Biography - Professor Julian Ma

Professor Julian Ma


Name: Professor Julian K-C Ma
Position: Hotung Chair of Molecular Immunology, Joint Director of the Infection and Immunity Research Institute
Research Institute: Infection and Immunity
Tel:+44(0) 208 725 5818

Recombinant protein pharmaceuticals, molecular pharming, plant biotechnology, mucosal immunology, antibody engineering.


Professor Julian Ma is joint Director of the Infection and Immunity Research Institute at St George's.  He joined the Institution in October 2003, taking up the Hotung Chair of Molecular Immunology and leads a research team that specialises in mucosal immunology and the production of recombinant pharmaceuticals using plant biotechnology (molecular pharming). His research is particularly focused on using biotechnology tools to improve global access to modern medicines.

Prof Ma graduated in Dentistry at Guy’s Hospital in 1983, where he also gained his PhD in Immunology under Prof Thomas Lehner, studying anti-microbial immunotherapy using monoclonal antibodies.

As a post-doctoral fellow in Dr Andrew Hiatt’s laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, Prof Ma was a pioneer in the engineering, expression and assembly of monoclonal antibodies in transgenic plants. He returned to Guy’s in 1992 and was subsequently awarded an Advanced Training Fellowship by the Wellcome Trust. In 1997 he was made Consultant in Immunology and Oral Immunotherapy at Guy’s Hospital Dental School, the first consultant appointment in Oral Immunology in the UK.

Prof Ma was the scientific co-ordinator of Pharma-Planta, from 2004-2011, a major European Union Framework Programme 6 project to develop pharmaceuticals from plant-derived proteins. He is currently the holder of an ERC Advanced Grant to develop further plant biotechnology derived medicines to clinical trials.

He was the vice chair for the European COST Action on Molecular Farming from 2009-2013 that co-ordinated molecular farming research and policy activities in 28 European countries. He is the Founding President of the International Society for Plant Molecular Farming.