Born in Southport, Lancashire in 1953, he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in applied Biology from Liverpool in 1975 and his PhD in cancer immunology from Sheffield in 1978. He has held posts at the University of Sheffield (1975–78), Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand (1978–79), The University of London, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (1979–1983) and the University of Southampton Medical School (1984–2005). He became a member of The Royal Society of Pathologists in 1997 and later a Fellow of the same Royal Society in 2004.
David Flavell co-founded the children’s leukaemia research charity Leukaemia Busters together with his wife Dr. Sopsamorn (Bee) Flavell, Robert and Wendy Sutcliffe and Julie Daws. Shortly after the formation of Leukaemia Busters in 1989, he became the charity’s honorary Scientific Director and remained so until 2005 when he retired from his post as Senior Lecturer at the University of Southampton to become full time Scientific Director for the charity. He has retained an honorary title with the University of Southampton Medical School.
David Flavell’s career in cancer research spans more than 35 years and during this time he has made significant research contributions in a number of areas, most notably the development of a particular class of antibody-based drug termed immunotoxins that are capable of targeting cancer cells in the patients’ body without harming normal tissues. He has been largely responsible for three separate early phase clinical trials with immunotoxins in adult patients with B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (B-NHL), multiple myeloma and in children with pre-B cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
David Flavell also heads The Simon Flavell Leukaemia Research Laboratory at Southampton General Hospital, so named after his ten-year-old son who died with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 1990. The main thrust of his current research is concerned with the development of the next generation of genetically engineered immunotoxins and devising ways of improving their therapeutic effectiveness and widening their therapeutic window.
Over the years, David Flavell has published many original research papers in high ranking international medical journals and as chapters in various academic book titles. He continues to collaborate with scientists in Italy, Germany, Thailand and the USA in pursuit of his research objective of devising improved treatments for patients with currently incurable forms of leukaemia and lymphoma.
David Flavell has been married to Dr Sopsamorn (Bee) Flavell since 1978 with whom he has worked in medical research almost continuously since 1975. They have two daughters and live in Hampshire.
- Flavell D. J. Saporin Immunotoxins, Curr Top Microbiol Immunol, 234, 57-61 (1998)
- Lombardi, A., Bursomanno, S., Lopardo, T., Traini, R., Colombatti, M., Ippoliti, R., Flavell, D.J., Flavell, S.U., Ceriotti, A. & Fabbrini, M.S. (2010) FASEB J. 24(1) 253-65