David Cavanagh

  • Born: 1951 (United Kingdom)
  • Inducted: 2013
Born in Leeds, England, Dave Cavanagh’s first degree (BSc) was in Microbiology, from the University of Reading, 1972. Three years later he received his PhD for research at the Animal Virus Research Institute, Pirbright. From there he went to the Middlesex Hospital Medical School to study anti-ribosomal autoimmune antibodies, followed by research on influenza virus at the University of Birmingham.

In 1979 he joined the staff of the Houghton Poultry Research Station, which was the start of his three-decade association with poultry viruses. Initially Dave’s research was focussed on the coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), starting with the identification and molecular characterisation of the virion proteins. He received the Bart Rispens award in 1985 for his early work on molecular/immunogenic aspects of the IBV spike protein. Dave served two terms as Chair of the Coronavirus Study Group of the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses.

He expanded his research to include pioneering molecular characterisation of avian metapneumovirus shortly after its arrival in Europe, followed by the application of this knowledge in the field. Dave also carried out molecular and field studies on pheasant and turkey coronaviruses, astroviruses in turkeys, and sequenced the whole genome of avian encephalomyelitis virus.

On the closure of Houghton in 1992, Dave transferred his research to the Compton Laboratory of the Institute for Animal Health, where he became Head of the Coronavirus Group. In total he has published 97 original research papers in peer-reviewed journals, 17 scientific review articles, 25 book chapters, and was the editor of a book on coronaviruses and other nidoviruses.

In 1997 he became Editor-in-Chief of Avian Pathology, a post that he held for 12 years. He was an active member of the British Veterinary Poultry Association, starting in the days when the acronym ‘PCR’ still had an exotic ring to it, which led to a long interaction with WVPA and the poultry industry.

Outside work Dave is an enthusiastic hill walker and a supporter of Rugby League, a sport on which he can always be relied upon to talk, no matter how inappropriate the occasion!

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