Helena Helmby completed her PhD at Stockholm University in 1998. The subject of her thesis work was various aspects of immune regulation during malaria infection. She then moved to Manchester University where she studied T cell regulation and development of mucosal immunity during intestinal nematode infections. She joined the LSHTM in 2002 on a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship followed by a RCUK Fellowship in Helminth Immunology in 2006, and a Lectureship in 2011.
Helena's teaching activities include various aspects of immunology on the Immunology of Infectious Diseases MSc, but she also teaches helminthology on the Medical Parasitology (including the field course) and Tropical Medicine and International Health MSc's. She also participates in the DTM&H course. She is the module organiser for Immunology of Parasitic Infection (3177).
Helena's main research interest is to study the effects of intestinal worm infection on the immune system. Intestinal dwelling nematodes are amongst the most common infections of man and approximately one in five of the world's population harbours at least one species and most infections are in developing countries. Intestinal worm infections are recognized as one of the world’s most important causes of physical and intellectual growth retardation in children. An understanding of nematode-induced immune activation is essential for the development of vaccines that can stimulate protective immunity while avoiding pathological consequences. The main focus of Helena's work is to increase our understanding of mechanisms of immune regulation and resistance and how chronic worm infections may alter immune responses to unrelated infections. She is particularly interested in the role intestinal worm infections may have on anti-malarial immunity. In addition she is interested in various aspects of nutrition and maternal immune responses in relation to helminth infections.