Karen Penelope Steel
Karen Penelope Steel FRS FMedSci is a British scientist who studies the genetics of deafness, using the mouse as a model to identify the genes involved and to understand the molecular, cellular and physiological mechanisms involved. She is Professor of Sensory Function at the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, King's College London. Previously she was Principal Investigator of the Genetics of Deafness research programme at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
She had a leading role in the collaboration that uncovered Myo7a, the first gene to be implicated in deafness in mice and in humans. Most recently, she led the discovery of Mir-96 microRNA that is implicated in progressive hearing loss in mice and humans.
Steel obtained her first degree from Leeds University. She then received her PhD from University College London for her investigatory work into the inner ear in several deaf mouse mutants. She set up the mouse genetics and deafness research programme at the newly established MRC Institute of Hearing Research in Nottingham. Following a second postdoc in Munich, she returned to Nottingham to lead mouse genetics research.
Steel studies the genetics behind deafness, mainly focusing on the genetics of mice in order to identify the genes involved as well as to further understand the molecular, cellular and physiological mechanisms involved with being deaf. Steel and her research group have published phenotypic descriptions of over 80 different mouse mutants. Currently, her research is focused on the progressive loss of auditory functions in which she uses the mouse models to diagram the timeline of auditory loss in humans.
Awards and honours
- Recipient of the Kresge-Mirmelstein prize for excellence in hearing research, New Orleans, 1998
- Elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, London, 2004
- Elected Council member of Association for Research in Otolaryngology (2004-2008)
- Elected President of International Mammalian Genome Society (2007-2012)
- Edith Whetnall lecturer, Section of Otology of the Royal Society of Medicine, London, 2008
- Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, London, 2009
- Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Prize, 2012
- Award of Merit, Association for Research in Otolaryngology, to be presented in Baltimore, Feb 2013
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