Curiosity driven science is at the centre of Ian's search for knowledge. He is passionate about education and helping students invest in their learning. He recieved the Vice chancellor's award for teaching in 2017. Ian is enthusiastic about experimental science and has been at the forefront of ground-breaking advances in chlamydial transformation and genomics as well as virus discovery and characterisation. His current interests are intracellular pathogens, focusing on the genetics of Chlamydia and he has a long term interest in the development of culture systems for human noroviruses.
- Transposon mutagenesis of Chlamydia species
- Cell culture systems and replicons for human noroviruses
Ian leads a research team that is interested in host-pathogen interactions with special emphasis on intracellular pathogens and diseases for which there are currently no effective vaccines. The Chlamydia research group focusses on basic science with expertise in chlamydial molecular biology, genetics, genomics and evolution. Ian retains an interest in virology, here his specialism is enteric viruses. The ‘Southampton virus’ was the first norovirus to be characterised at the molecular level (published in Science). The group have subsequently developed the first reverse genetics system for noroviruses and the long term aim is to adapt human norovirus to growth in cell culture.
Ian was appointed to the Chair of Molecular Microbiology and Virology in 1998. He graduated in Microbiology (BSc Hons - advanced virology) from the University of Leeds in 1979 and completed his PhD in Molecular Virology at the University of Warwick in 1982 studying genomic variation in rotaviruses. He worked in the biotech industry for two years and then started his academic career as a ‘new blood lecturer’ in microbial pathogenesis at the University of Southampton in 1984. Some of Ian's signficiant contributions are listed below:
He set up and co ordinated the third year UG course Molecular Virology FM301 for 20 years. He also established teaching of molecular biology and molecular genetics for medical students following his appointment in 1984. He was promoted to Senior lecturer in 1991 and Reader in 1997.
Ian joined the senior leadership team and oversaw the re structuring and transition of the medical school from Professorial groups to Research Divisions in 1998 as Director of the Division of Cell and Molecular Medicine from 1998 - 2001. He then served as head of the sub Division Tissue Infection and Repair from 2004 to 2009.
Ian and Professor Tony Sampson ( Director of Division of Allergy and Inflammation) co lead the successful application for a SRIF grant of £10 million from the Wellcome Trust to refurbish the research facilities in the South Laboratory and Pathology building at Southampton University Hospital. This included the construction of a new Class 3 containment suite. These activities facilitated the establishment of the current School of Clinical and Experimental Sciences.
External to the Faculty Ian has been a grant committee/panel member for multiple organisations both in the UK (Wellcome, MRC, FSA) and also for overseas grant study groups.
Ian was chair of the European Society for Chlamydia Research (2012-2016) and together with his team organised the Eighth meeting of the European Society for Chlamydia research, held in Oxford 6-9th September 2016.
Ian is interested in microbial evolution and has written several discourses on these subjects both for Chlamydia and noroviruses. In particular he was chair of the Calicivirus study group which brought order to the nomenclature and introduced the term norovirus to the lexicon (see 9th report of the ICTV)