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Nigel Francis  MPharmacol, PhD, FRSB, SFHEA, NTF

Dr Nigel Francis MPharmacol, PhD, FRSB, SFHEA, NTF

Senior Lecturer

School of Biosciences

+44 29225 12321
Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Available for postgraduate supervision


Understanding how our body defends against disease has been a passion ever since I spent a year working in the Nephrology Department at Heath Hospital during my undergraduate degree. This inspired me to undertake a PhD in immunology at the University of Birmingham looking at rheumatoid arthritis, before returning to Cardiff University as a postdoctoral researcher in complement biology.

More recently my focus has shifted to enhancing immunology education and I was awarded the British Society for Immunology’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2020, the Royal Society of Biology’s Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year Award in 2021 and a National Teaching Fellowship from Advance HE in 2022 for my work in this area. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB) and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).

I founded the #DryLabsRealScience network, which provides guidance and resources for bioscience academics looking to enhance laboratory-based teaching. Although established in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the innovative ideas shared will have a long-lasting impact on laboratory education.

To facilitate the teaching of immunology and make it more accessible to a wider audience I created Immunology Wars in collaboration with student partners, which explains immunology by aligning the components of the immune system to the characters of Star Wars.

I am currently guest-editing a special issue of Education Science around hybrid practical teaching: for more details.

National Teaching Fellowship Badge














My main research is focused on enhancing immunology education through digital co-creation of learning and teaching resources. I firmly believe that students should be involved in the creation of resources to enhance their learning experience. I am particularly interested in the use of digital eLearning tools, including videos and simulations.

These resources can be used for active learning in a flipped classroom, where content is provided before face-to-face teaching occurs. My research in this area looks at how students engage with the flipped learning approach and how to enhance the use of digital material.

I maintain an interest in immunology research, focusing on the areas of rheumatology and immunometabolism, which looks at the role that different fuel sources play on immune cell function.


Primary teaching focus

  • Immunology

Administrative Roles

  • Degree scheme lead for Biomedical Sciences
  • Deputy Lead for Assessment and Feedback
  • Lead for Digital Education
  • Week-long research experience coordinator

Pedagogical Publications


I graduated from the University of Bath in 2004 with a MPharmacol (Masters in Pharmacology) having spent an intercalated research year in the Nephrology Department at Heath Hospital under the supervision of Professor Nick Topley. In 2008 I completed a PhD in immunology from the University of Birmingham in the lab of Professor Janet Lord, investigating the role of the iron binding protein, lactoferrin, in neutrophil survival in rheumatic joints. I then returned to Heath Hospital working for Professor Claire Harris in the Complement Biology Group looking at the structure-function relationship of polymorphic variants of factor H.

In 2011 I moved to Swansea University Medical School where I helped establish immunology teaching across all years of their undergraduate programmes. During my time at Swansea I completed a PGCert in Teaching in Higher Education and acted in a wide range of administrative roles including Deputy Programme Director for Biochemistry.

I re-joined Cardiff University in August 2021, where my teaching focuses on immunology and supporting the provision of physiology.

I am an award-winning lecturer having received Swansea University’s Excellence in Learning and Teaching Award and the British Society for Immunology’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2020. In 2021 I was honoured by the Royal Society of Biology for my work creating the #DryLabsRealScience network winning their Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year Award. In 2022 I was awarded my National Teaching Fellowship by Advance HE.

Honours and awards

  • 2022 - National Teaching Fellowship
  • 2022 - Nominated for Biochemical Society Teaching Excellence Award
  • 2021 - Royal Society of Biology Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year
  • 2020 - British Society for Immunology Teaching Excellence Award
  • 2020 - Swansea University Excellence in Learning and Teaching Award

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB)
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)
  • Chartered Science Teacher (CSciTeach)
  • Member of the British Educational Research Association (BERA)
  • Member of the British Society for Immunology (BSI)
  • Member of the Biochemical Society
  • Member of the RSB Biology Education Research Group (BERG)

Academic positions

  • 2021 - present: Senior Lecturer, Cardiff University
  • 2011-2021: Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor, Swansea University
  • 2008-2011: Research Associate, Cardiff University

Committees and reviewing

  • 2021 - present: British Society for Immunology Teaching Affinity Group - Co-Chair


I am available for supervision of self-funded students postgraduate interested in exploring:

  • Digital resources in Immunology/Biosciences
  • Use of videos and/or simulations in teaching

Current supervision

Connie Pritchard

Connie Pritchard

Teaching Associate


British Society for Immunology Vaccine Ambassador