Imperial College London

Peter Openshaw - Professor of Experimental Medicine

Faculty of MedicineNational Heart & Lung Institute

Proconsul, Professor of Experimental Medicine



+44 (0)20 7594 3854p.openshaw Website CV




Ms Gale Lewis +44 (0)20 7594 0944




353Norfolk PlaceSt Mary's Campus





Peter Openshaw is a respiratory physician and mucosal immunologist, studying how the immune system both protects against viral infection but also causes disease.

He has worked on RSV and influenza since the mid-1980s, leading a large Wellcome Trust funded national collaboration: Mechanisms of Severe Acute Influenza Consortium MOSAIC (2009-12), recruiting cases of severe influenza during the influenza pandemic of 2009-2010.

He has run studies of human experimental infection of volunteers since 2008 and is Director of the MRC-funded HIC-Vac consortium ( established to promote the use of human experimental infection to accelerate vaccine development. for pathogens of high global impact.

He was President of the British Society for Immunology (2013-18) and is a member of the Academy of Medical Sciences–British Society for Immunology expert taskforce on the immunology of COVID-19.

He has been a member of SAGE (2009-12), and was Chair/vice-Chair of NERVTAG (a Department of Health committee horizon-scanning for emerging respiratory threats) until September 2022. He is a member of the UK Vaccine Network and several committees and Boards that oversee research on the immunology of respiratory infection.

He was Theme Lead for Respiratory Disease and then Infection at the Imperial Biomedical Research Centre, and is Head of the Respiratory Infections Section within the National Heart and Lung Institute. He is an NIHR Senior Investigator and a co-lead on ISARIC4C (, a UK-wide consortium established in 2020 to study the COVID-19 pandemic.

Career contributions statement:

My first degree was in physiology, especially that of the respiratory and cardiac systems. I published several papers as a medical student, notably on the diving reflex (J Applied Physiol 45:783-785, 1981).

I trained in medicine for 5 years before moving to the National Institute for Medical Research at Mill Hill to study for a PhD with Ita Askonas. The most notable paper from this time was the discovery that T cells can be pathogenic as well as antiviral in RSV infection (J.Exp.Med. 168:1163-1168, 1988). 

I moved to St Mary's in 1988 supported by a Wellcome Senior Clinical Fellowship, which was renewed until 1998 when I moved to HEFCE funding and expanded the labs supported by a series of Wellcome Programme grants. My work throughout has been on the pathogenesis of viral lung disease, aiming to understand protective vs. pathogenic immunity and to find ways to modulate virus-induced inflammation. I have worked on the effects of age on immune responses, the origins disease in infancy and in immune responses of old age.

My major scientific contributions have been to show the importance of quantifying host responses, the use of flow cytometry and lung sampling (see Annual Reviews of Immunology 35, 501–32, 2017)

In recent years I have moved from mouse immunology to focus on study of human disease, developing mucosal sampling methods and creating collaborative networks. I established the RSV human challenge model with Max Habibi and then Chris Chiu (Nature Comms PMID: 26687547 2015), and supervised the establishment of the H1N1 human influenza challenge model by Chris Chiu.

Our paper on neutrophilic inflammation in the respiratory mucosa predisposing to RSV infection is the culmination of many years of work. We have shown that the state of innate preparedness of the mucosa and the events that occur prior to symptoms are key in understanding the outcome of viral exposure.

The concept that I developed for MOSAIC has formed the template for several international and national studies, most notably the PREPARE EU consortium and the ISARIC4C collaborative network that is delivering so handsomely on COVID research in the UK.  

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Kousathanas A, Pairo-Castineira E, Rawlik K, et al., 2022, Whole genome sequencing reveals host factors underlying critical Covid-19, Nature, Vol:607, ISSN:0028-0836, Pages:97-103

Openshaw PJM, 2022, Using correlates to accelerate vaccinology., Science, Vol:375, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:22-23

Wickenhagen A, Sugrue E, Lytras S, et al., 2021, A prenylated dsRNA sensor protects against severe COVID-19, Science, Vol:374, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:1-18

Jha A, Thwaites RS, Tunstall T, et al., 2021, Increased nasal mucosal interferon and CCL13 response to a TLR7/8 agonist in asthma and allergic rhinitis., Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol:147, ISSN:0091-6749, Pages:694-703.e12

