Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences

Head of Department of Life Sciences, Chair in Immunology



+44 (0)20 7594 5420d.davis CV




609Sir Alexander Fleming BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Daniel M. Davis is the Head of Life Sciences and Professor of Immunology at Imperial College London. Prior to this he was Professor of Immunology at the University of Manchester. He was also The Director of Research in the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research - a research institute funded by the University of Manchester, AstraZeneca and GSK. Having gained a doctorate in Physics, Davis went to Harvard University to research the human immune system, becoming a Professor of Immunology at age 35 in Imperial College London.

Davis helped pioneer the nanoscale biology of immune cell recognition by employing various fluorescence techniques, including early uses of fluorescence lifetime microscopy, fluorescence recovery after photo-bleaching and super-resolution microscopy. Through direct observation of molecular recognition by immune cells, Davis made major contributions to establishing that immune cell recognition is not controlled by a simple cascade of protein-protein interactions as previously envisaged. His research showed that immune cells interact with their target cells through a series of elaborate steps: adhesion, integration of signals from activating and inhibitory receptors, assembly of an immune synapse, movement of the cell’s microtubule organising centre and the mitochondria, restructuring of cortical actin, release of effector mediators including exosomes, detachment of immune cells and subsequent engagement to other targets. Each step enables a discrete point of immunological regulation and crucially, is a potential target for medical intervention.

Davis often speaks at science, literary and music festivals. On radio and TV he adeptly communicates immunology to the public. Davis has written for the Times, Guardian, New Scientist and Scientific American and authored three books. His most recent book, The Secret Body: How the New Science of the Human Body Is Changing the Way We Live received endorsements from Bill Bryson, Tim Spector, Alice Roberts, Brian Cox, Nobel laureate Venki Ramakrishnan and many others, and was a finalist for a Prose Award by the Association of American Publishers. His previous book, The Beautiful Cure: The New Science of Human Health, was shortlisted for the Royal Society Science Book Prize 2018 and was described by Henry Marsh as ‘one of the best accounts I have yet come across of the nature of biological science and discovery’ and by Stephen Fry as ‘one of those books that makes you look at everything human in a new, challenging and thrilling way’. His first book, The Compatibility Gene, was longlisted for the Royal Society Science Book Prize, shortlisted for the Society of Biology book prize and described by Bill Bryson in the Guardian’s Books of the Year as ‘elegantly written and unexpectedly gripping’. He is the author of 145 academic papers, collectively cited over 14,000 times, and is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.


Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Davis D, Worboys J, Vowell K, et al., 2023, TIGIT can inhibit T cell activation via ligation-induced nanoclusters, independent of CD226 co-stimulation, Nature Communications, Vol:14, ISSN:2041-1723

Dechantsreiter S, Ambrose AR, Worboys JD, et al., 2022, Heterogeneity in extracellular vesicle secretion by single human macrophages revealed by super-resolution microscopy, Journal of Extracellular Vesicles, Vol:11

Tuomela K, Ambrose AR, Davis DM, 2022, Escaping death: how cancer cells and infected cells resist cell-mediated cytotoxicity, Frontiers in Immunology, Vol:13, ISSN:1664-3224

Tuomela K, Mukherjee D, Ambrose AR, et al., 2022, Radiotherapy transiently reduces the sensitivity of cancer cells to lymphocyte cytotoxicity, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol:119, ISSN:0027-8424

Diaz-del-Olmo I, Worboys J, Martin-Sanchez F, et al., 2021, Internalization of the Membrane Attack Complex Triggers NLRP3 Inflammasome Activation and IL-1β Secretion in Human Macrophages, Frontiers in Immunology, Vol:12, ISSN:1664-3224

Friedman D, Simmonds P, Hale A, et al., 2021, Natural killer cell immune synapse formation and cytotoxicity are controlled by tension of the target interface, Journal of Cell Science, Vol:134, ISSN:0021-9533

Karampatzakis A, Broz P, Rey C, et al., 2021, Antibody afucosylation augments CD16-mediated serial killing and IFN gamma secretion by human natural killer cells, Frontiers in Immunology, Vol:12, ISSN:1664-3224, Pages:1-14

Bonavita E, Bromley CP, Jonsson G, et al., 2020, Antagonistic Inflammatory Phenotypes Dictate Tumor Fate and Response to Immune Checkpoint Blockade, Immunity, Vol:53, ISSN:1074-7613, Pages:1215-+

Ambrose AR, Hazime KS, Worboys JD, et al., 2020, Synaptic secretion from human natural killer cells is diverse and includes supramolecular attack particles, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol:117, ISSN:0027-8424, Pages:23717-23720

Smith SL, Kennedy PR, Stacey KB, et al., 2020, Diversity of peripheral blood human NK cells identified by single-cell RNA sequencing, Blood Advances, Vol:4, ISSN:2473-9529, Pages:1388-1406

Kennedy PR, Barthen C, Williamson DJ, et al., 2019, Genetic diversity affects the nanoscale membrane organization and signaling of natural killer cell receptors, Science Signaling, Vol:12, ISSN:1945-0877

Srpan K, Ambrose A, Karampatzakis A, et al., 2018, Shedding of CD16 disassembles the NK cell immune synapse and boosts serial engagement of target cells, Journal of Cell Biology, Vol:217, ISSN:0021-9525, Pages:3267-3283

