Karen Steel

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Karen Steel
Karen Penelope Steel
OccupationPrincipal investigator

Karen Penelope Steel FRS FMedSci[1] 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.[2] Previously she was Principal Investigator of the Genetics of Deafness research programme at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.[3]

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.[3]

Together with Professor Christine Petit, Steel won the Royal Society Brain Prize 2012, for pioneering work on the genetics of hearing and deafness.[3]


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.[4]


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.[5] 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.[4]

Awards and honours[edit]

The asteroid 24734 Kareness was named after Steel by its discoverer, Steel's brother, Duncan Steel.[6]


  1. ^ "Professor Karen Steel FRS FMedSci". The Academy of Medical Sciences. Retrieved 2013-10-19.
  2. ^ "Karen Steel Biography". King's London: Karen Steel Biography. Retrieved 2015-10-13.
  3. ^ a b c "Karen Steel elected Fellow of the Royal Society". Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 2013-10-19.
  4. ^ a b c "Biography - Karen Steel". Grethe Lundbeck’s European Brain Research Foundation. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
  5. ^ "Professor Karen Steel". King's College of London. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
  6. ^ "24734 Kareness (1992 EA1)". JPL Small-Body Database. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 2015-04-23.