Blizard Institute - Barts and The London

Professor Daniel Pennington


Professor of Molecular Immunology, Centre Lead

Telephone: 020 7882 2302



Professor Pennington obtained his PhD from the National Institute for Medical Research in North London under the supervision of Dr. Elaine Dzierzak, where he studied the interaction of HIV regulatory proteins with the immune system. After spending a year at Yale University School of Medicine with Professor Richard Flavell, he moved to the lab of Dr. Mike Owen at Cancer Research UK, London, where he commenced his studies on T cell development. Dr. Pennington moved to the Blizard Institute from Professor Adrian Hayday’s Department of Immunobiology at Guy’s King’s and St. Thomas’ School of Medicine (Guy’s Hospital), where his work focused on the development and function of unconventional T cells.



The organs in the body that interface with the environment (e.g. skin; gut; lungs), need immune surveillance, first to limit systemic propagation of microbes that penetrate epithelial barriers, and second to maintain epithelial integrity from the threat of mutagenesis and the potential for systemic dissemination of malignant cells.

Our recent work has built on observations that immune surveillance of organs is critically contributed to by sets of unconventional T cells, some of which may be constitutively resident within particular, non-lymphoid tissues such as the gut. Intriguingly, these intraepithelial T cell populations not only have direct anti-pathogen and anti-tumour effector function, but are also associated with anti-inflammatory immunoregulatory responses that are implicated in many autoimmune pathologies.

With this as a basis to our work, the lab is working to establish an improved understanding of the development and function of unconventional T cells, focusing on their thymic development, and using the gut as a model system to study their function in the control of pathogens and in the immunosurveillance of tumours.


Module lead – 1st Year MBBS - Fundamentals in Medicine (Immunology)
Module lead – 2nd Year SBCS – Basic Immunology
Module lead – MSc Medical microbiology (Immunology)
Teaching on iBSc for Centre of Immunology and Infectious Diseases

Topics for PhD supervision:

  • The role of TCRγδ in γδ cell development
  • Thymic development of unconventional intra-epithelial lymphocytes
  • The role of γδ cells in host responses to tumours
  • The role of the two isoforms of pTα in T cell development


Research Interests:

Immunology; T cell development; The thymus; Host immune response to cancer; Immunology of the gut

Recent and ongoing research projects:

  • The role of TCRγδ in γδ cell development
  • Defining stages in γδ cell development
  • Thymic development of unconventional intra-epithelial lymphocytes (IELs)
  • The immune-related mechanisms of Autoimmune Thrombocytopenia (ITP)
  • The role of γδ cells in host responses to tumours
  • The role of the two isoforms of pTα in T cell development
  • T cell development in the human thymus


Schmolka N., Serre K., Grosso A.R., Rei M., Pennington D.J., Gomes A.Q., Silva-Santos B. (2013). Epigenetic and transcriptional signatures of stable versus plastic differentiation of proinflammatory γδ T cell subsets. Nat Immunol 14(10):1093-1100.

Prinz I., Silva-Santos, B., Pennington D.J. (2013). Functional development of γδ cells. Eur J Immunol 43(8):1988-1994.

Michel M.L., Pang D.J., Haque S.F., Potocnik A.J., Pennington D.J., Hayday A.C. (2012). Interleukin 7 (IL-7) selectively promotes mouse and human IL-17-producing γδ cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109(43) p17549-17554.

Mahtani-Patching J., Neves J. F., Pang D. J., Stoenchev K. V., Aguirre-Blanco A. M., Silva-Santos B, Pennington D. J, (2011). PreTCR and TCRγδ Signal Initiation in Thymocyte Progenitors Does Not Require Domains Implicated in Receptor Oligomerization. Sci Signal. 4(182):ra47.

Ribot J. C., deBarros A., Pang D. J., Neves J. F., Peperzak V., Roberts S. J. Girardi M., Borst J. Hayday A. C., Pennington D. J, Silva-Santos B. (2009). CD27 is a thymic determinant of the balance between interferon-γ- and interleukin-17-producing γδ T cell subsets. Nat Immunol. 10(4) p427-436.

Hayday A. C. and Pennington D. J.(2007). Key factors in the organised chaos of early T cell development. Nat Immunol 8(2) p137-144.

Pennington D. J., Silva-Santos B., Silberzahn T., Escorcio-Correia M., Woodward M. J., Roberts S. J., Smith A. L., Dyson P. J., and Hayday A. C. (2006). Early events in the thymus affect the balance of effector and regulatory T cells. Nature 444 (7122) p1073-1077.

Silva-Santos B.*, Pennington D. J.*and Hayday A. C. (2005). Lymphotoxin-mediated regulation of γδ Cell Differentiation by αβ T Cell Progenitors. Science 307 p925-928. Published online 9th December 2004; 10.1126/science.1103978. (A “perspective” by E. Rothenberg accompanied this article). (*Joint authors).

Pennington D. J.*, Silva-Santos B.* and Hayday A. C. (2005). γδ T cell development - having the strength to get there. Curr Opin Immunol 17(2) p108-115. (*Joint authors).

Pennington D. J.*, Silva-Santos B.*, Shires J., Theodoridis E., Pollitt C., Wise E. L., Tigelaar R. E., Owen M. J. and Hayday A. C. (2003). The inter-relatedness and interdependence of mouse T cell receptor γδ+ and αβ+ cells. Nat Immunol 4(10) p991-998. (*Joint authors)

View all Daniel Pennington's Research Publications at: