Edinburgh Research Explorer

Prof David Gally

Personal Chair in Microbial Genetics

Profile photo

Phone: +44 (0)131 651 9242

Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

Education / Academic qualification

1988Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE1 7RU, UK.
'Cell wall assembly in Gram positive bacteria.'
1985Bachelor of Science, University of Newcastle

Current Research Interests

Co-ordination of bacterial surface factor expression during infection and the development of vaccines to limit bacterial zoonotic diseases.

Research Interests

My main research focus is the regulation of expression of surface organelles produced by Escherichia coli and Salmonella serovars. The work studies how the many different factors such as fimbrial adhesins, flagella, capsules and secretion systems are co-ordinated during infection to prevent interference with each another and excessive immune stimulation. Through this understanding we are contributing to the development of vaccines by targeting these virulence factors.

Specific projects are based on E. coli strains associated with severe gastrointestinal disease (enterohaemorrhagic E. coli O157 and O26), urinary tract infections and more recently an interest in strains associated with newborn meningitis and chronic infections (mastitis and Crohn’s).

The research uses genetic manipulation of the bacteria to knock out genes and to alter regulation pathways. We like to image the bacteria at the single cell level and aim to study sequential expression of surface factors by individual bacteria using a combination of fluorescent protein fusions and immunodetection.

Administrative Roles

Internal Committees and Responsibilities:
I was Deputy Head of the Bacteriology and Pathogenesis IDG and now a member of the Centre for Infectious Diseases management group.

I am currently the section Biological Safety Officer and sit on the Division of Biomedical Sciences GMO committee and the Veterinary School quality assurance committee.

External Committees and Responsibilities:
I am an Associate Editor for Microbiology (SGM).

I was part of the zoonoses grant assessment panel for DEFRA (formerly MAFF) in 1999 and 2001. I was also on a panel of five that took part in a review of DEFRA-funded food-borne zoonoses work in Feb. 2002.

I was invited by the American Academy of Sciences to participate in a special workshop to discuss food-borne infections in Nov. 2003 in Perthshire that led to an Academy document: Preharvest Food Safety and Security 

I review research grants for the BBSRC, Wellcome Trust, MRC and DEFRA.

I have reviewed manuscripts for journals including: Nature Biotechnology, Molecular Microbiology, Microbiology, Cellular Microbiology, Journal of Bacteriology, Infection and Immunity, the Journal of Medical Microbiology and FEMS Microbiology Letters.


As a member of the R(D)SVS I teach the undergraduate veterinary students basic aspects of ‘Infection and Immunity’, focusing on bacteriology. This includes diagnostic bacteriology practicals.

I also contribute to the veterinary public health teaching and a distance learning ‘International Animal Health’ MSc course.

I teach a special options course to 4th year Medical Microbiology students concerned with understanding the mechanisms of action of bacterial effector proteins in ‘host’ eukaryotic cells.

Dr Jai Tree supports the teaching to the honours students.

My research in a nutshell

My research studies the different factors that are expressed on the surface of bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Salmonella. The aim is to work out how these factors are co-ordinated during infection of an individual so that they do not interfere with each other. The action of these factors also contributes to the bacterial mechanisms for avoiding activation of the individual's immune system. If we can find out more about these bacterial surface factors, then we will be able to develop vaccines that will recognise them and prevent infection.

In response to the news of a recent outbreak of severe life-threatening infections associated with an unusual strain of E. coli in Germany I provided a viewpoint that can be viewed by clicking here.


Completed Theses

Amin Tahoun - 2011


Major grants awarded (Principle investigator – PI; Co-applicant - CA)
DEFRA Veterinary Training and Research Award (VTRI). Integration of functional genomics and immunology and their application to infectious disease in ruminants. Sept. 2004 – Aug. 2009 (CA).

LINK grant: DEFRA with Novartis Animal Vaccines Ltd. Vaccination strategies for control of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7 in cattle. Nov.. 2005-Oct 2008. (PI).

FSA grant with SAC. Detection of Sorbitol-fermenting E. coli O157 strains. Nov 2007 – April 2009. (CA).

Wellcome Trust research grant: The regulation of virulence loci in enteropathogenic Escherichia coli by PerA, B and C. June 2002 - May 2007 (ext). (PI).

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Escherichia coli interventions and control. June 2003 – Mar. 2007 (ext). (CA).

Wellcome Trust research grant: Cross-talk between adhesin gene clusters in uropathogenic Escherichia coli. March 2003 - August 2006 (ext). (PI).

BBSRC research grant. The molecular basis to Escherichia coli O157:H7 colonisation of the terminal rectum in cattle. Dec. 2003 – Nov. 2006. (PI).

Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Veterinary Research Fellowship in Microbiology/Pathology, Oct. 1999 – Sept. 2004. (PI).

Scottish Higher Education Funding Council refurbishment and equipment costs with the DEFRA Fellowship. (PI).

BBSRC research grant: analysis of novel adhesin gene clusters in Escherichia coli O157. January 2002 – May 2005 (ext). (PI).

Research funded by Novartis Animal Vaccines Ltd towards vaccine development against enterohaemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7. April 2003 – March 2005. (PI).

BBSRC research grant: cross-regulation between adhesin gene clusters in Escherichia coli. May 1999 – April 2002. (PI).

Research activities & awards

  1. Video explaining type III secretion

    Activity: Public engagement and outreachMedia article or participation

  2. 7th VTEC international symposium 2009

    Activity: Participation in conference, seminar or training courseParticipation in conference

View all (2) »

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