The Thomson Group

The Thomson Group


Emma Thomson research

Research programmes: 

Acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is an emerging infection in men who have sex with men (MSM) in Europe, the USA and Australia. While many studies have investigated the pathogenesis of infection during the chronic phase, very few have concentrated on virus evolution and the immune response during early (acute) infection. My laboratory focusses on investigation of the mechanisms behind spontaneous clearance (up to 50% of infected individuals clear the virus without treatment) in order to advance the search for an effective HCV vaccine using next-generation sequencing of the viral genome and functional B and T cell assays. 

Image of a flow diagram taken from a publication

Image of a monkey sitting in a tree in a forest in Uganda. Photograph taken by Dr Emma ThomsonEmerging viral infections are an ever-present threat to human and animal health and have often emerged from sub-Saharan Africa. The risk of transmission of viruses to previously unexposed populations has increased as a result of increased global travel, global warming and changes in our ecosystem and human behaviour. In the last 100 years, the emergence of HIV has resulted in at least 35 million deaths while more recently, Zika virus and Ebola virus caused health crises requiring major local and international interventions. Other viral infections (including unidentified infections) remain an unquantified threat to human and animal health. We are currently using NGS to detect new and emerging viruses in East and West Africa (Uganda and The Gambia) in febrile undiagnosed patients. We are also engaged in improving local diagnostic capacity in the MRC centres in these countries so that undiagnosed new or emerging infections may be detected at source in the future, allowing more rapid control interventions. 

Current research

Research group members

Shirin Ashraf

Shirin Ashraf
Research Assistant

Chris Davis
Research Associate

Suleman Sabir

Suleman Sabir
Research Assistant

James Shepherd

James Shepherd
Clinical Research Fellow

Headshot image of Elizabeth Spence

Elizabeth Spence
Research Nurse

Weronika Witkowska
PhD student [email]

Marc Niebel

Marc Niebel
PhD Student [email]

Visiting Students

Stella Atim (Makerere University), Martin Mayanja, Alfred Ssekagiri and Prossy Namuwulya (Uganda Virus Research Institute).

MRC, University of Glasgow and CVR logos