Dr Ryan Thwaites

Headshot of a person with short blonde hair smiling and looking directly at the cameraImperial College London

Twitter: @InThwaiteImmune


Theme 3: Immunopathology

I work under UK-CIC theme 3, studying the contribution of the immune system to the severity of COVID-19.

Why and when did you become interested in studying immunology?

I’ve always been fascinated with fixing things when they break. At university I learned that the immune system is just the same; sometimes it’s broken and if we nudge it in the right direction, we can fix it.


What inspires you?

I’m inspired by the idea that diseases and serious illnesses are avoidable and curable, we just need to understand the processes and how to intervene.


What are your challenges?

Every day presents a different challenge. Some days your experiments tell you exactly what you expected and other days you get surprises. That’s what makes science so interesting.


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

Being resilient and able to motivate yourself when things don’t work are important qualities for a scientist. I have learned these by being bad at cross-country cycling (but wanting to be better!).


What is your passion outside of research?

I’m a passionate fan of the great outdoors – I love walking, running, and cycling and I’m planning on doing my first triathlon this summer (wish me luck!).


What does your average week look like?

This varies a lot during the pandemic, some weeks are full-time in the lab and others are in my new home office. Whatever the case, I always make time to relax and recharge.


What did 2020 mean to you?

It was such a challenging year for us all. Working frantically in the labs through lockdowns was an odd experience and felt very disconnected from the ‘normal’ experience of lockdown – I didn’t spend much time at home for a while!


What has been your most shared social media post of the pandemic?

Our research group was lucky enough to publish two big research papers during the pandemic which have received lots of great comments and useful feedback on social media.