Professor Polly Roy MSc PhD FMedSci

Professor of Virology, Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator

Polly Roy's Background

I was educated originally in Calcutta, India and then through a fellowship at New York University (Columbia University Medical School) under the supervision of the renowned molecular biologist, Sol Spiegleman. I completed a 3 year postdoctoral virology position in at the Waksman Institute, Rutgers University, and then began my own group at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In 1987 I was awarded a senior International Fogarty fellowship to study at the University of Oxford from where I established my UK-based research group. I joined the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2001 as Professor and Chair of Virology.

Polly Roy's Affiliation

Polly Roy's Teaching

At LSHTM, I am Chair of the Virology exam board. I co-organise the Core Medical Microbiolgy course and other MSc Study Units. I have been a successful mentor of many postdoctoral (95), doctoral (27) and other postgraduate research students (37), many of whom have been highly successful both in academia and industry.

Polly Roy's Research

Our work has made significant contributions to understanding the basic molecular biology, cell biology, structure, biochemistry, assembly, entry and egress of Orbiviruses particularly Bluetongue virus (BTV), in the last five years. This has lead to the first complete molecular dissection of these viruses with serious health and economic impacts. We have developed a versatile multi-protein expression system for generation of protein complexes and used this to make multilayered VLP vaccines for BTV Serotypes. Several recombinant BTV proteins have been crystallized, revealing their novel architectures and active sites. Through collaborations we have obtained the high resolution 3D images of the whole virus and incomplete particles, illustrating how BTV may enter into host cells.We developed the first full reverse genetics system for double-stranded RNA viruses and recently a cell-free system to reconstitute infectious virus particles. These systems have led to better understanding of BTV replication and to develop defective BTV vaccines that have shown to be highly efficacious in animals. Current research continues these themes with a focus on the molecular basis of genome packaging and the role of host factors in virus replication, trafficking and egress.

The success in research has been recognised through 1) Indian Science Congress General President’s Gold medal awarded by the Prime Minister of India (2012) 2) ‘Innovator of the Year’ Finalist, BBSRC, UK (2012) 3) Senior Investigator Award of Welcome Trust (2013). Our research findings have resulted in more than 300 publications in journals, invited book chapters and reviews as well I have edited several virology research books. I have organised several European and International conferences, a highlight being, since 1995, the highly regarded tri-annual Virus Assembly Symposium.

Current collaboration includes:

Currently my collaborators include structural biologists from the University of Oxford, Imperial College, London, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas and University of California, Los Angeles; molecular virologists in Japan and for vaccine research, veterinarians in several universities in Europe, USA, and South African Universities, Research Institutes as well as Industry.

Research areas

  • Vaccines
  • Viruses


  • Biochemistry
  • Cell biology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular biology
  • Vaccinology
  • Virology

Disease and Health Conditions

  • Bluetongue virus
  • Emerging Infectious Disease
  • Tropical diseases
  • Vector borne disease
  • Zoonotic disease


  • European Union
  • North America


  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • China
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Other interests

  • 3D Structure
  • AHSV
  • BTV
  • EHDV
  • Orbivirus
  • Reverse genetics
  • Rotaviruses
  • Virus Trafficking
  • virus assembly
  • virus entry
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