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Dr David Matthews - University of Bristol. Bristol, , GB

Dr David Matthews Dr David Matthews

Reader in Virology | University of Bristol


Applying high throughput approaches to study infectious disease

Areas of Expertise (9)




Adenovirus Vaccines

Respiratory Viruses



Zoonotic Agents



Dr David Matthews is based in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol’s School of Medical Sciences. He is an expert in zoonotic agents and developed key techniques to apply state of the art ‘Omics technologies to study viruses in non-human species, notably bat lines infected with the dangerous zoonotic Hendra virus. He led the development of computational pipelines to enable large scale sequencing of Ebola virus genomes in the 2013-2015 Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa. Most recently, he was BBSRC funded to work on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), resulting in key research papers that informed discussions in the WHO Covid-19 steering group because of the importance to pre-clinical vaccine trials.

Dr Matthews is one of the world’s leading academics applying high throughput approaches to study infectious disease. His primary focus is on the integration of quantitative transcriptomic and proteomic data, and on building links with clinical colleagues to gain a deeper understanding of how viral infections evolve in an individual host during infection.






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Education (1)

University of St Andrews: PhD

Media Appearances (5)

Covid Vaccine: Will We Need One Every Year?

HuffPost  online


Dr David Matthews, reader in virology at the University of Bristol, predicts we’ll need a regular vaccine for the next few years to deal with any problematic variants that arise and to help people’s immune systems to remember the virus. But in the long-term, he thinks we won’t need an annual jab as our bodies will build up sufficient immune memory to fight the virus.

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Pfizer launches Vaccine Centre of Excellence at the University of Bristol

Epigram  online


On his visit to the University today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock met with virologists Dr Andrew Davidson and Dr David Matthews. The two Bristol academics were the only team at any UK university who were studying “live” human coronaviruses at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and were the first UK academics to publish research based on laboratory studies of the live human SARS-CoV-2 virus, within a few weeks of receiving samples from Public Health England.

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Vaccines: New Pfizer research centre opens in Bristol

BBC News  online


During his visit Mr Hancock met virologists Dr Andrew Davidson and Dr David Matthews. At the start of the pandemic, the two doctors were the only team in a UK university working with "live" human coronaviruses and the first UK team to publish research using the live human SARS-CoV-2 virus - another name for Covid-19 - in a controlled lab.

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Bristol Covid-19 variant: Experts monitor new mutation

BBC News  online


University of Bristol virologist Dr David Matthews said above all vaccines should still be able to prevent people being hospitalised with Covid-19. "As far as we can tell, none of the viruses that are emerging can do the thing that you dread - which is that it can both evade the vaccine and still put people in hospital - because that's really the only thing we need to worry about."

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University of Bristol joins major £4million study to help develop coronavirus vaccine

Epigram  online


Dr. David Matthews and Dr. Andrew Davidson will join collaborators from Public Health England, the University of Liverpool, the University of Oxford, A*STAR in Singapore, and King Fahd Medical City in Saudi Arabia, who also have teams working on the project.

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Articles (5)

SARS-CoV-2 vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 infection of human cell lines reveals low levels of viral backbone gene transcription alongside very high levels of SARS-CoV-2 S glycoprotein gene transcription

Genome Medicine

ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 is a recombinant adenovirus vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 that has passed phase III clinical trials and is now in use across the globe. Although replication-defective in normal cells, 28 kbp of adenovirus genes is delivered to the cell nucleus alongside the SARS-CoV-2 S glycoprotein gene.

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Analysis of an Ebola virus disease survivor whose host and viral markers were predictive of death indicates the effectiveness of medical countermeasures and supportive care

Genome Medicine

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is an often-fatal infection where the effectiveness of medical countermeasures is uncertain. During the West African outbreak (2013–2016), several patients were treated with different types of anti-viral therapies including monoclonal antibody-based cocktails that had the potential to neutralise Ebola virus (EBOV). However, at the time, the efficacy of these therapies was uncertain.

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Detecting SARS-CoV-2 variants with SNP genotyping

PloS one

Tracking genetic variations from positive SARS-CoV-2 samples yields crucial information about the number of variants circulating in an outbreak and the possible lines of transmission but sequencing every positive SARS-CoV-2 sample would be prohibitively costly for population-scale test and trace operations. Genotyping is a rapid, high-throughput and low-cost alternative for screening positive SARS-CoV-2 samples in many settings.

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Identification and quantification of SARS-CoV-2 leader subgenomic mRNA gene junctions in nasopharyngeal samples shows phasic transcription in animal models of COVID-19 and aberrant pattens in humans


SARS-CoV-2 has a complex strategy for the transcription of viral subgenomic mRNAs (sgmRNAs), which are targets for nucleic acid diagnostics. Each of these sgRNAs has a unique 5’ sequence, the leader-transcriptional regulatory sequence gene junction (leader-TRS-junction), that can be identified using sequencing.

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Editorial: Host Innate Immune Responses to Infection by Avian- and Bat-Borne Viruses

Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated many urgent questions on the origin, trajectory, and host preference of its causative betacoronavirus SARS-CoV-2, as well as renewed focus on other potentially zoonotic viruses. Several species of birds and wild bats can serve as reservoirs and/or mechanical vectors for many infectious viruses including influenza-A, SARS-CoV, MERS, and Ebola.

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