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Beverly L. Davidson, PhD
Photo of Beverly L. Davidson, PhD
Chief Scientific Strategy Officer

Dr. Davidson works to understand the molecular basis of childhood onset neurodegenerative diseases and the development of gene and small molecule therapies for treatment. She also focuses on how noncoding RNAs participate in neural development and neurodegenerative disease processes, and how they can be harnessed for therapies.

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Bio

Dr. Davidson's research is focused on understanding the molecular basis for neurodegeneration in inherited brain diseases that cause central nervous system dysfunction, and then applying that knowledge toward the development of therapies. Her work extends from identifying the pathological consequences of these mutations, including splicing changes, to using cell and animal model systems to query the relevance of those alterations.

Dr. Davidson also studies how noncoding RNAs participate in neural development and neurodegenerative diseases processes. Her research on childhood onset neurodegenerative diseases includes lysosomal storage diseases such as the mucopolysaccharidoses and Batten's disease, and dominant genetic diseases such as the CAG repeat disorders Huntington’s disease and spinocerebellar ataxia. By gaining new insights into the biochemistry and cell biology of proteins deficient in these disorders, Dr. Davidson and her lab are developing gene and small molecule-based medicines for therapy.

In recent work, Dr. Davidson demonstrated that the application of recombinant viral vectors to animal models of storage disease reversed central nervous system deficits. To approach therapies for dominant disorders, her laboratory developed and tested gene silencing and CrispR/Cas9 editing strategies for reducing expression of the disease gene in patient cells and in mice models. The Davidson lab, along with colleagues experienced in gene-based medicine delivery to humans, are advancing these promising preclinical studies to clinical trials in patients. Dr. Davidson also is a co-founder of Spark Therapeutics and Talee Bio, and she serves on the scientific advisory boards of Sarepta Therapeutics and Intellia Therapeutics.

Education and Training

BS, Nebraska Weslyan University, Lincoln, Neb. (Biology), 1981

PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. (Biological Chemistry), 1987

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. (Molecular Genetics), 1990

Titles and Academic Titles

Chief Scientific Strategy Officer

Director, Raymond G. Perelman Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics

Director, Research Vector Core

Arthur V. Meigs Chair in Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Professional Memberships

American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1994-

American Society for Neuroscience, 1996-

American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, 1997-

American Society for Microbiology, 1998-

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2006-

Royal Society of Medicine, 2014-

American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2017-

The RNA Society, 2017-

College of Physicians, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, 2018-

American Society of Human Genetics, 2018-

Professional Awards

Mathilde Solowey Award, National Institutes of Health, 2009

S.J. DeArmond Lecture, American Association of Neuropathologists, May 2011

Presidential Lecture, University of Iowa, 2011

Distinguished Alumni Lecture, University of Michigan, 2011

Finalist, Pioneer Hi-Bred Iowa Women of Innovation Awards, Technology Association of Iowa, 2011

Carver College of Medicine Faculty Service Award, University of Iowa, 2012

University of Iowa Innovator Award, 2012

Chair, Electorate Nominating Committee, Medical Sciences Section, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2014

Appointed to the National Advisory Council, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2014-2018

Appointed to Scientific Advisory Boards of the Huntington Study Group and the Medical Research Advisory Board of the National Ataxia Foundation, 2015

The Leslie Gehry Brenner Prize for Innovation in Science, Hereditary Disease Foundation, 2015


Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2017

F.E. Bennett Memorial Lectureship Award, American Neurological Association, 2018

Member, Electorate Nominating Committee for Section V (Neuroscience), AAAS, 2018

Election to National Academy of Medicine, 2019

Chair, Gordon Research Conference on Lysosomal Storage Disease, 2019


Frontiers in Neuroscience Plenary Session presenter, AAN, 2019

Publication Highlights

Davidson BL, Arruda V. Gene therapy matures to medicines. Hum Mol Genet. 2019 Sep; 28(R1):R1-R2
Amado DA, Rieders JM, Diatta F, Hernandez-Con P, Singer A, Mak JT, Zhang J, Lancaster E, Davidson BL, Chen-Plotkin AS. AAV-Mediated Progranulin Delivery to a Mouse Model of Progranulin Deficiency Causes T Cell-Mediated Toxicity. Mol Ther. 2019 Feb; 27(2):465-478 PMID: 30559071
Cheng C, Spengler RM, Keiser MS, Monteys AM, Rieders JM, Ramachandran S, Davidson BL. The long non-coding RNA NEAT1 is elevated in polyglutamine repeat expansion diseases and protects from disease gene-dependent toxicities. Hum Mol Genet. 2018 Dec; 27(24):4303-4314. PMID: 30239724
Schultz M, Tecedor L, Lysenko E, Ramachandran S, Stein CS, Davidson BL. Modulating membrane fluidity corrects Batten disease phenotypes in vitro and in vivo. Neurobiol Dis. 2018 Jul; 115:182-193. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2018.04.010.
Child D, Lee JH, Pascua JC, Chen YH, Mas Monteys A, Davidson BL. Cardiac mTORC1 Dysregulation Impacts Stress Adaptation and Survival in Huntington’s Disease. Cell Rep. 2018 Apr; 23(4): 1020–1033 PMID: 29694882 doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.03.117