Department of Pathology

Professor Geoffrey L Smith

Research description

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.
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 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.