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James McLaren

Dr James McLaren

Senior Lecturer in Immunology

School of Medicine

+44 29207 44431
Sir Geraint Evans Cardiovascular Research Building, Room 2/04, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XN
Available for postgraduate supervision


My research interests focus on understanding how adaptive immune responses, driven by T cells, respond to virus and bacterial infections and also how pathogenic microorganisms utilise evolved strategies to evade T cells. Furthermore, I have a keen interest in discovering how this type of cellular immunity is regulated by biological signals (cytokines) and how it can destabilise when global immune responses become imbalanced, such as in sepsis.

I am currently involved with "Project Sepsis", a research collaboration across medicine and scientific disciplines that has been established to address an urgent medical need for an accurate, rapid diagnosis that detects the infectious cause underlying the onset of sepsis. Here, a key aim is to deconvolute the immunological mechanisms that drive the suppression of adaptive immunity in sepsis with a view to help improve diagnosis and to inform the design of novel therapeutic interventions. 

























  • MET921 - MSc Applied & Experimental Clinical Immunology
  • MBBCh degree SSC Year 2: Interactive Immunology and Infectious Diseases - Lecturer and practical contributor
  • MBBCh degree SSC Year 1: Literature Review
  • MBBCh degree Year 1 Platform for Clinical Science (PCS): Applied Immunology - Academic Tutor
  • MBBCh degree personal tutor

Student appraising:

  • PhD student appraiser and panel chair
  • PhD and MSc student examiner




My research career began in 2004 with a Ph.D. in the laboratory of Professor Martin Rowe and Dr. Paul Brennan at Cardiff University. During this time, my research focused on dissecting how Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) dysregulates key antiviral mechanisms (interferon signaling) during B-cell transformation. This research sparked my interest in cytokine modulation of adaptive immunity. From here, I undertook my first post-doctoral position, under the supervision of Dr. Dipak Ramji at Cardiff University, where I studied how cytokines manipulate the formation of macrophage-derived foam cells. Foam cell formation is a key process in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and heart disease and I determined that interleukin-33 (IL-33) could inhibit macrophage foam cell formation, which was a novel discovery at the time.


In 2010, I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Value in People (VIP) Fellowship to join the laboratory of Professor David Price at Cardiff University to expand my interests in viral immunology and cytokine biology. Here, I focused on performing high-tech approaches (polychromatic flow cytometry, advanced T cell receptor sequencing) to understand how antigen-specific T cell immune responses are mobilized in humans and mice during virus (HIV, cytomegalovirus, EBV, dengue virus) infection, microbial colonisation, inflammation and disease. During this fellowship and beyond (2010-2018), I have made some significant contributions to the immunological field, including a number of high-impact publications (Cell, Nature Immunology, Science Immunology, Immunity, Journal of Experimental Medicine), and have been invited to give lectures on this research at conferences, biotech companies and academic institutions in the UK and Australia. Additionally, I expanded my interests in cytokines (e.g. IL-33) by examining how they regulate T cell immunity during virus infection in vivo.

In 2018, I was recruited as a Lecturer in Systems Immunity at Cardiff University to apply my expertise in T cell profiling during infection for “Project Sepsis”, a new research collaboration that has been established to address an urgent medical need to accurately diagnose sepsis and to develop novel therapeutic interventions. In 2023, I was promoted to Senior Lecturer and my research interests currently focus around understanding how T cells respond to bacterial and viral infections and also how these mircro-organisms utilise strategies to evade T cells






Honours and awards

  • Cardiff University SIURI Rutherford Travel Fund Grant (2018)
  • British Society of Immunology Travel Award – 41st Annual International Herpesvirus Worksop, Madison, WI, USA (2016)
  • Cardiff University Morgan E Williams Fund award (2016)
  • Cardiff University WM Thomas Fund award (2016)
  • 1st prize for best presentation at Cardiff University I3-IRG annual meeting (2007)
  • Travel Fellowship - 12th Biennial conference of the International Association for Research on Epstein-Barr Virus and Associated Diseases, Boston, MA, USA (2006)

Professional memberships

  • Member of the British Society of Immunology

Academic positions

  • 2023-present:   Senior Lecturer in Immunology, Division of Infection & Immunity, Cardiff University, UK
  • 2018-2023:        Lecturer in Systems Immunity, Division of Infection & Immunity, Cardiff University, UK
  • 2011-2018:        Research Associate, Division of Infection & Immunity, Cardiff University, UK
  • 2014:                 Visiting Scholar, Vaccine Research Center, NIAID, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20982, USA
  • 2010-2011:        Wellcome Trust Value in People Research Fellow, Cardiff University, UK
  • 2007-2010:        British Heart Foundation Research Associate, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University,  UK





Committees and reviewing

Committees and grant reviewing:

  • Grant reviewer, Medical Research Council
  • Grant reviewer, Academy of Medical Sciences
  • Grant reviewer, Agence Nationale de la Recherche (France)
  • Grant reviewer, Swiss National Science Foundation
  • Grant panel, Wellcome Trust/Cardiff University ISSF
  • Grant reviewer/panel, UKRI Harmonised Impact Acceleration Account
  • ECR Expert Panel. Oxford Open Immunology

Journal reviewing:

  • Journal Reviewer, Advanced Science
  • Journal Reviewer, European Journal of Immunology
  • Journal Reviewer, Frontiers in Immunology
  • Journal Reviewer, Frontiers in Virology
  • Journal Reviewer, iScience
  • Journal Reviewer, International Journal of Molecular Sciences
  • Journal Reviewer, Journal of Immunology
  • Journal Reviewer, Lancet EBioMedicine
  • Journal Reviewer, Nature Communications

Editorial board:

  • Section Editor, Journal of Immunology
  • Editorial board, Frontiers in Genetics
  • Editorial board, Frontiers in Medicine


I am interested in supervising PhD students with a strong interest in T cell immunology in the areas of:

  • Virus-specific T cell immunity
  • Bacterial-driven T cell immune evasion
  • Cytokine-driven modulation of adaptive immunity
  • Mechanisms of immune suppression during sepsis

Current supervision

Kate Davies

Kate Davies

Research student

Past projects

  • Katherine Stanswood (2022) - MSc Applied and Experimental Clinical Immunology (dissertation project) - "Immunophenotyping mechanisms of T cell dysfunction during the onset of sepsis"
  • Annie Bird (2022) - MSc Bioinformatics (dissertation project) - "Revolutionising cellular phenotyping: Transcript and protein profiling using single-cell multi-omics sequencing" 
  • Lucy Sheikh (2023) - MSc Applied and Experimental Clinical Immunology dissertation project - "Immunophenotyping dysfunctional antimicrobial T cell immunity during sepsis"


  • Active contributor to Cardiff University Science in Health: Live week
  • Contributor to Learned Society of Wales & Seren Network Outreach Pilot Project 2018


  • Immunology
  • Cellular immunology
  • Infectious diseases
  • T cell immunity