Auffray C, Balling R, Blomberg N, et al., 2021, COVID-19 and beyond: a call for action and audacious solidarity to all the citizens and nations, it is humanity’s fight, F1000research, Vol:9, ISSN:2046-1402, Pages:1-18

Openshaw P, 2020, Global disease burden estimates of respiratory syncytial virus associated with acute respiratory infections in older adults in 015: a systemic review and meta-analysis, Journal of Infectious Diseases, Vol:222, ISSN:0022-1899, Pages:S577-S583

Habibi M, Thwaites R, Chang M, et al., 2020, Neutrophilic inflammation in the respiratory mucosa predisposes to RSV infection, Science, Vol:370, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:1-15

Pollard AJ, Sauerwein R, Baay M, et al., 2020, Third human challenge trial conference, Oxford, United Kingdom, February 6-7, 2020, a meeting report., Biologicals, Vol:66, Pages:41-52

Palmieri C, Palmer D, Openshaw PJM, et al., 2020, Cancer datasets and the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: establishing principles for collaboration, Esmo Open, Vol:5, ISSN:2059-7029, Pages:1-3

Park M, Thwaites RS, Openshaw PJM, 2020, COVID-19: Lessons from SARS and MERS., European Journal of Immunology, Vol:50, ISSN:0014-2980, Pages:308-311

Guvenel A, Jozwik A, Ascough S, et al., 2020, Epitope-specific airway-resident CD4+ T-cell dynamics during experimental human RSV infection, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Vol:130, ISSN:0021-9738, Pages:523-538

Coultas JA, Smyth R, Openshaw PJ, 2019, Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV): a scourge from infancy to old age, Thorax, Vol:74, ISSN:0040-6376, Pages:986-993

Ascough S, Vlachantoni I, Kalyan M, et al., 2019, Local and systemic immunity against RSV induced by a novel intranasal vaccine: A randomised, double- blind, placebo-controlled trial, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol:200, ISSN:1073-449X, Pages:481-492

Progatzky F, Jha A, Wane M, et al., 2019, Induction of innate cytokine responses by respiratory mucosal challenge with R848 in zebrafish, mice and humans, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol:144, ISSN:0091-6749, Pages:342-345.e7

Singhania A, Graham CM, Gabrysova L, et al., 2019, Transcriptional profiling unveils type I and II interferon networks in blood and tissues across diseases, Nature Communications, Vol:10, ISSN:2041-1723

Mazur NI, Higgins D, Nunes MC, et al., 2018, The respiratory syncytial virus vaccine landscape: lessons from the graveyard and promising candidates, Lancet Infectious Diseases, Vol:18, ISSN:1473-3099, Pages:e295-e311

Barclay W, Openshaw P, 2018, The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: one hundred years of progress, but where now?, Lancet Respiratory Medicine, Vol:6, ISSN:2213-2600

Dunning J, Blankley S, Hoang LT, et al., 2018, Progression of whole-blood transcriptional signatures from interferon-induced to neutrophil-associated patterns in severe influenza, Nature Immunology, Vol:19, ISSN:1529-2916, Pages:625-635

Thwaites RS, Coates M, Ito K, et al., 2018, Reduced nasal viral load and IFN responses in infants with RSV bronchiolitis and respiratory failure, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol:198, ISSN:1073-449X, Pages:1074-1084

Petrarca L, Midulla F, Openshaw PJ, 2018, Vaccination policies in Europe: Common goals, diverse approaches and public doubts., European Journal of Immunology, Vol:48, ISSN:0014-2980, Pages:10-12

Marchant A, Sadarangani M, Garand M, et al., 2017, Maternal immunisation: collaborating with mother nature, Lancet Infectious Diseases, Vol:17, ISSN:1473-3099, Pages:E197-E208

Cole SL, Dunning J, Kok WL, et al., 2017, M1-like monocytes are a major immunological determinant of severity in previously healthy adults with life-threatening influenza., Jci Insight, Vol:2, ISSN:2379-3708

