View from the front in the war on COVID-19

View from the front

public talk

We were given a personal perspective from this leading expert on how it has been to be involved in science and policy that has underpinned the global response to this terrifying threat.


Peter Openshaw - Professor of Experimental Medicine, National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College London


The ability to study viral infections has progressed at an astonishing rate over recent years. Techniques of clinical and molecular investigation have undergone revolutionary changes in the past few decades, leading to a new understanding of how viruses cause disease.

The advent of COVID-19 has enabled the full range of scientific techniques to be applied to studying an unfolding pandemic in real time, new levels of understanding translating into evolving strategies for control and treatment.

Science has led the way, but at times has become entangled in polarised narratives and political controversy. Professor Openshaw brings a personal perspective on how it has been to be involved in science and policy that has underpinned the global response to this terrifying threat.


Professor Openshaw is a respiratory physician and mucosal immunologist, studying how the immune system both protects against viral infection but also causes disease. He is co-lead of ISARIC4C, a UK-wide consortium established in 2020 to study the COVID-19 pandemic and is a member of the Academy of Medical Sciences–British Society for Immunology expert taskforce on immunology and COVID-19. He was awarded a CBE for Services to Medicine and Immunology in the 2022 New Year’s Honours.

He directs MRC and EU-funded studies of human volunteers infected with RSV, influenza and SARS-CoV-2 and is Director of HIC-Vac, an MRC-funded international consortium that promotes the use of human challenge to accelerate vaccine development. He is a member of the UK Vaccine Network and Theme Lead for Infection at the Imperial Biomedical Research Centre. He is also Head of Respiratory Infections Section within the National Heart and Lung Institute and an NIHR Senior Investigator.

He has worked on Respiratory syncytial virus and influenza since the mid-1980s, leading a large Wellcome Trust funded consortium Mechanisms of Severe Acute Influenza Consortium (MOSAIC) to investigate the pathogenesis of human influenza (2009-12). He was President of the British Society for Immunology (2013-18) and has for 10 years been Chair or vice-Chair or NERVTAG, a Department of Health committee horizon-scanning for emerging respiratory threats. He was previously a member of SAGE, advising on pandemic influenza from 2009-12.


This talk was part of our Autumn term programme of events.

We hope to welcome you to a Friends event soon.



This is a past event.
  • Imperial College
  • South Kensington Campus
  • London SW7 2BX

Event Schedule

  • 1 November 2022 7:00 pm   -   8:30 pm
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