 2007, he is also a senior advisor for The EMBO Journal.[18] He also served on the Life Sciences jury for the Infosys Prize in 2015.

Baulcombe's research interests and contributions to science are mainly in the fields of virus movement, genetic regulation, disease resistance, and gene silencing.[19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29]

With Andrew Hamilton he discovered the small interfering RNA that is the specificity determinant in RNA-mediated gene silencing.[30] Baulcombe's group demonstrated that while viruses can induce gene silencing, some viruses encode proteins that suppress gene silencing.[17] After these initial observations in plants, many laboratories around the world searched for the occurrence of this phenomenon in other organisms. In 1998 Craig Mello and Andrew Fire reported a potent gene silencing effect after injecting double stranded RNA into Caenorhabditis elegans.[31] This discovery was particularly notable because it represented the first identification of the causative agent for the phenomenon. Fire and Mello were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine[32] in 2006 for their work. [33]

With other members of his research group at the Sainsbury Laboratory, Baulcombe also helped unravel the importance of small interfering RNA in epigenetics and in defence against viruses.

Honours and awards[edit]

In June 2009, Baulcombe was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.[34] Baulcombe resides in Norwich. Baulcombe has also received the following honours and awards:

Baulcombe's nomination for the Royal Society reads

David Baulcombe has made an outstanding contribution to the inter-related areas of plant virology, gene silencing and disease resistance. He discovered a specific signalling system and an antiviral defence system in plants. This led to the development of new technologies that promise to revolutionise gene discovery in plant biology.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Baulcombe is married and has four children.[1] His interests include music, sailing and hill walking.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e Anon (2014). "Baulcombe, Prof. Sir David (Charles)". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U12688. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Baulcombe, D. (2004). "RNA silencing in plants". Nature. 431 (7006): 356–363. Bibcode:2004Natur.431..356B. doi:10.1038/nature02874. PMID 15372043. S2CID 4421274.
  3. ^ a b c "EMBO member: David Baulcombe". people.embo.org. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b "David Baulcombe International Balzan Prize Foundation". balzan.org. Archived from the original on 22 May 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d David Baulcombe publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  6. ^ a b Baulcombe, David (1976). The Processing and Intracellular Transport of Messenger RNA in a Higher Plant (1976) (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/14914. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.641386. open access
  7. ^ Voinnet, Olivier (2001). Molecular analysis of post-transcriptional gene silencing : mechanisms and roles. copac.jisc.ac.uk (PhD thesis). University of East Anglia. OCLC 556857695. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.390649.
  8. ^ Martienssen, Robert A. (1986). The molecular genetics of alpha-amylase gene families in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). copac.jisc.ac.uk (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. OCLC 499910070. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.382600.
  9. ^ a b Anon (2001). "Professor Sir David Baulcombe FMedSci FRS". royalsociety.org. London: royalsociety.org. Archived from the original on 23 November 2015. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the royalsociety.org website where:

    "All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License." --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)