Balint S, Lopes FB, Davis DM, 2018, A nanoscale reorganization of the IL-15 receptor is triggered by NKG2D in a ligand-dependent manner, Science Signaling, Vol:11, ISSN:1945-0877

Brown ACN, Dobbie IM, Alakoskela J-M, et al., 2012, Super-resolution imaging of remodeled synaptic actin reveals different synergies between NK cell receptors and integrins, Blood, Vol:120, ISSN:0006-4971, Pages:3729-3740

Brown ACN, Oddos S, Dobbie IM, et al., 2011, Remodelling of cortical actin where lytic granules dock at natural killer cell immune synapses revealed by super-resolution microscopy, PLOS Biology, Vol:9, ISSN:1544-9173, Pages:1-18

Chauveau A, Aucher A, Eissmann P, et al., 2010, Membrane nanotubes facilitate long-distance interactions between natural killer cells and target cells, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol:107, ISSN:0027-8424, Pages:5545-5550

Davis DM, 2009, Mechanisms and functions for the duration of intercellular contacts made by lymphocytes, Nature Reviews Immunology, Vol:9, ISSN:1474-1733, Pages:543-555

Culley FJ, Johnson M, Evans JH, et al., 2009, Natural Killer Cell Signal Integration Balances Synapse Symmetry and Migration, PLOS Biology, Vol:7, ISSN:1544-9173

Davis DM, Sowinski S, 2008, Membrane nanotubes: dynamic long-distance connections between animal cells, Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, Vol:9, ISSN:1471-0072, Pages:431-436

Sowinski S, Jolly C, Berninghausen O, et al., 2008, Membrane nanotubes physically connect T cells over long distances presenting a novel route for HIV-1 transmission, Nature Cell Biology, Vol:10, ISSN:1465-7392, Pages:211-219

Nedvetzki S, Sowinski S, Eagle RA, et al., 2007, Reciprocal regulation of human natural killer cells and macrophages associated with distinct immune synapses, Blood, Vol:109, ISSN:0006-4971, Pages:3776-3785

McCann FE, Eissmann P, Onfelt B, et al., 2007, The activating NKG2D ligand MHC class I-related chain a transfers from target cells to NK cells in a manner that allows functional consequences, Journal of Immunology, Vol:178, ISSN:0022-1767, Pages:3418-3426

Davis DM, 2007, Intercellular transfer of cell-surface proteins is common and can affect many stages of an immune response, Nature Reviews Immunology, Vol:7, ISSN:1474-1733, Pages:238-243

Nolte-'t Hoen ENM, Almeida CR, Cohen NR, et al., 2007, Increased surveillance of cells in mitosis by human NK cells suggests a novel strategy for limiting tumor growth and viral replication, Blood, Vol:109, ISSN:0006-4971, Pages:670-673

Onfelt B, Nedvetzki S, Benninger RKP, et al., 2006, Structurally distinct membrane nanotubes between human macrophages support long-distance vesicular traffic or surfing of bacteria, Journal of Immunology, Vol:177, ISSN:0022-1767, Pages:8476-8483

Treanor B, Lanigan PMP, Kumar S, et al., 2006, Microclusters of inhibitory killer immunoglobulin like receptor signaling at natural killer cell immunological synapses, Journal of Cell Biology, Vol:174, ISSN:1540-8140, Pages:153-161

Davis DM, 2006, Intrigue at the immune synapse, Scientific American, Vol:294, ISSN:0036-8733, Pages:48-55

Vanherberghen B, Andersson K, Carlin LM, et al., 2004, Human and murine inhibitory natural killer cell receptors transfer from natural killer cells to target cells, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol:101, ISSN:0027-8424, Pages:16873-16878

Önfelt B, Nedvetzki S, Yanagi K, et al., 2004, Cutting edge:: Membrane nanotubes connect immune cells, Journal of Immunology, Vol:173, ISSN:0022-1767, Pages:1511-1513

Davis DM, Dustin ML, 2004, What is the importance of the immunological synapse?, Trends in Immunology, Vol:25, ISSN:1471-4906, Pages:323-327

Eleme K, Taner SB, Önfelt B, et al., 2004, Cell surface organization of stress-inducible proteins ULBP and MICA that stimulate human NK cells and T cells via NKG2D, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Vol:199, ISSN:0022-1007, Pages:1005-1010

Carlin LM, Eleme K, McCann FE, et al., 2001, Intercellular transfer and supramolecular organization of human leukocyte antigen C at inhibitory natural killer cell immune synapses, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Vol:194, ISSN:0022-1007, Pages:1507-1517

Davis DM, Chiu I, Fassett M, et al., 1999, The human natural killer cell immune synapse, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol:96, ISSN:0027-8424, Pages:15062-15067

MAndelboim O, Davis DM, Reyburn HT, et al., 1996, Enhancement of class II-restricted T cell responses by costimulatory NK receptors for class I MHC proteins, Science, Vol:274, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:2097-2100


Carisey AF, Mace EM, Saeed MB, et al., 2017, Nanoscale dynamism of F-actin enables secretory function in cytolytic cells., Annual Joint Meeting of the American-Society-for-Cell-Biology and the European-Molecular-Biology-Organization (ASCB/EMBO), AMER SOC CELL BIOLOGY, ISSN:1059-1524

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