David Finlay is Associate Professor in Immunometabolism working out of the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin. He was awarded a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry in 2001, completed PhD (2006) and postdoctoral training at the University of Dundee in Scotland and was elected to fellowship of Trinity College Dublin (2018). His research expertise lies at the interface of immunology and cellular metabolism, focusing on Natural Killer cells and Dendritic cells. His team is now developing novel single cell measures of in vivo immunometabolism using advanced and novel biorthogonal chemistry approaches.

Research profile

I first became captivated about immunometabolism during my time as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Dundee. It was during this time that I realized that the kinase mTORC1 is a key regulator of CD8 T cell biology largely because it controls cellular metabolic pathways (10.1084/jem.20112607). This research led me to establish my independent research group in this field. Since 2011, my research has contributed to the current understanding that cellular metabolism is integrally linked to immune cell functions.

My research has been instrumental in characterising the metabolic pathways used by Natural Killer cells, including their use of a novel non-canonical TCA cycle called the Citrate-Malate Shuttle (10.4049/jimmunol.1401558, 10.1038/ni.3838, 10.1038/s41467-018-04719-2, 10.1038/s41577-019-0139-2). 

Main research questions:

  • How are immune cells regulated by mitochondrial bioenergetics and nucleotide metabolism?
  • What are the factors regulating immunosenescence?
  • What are the mechanisms responsible for premature aging?
  • What is the interplay between the immune system and senescent cells?
  • Can age-related diseases be prevented by improved function of the immune system?

We also made key contributions to the emerging idea that nutrients are more than just fuels but function as key signaling molecules (10.1038/ncomms15620, 10.1038/s41467-019-10015-4).

I was awarded an ERC Consolidator Award (2017) to study nutrients as key determinants of DC-induced CD8 T cell responses. In 2023, I coordinated a successful application for a TRANSCAN-3 EU partnership to study routes towards ”Metabolically optimising NK cell therapies for Glioblastoma”. Science Foundation Ireland have funded my research to ”Investigate oxysterols as modulators of cytotoxic Natural Killer cell responses” (2023) and an the Irish Research Council Advanced Laureate Award to study  ”Multidimensional in vivo metabolic flux analyses: Resolving immune cells based on in vivo metabolic phenotypes” (2023)

Positions and training

1997-2001: BA(Mod) in Biochemistry, Trinity College, Dublin 

2002-2006: PhD in Biochemistry, University of Dundee, UK

2006-2011: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Dundee (with Professor Doreen Cantrell).

2011-2018: Assistant Professor of Immunometabolism, Trinity College, Dublin.

2018-present: Associate Professor of Immunometabolism, Trinity College, Dublin.


Founded and coordinate the Global Immunometabolism Forum, a network to support early career researchers in the field of Immunometabolism.

Selected links