Daniel Davis, BSc, PhD, FSB, FMedSci


Personal profile


Daniel M Davis began studying the immune system at Harvard University with Jack Strominger, after obtaining a PhD in Physics in Glasgow, UK. Currently, he is a Professor of Immunology at Manchester University and Director of Research in the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research. Prior to this, he was the Head of the Immunology Section at Imperial College London in South Kensington. He has published over 130 academic papers, collectively cited over 11,000 times, including articles in Nature, Science and Scientific American.

Davis pioneered the use of many imaging techniques to help visualize key molecular components of an immune response. His work has helped establish new concepts in how immune cells communicate with each other; especially the immune synapse and membrane nanotubes.  He became a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2011 and currently chairs their selection panel for immunology candidates. He is also the author of a popular-level book THE COMPATIBILITY GENE, described by Bill Bryson in the Guardian’s Books of the Year as ‘elegantly written and unexpectedly gripping’. His second book, THE BEAUTIFUL CURE, has been described by Stephen Fry as 'One of those books that makes you look at everything human in a new, challenging and thrilling way'.

Research interests

Human immune cell recognition and communication

Each of us relies for our survival on our immune system. Recent discoveries have equipped us not only to understand that system as never before but to develop new kinds of medicine which help the system better fight cancer, for example, or dampen it to thwart auto-immune disease. New kinds of microscope, super-resolution microscopes celebrated in the 2014 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, are one of the tools that allow us to study immune cells in unprecedented detail. Building on my training in physics and immunology, my research team has used these microscopes to study the changing arrangements of molecules in individual immune cells. Our hypothesis is that immune responses are regulated, in part, by miniscule, nanometre-scale, changes to the organisation of immune cell surfaces. Here, we will test how the surface organisation of specific white blood cells (called Natural Killer cells and macrophages) varies in health and disease, as well as in individuals with variations in immune system genes. We are studying how these changes impact thresholds at which immune responses are switched on or off. As well as understanding how immune cells work, we hope to uncover new ways in which medicines can nudge their activity up or down.


June 1992: First Class BSc. (Hons) PHYSICS

Dec 1995: PhD PHYSICS

Jan 1996 - Nov 1999: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Harvard University.

Prizes and awards

2012: Elected Fellow of The Royal Society of Biology

2011: Elected Fellow of The Academy of Medical Sciences

2008: Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award

2005: Lister Research Prize for Preventive Medicine

2002: EMBO Young Investigator Award

2000: Awarded lifetime membership of The Royal Institution

1997 - 2000: Postdoctoral Fellowship from The Irvington Institute

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Lydia Becker Institute
  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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