Professor Polly Roy

MSc PhD FMedSci

of Virology, Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator

Room 281

Keppel Street
United Kingdom

+44 (0)20 7927 2324

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 Spiegelman. I completed a 3 year postdoctoral virology position 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.


My work has been recognised and awarded throughout my career. I have been invited to speak at many conferences and symposiums. I hold membership in various professional and scholarly organisations. I also serve on editorial boards of various journals.

Most recent awards:

Order of the British Empire (OBE) (2014); elected Fellow of the Society of Biology (2014); Senior Investigator Award from the Wellcome Trust (2012); Recipient of the Indian Science Congress General President's Gold Medal, awarded by the Prime Minister of India (2012); 'Innovator of the Year' Finalist, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) (2012).


Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases
Department of Pathogen Molecular Biology


At the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, I am Chair of the Virology Exam Board and I co-organise the MSc Medical Microbiology course. I have successfully mentored many postdoctoral (97), doctoral (25) and other postgraduate research students (38), many of whom have been highly successful both in academia and industry.


Our work has made significant contributions to understanding the basic molecular biology, cell biology, structure, biochemistry, assembly, entry and egress of Orbiviruses in the last five years. This has led to the first complete molecular dissection of these viruses which are a scientifically challenging virus group with serious health and economic impacts.

Our work has developed a highly versatile multi-protein expression system that allows rapid generation of protein complexes and we have used this to make multilayered VLP vaccines for all European BTV Serotypes. Using a recombinant protein approach, several BTV proteins have been crystallized, revealing their novel architectures and active sites. With collators, we have obtained the high resolution 3D images of the whole virus and incomplete virions, illustrating how BTV may enter into host cells.

My lab developed the first full reverse genetics system for double-stranded RNA viruses and more recently the establishment of an in vitro cell-free assembly system which gives rise to infectious virus particles in the absence of cellular factors. These systems have led not only to a greater understanding of the virus life cycle, but also the development of relication defective BTV vaccine candidates which animal studies have shown to be highly efficacious. These major achievements have opened new windows of opportunity for understanding certain key areas of the virus life cycle and also the development of new therapies in the long term.

Our current research continues these themes with a focus on an in-depth analysis of the virus life cycle, the molecular basis of genome packaging and the role of host factors in virus replication, trafficking and egress. Our research is supported by multiple funders including BBSRC, Wellcome Trust and NIH (USA). I have been a Scientific Co-Ordinator of EU-funded vaccine development projects for the past 20 years, including as a co-ordinator of a large multi-partner consortium project.


Currently my collaborators include molecular biologists in Japan, structural biologists from the University of Oxford, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas and University of California, Los Angeles. For vaccine research I have ongoing collaborations with European, American, Australian and South African Universities, Research Institutes as well as Industry.

I have organised several European and International conferences, a highlight being, since 1995, the highly regarded triennial Virus Assembly Symposium.


The data generated through our research has resulted in more than 300 publications in high impact journals that have been cited extensively. I have edited several virology research books, published numerous invited book chapters and reviews including in every edition of Fields Virology, the most prestigious Medical Virology book since 1990.

My full list of publications:

Research Area
Cell biology
Molecular biology
Disease and Health Conditions
Bluetongue virus
Emerging Infectious Disease
Tropical diseases
Vector borne disease
Zoonotic disease
United Kingdom
United States
South Africa
European Union
North America

Selected Publications

Rotavirus mRNAS are released by transcript-specific channels in the double-layered viral capsid
Periz, J.; Celma, C.; Jing, B.; Pinkney, J. N. M.; Roy, P.; Kapanidis, A. N.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Generation of replication-defective virus-based vaccines that confer full protection in sheep against virulent BTV challenge.
Matsuo, E.; Celma, C.C.; Boyce, M.; Viarouge, C.; Sailleau, C.; Dubois, E.; Bréard, E.; Thiéry, R.; Zientara, S.; Roy, P.;
J Virol
In vitro reconstitution of Bluetongue virus infectious cores.
Lourenco, S.; Roy, P.;
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Bluetongue virus coat protein VP2 contains sialic acid-binding domains, and VP5 resembles enveloped virus fusion proteins.
Zhang, X.; Boyce, M.; Bhattacharya, B.; Zhang, X.; Schein, S.; Roy, P.; Zhou, Z.H.;
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Multigene expression of protein complexes by iterative modification of genomic Bacmid DNA
Noad, R.J.; Stewart, M.; Boyce, M.; Celma, C.C.; Willison, K.R.; Roy, P.
BMC Mol Biol
See all Professor Polly Roy's Publications