Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineNational Heart & Lung Institute

Professor of Respiratory Genetics



+44 (0)20 7594 2942m.moffatt




400Guy Scadding BuildingRoyal Brompton Campus





Miriam Moffatt is Professor of Respiratory Genetics at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London.  Professor Moffatt obtained her BSc Honours Degree in Microbiology from the University of Reading in 1988.  After graduating she took up an administrative post working for the Society for General Microbiology ( as Research Assistant to the Professional Affairs Officer.   Her love of working at the bench resulted in her returning to laboratory science at the end of 1989 when she joined the Asthma Genetics Group within the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford.  

She attained her doctorate (DPhil) on the Genetics of Asthma in 1994 after which she became a Research Lecturer and subsequently Reader in Genetics at the University.  In 2005, after sixteen years in Oxford, she and Professor Bill Cookson moved their research team to the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College.  In 2008 Professor Moffatt was awarded a Personal Chair in Respiratory Genetics.

Professor Moffatt has worked for 24 years in the field of genetics focusing on the allergic diseases, asthma and atopic dermatitis with her research partner Professor Cookson and their team.  Together they have investigated the genetic mechanisms underlying asthma using candidate gene and positional cloning approaches and most recently genome wide association studies (GWAS).  Their landmark GWAS study of 1,000 cases of childhood asthma and 1,000 controls identified the ORMDL3 locus on chromosome 17q21, which is now recognised to be the strongest and most consistent genetic association to childhood asthma.  In 2010 they coordinated the GABRIEL GWAS for asthma that involved 26,000 people and resulted in the identification of genetic variants that substantially increase susceptibility to asthma in the population.  Professors Moffatt and Cookson have in addition conducted extensive investigations focused on gene expression, mapping single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) genome wide to the expression of more than 20,500 genes. 

Because of the importance of mucosal immunity in asthma, Professors Moffatt and Cookson have initiated studies characterizing the airway microbiome of the normal healthy lung as well as that seen in a variety of key respiratory diseases including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis.

Professor Moffatt is now coordinating with Professor Kathleen Barnes (John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland) a collaborative Transnational Asthma Genetics Consortium (TAGC) bringing Genome Wide Association Studies from all over the world together and completing a meta-analysis for asthma on over 30,000 cases and 50,000 controls.   

Professor Moffatt is a Principal Investigator in the Medical Research Council/Asthma UK Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma as well as being Head of the Molecular Genetics and Genomics Section and Institute Lead for Postdocs at the NHLI.  She sits on the research committee of Asthma UK.

At the end of 2011 Professor Moffatt and Professor Cookson were the first recipients to be awarded Joint Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Awards (Wellcome Trust News Issue 70 Spring 2012).  This award will enable them to continue to use the latest genetic and genomic tools to uncover the basic mechanisms that cause childhood asthma.  Their aim is to translate this knowledge into new treatments for patients with respiratory disease.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Hoang LT, Domingo-Sabugo C, Starren ES, et al., 2019, Metabolomic, transcriptomic and genetic integrative analysis reveals important roles of adenosine diphosphate in haemostasis and platelet activation in non-small-cell lung cancer, Molecular Oncology, Vol:13, ISSN:1574-7891, Pages:2406-2421

Singanayagam A, Glanville N, Cuthbertson L, et al., 2019, Inhaled corticosteroid suppression of cathelicidin drives dysbiosis and bacterial infection in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Science Translational Medicine, Vol:11, ISSN:1946-6234, Pages:1-13

Ahmed B, Cox M, Cuthbertson L, et al., 2019, Longitudinal development of the airway microbiota in infants with cystic fibrosis, Scientific Reports, Vol:9, ISSN:2045-2322

Zhang Y, Willis-Owen S, Spiegel, et al., 2019, The ORMDL3 asthma gene regulates ICAM1 and has multiple effects on cellular inflammation, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol:199, ISSN:1073-449X, Pages:478-488

Cowman SA, James P, Wilson R, et al., 2018, Profiling mycobacterial communities in pulmonary nontuberculous mycobacterial disease, PLOS One, Vol:13, ISSN:1932-6203

Willis-Owen SAG, Thompson AR, Kemp P, et al., 2018, COPD is accompanied by co-ordinated transcriptional perturbation in the quadriceps affecting the mitochondria and extracellular matrix, Scientific Reports, Vol:8, ISSN:2045-2322

