Professor David Westhead

David Westhead


Turing Fellow and Turing University Lead - Leeds

Partner Institution


David Westhead is Professor of Bioinformatics at the University of Leeds. He gained his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Oxford in 1992, following undergraduate study in Natural Sciences (Physics and Theoretical Physics) at the University of Cambridge. Following PhD studies he worked in industry for a number of years as a mathematical modeller, statistician and computational biologist on problems as diverse as risk assessment following pesticide exposure and drug design.

He returned to academic work with a position at the European Bioinformatics Institute, working on protein structure with Professor Janet M. Thornton in 1996. From here he was recruited as Lecturer in Bioinformatics at the University of Leeds in 1998 and promoted to Senior Lecturer (2003) and Professor (2006). He has published over 100 scientific articles in peer reviewed journals and has an H index of 37 (Web of Science). He was Head of the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology in Leeds from 2011-2018.

Research interests

David Westhead's research interests focus on genome scale data sets in cell biology and cancer research. In cell biology he is interested in predictive models of genetic regulation, and understanding how cell fate is controlled. Applied work concerns cancers of blood cells, leukaemias and lymphomas, where he is concerned with precision medicine. This involves using integrated genomic and gene expression information to understand underlying molecular mechanisms and suggest approaches to novel treatments. In this he collaborates extensively with clinicians and wet laboratory scientists, using large data sets from clinical trials and the general population.

He uses methods from statistics and machine learning. For example machine learning methods developed in his group have recently been used prospectively in randomisation for a major international clinical trial. More detail of this work is available at the links under his profile photo.