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Prof Benny Chain
3.2.01
Cruciform Building
Gower St.
London
WC1E6BT
Appointment
  • Professor of Immunology
  • Div of Infection & Immunity
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences
Biography

I have directed the laboratory of Antigen processing and presentation (with Prof. David Katz), in the Department of Immunology, Windeyer Building, since 1996. This unit was housed in laboratories which were refurbished through a grant to me from the Wolfson Foundation. Following teh retirement of Prof. Katz, I have joined up with Dr. Mahdad Noursadeghi to set up a joint research group "Innate2Adaptive" which focuses on understanding the interface between adaptive and innate immunity. 

My research since arriving at UCL in 1982 and 2009  focused on the study of the antigen presenting dendritic cell, the study of antigen processing. Key contributions were the demonstration that dendritic cells could process protein antigens, the first measurements of dendritic cell endocytosis, studies on epitope selection  and the first identification of a specific protease involved in antigen processing, cathepsin E. In 2009, stimulated by a four month Sabbatical as Visiting Professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, I have redirected my research towards developing mathematical and computational tools to model and hence understand immunological processes. My current major interest is developing such tools to study the regulation of the T cell repertoire.
The work in our group has always been  closely aligned to the strategy of the Division of Infection and Immunity.Specifically, our fundamental work on dendritic cell processing and signal transduction summarized above informed a substantial translational research effort which targets the dendritic cell for gene therapy/immunization (collaboration with Mary Collins). Our laboratory has also been instrumental in developing translational research programmes, focusing on the interaction between viruses especially HIV and Herpes simplex virus an the innate immune system; Finally, I also maintain a long-standing research interest in cancer immunotherapy.

Research Summary

I have worked for many years on the biology of the antigen presenting cell, especially on the mechanisms of antigen processing in dendritic cells. In the last few years I have become interested in developing mathematical, statistical and computational tools which will help us to integrate and make sense of the huge amounts of data generated by the functional genomics revolution. My research group is now concentrating on using high throughput sequencing to study the regulation of T and B cell receptor repertoire diversity.  We focus on the immune response to major pathogens including HIV and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The research’s major  aim is to understand the fundamental rules which regulate the host-pathogen interface . But the research questions are shaped by an awareness of current clinical priorities and challenges, articulated through our close links with UCL Hospitals, the Institute for Immunity and Transplantation and the Bloomsbury Centre for Pathogen Research.

Teaching Summary

Organiser and lecturer on IMIN3004 Cellular Pathology

Lecturer on IMIN 3002 Immunology  in Health and Disease and CEL3140 Interdisciplinary Cell Biology


Academic Background
1996 FRCPath Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists Royal College of Pathologists, UK
1979 PhD Doctor of Philosophy University of Cambridge
1976 BA Bachelor of Arts University of Cambridge
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