Douglas Young: Biography

Douglas Young was introduced to mycobacteria research in 1978 by Dick Rees, who led the leprosy research group based in the Mellanby Building at the Medical Research Council National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR). Having completed a DPhil on microbial enzymology at Oxford, he then spent two years working on leprosy at the Foundation for Medical Research in Bombay.

After further post-doctoral work on cholera at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, he returned to leprosy research with an appointment as Assistant Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. Work on the serodiagnosis of leprosy led to an interest in the use of monoclonal antibodies to dissect the antigen repertoire of mycobacteria, and a return to London in 1985 as a member of the MRC Tuberculosis and Related Infections Unit at Hammersmith Hospital.

Using a combination of immunology and molecular biology, he played a major role in initiating the research on mycobacterial pathogenesis that underpins current approaches to development of new drugs and vaccines for tuberculosis.

In 1993, Douglas was appointed Fleming Professor of Medical Microbiology at St Mary's Hospital Medical School, subsequently incorporated as part of the new Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College. Together with Professor Gordon Dougan and the support of the Wellcome Trust, he helped to establish the Centre for Molecular Microbiology and Infection (CMMI) at Imperial College in 2001, bringing together a critical mass of scientists and creating core infrastructure to promote exploitation of research opportunities arising from sequencing of the genomes of microbial pathogens.

In 2005, he coordinated a proposal to the BBSRC/EPSRC which led to formation of the Centre for Integrative Systems Biology at Imperial College (CISBIC), pioneering novel approaches to address complex problems in biology by forming partnerships of wet-lab experimentalists with mathematicians and computer scientists.

From his early years in India, Douglas Young has been involved in international science, serving as Chairman of the WHO Steering Group on Immunology of Mycobacteria (IMMYC) from 1992 to 1998, and as member of the Coordinating Board and Chair of the Vaccines Working Group of the Global Partnership to Stop TB from 2002 to 2006. He is Principal Investigator on a $20 million project funded jointly by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust to address Grand Challenges in Global Health. This project involves a global consortium of researchers spread across seven time zones, with the goal of developing new drugs for the treatment of latent TB. He also coordinates an international project to study the economic and health impact of bovine tuberculosis in Ethiopia as part of the Wellcome Trust initiative on Animal Health in the Developing World.

Douglas Young
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  • Qualifications and History
  • 1978 DPhil University of Oxford, UK
  • 1978 Post-doctoral Fellow, Foundation for Medical Research, Mumbai, India
  • 1980 Post-doctoral Fellow, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK
  • 1982 Assistant Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
  • 1985 Career Scientist, MRC Tuberculosis and Related Infections Unit, London, UK
  • 1993 Fleming Professor of Medical Microbiology, Imperial College London, UK
  • 2007 Head of Division of Mycobacterial Research, Medical Research Council National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK
  • 2015 Group Leader, the Francis Crick Institute, London, UK