Dr David Cavanagh (BSc (Edinburgh), PhD (Newcastle upon Tyne))

Senior Lecturer in Immunology; Immunology Honours Programme Organiser; Associate Director of Teaching

  • 1. Institute of Immunology and Infection Research
  • 2. Centre for Immunology, Infection and Evolution
  • 3. Edinburgh Infectious Diseases

Contact details



Institute of Immunology and Infection Research,
University of Edinburgh,
Ashworth Laboratories,
Kings Buildings

Post code


BSc Hons Biological Sciences (Microbiology) University of Edinburgh

PhD (Biochemistry) University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Responsibilities & affiliations

Chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Council , SBS

Associate Director of Teaching, SBS

Intercalated Honours Executive Committee, CMVM 

Biological Safety Officer, IIIR, SBS

Undergraduate teaching

Senior Honours Roles

I am the Programme Organiser for Immunology Honours. This involves the administration and organization of the Immunology Honours Programme at the University of Edinburgh. Teaching on this programme is based in the Institute of Immunology and Infection Research, Ashworth Laboratories, Kings Buildings. I took over running the programme from Professor David Gray in 2009, from my previous role as deputy programme organiser from 2005. I also teach on the Zoology Honours programme, and the Clinical Immunology and Haematology 3B, Medical Microbiology 3 and Immunology 3 courses in 3rd year.

Molecular Immunology (Course Organiser And Lecturer)

This is one of two core courses for the Biological Sciences BSc. Hons (Immunology) degree, and runs in semester 1 from September to December. This course covers molecular aspects of the basic biology of the immune system. The course focuses on the molecules and receptors involved in initiating and sustaining the immune response, beginning with roles of the molecules of innate immune system in recognizing invading pathogens, and then moving on to the mechanisms by which the adaptive immune system is then primed to respond to antigenic stimulus. The course covers some of the major molecules of the immune system, including innate immune receptors, MHC, TCR and BCR (including immunoglobulin), and the signalling pathways from these molecules that initiate or regulate immune responses.

The aims of the course include gaining a detailed working knowledge of the immune system, enhancing and developing presentation skills, and understanding how to read and analyse primary literature on aspects of immunology that are fundamental. The course is a mixture of lectures and student presentations, with an emphasis on developing advanced skills in immunology. I teach this course with Professor Rose Zamoyska and Dr. Dietmar Zaiss

Immunobiology Of Malaria (Lecturer)

This course is an elective on the Immunology Honours Programme. It takes the form of lectures, presentations and discussion sessions on the immunology and biology of malaria, with an emphasis on the disease in humans. I lecture on parasite antigenic polymorphism and immune responses to malaria parasites. Malaria is a strong focus of research in Edinburgh and the course draws on that history and expertise in its teaching. The clinical immunology and pathology of the disease and the development of vaccine against malaria are also covered in the course. I teach this course with Alex Rowe, Phil Spence and Joanne Thompson.

Experimental Immunology 

I organise the project preparation course above, which provides paper analysis tutorials, theoretical and practical group work in teh areas of experimental design, biochemical techniques, statistics, flow cytometry, bioinformtics and Python coding for the 4th year Immunology class. 


Immunology Projects

We offer 3 month lab projects for Immunology Honours students. Projects in my lab range from basic research into the functions of Plasmodium falciparum proteins to the seroepidemiology of mal

aria infection. Recent projects have included the production of human monoclonal antibodies from EBV immortalised human B cells, characterisation of the MSP3.3 gene product, and investigation of antibody affinity as a surrogate marker of protection.

Junior Honours Roles

Immunology 3 (Lecturer And Practical Course Organiser)

Immunology 3 is the third year course that is compulsory for those students going on to take Immunology at Honours level. I give lectures on the generation of the BCR and TCR repertoire, structure and function of antibodies, antigen processing and presentation, and the MHC complex. I have introduced post lecture revsion quizzes to help students revise the topics I cover in my lectures. 

I organise the Immunology 3 practical course and run practical classes on flow cytometry and haemagglutination. I developed and now run the in-course practical test which uses an online Questionmark Perception based system.

Clinical Immunology And Haematology 3B (Tutor)

I designed and now take tutorials in CI&H3B and have acted as a Wiki mentor and marker for this course in the past. 

Medical Microbiology 3

Lecturer on malaria pathogenesis and immunity





Postgraduate teaching

MSc Biotechnology - lecturer on Vaccines and Molecular Therapies course

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

Seth Amanfo - 2nd year PhD student, funded by the Darwin Trust

Past PhD students supervised

Kelwalin Dhanasarnsombut (2007-2013).   MSc by research in the Life Sciences, graduate research assistant, followed by PhD. Funded by University of Edinburgh staff scholarship and by the EU (FP6)

Lynne Harris (2009-2013) Wellcome Trust PhD student. 

Mallory Earnshaw (2007-8) MSc by research in the Life Sciences

Rachel Kenneil (2006-7) MSc by research in the Life Sciences

View all 45 publications on Research Explorer