Areas of interest
David's major research interests were initially in trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) and leishmaniasis and in particular the interaction between parasites and vectors. Latterly, he has become involved in parasitic and vector borne disease control programmes advising WHO on trypanosomiasis, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, Guinea worm and malaria control utilising his extensive knowledge of parasitic disease control to offer technical support and advice. During his career he has supervised over 50 PhD and Masters students. David has also been involved in several aspects of, and initiatives on, the impact of change on the distribution of vectors (insect borne diseases) and contributed to books on biodiversity and infectious diseases for the Harvard Medical School and the UN Millennium Assessment. His current academic focus is on policy and advocacy for the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases and the scientific strategies underpinning the implementation of elimination and control programmes.
David retired as full-time Director of the Lymphatic Filariasis Support Centre (now known as the Filarial Programmes Support Unit - FPSU) in April 2008. Since April 2015 he leads the overarching Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine Neglected Tropical Diseases (LSTM NTDs) crosscutting theme. He is responsible for promoting NTDs both internally and externally to advocate for increased visibility of the importance of these diseases as impediments to the health of the poorest and the opportunity to eliminate or control as a contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He is an Emeritus Professor of the University of Liverpool and a Senior Professorial Fellow in the School. He was Director of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (1991-2000) and Professor of Tropical Health Sciences of The University of Liverpool. Prior to joining the School he was Professor of Biology, Chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences and Dean of Science at the University of Salford where he was a member of Faculty from 1977-91. David graduated (MA, PhD) from Cambridge University in parasitology before embarking on a career in medical entomology and parasitology. His research work was recognised by the award of a DSc from the University of Salford in 1992. He has travelled extensively in Africa as well as the Middle East and Latin America working with, and presenting on, various programmes. He has acted as a consultant to organisations including WHO, FAO, UNDP, CGIAR, the World Bank and the UK government (Department for International Development) and has chaired several WHO Committees on Onchocerciasis, Tropical Diseases and Mosquitoes. He is a member of WHO's Expert Panel on Parasitic Diseases and currently a member of the WHO Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on the Neglected Tropical Diseases and Chair of the Capacity Strengthening Working Group of STAG. He is a member of two International Commissions - The International Task Force for Disease Eradication based in the Carter Center, Atlanta and the WHO International Commission for the Eradication of Dracunculiasis (Guinea Worm) and has led three International Certification Teams to Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Nigeria in that capacity. He was appointed by WHO/TDR to Chair the Disease Reference Group on Zoonoses and other marginalised diseases of Poverty in 2009.
He was Executive Secretary of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis from 2006-2010, a partnership which has provided support to the Global Programme to eliminate the disease. The Global Programme is active in endemic countries and has provided overall since 2000, when the current activities in Liverpool started some 5 billion treatments. David’s leadership of the Liverpool Centre played a key part in the success of the Global Programme.
He has published over 350 papers in learned biological science journals, written over 20 reviews and contributions to books as well as a textbook on trypanosomes and leishmania and the Control of Human Parasitic Diseases. More recently he is an author on several publications on health policy and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the Lancet, BMJ, New England Journal of Medicine, PLoS Medicine and PLoS NTDs. He has been one of the key advocates in raising the profile of neglected diseases to the extent they are now, one of the key priorities of the World Health Organisation and included in the SDGs.
David's contribution has been recognised in the award of medals from the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and the British Society for Parasitology - both societies of which he has served as President. In 2007 he was awarded the Mackay Medal and in 2014 he was elected as an Honorary International Fellow by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In 2013 he was awarded the Manson Medal of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the Society's highest award.
He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of Liverpool John Moores University and an Honorary Doctorate DSc Honoris Causa from Georgetown University, Washington, DC for his contributions to tropical medicine and international health.
He has a comprehensive list of named lectures including the Craig Plenary Lecture at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and the David Livingstone Lecture of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and the inaugural John Cross Lecture at the Uniform Services University, Bethesda, Maryland. Keynote addresses have been for WHO and at international meetings – most recently, in 2015, at the G7 National Academies of Sciences meeting in Berlin and on Climate Change and NTDs in Sitges, Spain.