  10. ^ a b c "David Baulcombe election certificate EC/2001/03". Royal Society. Archived from the original on 17 January 2014.
  11. ^ David Baulcombe publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  12. ^ "Interview with Professor Baulcombe from in-cites website". in-cites.com. Archived from the original on 25 June 2007.
  13. ^ "Biography from the American Phytopathological Society 2002 Awards (p.4)" (PDF). apsnet.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 June 2011.
  14. ^ a b c "David Baulcombe cv". Archived from the original on 3 January 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  15. ^ Baulcombe, D. (2007). "David Baulcombe". Current Biology. 17 (3): R73–R74. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.01.022. PMID 17328111. S2CID 20568141.
  16. ^ Cambridge University Department of Plant Sciences news Archived 1 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ a b American Phytopathological Society Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Embo editorial board". nature.com/emboj. Archived from the original on 25 January 2009.
  19. ^ Hamilton, A.; Voinnet, O.; Chappell, L.; Baulcombe, D. (2002). "Two classes of short interfering RNA in RNA silencing". The EMBO Journal. 21 (17): 4671–4679. doi:10.1093/emboj/cdf464. PMC 125409. PMID 12198169.
  20. ^ Papaefthimiou, I.; Hamilton, A.; Denti, M.; Baulcombe, D.; Tsagris, M.; Tabler, M. (2001). "Replicating potato spindle tuber viroid RNA is accompanied by short RNA fragments that are characteristic of post-transcriptional gene silencing". Nucleic Acids Research. 29 (11): 2395–2400. doi:10.1093/nar/29.11.2395. PMC 55696. PMID 11376158.
  21. ^ Dalmay, T.; Hamilton, A.; Rudd, S.; Angell, S.; Baulcombe, D. (2000). "An RNA-dependent RNA polymerase gene in Arabidopsis is required for posttranscriptional gene silencing mediated by a transgene but not by a virus". Cell. 101 (5): 543–553. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(00)80864-8. PMID 10850496. S2CID 2103803.
  22. ^ Burton, R.; Gibeaut, D.; Bacic, A.; Findlay, K.; Roberts, K.; Hamilton, A.; Baulcombe, D.; Fincher, G. (2000). "Virus-induced silencing of a plant cellulose synthase gene". The Plant Cell. 12 (5): 691–706. doi:10.1105/tpc.12.5.691. PMC 139921. PMID 10810144.
  23. ^ Dalmay, T.; Hamilton, A.; Mueller, E.; Baulcombe, D. (2000). "Potato virus X amplicons in arabidopsis mediate genetic and epigenetic gene silencing". The Plant Cell. 12 (3): 369–379. doi:10.1105/tpc.12.3.369. PMC 139837. PMID 10715323.
  24. ^ Jones, L.; Hamilton, A.; Voinnet, O.; Thomas, C.; Maule, A.; Baulcombe, D. (1999). "RNA-DNA interactions and DNA methylation in post-transcriptional gene silencing". The Plant Cell. 11 (12): 2291–2301. doi:10.1105/tpc.11.12.2291. PMC 144133. PMID 10590159.
  25. ^ Hamilton, W.; Boccara, M.; Robinson, D.; Baulcombe, D. (1987). "The complete nucleotide sequence of tobacco rattle virus RNA-1". The Journal of General Virology. 68 (10): 2563–2575. doi:10.1099/0022-1317-68-10-2563. PMID 3668507.
  26. ^ Boccara, M.; Hamilton, W.; Baulcombe, D. (1986). "The organisation and interviral homologies of genes at the 3' end of tobacco rattle virus RNA1". The EMBO Journal. 5 (2): 223–229. doi:10.1002/j.1460-2075.1986.tb04202.x. PMC 1166722. PMID 16453668.
  27. ^ Lu, J.; Zhang, C.; Baulcombe, D. C.; Chen, Z. J. (2012). "Maternal siRNAs as regulators of parental genome imbalance and gene expression in endosperm of Arabidopsis seeds". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (14): 5529–5534. Bibcode:2012PNAS..109.5529L. doi:10.1073/pnas.1203094109. PMC 3325730. PMID 22431617.
  28. ^ Baulcombe, D. C.; Saunders, G. R.; Bevan, M. W.; Mayo, M. A.; Harrison, B. D. (1986). "Expression of biologically active viral satellite RNA from the nuclear genome of transformed plants". Nature. 321 (6068): 446. Bibcode:1986Natur.321..446B. doi:10.1038/321446a0. S2CID 4309327.
  29. ^ Achard, P.; Herr, A; Baulcombe, D. C.; Harberd, N. P. (2004). "Modulation of floral development by a gibberellin-regulated microRNA". Development. 131 (14): 3357–65. doi:10.1242/dev.01206. PMID 15226253.
  30. ^ Hamilton, A. J.; Baulcombe, D. (1999). "A Species of Small Antisense RNA in Posttranscriptional Gene Silencing in Plants". Science. 286 (5441): 950–952. doi:10.1126/science.286.5441.950. PMID 10542148.
  31. ^ Fire, A.; Xu, S.; Montgomery, M. K.; Kostas, S. A.; Driver, S. E.; Mello, C. C. (1998). "Potent and specific genetic interference by double-stranded RNA in Caenorhabditis elegans". Nature. 391 (6669): 806–811. Bibcode:1998Natur.391..806F. doi:10.1038/35888. PMID 9486653. S2CID 4355692.
  32. ^ "No Nobel for You: Top 10 Nobel Snubs: Scientific American Slideshows". scientificamerican. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  33. ^ Daneholt, Bertil. "Advanced Information: RNA interference". The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2006. Retrieved 25 January 2007.
  34. ^ "No. 59090". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 2009. p. 1.
  35. ^ "Franklin Medallist David Baulcombe". fi.edu. Archived from the original on 15 May 2008.
  36. ^ "Epigenetics researcher a 2012 Balzan prizewinner | Laboratory Product News". Archived from the original on 15 September 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  37. ^ "2014 Gruber Genetics Prize Press Release | The Gruber Foundation". gruber.yale.edu. Retrieved 1 February 2018.