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Professor Ursula Gompels

BA MA MSc PhD

Professor
in Molecular Virology

LSHTM
Keppel Street
London
WC1E 7HT
United Kingdom

Tel.
+44(0)2079272315

PhD awarded from University of Cambridge followed by postdoctoral studies in herpesvirus molecular biology at Cambridge and the MRC National Institute for Medical Research in London. Granted a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship in Basic Biomedical Sciences in the Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, then appointed faculty at LSHTM. Further awarded a Royal Society Industry Fellowship, and seconded to GlaxoSmithKline. In 2003 returned to LSHTM becoming Reader then Professor in Molecular Virology. Currently serving as National member International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, Herpesvirale study group member ICTV, World Health Organisation Consultation on regulatory expectations for evaluation of nucleic acid vaccines, and on the Royal Society Industry Fellows College.

Affiliations

Department of Pathogen Molecular Biology
Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases

Centres

Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH)
Vaccine Centre

Teaching

Chair Exam Board: MSc Molecular Biology of Infectious Diseases (MBID)

Course exam boards: MSc Medical Microbiology.

Study Unit Organiser: Core Virology (3121) and Molecular Virology(3140)

Supervision and Examiner: PhD (Bloomsbury award with Birkbeck); MSc Medical Microbiology  

 

Research

Research is on the human herpesvirus family with current focus on the betaherpesvirus subgroup including human herpesvirus 6A and 6B (HHV-6A and B) and human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). These viruses can be significant pediatric pathogens and are major opportunistic infections in immune suppressed HIV/AIDS and transplantation patients causing both morbidity and mortality. HHV-6A and B are also linked with neuro-inflammatory disease and both uniquely can integrate their genomes into human subtelomeres in the germ line of approximately 1.0% of people worldwide; which could potentially express virus genes in every cell. We have defined novel genomes integrated as new endogenous virus with capacity to reactivate as emergent infections. Herpesviruses cause latent infections which persist for life, thus their intimate adaptations to our immune system provide unique tools to understand host-pathogen interactions and their applications to immunotherapy.

Work covers areas in infection and immune mediation as well as adaptation to gene therapeutic systems: i) using next generation sequencing technologies, genomic variation in infection modulators, particularly in relation to pediatric disease, with collaborative links with the University Teaching Hospital in Zambia, where we have demonstrated adverse effects on maternally HIV-exposed children; ii) studies on molecular mechanisms of postnatal virus entry or gene delivery mediated by cell fusion or congenital by genomic integration and iii) characterisation of viral versions of the inflammatory mediators, chemokine and chemokine receptors, as major components of immunomodulation. Our studies have identified and characterised the virus chemokine receptor and chemokines. We showed the virus chemokines can also efficiently inhibit HIV infection.

Overall, the virus chemokines and receptors can mimic or prevent cellular signalling and thereby direct immune cell recruitment/activation; with applications to immunotherapeutics, vaccine responses and control of inflammatory disease. These new innovations have led to two patent awards, ongoing knowledge translation in research and a spin out company to develop novel immunotherapeutics using DNA vaccines and gene delivery in advanced therapies.

Research Area
Child health
Innate immunity
Maternal health
Vaccines
Viruses
Immunisation
Neonatal health
Discipline
Genomics
Cell biology
Immunology
Molecular biology
Virology
Bioinformatics
Disease and Health Conditions
HIV/AIDS
Emerging Infectious Disease
Country
Australia
Czech Republic
Germany
United Kingdom
New Zealand
United States
Zambia
Region
European Union
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)
World

Selected Publications

Activation of CCR2+ human proinflammatory monocytes by human herpesvirus-6B chemokine N-terminal peptide.
Clark, D.J.; Catusse, J.; Stacey, A.; Borrow, P.; Gompels, U.A.;
2013
J Gen Virol
Human Cytomegalovirus Infant Infection Adversely Affects Growth and Development in Maternally HIV-Exposed and Unexposed Infants in Zambia.
Gompels, U.A. ; Larke, N. ; Sanz-Ramos, M. ; Bates, M. ; Musonda, K. ; Manno, D. ; Siame, J. ; Monze, M. ; Filteau, S. ; the CIGNIS Study Group, . ;
2012
Clin Infect Dis
Immunomodulation by herpesvirus U51A chemokine receptor via CCL5 and FOG-2 down-regulation plus XCR1 and CCR7 mimicry in human leukocytes.
Catusse, J.; Spinks, J.; Mattick, C.; Dyer, A.; Laing, K.; Fitzsimons, C.; Smit, M.J.; Gompels, U.A.;
2008
Eur J Immunol
See all Professor Ursula Gompels's Publications