Simon Davis grew up in South Australia and completed a science degree at Flinders University in Adelaide in 1982. His PhD studies on Dictyostelium developmental biochemistry at Flinders were supervised by John Wheldrake. Under John’s influence he developed an interest in the cell surface and became particularly impressed by the pioneering work of Alan Williams on the T-cell surface. During a brief stint in California at UCSD as a visiting student in the laboratories of Hud Freeze and Ajit Varki, he became aware of the power of molecular biological techniques and the need to do medically-oriented research as a long-term career strategy. In 1987 he secured a post-doctoral position in Alan William’s laboratory in Oxford to focus on T-cell surface biology. Collaborations with Shinji Ikemizu, Yvonne Jones, Dave Stuart and particularly Anton van der Merwe have been critical to his work.
In 1995 he established his own laboratory in the Nuffield Department of Medicine and seven years later at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. His work is sponsored principally by The Wellcome Trust and the UK Medical Research Council. In the course of his work he determined the crystal structures of important T-cell surface proteins including the first adhesion protein (CD2) and its ligand CD58, the costimulatory receptor CD28 and its ligand CD80, and the large tyrosine phosphatase CD45. He also established how weak, specific recognition is achieved by these types of proteins and obtained the first insights into the likely overall protein composition of the T-cell surface. Most importantly he proposed with van der Merwe a complete and now well-supported explanation for leukocyte receptor triggering, known as the kinetic-segregation model.
5 Key Publications
Host: Hannes Stockinger
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