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Prof. Dr.

Geoffrey Smith

Year of election: 2011
Section: Microbiology and Immunology
City: Cambridge
Country: Great Britain
CV Geoffrey Smith - Deutsch (PDF)
CV Geoffrey Smith - English (PDF)


Main areas of research: Microbiology, virology, immunology, vaccinia virus, vaccines

Geoffrey L. Smith is a British microbiologist and virologist specialising in the area of poxviruses. His research examines the interaction of poxviruses with the infected host cell and the immune system, concentrating especially on the vaccinia virus (VACV) that was the vaccine used to eradicate smallpox. His research has enabled new vaccination concepts to be developed and provided important insights into how viruses evade the host innate immune response and cause disease.

VACV is a DNA‐virus that replicates in cytoplasm and encodes many proteins that suppress natural immunity. Smith discovered that the VACV expresses proteins that bind with interferons, cytokines and chemokines, which are molecules that cause the immune system to go into high gear after an infection. He was thus able to explain how the virus prevented itself from being halted. Moreover, Smith discovered that the family of poxviruses that includes variola and vaccinia utilises a specific mechanism for rapidly spreading to other cells.

His research activities have contributed to a better understanding of the way in which viruses multiply after having infected a cell and then spread to other cells and how they are able to overcome the body´s immune system in the process. These findings are important for developing better vaccines based on poxviruses.


  • since 2011 Chair of the Pathology Department, University of Cambridge, UK and Principal Research Fellow, Wellcome Trust
  • 2000 ‐ 2011 Director, Department of Virology, Imperial College London, UK
  • 1989 ‐ 2000 Reader then Professor, University of Oxford, UK
  • 1985 ‐ 1989 Lecturer in Virology, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 1981 ‐ 1984 Postdoctoral Fellow, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA
  • 1981 PhD, National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, UK


  • since 2015 Chair of the scientific council, Friedrich Löffler Institute
  • 2012 ‐ 2016 Member, Biomedical Panel of the University Research Grant Committee, Hong Kong
  • 2011 ‐ 2014 President, International Union of Microbiological Societies
  • 2009 ‐ 2012 Chair, Royal Society Committee for Scientific Aspects of International Security
  • 2008 ‐ 2011 Member of the Royal Society Science Policy Advisory Group
  • since 2004 Chair, WHO Advisory Committee for Variola Virus (smallpox) Research
  • 2003 ‐ 2013 Governor of the Lister Institute for Preventive Medicine

Honours and Memberships

  • 2012 Glaxo Smith Kline/ American Society for Microbiology International Member of the Year Award
  • since 2011 Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • 2008 Founding member of the European Academy of Microbiology
  • 2005 Feldberg Foundation Prize in Medical and Biological Science
  • since 2003 Fellow of the Royal Society
  • since 2002 Fellow of the Institute of Biology
  • since 2002 Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences
  • 1992 Fleming Award of the Society for General Microbiology




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Phone 0345 - 47 239 - 122
Fax 0345 - 47 239 - 139
E-Mail archiv @leopoldina.org

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