He received his first degree from Cambridge in 1984 before moving on to Oxford to complete his medical studies in 1987. He then completed training in General Internal Medicine and obtained a DPhil from Oxford University in 1998. His research, which has been supported by a series of Fellowships awarded by the MRC and the Wellcome Trust, has covered a variety of topics from control of RNA processing and apoptosis to immunology. The current interests of his laboratory revolve around the immunology of infectious diseases with a special interest in dengue haemorrhagic fever, where his research is currently funded by the MRC and Wellcome Trust (through a Senior Investigator Award), with active research collaborations in South-East Asia.
His early research concentrated on alternative RNA splicing, having first mapped one of the most extensively spliced human genes, CD44, that contains a tandem array of ten alternatively spliced exons. He went on to clone a number of alternative splicing factors, SRp30c, SRp40, SRp55 and a splicing repressor SRp30e. With colleagues at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory he made a significant contribution in this area.
Latterly Gavin Screaton has focused his research on immunology and immunopathology of infectious diseases including HIV, SARS and Dengue. Dengue is where the greatest contributions have been made, firstly, in studying the role of the T cell response to virus in promoting immunopathology; he showed a role for original antigenic sin in secondary dengue infections. His contribution to this field has recently been extended to the study of the human antibody response where a significant fraction of antibodies respond to a low abundance surface antigen, pre-membrane protein, rather than neutralize infection these antibodies may actually drive higher virus replication.