Ottoline Leyser

Dame (Henrietta Miriam) Ottoline Leyser DBE FRS (born 7 March 1965[1]) is a British plant biologist and Professor of Plant Development at the University of Cambridge and director of the Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Dame Ottoline Leyser

Ottoline Leyser (cropped).jpg
Henrietta Miriam Ottoline Leyser

(1965-03-07) 7 March 1965 (age 55)
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge (BA, PhD)[1]
Known forGARNet: Genomic Arabidopsis Resource Network[2]
Stephen John Day (m. 1986)
AwardsRosalind Franklin Award (2007)
EMBO Women in Science Award (2017)
Scientific career
FieldsPlant Developmental Biology[3]
ThesisAn analysis of fasciated mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana and the role of cytokinin in this phenotype (1990)


Leyser was educated at the University of Cambridge as an undergraduate student of Newnham College, Cambridge where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1986 followed by a PhD in Genetics[12] in 1990 from the same University for research supervised by Ian Furner.[13] Post-doctoral research in Indiana University preceded a lectureship at the University of York, where Leyser worked from 1994 - 2010. In 2010, Leyser was appointed Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory and Professor of Plant Development at the University of Cambridge.[14]

Research and careerEdit

Leyser's research interests are in the genetics of plant development and the interaction of plant hormones with the environment.[15] Leyser is chair of the University of Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy Management Committee.[16]

Leyser was interviewed on 16 May 2017 by Jim Al-Khalili on the BBC Radio 4 programme 'The Life Scientific' [17]

In 2020 she was appointed the Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation.[18]

Awards and honoursEdit

Leyser was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2007. Her nomination reads:

Ottoline Leyser has made unique and central contributions to understanding of development. The focus of her work has been plant hormones, notably auxin, and her identification of the auxin receptor solved a classic problem in biology. She isolated several of the key mutants and has elucidated downstream pathways of hormone action, using this knowledge to characterise the control of shoot architecture. Leyser played a world-leading role in promoting Arabidopsis as a key model organism in modern biology and has provided leadership to the Arabidopsis research community through the resource network GARNet.[15]

Leyser appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours.[19] She was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics from 2009 to 2015[20] and a member of the Council’s Working Party on Biofuels (2009-2011).[21]

She was elected a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2012.[22] She has been a Member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina since 2014.[23]

In 2016 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).[24] Also in 2016, she was awarded the Genetic Society Medal, an award which recognises outstanding contributions to genetics research.[25]

She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to plant science, science in society, and equality and diversity in science.[26] In the same year, she was awarded the Women in Science Award from the European Molecular Biology Organisation and the Federation of European Biochemical Societies.[27]

Personal lifeEdit

Leyser is the daughter of the historians Henrietta Leyser and Karl Leyser.[1] She married Stephen John Day in 1986 and has one son and one daughter.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Anon (2015). "LEYSER, Prof. (Henrietta Miriam) Ottoline". Who's Who. (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.245819. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Beale, M; Dupree, P; Lilley, K; Beynon, J; Trick, M; Clarke, J; Bevan, M; Bancroft, I; Jones, J; May, S; Van De Sande, K; Leyser, O (2002). "GARNet, the Genomic Arabidopsis Resource Network". Trends in Plant Science. 7 (4): 145–7. doi:10.1016/s1360-1385(01)02224-5. PMID 11950604.
  3. ^ a b Ottoline Leyser publications indexed by Google Scholar  
  4. ^ Ottoline Leyser publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  5. ^ "BBSRC spotlight interview".
  6. ^ Leyser, O. (2011). "An interview with Ottoline Leyser. Interviewed by Eva Amsen". Development. 138 (22): 4815–17. doi:10.1242/dev.075333. PMID 22028022.
  7. ^ Leyser, O. (2012). "Ottoline Leyser". Current Biology. 22 (8): R253–55. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.02.003. PMID 22675728.
  8. ^ Sedwick, C. (2014). "Ottoline Leyser: The beauty of plant genetics". The Journal of Cell Biology. 204 (3): 284–85. doi:10.1083/jcb.2043pi. PMC 3912528. PMID 24493584.
  9. ^ Kepinski, S.; Leyser, O. (2005). "The Arabidopsis F-box protein TIR1 is an auxin receptor". Nature. 435 (7041): 446–51. Bibcode:2005Natur.435..446K. doi:10.1038/nature03542. PMID 15917798.
  10. ^ Gray, W.M.; Kepinski, S.; Rouse, D.; Leyser, O.; Estelle, M. (2001). "Auxin regulates SCFTIR1-dependent degradation of AUX/IAA proteins" (PDF). Nature. 414 (6861): 271–76. Bibcode:2001Natur.414..271G. doi:10.1038/35104500. PMID 11713520.
  11. ^ Sabatini, S.; Beis, D.; Wolkenfelt, H.; Murfett, J.; Guilfoyle, T.; Malamy, J.; Benfey, P.; Leyser, O.; Bechtold, N.; Weisbeek, P.; Scheres, B. (1999). "An auxin-dependent distal organizer of pattern and polarity in the Arabidopsis root". Cell. 99 (5): 463–72. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(00)81535-4. PMID 10589675.
  12. ^ Leyser, Henrietta Miriam Ottoline (1990). An analysis of fasciated mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana and the role of cytokinin in this phenotype. (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. OCLC 557279110. EThOS
  13. ^ "Great British bioscience pioneers – Professor Ottoline Leyser". BBSRC. Archived from the original on 16 June 2015.
  14. ^ "Professor Ottoline Leyser — Sainsbury Laboratory". Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  15. ^ a b "EC/2007/26: Ottoline Leyser Certificate of Election". Royal Society. Archived from the original on 16 June 2015.
  16. ^ "Management Committee". Centre for Science and Policy. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  17. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - The Life Scientific, Ottoline Leyser on how plants decide what to do". BBC. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  18. ^ "Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser to join UK Research and Innovation as new Chief Executive - UK Research and Innovation". Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  19. ^ "No. 58929". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2008. p. 7.
  20. ^ "Past Council Members". Nuffield Council on Bioethics. Archived from the original on 22 April 2017. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  21. ^ Bioethics' official website Archived 1 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 1 January 2017.
  22. ^ "National Academy of Sciences Members and Foreign Associates Elected". National Academy of Sciences. 1 May 2012.
  23. ^ "Curriculum Vitae Prof. Dr. Ottoline Leyser" (PDF).
  24. ^ NTNU's list of honorary doctors
  25. ^ "Genetics Society Medal - Genetics Society". Genetics Society. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  26. ^ "No. 61803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2016. p. N8.
  27. ^ Jukic, Igor. "Ottoline Leyser honoured with the 2017 FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award". EMBO. Retrieved 17 October 2018.