Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I will support research programs in all aspects of CF and bronchiectasis care, this could include clinical trials, pulmonary exacerbation exploration, microbiology and basic science mechanisms.


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Statement

My main clinical research interest is cystic fibrosis (CF). I work with a range of colleagues that includes, clinicians, allied health professionals, a clinical research team and basic scientists to create a translational research program in CF. My focus is to optimise clinical response to established and new therapies.  I lead an active investigator-initiated and pharmaceutical-sponsored research program to help realise this. This is supported by national and international collaborative research networks. My investigator led projects currently involve,

  • Multi-modal analysis of pulmonary exacerbations in CF, exploring the potential for clinical and inflammatory biomarkers to predict response to treatment
  • The investigation and clinical application of novel biomarkers in CF
  • The bacterial impact of non-antimicrobial therapies in CF and repurposing drugs
  • The impact of co-morbidities in CF by deep patient phenotyping and utilising pre-clinical models to assess the mechanisms involved
  • Exploration of Patient Reported Outcome Measures for clinical trials
  • Treatment plans for respiratory tract fungal disease in CF

I also lead the CF pharmaceutical-sponsored clinical trial program in Belfast and link closely with the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network (NICRN)-Respiratory Health and the Wellcome-Wolfson Clinical Research Facility. In this program I am a Principal Investigator (PI) and Chief Investigator (CI) on a number of pivotal clinical trials. This includes a phase I-III program exploring new therapies in CF and bronchiectasis. 

I also have additional investigator led programs in bronchiectasis and pneumonia. My  projects currently involve, pathogen identification in community acquired pneumonia and assessing outcome measures in bronchiectasis.

Research Leadership

I am Co-Director of the European CF Society – Clinical Trial Network (CTN) ( This Network consists of 43 CF research centres located in 15 EU countries. I help to provide strategic direction of CF clinical trials and regularly lead reviews of pharmaceutical industry trial protocols prior to European adoption by the CTN. Belfast is recognised as one of the leading CF clinical trial centres in Europe.

Our clinical research centre is also a member of the UK CF Trust Clinical Trials Accelerator Platform (CTAP) and I currently serve as a member of the Research Scientific Oversight Board for the CF Trust.

I am a current member of the European CF Society Scientific Committee and a member of the UK CF Medical Association.


I am a consultant respiratory physician specialising in CF and bronchiectasis. I qualified in medicine from QUB and my early clinical training and airways inflammation research took place in Belfast.  I subsequently trained in respiratory medicine in Manchester and Brisbane. In 2006 I was appointed as a consultant in CF and Respiratory medicine in Bristol and a honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol. In 2008 I became the Centre Director of the Bristol Adult CF centre and Director of the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Regional (Severn) Network. I returned to Belfast in 2011 to co-lead the Northern Ireland Regional CF Centre before moving to my current role in 2017.

I also lead a multidisciplinary bronchiectasis team and work with colleagues in the clinical immunology centre to provide a regional service for patients with structural lung disease, complex infections and immunodeficiency.  

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Research Output

Building global development strategies for cf therapeutics during a transitional cftr modulator era

Mayer-Hamblett, N., van Koningsbruggen-Rietschel, S., Nichols, D. P., VanDevanter, D. R., Davies, J. C., Lee, T., Durmowicz, A. G., Ratjen, F., Konstan, M. W., Pearson, K., Bell, S. C., Clancy, J. P., Taylor-Cousar, J. L., De Boeck, K., Donaldson, S. H., Downey, D. G., Flume, P. A., Drevinek, P., Goss, C. H., Fajac, I. & 5 others, Magaret, A. S., Quon, B. S., Singleton, S. M., VanDalfsen, J. M. & Retsch-Bogart, G. Z., 07 Jun 2020, In : Journal of Cystic Fibrosis.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  • Gram negative infections in cystic fibrosis: a review of preventative and treatment options

    Addy, C., Caskey, S. & Downey, D., 29 Jan 2020, In : Expert Opinion on Orphan Drugs. 8, 1, p. 11-26 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Staphylococcus Aureus Enterotoxins In People With Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

    Wen, H., McCaughan, J., Schock, B. C., Reid, A., Rendall, J. C., Elborn, J. S., Downey, D. G., Ennis, M. & Moore, J. E., Jan 2020, In : The Ulster Medical Journal. 89, 1, p. 38-39 2 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

  • Who's at The Door? - Surface Contamination of Door Frames in a Single-Bedded In-Patient Adult Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Unit

    Furukawa, M., McCaughan, J., Stirling, J., Millar, B. C., Addy, C., Caskey, S., Goldsmith, C. E., Rendall, J. C., Misawa, N., Downey, D. G. & Moore, J. E., Jan 2020, In : The Ulster Medical Journal. 89, 1, p. 17-20 4 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 2 Downloads (Pure)


    Chair of APR Board for QUB PhD Students

    Damian Downey (Chair)

    11 Jun 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    New Drugs for CF

    Damian Downey (Lecturer)

    01 May 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

    European Cystic Fibrosis Clinical Trials Network (External organisation)

    Damian Downey (Vice Chair)


    Activity: Membership typesMembership of board

    Global Respiratory Health

    Damian Downey (Lecturer)

    20 Mar 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

    Clinical Research; Design and Conduct

    Damian Downey (Advisor)

    03 Oct 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

    Press / Media

    Queen's University team in cystic fibrosis breakthrough

    Damian Downey


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities

    The challenges of end of life care in cystic fibrosis

    Damian Downey


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities


    Improving outcomes for people with cystic fibrosis through evidence based clinical trials

    Stuart Elborn (Participant), Lorraine Martin (Participant), Damian Downey (Participant), Simon Brockbank (Participant) & Madeleine Ennis (Participant)

    Impact: Health Impact, Quality of Life Impact