James studied Biochemistry at St Peter's College, Oxford, undertaking his final year project with Professor Tony Watts. This was his first exposure to the tricky but fascinating world of biological membranes and led to his remaining in Oxford, at Keble College, for a further 4 years completing his D.Phil studies in the Department of Biochemistry under the supervision of Professor Watts.
In October 2001, James moved to Berlin to join Clemens Glaubitz at the FMP and then moved with Professor Glaubitz to Frankfurt, helping to set up the biological solid-state NMR group at the J. W. Goethe Universität which hosts a European Large Scale Facility for NMR.
Having completed this first post-doctoral post, James moved up the Rhine and crossed the border to Strasbourg, France. In the laboratory of Professor Burkhard Bechinger. James began his work on membrane active amphipathic peptides with collaborations with Antoine Kichler at Généthon, near Paris, and Marie-Hélène Metz Boutigue, Gilles Prévost and Ermanno Candolfi all in Strasbourg.
In 2007 James returned to the UK and took up a position as a Wellcome Trust VIP Fellow at King's College London where he continues to develop this research theme following his appointment as Lecturer in 2009.