David Paterson was born in Timaru and attended Timaru Boys' High before moving to Dunedin and Otago Boys' High where he represented New Zealand in track and field. He gained his DipPhEd in 1979 and a DipTeaching from Christchurch Teachers College in 1980. He graduated from the University of Western Australia with an MSc (1985) and DSc (2005). He also attended the University of Oxford where he received an MA and DPhil (1989) from New College, Oxford. While at Oxford, he received a half blue for karate.
Dr Paterson has had an outstanding academic career at the University of Oxford. A tutor and fellow of Merton College since 1994, he was promoted to Professor of Physiology in 2002, and is currently the Deputy Head of the Division of Medical Sciences. He has received over £9,000,000 in research funding at Oxford, and is the author to date of over 140 published papers.
Professor Paterson is also currently the Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Physiology. Elected a Fellow of the Institute of Biology in 2003 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in 2005, he holds honorary professorships at the University of Melbourne, and the University of Auckland.