Welcome to the Davidson Group

This is the personal website of Prof. Donald J. Davidson, highlighting research and engagement activities. For Professor Davidson’s professional website within the University of Edinburgh, please see the Centre for Inflammation Research.
View Professor D.J. Davidson’s profile on the Centre for Inflammation Research website

What is our Research Focus?

Our research focuses on understanding the physiological importance of host defence peptides to our ability to combat bacterial and viral infections. In addition, we study the potential of host defence peptides in the development of novel therapeutic approaches, with the potential to circumvent problems of microbial resistance to conventional treatments by enhancing natural defences.

What is our Research Group Ethos?

In 2020 our research team worked together to create a statement detailing the group’s responsibilities and expectations, which we hope all future members of the team will also use as a guiding framework.

View the Davidson Group Ethos Statement


Find out about our research


See our group’s recent research publications

Information for the Public

Get closer to our work


We focus on the role of host defence peptides (HDP; also known as antimicrobial peptides) as modulators of inflammation, immunity and cell differentiation & death in infectious and inflammatory diseases. We have particular interest in diseases of the lungs (including infections with RSV and influenza, and cystic fibrosis) and the skin (including atopic dermatitis), as well as novel approaches to cancer immunotherapy and extending our knowledge of inflammatory processes to the development of novel therapeutics.


Winter Graduations 2022

26th November 2022 It was a pleasure to see Sofia Sintoris, Katie Smith and Katharin Balbirnie-Cumming all graduate today. It has been great to work with you all!
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Collaboration with Edinburgh College of Art – Operation Colodenum

Semester 1 – 2022 Researchers at the University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research are developing a new, online vaccine-themed learning resource, in collaboration with local schools and animation students from the Edinburgh College of Art. The interactive, discovery-based schools…
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NEW PAPER Our latest paper, together with Emily Gwyer Findlay’s group, by Katie Smith, is now published in PLoS Biology. This has been a long-standing project and we are delighted to see the research published and freely available to read.…
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Congratulations Katharin Balbirnie-Cumming Katharin Balbirnie-Cumming today successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled “Novel Macrophage Microbicidal Responses Against Gram-Positive Bacteria”. Many thanks to her examiners Dr Helen Marriott and Dr Emily Gwyer Findlay.
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@discovimmunol: Antimicrobial host defence peptides (HDPs) are abundant in #mucosal tissues & have potent immunomodulatory actions Here @Katie_Smith_895 & @GwyerFindlay explore evidence for the role of #HDPs in protecting the brain from pathogens ➡️https://t.co/vKkxv94CWJ https://t.co/XarfGCsjFf
@britsocimm: The next round of our Communication & Engagement Grant closes this week! Do you have a great idea for a #PublicEngagement activity? Apply for up to £1,000 for a project to spark conversations about #immunology 💥 Deadline: Wednesday 1 Feb 👉https://t.co/PmrMRwEXfn https://t.co/lKdvxFJITt
@cmvm_research: 🧵 Introducing our Academic Leads for Public Engagement #CMVMALPEs Meet Prof Sara Brown (@drsarabrown), a professor of dermatology and @WellcomeTrust senior research fellow leading a group @UoE_CGEM at @EdinUni. https://t.co/FvNOEPIOyn
@bsicongress: We're delighted to host two keynote speakers for #BarrierInflammation2023! ⭐ Prof Dame Fiona Powrie @powrie_lab ⭐ Prof Muzz Haniffa @Muzz_Haniffa Join us on 26-27 April in Manchester! Abstract submission & registration are open 👉https://t.co/t1XV0pJrih https://t.co/TYngQxEYnJ

Donald J. Davidson is a medical graduate of the University of Edinburgh who chose to pursue a scientific research career. He completed a PhD at the MRC Human Genetics Unit, studying the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis lung disease, then was awarded a Wellcome Trust Travelling Research Fellowship to undertake post-doctoral training in innate immunity research at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. After four years in Canada, he was recruited to the MRC / University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research, where he has developed an independent research group, focused on host defence peptides and pulmonary innate defence mechanisms, funded as a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellow, and subsequently as an MRC Senior Non-clinical Fellow, before being awarded the personal Chair of Host Defence and Inflammation Biology.

Portrait photo of Professor Davidson

University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research

The group is part of the University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research; a multidisciplinary centre established in 1999 to bring together a critical mass of internationally outstanding researchers in inflammation, harnessing the skills of basic and clinical scientists to conduct internationally competitive research on the roles of inflammation in health and disease, in order to develop new approaches toward diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

Picture of the Queen's Medical Research Institute building