We are delighted to announce that Prof David Beeson, Professor in Molecular Neurosciences at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, has been elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. This distinction recognises his leading research on neuromuscular disorders where the communication between nerve cells and muscle is impaired. His most recent research has focused on translating molecular knowledge of neuromuscular synapse biology into treatment for inherited (congenital) myasthenic syndromes (CMS).
Prof Beeson was the first to isolate cDNA and genomic clones for important receptor proteins of the synapse, namely muscle acetylcholine receptors and human rapsyn. He examined the properties of fetal and adult receptor subtypes, enabling the development of improved antibody diagnostics for myasthenia, and the basis for extensive T cell studies on myasthenia gravis. In parallel, his work provided both the basis for mutational screening of candidate genes and the materials to investigate underlying disease mechanisms for CMS. His laboratory has identified numerous mutations involved in CMS and their direct correlation with the pathogenic molecular mechanisms. This was instrumental in the establishment of the highly successful National Specialist and Advisory Service for Congenital Myasthenic Syndromes in Oxford. Prof Beeson attends clinic every week there, advising on patient treatment based on the functional diagnostics undertaken in his laboratory. Recent work with patients has also led to prospective clinical studies showing the dramatic beneficial effects of β2-adrenergic receptor in treating many forms of CMS.
Prof Beeson graduated from Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he read Natural Sciences, specializing in Genetics. He did his PhD with Professor Eric Barnard at Imperial College, London. He worked briefly at the Royal Free Hospital, London, with John Newsom-Davis and Angela Vincent before moving with them in 1988 to the then Institute of Molecular Medicine, to work on disorders of neuromuscular transmission. He was made an Honorary Research Lecturer in 1996 and Professor of Neuroscience in 2004 (personal chair).
Fellowship of the Academy is based on exceptional contributions to the medical sciences, either in the form of original discovery or of sustained contributions to scholarship. Fellows are drawn primarily from biomedical science and academic medicine, but also from veterinary science, dentistry, laboratory science, medical and nursing care and other professions allied to medical science.