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Prof Benny Chain
Cruciform Building
Gower St.
  • Professor of Immunology
  • Div of Infection & Immunity
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences

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 is housed in laboratories which were refurbished through a grant to me from the Wolfson Foundation. My research since arriving at UCL in 1982 has 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 (publication no. 14/15), the first measurements of dendritic cell enodcytosis (no. 40), studies on epitope selection (76) and the first identification of a specific protease involved in antigen processing , cathepsin E (see publications 39, 115, 129). My current major interest is the regulation of the t cell repertoire.
Thee work in our group is 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 informs the substantial translational research effort which targets the dendritic cell for gene therapy/immunization (see for example ref. 120), and there is close interaction between our group and that of Mary Collins. We also have a well-established collaboration with Dr. Alethea Tabor (Chemistry, UCL), funded by a BBSRC grant under the SCIBS initiative. Our laboratory has also been instrumental in developing translational research programmes, focusing on the interaction between viruses especially HIV (e.g. publication no. 92, 110, 121) and Herpes simplex virus (e.g. 99, 103, 113, 131) and the innate immune system; Finally, I also maintain a long-standing research interest in cancer immunotherapy (see publications 120, 122, 132).

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, which are articulated through our close links with UCL Hospitals and the Bloomsbury Centre for Pathogen Research.

Teaching Summary

Organiser IMIN3004 Cellular Pathology

Lecturer and organiser of practical course IMIN 3002 Immunology  in Health and Disease.

Academic Background
1979 PhD Doctor of Philosophy University of Cambridge
1976 BA Bachelor of Arts University of Cambridge
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