Ahmed B, Cox MJ, Cuthbertson L, et al., 2018, Comparison of the upper and lower airway microbiota in children with chronic lung diseases, PLOS One, Vol:13, ISSN:1932-6203

Groves HT, Cuthbertson L, James P, et al., 2018, Respiratory Disease following Viral Lung Infection Alters the Murine Gut Microbiota, Frontiers in Immunology, Vol:9, ISSN:1664-3224

Demenais F, Margaritte-Jeannin P, Barnes KC, et al., 2017, Multiancestry association study identifies new asthma risk loci that colocalize with immune-cell enhancer marks., Nature Genetics, Vol:50, ISSN:1061-4036, Pages:42-53

Moffatt MF, Cullinan P, James PL, et al., 2017, Metal worker’s lung; spatial association with Mycobacterium avium, Thorax, Vol:73, ISSN:1468-3296, Pages:151-156

Molyneaux PL, Willis Owen SA, Cox MJ, et al., 2017, Host-microbial interactions in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol:195, ISSN:1535-4970, Pages:1640-1650

Ek WE, Ahsan M, Rask-Andersen M, et al., 2017, Epigenome-wide DNA methylation study of IgE concentration in relation to self-reported allergies, Epigenomics, Vol:9, ISSN:1750-1911, Pages:407-418

Zhang Y, Fear D, Willis-Owen S, et al., 2016, Global gene regulation during activation of immunoglobulin class switching in human B cells, Scientific Reports, Vol:6, ISSN:2045-2322

Löser S, Gregory LG, Zhang Y, et al., 2016, Pulmonary ORMDL3 is critical for induction of Alternaria induced allergic airways disease, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol:139, ISSN:1097-6825, Pages:1496-1507.e3

Zhang Q, Cox M, Liang Z, et al., 2016, Airway microbiota in severe asthma and relationship to asthma severity and phenotypes, PLOS One, Vol:11, ISSN:1932-6203

Liang L, Willis-Owen SA, Laprise C, et al., 2015, An epigenome-wide association study of total serum immunoglobulin E concentration, Nature, Vol:520, ISSN:0028-0836, Pages:670-674

Salter SJ, Cox MJ, Turek EM, et al., 2014, Reagent and laboratory contamination can critically impact sequence-based microbiome analyses, BMC Biology, Vol:12, ISSN:1741-7007

Molyneaux PL, Cox MJ, Willis-Owen SAG, et al., 2014, The role of bacteria in the pathogenesis and progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol:190, ISSN:1535-4970, Pages:906-913

Weidinger S, Willis-Owen SAG, Kamatani Y, et al., 2013, A genome-wide association study of atopic dermatitis identifies loci with overlapping effects on asthma and psoriasis, Human Molecular Genetics, Vol:22, ISSN:0964-6906, Pages:4841-4856

Moffatt MF, Gut IG, Demenais F, et al., 2010, A Large-Scale, Consortium-Based Genomewide Association Study of Asthma, New England Journal of Medicine, Vol:363, ISSN:0028-4793, Pages:1211-1221

Hilty M, Burke C, Pedro H, et al., 2010, Disordered Microbial Communities in Asthmatic Airways, PLOS One, Vol:5, ISSN:1932-6203

Dixon AL, Liang L, Moffatt MF, et al., 2007, A genome-wide association study of global gene expression, Nature Genetics, Vol:39, ISSN:1061-4036, Pages:1202-1207

Moffatt MF, Kabesch M, Liang L, et al., 2007, Genetic variants regulating ORMDL3 expression contribute to the risk of childhood asthma, Nature, Vol:448, ISSN:0028-0836, Pages:470-U5

Allen M, Heinzmann A, Noguchi E, et al., 2003, Positional cloning of a novel gene influencing asthma from Chromosome 2q14, Nature Genetics, Vol:35, ISSN:1061-4036, Pages:258-263

Zhang Y, Leaves NI, Anderson GG, et al., 2003, Positional cloning of a quantitative trait locus on chromosome 13q14 that influences immunoglobulin E levels and asthma, Nature Genetics, Vol:34, ISSN:1061-4036, Pages:181-186

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