David's major research interests were initially in trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) and leishmaniasis, in particular, the interaction between parasites and vectors. He worked in Nigeria on sleeping sickness early in his career and then led a WHO/UNDP programme on the epidemiology of sleeping sickness in a multi-country programme based in Burkina Faso. 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 Ph.D. and Master’s students. David has also been involved in several aspects of, and initiatives on, the impact of change on the distribution of vectors and disease and contributed to books on biodiversity and infectious diseases for Harvard Medical School and the UN Millennium Assessment. His recent academic focus has been on policy and advocacy for the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and the promotion of scientific strategies to underpin the implementation of elimination and control programmes.
David retired as full-time Director of the Lymphatic Filariasis Support Centre (now the LSTM Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases, CNTD)) in April 2008 but for over 10 years worked part-time for LSTM on various Neglected Tropical Disease-related activities. He was 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 them as a contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); during this time he continued to research and teach at LSTM and promoted the concept of NTDs in an advocacy role.
Professor Molyneux was appointed as Companion to the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG) in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list 2020, for services to ‘Controlling Neglected Tropical Diseases’.
He is an Emeritus Professor of both the University of Liverpool and the School of Tropical Medicine He was Director of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (1991-2000) and Professor of Tropical Health Sciences of The University of Liverpool. Before 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, Ph.D.) 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, Asia and Latin America in many capacities. He has acted as a consultant to several 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 and Sleeping sickness.
He is a member of WHO's Expert Panel on Parasitic Diseases and was 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.
From 2006-2010 he was Executive Secretary of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis 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 nearly 7 billion treatments.
He has published over 400 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 authored 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 tropical diseases to the extent they are now, one of the key priorities of the World Health Organisation and specifically included in the Health Targets of the UN SDGs. Recently he has edited a series of Talks on NTDs of over 30 Lectures by leaders in the NTD community which are available online from Henry Stewart Talks- a free resource to the NTD Community. https://hstalks.com/playlist/1063/neglected-tropical-diseases/.
David's contribution has been recognised in the award of medals from the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (Chalmers Medal) and the British Society for Parasitology (Wright Medal) - both societies of which he has served as President. David was awarded the Donald Mackay Medal by the American Society of Tropical Medicine in 2007 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. His contribution to NTDs was recognized by the award of the Dominique Kyelem Prize (named in Honour of one of his former Ph.D. students) by the Coalition for Operational Research (COR/NTD) in 2017. His contribution over some 50 years was recognised by LSTM in the award of the Mary Kingsley Medal in 2018.
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 in 2010. In 2019 he received an Honorary Degree of DSc Honoris Causa from the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS, Ghana).
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, the Manson Lecture of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and the inaugural John Cross Lecture at the Uniform Services University, Bethesda, Maryland and in addition he has undertaken many keynote addresses at international meetings several of which can be accessed via the LSTM website or on Youtube.