Professor David J. Blackbourn

Professor David J. Blackbourn
Professor David J. Blackbourn
Professor David J. Blackbourn

Professor of Virology, Director of Institute of Medical Sciences

Accepting PhDs

Office Address
Institute of Medical Sciences
Foresterhill Campus
Ashgrove Road West
AB25 2ZD

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School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition


David’s PhD (1990) is in molecular genetics and he has worked on different aspects of virology and immunology including in the USA, where he worked at the University of California (UC) for nine years on HIV and Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV), including six years with Dr Jay A. Levy. 

David’s research more recently has focused on viruses that are responsible for causing cancer.  In particular, he concentrates on how such viruses hide from the immune system.  By studying human viruses that have evolved with their host for at least 25 million years, David believes that unique insight into the workings of the immune system can be gained.  This knowledge can then be put to good use to treat immune system disorders.  Techniques include a combination of molecular virology and immunology.

He has either authored or co-authored over £8m in funded research grant awards and published over 75 manuscripts that have been cited over 5000 times (Google Scholar), with two papers cited over 600 times each and a further three papers cited over 200 times each.

David returned to the UK from the USA in 1999 to his first lectureship at the University of Glasgow.  In 2005 he moved to the University of Birmingham and received his Chair there in 2010.  He moved to the University of Surrey to be Head of the Department of Microbial Sciences in August 2013 and in December of that year was appointed Head of the School of Biosciences and Medicine, consisting of four departments, a clinical trials faciility and a clinical trials unit.  He held that position for eight years. 

David is proud to have been appointed Director of the Institute of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, commencing January 2022.


External Memberships

David is one of three Founding Directors of Ducentis Biotherapeutics ( established in 2015 to exploit his research findings to create next generation anti-inflammatory and autoimmune medicines.  David serves as a non-executive board member for Ducentis, which has secured c£4m in start-up funding, including from LifeArc.

He is one of three Editors-in-Chief for FEMS Microbiology Reviews (, which publishes invited comprehensive and authoritative reviews on all aspects of microbiology from leading authors.  FEMS Microbiology Reviews ranked 6th of 134 Microbiology journals in the 2020 Journal Citation Reports.

Latest Publications

View My Publications


Research Areas

Accepting PhDs

I am currently accepting PhDs in Biomedical Sciences.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Biomedical Sciences

Accepting PhDs

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