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Prof Mala Maini
Room 420
Rayne Institute
5 University Street
London
WC1E 6JF
Appointment
  • Professor of Viral Immunology
  • Div of Infection & Immunity
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences
Biography

I am Professor of Viral Immunology in the Division of Infection and Immunity at University College London, also working as a Consultant Physician in a viral hepatitis clinic. My research has always been closely informed by the patients I see in my clinics and the samples they generously donate for our work.

I obtained my specialist medical accreditation in 1995 and my PhD, funded by an MRC Clinical Training Fellowship, in the lab of Peter Beverley (ICRF, London) in 1998. A unifying theme in my research training has been the T cell immunology of persistent viral infections in humans (from EBV to HIV and then HBV). Whilst funded by the Edward Jenner Institute to work on HIV-2, I joined forces with Antonio Bertoletti and became increasingly focused on HBV immunopathogenesis, starting my own group in this field in 2002. After an MRC/Academy of Medical Sciences Clinical Scientist Fellowship, I moved into a tenured position at UCL and a personal chair in 2009. In 2013 I obtained a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award.

Other positions I currently hold:

  • Deputy Head of the Department of Immunology
  • Chair of the Athena Swan team, Division of Infection and Immunity
  • Deputy Post-graduate tutor, Division of Infection and Immunity
  • UCLP Theme Leader for Immunity/Immunotherapy of Chronic Infection
Research Themes
Research Summary

  • Our research programme is focused on dissecting the immune correlates of viral persistence and liver damage in order to allow the development of novel immunotherapeutic strategies for hepatitis B virus (HBV).
  • As well as being of great medical importance in its own right, HBV provides a useful model to provide insights into liver immunology, which has relevance for other hepatotropic infections and malignancies, liver transplantation and autoimmunity.
  • We have become fascinated by how the liver utilises multiple specialised cell types and pathways to maintain a uniquely tolerant immunological environment. Defining the mechanisms of hepatic tolerance is critical to understanding how three of the most prevalent and devastating human pathogens, HBV, hepatitis C virus and malaria, take advantage of this niche in which to replicate and/or persist.
  • We are also interested in how hepatic immune responses mediate and regulate the liver damage that drives fibrosis, ultimately leading to the complications of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) that still kill an estimated 600,000 people a year with chronic HBV infection. This is of particular interest in patients co-infected with HBV and HIV who have ongoing high mortality from accelerated liver fibrosis.
  • Existing therapies are rarely able to cure HBV or complications like HCC so our goal is to develop tailored boosting of antiviral immunity. The rationale for this approach is based on the fact that many adults control HBV through their natural immune response without overwhelming liver damage.
Teaching Summary

I have made substantial contributions to various teaching programmes over the years and have acquired extensive experience in teaching through seminars, interactive tutorials, and one on one in the lab or clinic. I have taught medical students and junior doctors, BSc and MSc students, nurses and physiotherapists, and post-graduates on an Advanced Immunology course.
Currently I teach on the Immunology BSc and Virology BSc courses and supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students in the laboratory.

Academic Background
2009 FRCP Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians – Medicine Royal College of Physicians
1998 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Immunology University of London
1991 MRCP Member of the Royal College of Physicians – Clinical Medicine Royal College of Physicians
1990 Dip. Diploma London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
1986 MBBS Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery – Clinical Medicine University of London
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