Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Infectious Disease

Professor of Tumour Virology



+44 (0)20 7594 2005p.farrell Website




Section of VirologyNorfolk PlaceSt Mary's Campus





Paul Farrell's research is mostly on mechanisms by which the human tumour virus Epstein-Barr Virus causes human cells to proliferate and the role of the virus in human diseases.

Download a copy of the EBV genetic map  EBV map (pdf file)

Download a pdf file of my 2019 EBV and Cancer article from Annual Reviews in Pathology for personal use only.

Epstein-Barr virus is a human herpesvirus that infects most people in the world early in life and then persists life-long. Primary EBV infection that is delayed until adolescence or adulthood frequently causes infectious mononucleosis (glandular fever). Most carriers of EBV show no symptoms or pathology but in some circumstances EBV is associated with human cancers, the virus normally being present in all of the malignant cells of an EBV associated case. These cancers include lymphomas in immunosuppressed people (either as a result of medication after transplant surgery or AIDS), Hodgkin's disease, Burkitt's lymphoma in central Africa, nasopharyngeal carcinoma in South-East Asia and some gastric carcinomas.

EBV infects human B lymphocytes and certain epithelial cells; infection of lymphocytes is readily accomplished in the laboratory and EBV drives the cells into a state of permanent proliferation. In young children, EBV also infects some T lymphocytes but this does not normally occur in adults. Auto-immune cross-reactions of EBV immune responses with neurons or glial cells are also thought likely to cause many cases of multiple sclerosis, particularly when the EBV infection was delayed until adulthood. 

Paul Farrell acted as Head of Molecular Virology at Imperial College 1996-2000 and 2011-2018. He was also Director of the London St Mary's branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research 1986-2005, at the same location. From 2009 - 2016 he chaired the Research Grants committee for the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research charity (now called Blood Cancer UK) and he has served on numerous international advisory and review committees. 

Current research is focussed on

Functional differences between type 1 and type 2 EBV

Worldwide EBV sequence variation in relation to EBV diseases



Farrell PJ, 2023, EBV and MS: the evidence is growing stronger, Cell, Vol:186, ISSN:0092-8674, Pages:5675-5676

Wang Y, Ungerleider N, Hoffman BA, et al., 2022, A polymorphism in the Epstein-Barr virus EBER2 noncoding RNA drives in vivo expansion of latently infected B cells, Mbio, Vol:13, ISSN:2150-7511

Wongwiwat W, Fournier B, Bassano I, et al., 2022, Epstein-Barr virus genome deletions in Epstein-Barr virus-positive T/NK cell lymphoproliferative diseases, Journal of Virology, Vol:96, ISSN:0022-538X, Pages:1-15

Farrell PJ, White RE, 2022, Do Epstein-Barr virus mutations and natural genome sequence variations contribute to disease?, Biomolecules, Vol:12, ISSN:2218-273X

Farrell PJ, 2021, Iron metabolism as a novel therapeutic target, Blood, Vol:138, ISSN:0006-4971, Pages:2155-2156

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