Thwaites RS, Ito K, Chingono JMS, et al., 2017, Nasosorption is a minimally invasive diagnostic procedure for measurement of viral load and markers of mucosal inflammation in RSV bronchiolitis, The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Vol:215, ISSN:1537-6613, Pages:1240-1244

Openshaw PJM, Chiu C, Culley FJ, et al., 2017, Protective and Harmful Immunity to RSV Infection, Annual Review of Immunology, Vol:35, ISSN:0732-0582, Pages:501-532

Fraser CS, Jha A, Openshaw PJM, 2016, Vaccines in the prevention of viral pneumonia, Clinics in Chest Medicine, Vol:38, ISSN:0272-5231, Pages:155-169

Schuijs MJ, Hartmann S, Selkirk ME, et al., 2016, The Helminth-Derived Immunomodulator AvCystatin Reduces Virus Enhanced Inflammation by Induction of Regulatory IL-10+ T Cells., PLOS One, Vol:11, ISSN:1932-6203

Jozwik A, Habibi MS, Paras A, et al., 2016, Erratum: RSV-specific airway resident memory CD8+ T cells and differential disease severity after experimental human infection, Nature Communications, Vol:7, ISSN:2041-1723

Jozwik A, Habibi MS, Paras A, et al., 2015, RSV-specific airway resident memory CD8+ T cells and differential disease severity after experimental human infection, Nature Communications, Vol:6, ISSN:2041-1723, Pages:1-17

Habibi MS, Jozwik A, Makris S, et al., 2015, Impaired antibody-mediated protection and defective IgA B cell memory in experimental infection of adults with respiratory syncytial virus, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol:191, ISSN:1535-4970

Nyland GA, Mckenzie BC, Myles PR, et al., 2015, Effect of ethnicity on care pathway and outcomes in patients hospitalized with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 in the UK, Epidemiology and Infection, Vol:143, ISSN:0950-2688, Pages:1129-1138

Chiu C, Openshaw PJ, 2015, Antiviral B cell and T cell immunity in the lungs, Nature Immunology, Vol:16, ISSN:1529-2908, Pages:18-26

Schnoeller C, Roux X, Sawant D, et al., 2014, Attenuated <i>Bordetella pertussis</i> Vaccine Protects against Respiratory Syncytial Virus Disease via an IL-17-Dependent Mechanism, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol:189, ISSN:1073-449X, Pages:194-202

Dodd JS, Clark D, Muir R, et al., 2013, Endogenous IL-21 regulates pathogenic mucosal CD4 T-cell responses during enhanced RSV disease in mice, Mucosal Immunology, Vol:6, ISSN:1933-0219, Pages:704-717

Tregoning JS, Wang BL, McDonald JU, et al., 2013, Neonatal antibody responses are attenuated by interferon-γ produced by NK and T cells during RSV infection, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol:110, ISSN:0027-8424, Pages:5576-5581

Hansel TT, Johnston SL, Openshaw PJ, 2013, Microbes and mucosal immune responses in asthma, The Lancet, Vol:381, ISSN:0140-6736, Pages:861-873

Loebbermann J, Durant L, Thornton H, et al., 2013, Defective immunoregulation in RSV vaccine-augmented viral lung disease restored by selective chemoattraction of regulatory T cells, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol:110, ISSN:0027-8424, Pages:2987-2992

Everitt AR, Clare S, Pertel T, et al., 2012, IFITM3 restricts the morbidity and mortality associated with influenza., Nature, Vol:484, Pages:519-523

Loebbermann J, Thornton H, Durant L, et al., 2012, Regulatory T cells expressing granzyme B play a critical role in controlling lung inflammation during acute viral infection, Mucosal Immunology, Vol:5, ISSN:1933-0219, Pages:161-172

Pribul PK, Harker J, Wang B, et al., 2008, Alveolar macrophages are a major determinant of early responses to viral lung infection but do not influence subsequent disease development, Journal of Virology, Vol:82, ISSN:0022-538X, Pages:4441-4448


Thwaites RS, Gunawardana NC, Broich VL, et al., 2017, Activation of the complement, coagulation and fibrinolysis pathways after nasal allergen challenge, Annual Meeting of the American-Academy-of-Allergy-Asthma-and-Immunology (AAAAI), Elsevier, Pages:AB384-AB384, ISSN:0091-6749

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