About the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences

The School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences (Head of School: Professor Michael Malim) is dedicated to education, discovery in research and healing.  We comprise a multi-disciplinary faculty seeking to apply the fundamental understanding of immunity and inflammatory processes to the development and implementation of innovative diagnostics, preventions and treatments.

The School is made up of three departments, each of which undertakes cross-disciplinary and collaborative research in basic and translational sciences:

​​​​​​​Distinct aspects of respiratory research are undertaken within each department, with the majority within immunobiology.

Scholarship across distinctive research themes and disease areas is further enhanced through our Centres and Programmes:
  • Centre for Nephrology, Urology & Transplantation
  • Asthma, Allergy & Lung Biology
  • Centre for Clinical Infection & Diagnostics Research
  • Programme in Infection & Immunity
  • Centre of Rheumatic Disease
  • Institute of Liver Studies
  • Centre for Inflammation Biology & Cancer Immunology​​​​​​​
Guy's Campus
High quality teaching and training is delivered through a raft of well-developed programmes for medical and non-medical undergraduates, Masters and PhD students, clinical trainees and post-doctoral fellows.  The School is fully committed to equality and diversity for all students and staff.

Peter Gorer Department of Immunobiology


The Peter Gorer Department of Immunobiology (Head of Department: Professor Catherine Hawrylowicz) studies the essential molecules and processes that underpin the development and function of immune cells in order to identify novel ways of improving immune function in human disease. The research aims to understand the interplay between protective immunological mechanisms versus the infections, tumours and autoimmune diseases that challenge human health. Ongoing research is identifying factors that underly organ transplant rejection and developing effective interventional strategies for allergies, respiratory and autoimmune conditions.

The Peter Gorer Department of Immunobiology is home to the Centre for Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma, currently funded by Asthma UK and previously by the MRC (2006-2016). The mission of the Centre is to conduct internationally recognised research into asthmatic disease and to train the next generation of asthma and respiratory researchers. It is jointly hosted by Imperial College and King’s College London, with a Director from each institution (Co-Directors Professors Sebastian Johnson and Catherine Hawrylowicz), resulting in close and highly productive collaborations in respiratory research between investigators across London.

The Centre has four research themes that investigate:
  1. Underlying mechanisms of asthma
  2. Environment, risk factors and triggers of asthma attacks
  3. Improving treatment options/immune modulation
  4. Primary prevention of asthma

Principle investigators in the Centre at King's are aligned to each of the three departments within the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences (SIMS), as well as within other Schools within the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine (FoLSM) including the School of Life Course Sciences and School of Basic & Medical Sciences.

The Asthma Centre further benefits by affiliation and interaction with the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Asthma Research (AUK-CAR), which hosts the NIHR Digital Innovation Hub for Better Respiratory Health (BREATHE) (Director, Professor Aziz Sheikh, Edinburgh). There are also close links with environmental research scientists through the NIHR Health Protection Unit in Health Impact of Environmental Hazards (Director: Professor Frank Kelly) – a partnership between Imperial College, King's College London and Public Health England – that drives research into the impact of air pollution on human well-being, including respiratory health.


Department of Infectious Diseases


The Department of Infectious Diseases (Head of Department: Professor Stuart Neil) studies the pathogenic mechanisms, diagnosis and treatment of human infections. Laboratory strengths include molecular genetics, metagenomics, biochemistry, cell biology, bioinformatics and structural biology. Current projects include HIV/AIDS, Ebola, influenza, parvoviruses, Shigella, transmission of drug-resistant microbes and most recently a strong focus on SARS/Cov2 and emerging respiratory infections. The department is home to the Infectious Disease Biobank enabling cohort-based projects in human infection.

Department of Inflammation Biology


The Department of Inflammation Biology (Head of Department: Professor Leonie Taams) studies cellular and molecular mechanisms that cause and control inflammation in order to relate these findings to human health and disease. Within the department scientists conduct discovery-led, applied and clinical research, including clinical trials, related to inflammatory joint, lung, gut, liver, kidney and skin diseases. These also include cancer, pain, neurodegeneration and certain psychiatric and mental health disorders where inflammation is increasing recognised as an important contributor.



Clinical and academic strengths in respiratory medicine

Considerable expertise in respiratory medicine and research exists not only within the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences, but also across the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine (FoLSM); the Health Schools; King’s Health Partners (KHP) and within our partner Trusts (Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust).

