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Professor Geoffrey L Smith

Head of Department

Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow

Project: Poxvirus research group

Department of Pathology
University of Cambridge
Tennis Court Road

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 333692

Research themes


Research Interests

Smith Research
Image shows vaccinia virus particles (green) being pushed away from a cell on actin protrusions (red) from a cell that is infected but has not yet made new virus particles
The group studies poxviruses, specifically vaccinia virus, the live vaccine used to eradicate smallpox. Projects include:
  1. How vaccinia virus exploits the microtubule network for transport within cells and how it spreads rapidly between cells by inducing the polymerisation of actin from the cell surface. To do this we exploit genetically engineered recombinant viruses tagged with specific fluorescent proteins and live video microscopy.
  2. How the virus evades the host innate immune response to infection by the expression of proteins that are secreted from the infected cell and bind chemokines, cytokines or interferons, or the expression of proteins within the infected cell that inhibit pro-inflammatory signalling cascades or the induction of apoptosis. This work includes study of the innate immune system itself and how the virus can be used to uncover new aspects of the innate immune system.
  3. The development of more immunogenic and safer vaccines by exploiting information obtained from projects 1 and 2.

The research group is housed within modern, well equipped laboratories in Tennis Court Road and is supported by programme grants from the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council. GLS is a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow.

  • Group Members:
    Dr Hongwei Ren, Dr. David CJ Carpentier, Dr Mike Hollinshead, Dr Ka Fai Leung, Dr Guia Carrara, Miss Pavla Strnadova, Miss Sara Neidel, Mr Simon Scutts, Miss Jenni Stuart, Mr William Gao, Mrs Rachel V Seear

Key Publications

  1. Doceul, V., Hollinshead, M., van der Linden, L. & Smith, G.L. (2010). Repulsion of superinfecting virions: a mechanism for rapid virus spread. Science, 327, 873-7.
  2. Ferguson, B.J., Mansur, D., Peters, N.E., Ren, H. & Smith, G.L (2012). DNA-PK is a DNA sensor for IRF-3 dependent innate immunity. eLife 1, 0047.
  3. Mansur, D.S., Maluquer de Motes, C., Unterholzner, L., Sumner, R.P., Ferguson, B.J., Ren, H., Strnadova, P., Bowie, A.G. & Smith, G.L. (2013). Poxvirus targeting of β-TrCP by molecular mimicry: a mechanism to inhibit NF-kB activation and promote immune evasion and virulence. PLoS Pathogens 9, e1003183.
  4. Saraiva, N., Prole, D.L., Carrara, G., Johnson, B.F., Taylor, C.W., Parsons, M. & Smith, G.L. (2013). hGAAP promotes cell adhesion and migration via the stimulation of store-operated Ca2+ entry and calpain 2. J. Cell. Biol. 202, 699-713.
  5. Mazzon, M., Peters, N.E., Loenarz, C., Krysztofinska, E., Ember, S.W.J., Ferguson, B.J., & Smith, G.L. (2013). A mechanism for the induction of a hypoxic response by vaccinia virus. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 110, 12444-9.