Professor Paul Klenerman

Headshot of a person standing on a beach smilingUniversity of Oxford


Theme 2: Protective Immunity

I am the UK-CIC Theme 2 Co-Lead.

Why and when did you become interested in studying immunology?

I did a final year option in immunology during my medical degree and it was just way more interesting than anything else I had done before. I liked the fact that many things were not really worked out yet.


What inspires you?

Solving a mixture of big and small problems. It’s great to work on something substantial – like how COVID-19 can be cleared by the immune system - but the other attraction in immunology is that you can break a big problem down into a series of smaller problems, each of which is quite bite-size.


What are your challenges?

Finding time for everybody and keeping a team together when the pandemic has distanced us all.


What skills have you gained from outside academia that you use in your research?

I play a lot of competitive sports – this involves losing a fair bit. It’s a massive cliché but dealing with continually losing is actually quite important.


What is your passion outside of research?

Sport. I love the mountains and the sea. Music too. Basically quite a few things that I’m missing right now.


What does your average week look like?

I have a clinic on Monday and a lab meeting after that. From then on, it’s a mixture of lab stuff, looking at data and trying to write up the data, meanwhile answering a lot of emails and a fair few Zoom calls to keep the wheels turning.


What did 2020 mean to you?

Teamwork. We put a nice team together at Oxford to do a range of COVID-19 work, which involved 100s of scientists. Also, great teams across the country through the UK-CIC and PITCH. That has been exciting to see.