David helps to promote discoveries from his previous group and from other colleagues in the natural product field at the John Innes Centre and around the world.
Perhaps the most important realisation towards the end of his research career was that the actinomycetes, a group of largely soil-dwelling bacteria that produce most antibiotics of clinical relevance, carry the genetic potential to produce far more specialised metabolites than are revealed via traditional screening.
The challenge is to find efficient ways to “wake up” these “sleeping” genes, which are undoubtedly expressed in nature under specific conditions not normally reproduced in the laboratory, so as to make their products available as potential drug leads in the fight against antibiotic resistant pathogens.
David’s activities include editing, writing commentaries and contributing to symposia.
He was also founding co-director of a biennial series of summer schools in Croatia on microbial specialised metabolites.