Professor David Horn



Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery, School of Life Sciences

Portrait photo of David Horn
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+44 (0)1382 386286


African trypanosomes are parasitic protists which cause sleeping sickness or Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) and the livestock disease, nagana. They are masters of antigenic variation and immune evasion in the host bloodstream. One goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying this process. DNA repair is required to replace the active Variant Surface Glycoprotein (VSG) gene with a new VSG and VSG expression is monoallelic (at a telomere) so our work in this area focuses on understanding mechanisms of DNA recombination and monotelomeric gene expression.

We also seek to understand drug action and resistance. We recently identified >50 genes linked to drug action. Suramin uptake was shown to be via receptor (ISG75)-mediated endocytosis while an aquaglyceroporin (AQP2) controls melarsoprol-pentamidine cross-resistance; AQP2 has now also been linked to clinical cases of melarsoprol resistance.

Our exploitation of genome sequence data is underpinned by technology development. In particular, we have developed an RNAi library screening method called RNA Interference Target sequencing or RIT-seq. Our research is supported by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council and DH is a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator.

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Professor Horn’s research focusses on Neglected Tropical Diseases, caused by trypanosomes. Areas of expertise include drug resistance, drug development, gene expression control, immune evasion, molecular genetics, and high-throughput genetic screens.

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Areas of expertise

  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Infectious diseases


Award Year
Innovator of the Year 2022
Major Personal Funding Awards / Wellcome Investigator Award 2019
International Science Prizes awarded since 1990 / William Trager Award for Basic Parasitology 2019
Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 2017
National Sciences Prizes awarded since 1990 / C.A. Wright Memorial Medal 2016
Major Personal Funding Awards / Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award 2012