Dr. James D Chalmers

Discovery Fellow/Consultant

Understanding Neutrophil-bacterial interactions in chronic lung disease


Division of Molecular & Clinical Medicine
Level 5, Mailbox 12
School of Medicine
Ninewells Hospital and Medical School

Phone Number:

+(44) 01382 383642

Email Address:



Dr James Chalmers was an MRC training fellow in Edinburgh prior to moving to Dundee and was awarded a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2012. He currently works in the Division of Molecular Microbiology in the College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee.

His research interests are in translational and clinical aspects of respiratory infections and the mechanisms of bacterial colonisation in chronic lung disease.

He has received early career investigator awards from the British Thoracic Society, European Respiratory Society and Scottish Thoracic Society. He is a current member of the British Thoracic Society Science and Research committee, the European Respiratory Society long range planning committee and the American Thoracic Society Microbiology, Tuberculosis and Pulmonary infections program committees. He is Associate Editor of the upcoming European Respiratory Monograph on Community-acquired pneumonia.


The role of the Ess secretion system in Staphylococcus aureus virulence

Staphylococcus aureus causes chronic airway infections in patients with cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis. The mechanism by which S.aureus evades host immunity to survive in the airway is not known.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, Dr Chalmers is studying a recently described type VII secretion system in Staphylococcus aureus and how this system contributes to virulence and the establishment of chronic respiratory infections. This work is performed in the Division of Molecular Microbiology at the University of Dundee led by Professor Tracy Palmer and in collaboration with Dr Robert Ryan (University of Dundee) and the Dundee Drug Discovery Unit

Mechanisms of chronic bacterial colonisation in bronchiectasis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Dr Chalmers is principle investigator on a Chief Scientist Office funded study investigating the genetic and immunological contributors to chronic bacterial colonisation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchiectasis. This work is in collaboration with Professor Colin Palmer, Dr Stuart Schembri and Professor Sara Marshall.

His related work in bronchiectasis has identified a role for the lectin pathway of complement (mannose binding lectin and ficolin-2) in susceptibility to chronic bacterial colonisation and new mechanisms of airway neutrophil dysfunction in bronchiectasis.

Clinical and translational research in Respiratory infections

Dr Chalmers is involved in clinical and translational studies in community-acquired pneumonia, bronchiectasis and COPD.

He is collaborating on Tenovus funded studies of rehabilitation after exacerbations of bronchiectasis (PI: Dr Thomas Fardon) and the effects of inhaled corticosteroids on pneumonia risk and bacterial colonisation (PI: Dr Stuart Schembri) in addition to administering the Tayside bronchiectasis register (TAYBRIDGE study).

He works with Dr Peter Williamson and Dr Philip Short on a national multicentre study of COPD exacerbations (the EXODUS study).



James is actively involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. One of his major interests in encouraging undergraduates and young physicians to take part in research projects. Some recent successes for supervised undergraduate (UG) students and postgraduates (PG) include:

Catriona Rother (UG) project: Healthcare associated pneumonia- investigating the validity of a new definition of pneumonia. Won ERS Young investigator award. 2013 and University of Dundee Ethicon Prize 2013.

Waleed Salih (PG) project: Microbiology and antibiotic therapy in bronchiectasis: European Respiratory Society best abstract award 2013.

Lucy Poppelwell (UG) project: Predicting outcome in patients with non-CF bronchiectasis. Won DRAMS best presentation award 2013

Dr Michelle Harrison (PG): Project: Predictors of mortality in hospitalised exacerbations of COPD)- Won British Thoracic Society Young Investigator award 2012 and Discovery Dundee Young Investigator Award 2013.

Dr Anika Singanayagam (PG): Project: The obesity paradox in community-acquired pneumonia: Won ERS Young Research Grant in respiratory infections 2012.

Ross Archibald (UG) project: A scoring system to predict outcome in exacerbations of COPD. University of Dundee Ethicon Prize 2011.

Gilly B Fleming (UG) Project: Role of Galectin-3 in predicting short and long term outcome in community-acquired pneumonia. Won ATRIUM undergraduate research award. 2010

Victoria Wood (UG) project: Clinical features and outcomes of 2009 H1N1 influenza A infection. British Lung Foundation award 2010.

In addition, he was co-organiser of a European Respiratory Society course in bronchiectasis. http://www.erscongress2011.org/education/courses/item/4739-online-course-on-hot-topics-in-the-management-of-non-cf-bronchiectasis.html.


Invited presentations (previous and forthcoming)

2014 American Thoracic Society: “Hot topic, macrolide safety in respiratory disease”

2014 American Thoracic Society: “A worldwide perspective on MDR pathogens”

2014 European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases- “Macrolide safety in respiratory infections.”

2014 CHEST world Congress; ”non-responding pneumonia”

2014 CHEST world congress; “The role of inhaled antibiotics in bronchiectasis”

2013 Scottish Thoracic Society conference- “Controversies in Respiratory Infection”

2013 Centre for Infection and Immunity, Queens University Belfast Symposium- “Biomarkers in respiratory infection”

2012 European Respiratory Society Annual Congress in Vienna – “Severe community-acquired pneumonia”

2012 European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases annual congress- “Severity assessment in community acquired pneumonia "

Session chair

2012 American Thoracic Society conference
2012 British Thoracic Society conference
2013 European Lung science conference
2013 American Thoracic Society conference
2013 European Respiratory Society Conference