Getting to Know- David Horn

David Horn, Professor of Parasite Molecular Biology and Deputy Director of WCAIR and the Division of Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery was recently awarded the William Trager award by the American Committee of Molecular, Cellular and Immunoparasitology (ACMCIP). The award recognises  scientists who have made substantial contributions in the field of basic parasitology. David was presented with the award at the 68th Annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in recognition of of his contribution to global efforts to overcome the disease known as African sleeping sickness.

We found a few moments in David’s busy schedule to find out what inspired him to become a scientist and check that he has a few hobbies.


Question: What is your earliest science memory ?
Answer: Our slightly eccentric, but very effective, biology teacher explaining how the eye works.

Q: Did a particular person(s) or event start your career as a scientist?
A: Nothing specific – only that science always seemed more amazing than made-up explanations for how things happened or work.

Q: What characteristics make a good scientist?
A: Someone who enjoys solving mysteries.

Q: Do you think being a scientist impacts the way you approach everything in life?
A: There may be a risk of trying to be too pragmatic about everything.

Q: Do non-science life experiences contribute towards success in the lab?
A: Success in the lab definitely involves more than just science.

Q: What motivates you to come into work every day?
A: There’s always something exciting to try to move forward – which can be done from home sometimes though.

Q: Is there any part of human lives where science can’t help or inform?
A: Hmmm, I honestly can’t think of anything that I couldn’t argue against. I’ve obviously been doing this job too long….

Q: Was there a ‘sliding doors’ moment when you could have chosen a different career path?
A: When I was 18, I was working at Beechams and had been going to college one day a week for two years. The section manager was passing, stopped for a chat, and asked me what my plans were and whether I was going to apply for a Degree course at University – he told me the application deadline was that day and that I could take the afternoon off if I wanted to fill and submit the UCAS forms.

Q: Do you ever wish you had chosen a different career?
A: No. I did used to think I would have liked to study medicine though.

Q: If we had to put all our science activities into solving only one problem currently impacting humans which one would you choose?
A: We need to solve a range of problems – I couldn’t choose only one.

Q: How do we help the science community and general public understand each other better?
A: We need more journalists, politicians and others that really understand and strongly support evidence-based thinking.


David Horn and his 3 boys out for a walk

Born: Shoreham – UK South Coast

Favourite Book: The Remains of the Day by Ishiguro Kazuo or anything by Graham Greene.

Favourite Film: Recently seen – ‘Get out’ and ‘Fences’ – also ‘Avatar’.

Favourite Box set binge: ‘Not going out’

Favourite thing to do at the weekend: Driving our boys around! Oh, and going swimming, cycling and reading the paper.

Desert Island Luxury: A computer with WiFi – is that cheating  [yes!]– sunblock then!

Which record would you save from the incoming Tay tide: Probably something by Nirvana or Lamb – maybe change the above to something to play it on…