David Holden graduated from the University of Durham UK in 1977 and completed his PhD in Microbiology at University College London in 1981. He held postdoctoral fellowships in Canada and the USA before returning to the UK in 1988 to work in the Genetics Division at the National Institute for Medical Research, London. In 1990 he was appointed as a Lecturer at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School (RPMS), London. In 1995 he became full Professor of Molecular Microbiology, and after the RPMS merged with Imperial College London he joined the College’s Centre for Molecular Microbiology and Infection (CMMI). Holden is currently Director of the Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and Infection (MRC CMBI), which evolved from the CMMI in 2012 with support from the Medical Research Council and Imperial College.
Holden is best known for inventing a technique called signature-tagged mutagenesis (also termed barcoding) for identification of mutants with altered growth in mixed populations. Using STM his group has identified numerous genes of Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and Salmonella that are required for virulence. The group currently comprises 12 researchers who study bacterial virulence mechanisms, in particular those of Salmonella. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the American Academy of Microbiology, the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK), and an EMBO Member. He co-founded the vaccine company Microscience, which was acquired in 2005 by Emergent Biosolutions. He serves on Board of Reviewing Editors for Science magazine and various scientific advisory boards.