Strong integration of academic and clinical interests exists and is further promoted through our NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (Director, Professor Matthew Brown).  The call for submission of expression of interest for NIHR Biomedical Research Centre bids is anticipated in spring 2021 and the successful candidate will be expected to play a prominent role in the development of the full submission around respiratory medicine.
Clinical research

Clinical

The Respiratory, Sleep, Lane Fox Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine Directorate is led by Joint Clinical Directors Professor Nick Hart and Dr Richard Leach.  Together, these departments provide a full range of state-of-the-art facilities for inpatient, outpatient and community services. Referrals come from the local population as well as the whole of the South East and beyond.  Services offered include:
  • asthma (including a nationally specialist commissioned severe asthma service)
  • chronic obstructive airways disease (including multidisciplinary assessment)
  • endobronchial ultrasound service
  • general respiratory service (investigating patients with so far undiagnosed chest conditions)
  • interstitial lung diseases (including a nationally specialist commissioned ILD service)
  • pleural diseases
  • pulmonary hypertension
  • pulmonary rehabilitation and sarcoidosis
  • South London oxygen assessment
  • thoracic cancer (including lung cancer) and tuberculosis (TB).
International recognition additionally exists for expertise in severe respiratory failure and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) as well as the home ventilation and weaning service (both nationally commissioned specialist services).  Separate Directorates exist for Infection and Allergy.

Clinical/Academic Infection

The Centre for Infection and Diagnostic Research (CIDR; Lead Professor Jonathan Edgeworth) at GSTT, is affiliated to the Department of Infectious Disease within SIMS and has a world class record in the development and implementation of diagnostics for the clinical management and community monitoring of infectious agents. Most recently this has included the establishment of the UK’s first clinical nanopore sequencing service for infection diagnostics in patient specimens. As one of the 5 ECMO units in the country, GSTT is a key centre of excellence for treating lung failure. During the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, Infectious Disease clinicians, CIDR and Dept of Infectious Diseases partnered to develop a programme of translational research to understand the immunopathogenesis of COVID19, the associated PIMS-TS in children, evaluating a variety of viral and serological diagnostics, and acting as a leading centre for trialling novel therapeutics and convalescent plasma. This is ongoing into the winter 2020, with KCL set to expand Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 SARS CoV2 testing and surveillance. This will include differential testing for other common respiratory infections in the SE London community.

Additional respiratory research within the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine and beyond

Distinct components of respiratory research exist across the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine (FoLSM Interim Executive Dean: Professor Ajay Shah). Together with the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences, the School of Life Course Sciences (Head of School: Professor Lucilla Poston) co-hosts world class studies of paediatric allergy, including the prevention of food allergy and neonatal respiratory physiology. Within the School of Basic & Medical Sciences (Head of School: Professor Matthias Gautel) research is ongoing on smooth muscle biology, aging and muscoskeletal function, respiratory physiology and IgE biology. In the School of Public Health & Environmental Sciences research interests include the impact of environmental pollution and respiratory pharmacology. Beyond FoLSM, the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care research into breathlessness and cough.



Organisational Structure


Head of School

School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences
Professor Michael Malim


Departmental Heads

Department of Infectious Diseases
Professor Stuart Neil

Department of Inflammation Biology
Professor Leonie Taams

Peter Gorer Department of Immunobiology
Professor Catherine Hawrylowicz
 

Heads

Centre for Nephrology, Urology & Transplantation
Professors Anthony Dorling and Claire Sharpe


Asthma, Allergy & Lung Biology
Professor Catherine Hawrylowicz

Centre for clinical Infection & Diagnostics Research
Professor Jonathan Edgeworth

Programme Infection & Immunity
Professor Tim Tree and Professor Michael Malim

Centre of Rheumatic Diseases
Professor Andy Cope and Dr James Galloway

Institute of Liver Studies
Professor Alberto Sanchez Fueyo

Centre for Inflammation Biology & Cancer Immunology
Professor Leonie Taams



King’s Health Partners


King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering collaboration between King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts. King's Health Partners (KHP) is an Academic Health Sciences Centre where world-class research, education and clinical practice are brought together for the benefit of patients.

King’s Health Partners is the top recruiting Academic Health Science Centre in the UK (to NIHR portfolio studies) with Guy’s & St Thomas’ the top recruiting individual NHS Trust. As one of six AHSCs in the UK, the partnership drives improved outcomes and experience for patients whilst ensuring delivery ambitions for world-leading science, translational research and education and training. Integrating mental and physical wellbeing, value-based healthcare, production of transparent outcomes and joined up informatics is at the heart of this work.



About King’s College London


King’s College London offers an intellectually stimulating environment in which to work, where staff are dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and learning in the service of society. We are a multi-Faculty institution, providing high-quality education, research and innovation across the sciences, humanities, medicine, law, dentistry, and social sciences. As a member of the Russell Group, an association of leading UK research-intensive universities, we are committed to maintaining the highest standards in research and education. King's is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe and is home to five Medical Research Council Centres spread across its three teaching hospitals.

King’s is one of the top 10 UK universities in the world (QS World University Rankings, 2020) and the fourth oldest university in England, based in the heart of London. King’s has over 43,000 students (including more than 18,000 postgraduates) from some 150 countries, and over 8,500 employees. King’s is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of about £1BN (2020/21).

King’s Strategic Vision looks forward to our 200th anniversary in 2029. It shows how King’s will make the world a better place by focusing on five key strategic priorities: educate to inspire and improve; research to inform and innovate; serve to shape and transform; a civic university at the heart of London; an international community that serves the world.