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“A burgeoning national and international reputation”

13 October 2009

Dr Davies (left) receives his award from Commander John Curteis, Master of the GuildDr Davies (left) receives his award from Commander John Curteis, Master of the Guild

Dr D Mark Davies’ innovative research on therapy for tuberous sclerosis has won him the Welsh Livery Guild’s Merit Award for 2009.

The Guild promotes education, science and fine arts in Wales and its awards are for excellence and innovation by individuals in these fields. Dr Davies, of the University’s Institute of Medical Genetics, received his award at a Cardiff City Hall dinner on Saturday.

Tuberous sclerosis is an inherited disorder which leads to the development of tumours in many organs including the kidneys. In the 1990s, the Institute of Medical Genetics was first to identify the TSC genes that cause the condition.

Dr Davies’ work was undertaken during his PhD Clinical Research Fellowship with the Wales Gene Park, which is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government at Cardiff University to translate genetic knowledge into better healthcare. He tested whether the drug rapamycin - originally isolated from bacteria in a soil sample from the Easter Islands - might be able to compensate when the TSC genes not functioning properly. The experimental treatment led to a reduction in the size of kidney tumours in all 16 patients in Mark’s trial. This success generated great interest from the medical community and the commercial pharmaceutical sector and led to the start of a large scale international clinical trial.

The Livery Guild selected Dr Davies for his work in advancing the understanding of inherited disease. The Merit Award citation states: "His burgeoning national and international reputation in his field bring considerable credit to Cardiff University and to Wales."

Professor Julian Sampson, Head of Department at the Institute of Medical Genetics said: "The recognition of Mark’s work is very well deserved. Understanding the genetic basis of inherited disease is increasingly providing opportunities to develop novel treatments and our team has taken up this exciting challenge."

The award is the latest in a series for the Institute, which was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for higher education in 2007. This is also the second year running that the Livery Guild’s Merit Award has gone to a Cardiff University academic, after Professor Karen Holford of the School of Engineering won in 2008.