Meet the Virtus Advisory Board.

Dr Patrick Mallia

Consultant on human rhinovirus challenge studies in COPD

Dr Mallia is a Consultant Respiratory Physician at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation trust. He was a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine at the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI), Imperial College London. He qualified in medicine from the University of Malta and following clinical training in Malta and the UK, he joined Professor’s Johnston’s group as a PhD student in 2001. Following completion of his PhD and his clinical training, he returned to Imperial College initially as an NIHR Clinical Lecturer and subsequently as Senior Lecturer. With Professor Johnston, he developed a human model of COPD exacerbation using experimental rhinovirus infection in COPD patients, successfully demonstrating that this is a safe and valid model, providing novel insights into the mechanisms of virus-induced exacerbations.

In addition, he has contributed to clinical and experimental studies in asthma. He demonstrated that secondary bacterial infection is common following rhinovirus infection in COPD and is related to rhinovirus-induced degradation of antimicrobial peptides. He undertook seminal studies into the role of viruses and bacteria in COPD exacerbations and the mechanisms of susceptibility to infection in COPD. He has to date successfully infected over 50 patients with COPD with rhinovirus.

Professor Christopher Chiu

Consultant on human RSV & influenza challenge studies & immunology

Professor Chiu is a Clinical Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in the Department of Infectious Disease, Imperial College London. He underwent his basic medical training at Cambridge and Oxford Universities, and later was awarded a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Training fellowship to undertake a PhD with Charles Bangham at Imperial College London, investigating gene transcription signatures of the early CD8+ T cell response to acute viral infection. On completion of his specialist clinical training, he was awarded an MRC Clinician Scientist fellowship and furthered his research by working with Rafi Ahmed’s group at Emory University, examining adaptive immune responses to influenza and varicella zoster virus vaccines.

His research interests focus on SARS-CoV2 and B and T cell immunity to recurrent viral infections, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza, with a particular emphasis on the development of better vaccines. He leads a group primarily using experimental infection of volunteers to investigate systemic and mucosal immunity against RSV and influenza. These highly specialised models provide a unique opportunity to examine correlates and mechanisms of protection and disease severity in human beings. The work now encompasses early phase clinical trials as well as fundamental studies of human immunity.

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The overall infection rate of our current stock of rhinovirus is 82% in asthmatics, COPD and healthy volunteers.

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