Norwich scientist wins major global research accolade

Professor Dame Caroline Dean of the John Innes Centre in Norwich. Picture: Fondation LOréal / Thierr

Professor Dame Caroline Dean of the John Innes Centre in Norwich. Picture: Fondation LOréal / Thierry Bouet - Credit: Fondation LOréal/ Thierry Bouet

A ground-breaking Norwich plant biologist has added to her distinguished global reputation after being awarded a Royal Society Research Professorship.

Professor Dame Caroline Dean, from the John Innes Centre at the Norwich Research Park, is already internationally recognised for her research relating to the flowering times of plants.

Now she has become one of only six world-leading scientists named as recipients of the Royal Society's premier awards, which aim to help release the best researchers from teaching and administration to allow them to focus on research.

Prof Dean's research at the John Innes Centre investigates 'epigenetic controls' used by plants to judge when to flower – meaning non-genetic influences on gene expression, in particular the switch triggered by cold exposure.

She is working in collaboration with colleagues in Cambridge and Madrid on a project which will combine molecular, biophysical, structural and computational approaches.

Prof Dean said: 'I am honoured and thrilled to be awarded a Royal Society Research Professorship. The questions we will address are particularly exciting and of huge importance to society as epigenetic malfunctioning results in developmental abnormalities, including cancer.'

The award is the latest in a string of honours for Prof Dean in a 30-year career at the John Innes Centre.

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In 2016 she was made a Dame of the British Empire for her work on plant genetics and for her commitment to advancing careers for women in science.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society – a fellowship of many of the world's most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine – and also currently a 2018 L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science laureate, of which there are five annual recipients, one representing each continent.

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