Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineNational Heart & Lung Institute

Lecturer in Respiratory Immunology







Respiratory InfectionsMedical SchoolSt Mary's Campus





Dr Ryan Thwaites is a Lecturer in Respiratory Immunology within the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London.

Dr Thwaites obtained his PhD in 2015 in the field of innate immunology from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex. Following on from this work, he joined Professor Peter Openshaw and Professor Trevor Hansel as a postdoctoral research associate at the NHLI.

Dr Thwaites' postdoctoral research focused on the immune system of the human respiratory tract, incorporating studies of natural viral infections and 'challenge' studies in healthy adults. These challenge studies included non-infectious human models of innate immune activation (such as Toll-like receptor agonists), allergens and experimental human infection models with respiratory viruses such as Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and SARS-CoV-2 (the cause of COVID-19). These studies furthered the development of non-invasive techniques for sampling the airways, including the development of nasosorption as a tool for studying respiratory viral infections in children. This postdoctoral work challenged the existing dogmas of viral disease severity in children, developed the minimally-invasive endophenotyping of chronic respiratory diseases, and identified the role of neutrophils in governing susceptibility to respiratory viral infections. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic Dr Thwaites worked within the ISARIC4C consortium to profile the immunopathogenic response to SARS-CoV-2 infection in cases of severe disease. These studies continued into monitoring the nature and longevity of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 after natural infection and vaccination. These studies sought to identify the elements of the immune response to infection that contributed to disease severity, versus those that contribute to clearing infection.

In October 2021 Dr Thwaites established an independent research group at the NHLI. This group continues to study the immune response to respiratory viral infections, with particular interests in the drivers of disease severity and the factors governing susceptibility to viral infections.



Wagstaffe HR, Thwaites RS, Reynaldi A, et al., 2024, Mucosal and systemic immune correlates of viral control after SARS-CoV-2 infection challenge in seronegative adults., Sci Immunol, Vol:9

Johnson M, Chelysheva I, Öner D, et al., 2024, A Genome-Wide Association Study of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection Severity in Infants., J Infect Dis

Swieboda D, Thwaites R, Rice T, et al., 2024, Natural killer cells and innate lymphoid cells but not NKT cells are mature in their cytokine production at birth, Clinical and Experimental Immunology, Vol:215, ISSN:0009-9104, Pages:1-14

Michael BD, Dunai C, Needham EJ, et al., 2023, Para-infectious brain injury in COVID-19 persists at follow-up despite attenuated cytokine and autoantibody responses, Nature Communications, Vol:14, ISSN:2041-1723

Thwaites R, Sidhu J, Siggins M, et al., 2023, Delayed mucosal anti-viral responses despite robust peripheral inflammation in fatal COVID-19, Journal of Infectious Diseases, ISSN:0022-1899

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