Professor Tim Mitchell BSc, PhD, FRCPath

Image of Professor Tim Mitchell

Institute of Microbiology and Infection
Professor of Microbial Infection and Immunity
Joint Microbiology Theme Lead SRMRC

Contact details

+44 (0)121 414 6779
+44 (0)121 414 3687
Biosciences Building
Institute of Microbiology and Infection
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Tim Mitchell is Professor of Microbial Infection and Immunity in the Institute of Microbiology and Infection.

Tim has published over 200 research papers in scientific journals as well as reviews and book chapters in the fields of microbial pathogenesis and immunity. He has received major grants from Wellcome Trust, European Union, Medical Research Council and PATH. He has good links with industry for translational research.

Tim Mitchell is a leading member of the NIHR SRMRC. You can find out more about the work of this research centre on the SRMRC website.


  • Fellow of Royal College of Pathologists 2004
  • PhD Microbiology 1986
  • BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences 1983


Tim Mitchell completed his PhD at the University of Birmingham studying the role of enterotoxin A in the pathogenesis of infections caused by Clostridium difficile. He was then awarded a Wellcome Trust travelling fellowship to study the role of cGMP-dependent protein kinases in the mechanism of action of bacterial toxins at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Tim returned from the Netherlands to a postdoctoral position in the laboratory of Graham Boulnois at the University of Leicester where he started working with pneumolysin, the pore-forming toxin produced by Streptococcus pneumoniae. On the basis of this work he was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship that allowed him to establish an independent research group at the University of Leicester. The work done during this period defined some of the mechanisms of pore formation by the pneumococcal toxin and its role in the pathogenesis of pneumococcal infection. This led to the development of toxoids that were evaluated as vaccine candidates. In 1996 Tim was appointed to the Chair of Microbiology at the University of Glasgow where he continued work on the pathogenesis of pneumococcal infection and developed approaches to exploit bacterial genomics in these studies. In 2012 he moved to his current position as Professor of Microbial Infection and Immunity at the University of Birmingham.


Postgraduate supervision

  • Previously supervised 27 PhD students to successful completion
  • Currently supervise 5 PhD students

Tim is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:

  • The role of bacterial toxins in the disease process
  • Development of vaccines for diseases caused by Gram positive pathogens
  • Pathogenesis of pneumococcal infection

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Tim on the contact details above, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email: or call +44 (0)121 414 5005.

For a full list of available Doctoral Research opportunities, please visit our Doctoral Research programme listings


Major research interests concern the investigation of the pathogenesis of bacterial infectious diseases. The molecular study of these processes can be used to design or modify vaccines and improve therapeutic approaches.

The interaction of pathogens with the host is a complex one. Pathogens produce numerous factors that interact with the host during pathogenesis, including capsules, enzymes and toxins. Tim is interested in investigating this interaction by genetic manipulation of the pathogen and the host (via transgenic technology). Recent work has been concerned with disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae. Tim has been involved in the study of a number of virulence factors from this organism, including the protein toxin pneumolysin. A detailed structure function study of this protein allowed the identification of several important functional regions of the toxin. Modification of these regions led to the development of a toxoided protein that is now being evaluated as an addition to the human vaccine.

With the availability of the genome sequences of many bacterial pathogens, it is now possible to investigate the pathogenesis of several bacterial infections at the molecular level. Analysis of bacterial genome sequences allows the identification of the basis of important differences between strains that are responsible for altered ability to cause disease. A combination of the use of bacterial mutants, animal models and transgenic animal models allows us to probe the host/pathogen interaction. We can then use this information to assist in the design of new vaccines or therapies.

Other activities

  • Undergraduate external examiner in microbiology:
    • University of Aberdeen 1998-2001
    • University of Bristol 1998-2002
  • External examiner for the Masters degree in Medical Microbiology at University of Aberdeen 2009–2013
  • Examiner for the Masters Degree in Microbiology and Immunology at University of Nottingham 2010-2014
  • External examiner for 33 PhD examinations
  • Danish Research Council Panel Member 2011-2014
  • Research Council of Norway - Grant Panel Member 2012-2015
  • Meningitis UK Grant panel
  • Scottish Healthcare Associated Infection Prevention Institute (SHAIPI) - Independent Chair of Management Group


Pope C, Oliver EH, Ma J, Langton Hewer C, Mitchell TJ and Finn A (2015) Genetic conjugation of components in two pneumococcal fusion protein vaccines enhances paediatric mucosal immune responses. Vaccine 33(14):1711-8

Hitchcock JR, Cook CN, Bobat S, Ross EA, Flores-Langarica A, Lowe KL, Khan M, Dominguez-Medina CC, Lax S, Carvalho-Gaspar M, Hubscher S, Rainger GE, Cobbold M, Buckley CD, Mitchell TJ, Mitchell A, Jones ND, Van Rooijen N, Kirchhofer D, Henderson IR, Adams DH, Watson SP and Cunningham AF (2015) Inflammation drives thrombosis after Salmonella infection via CLEC-2 on platelets. J Clin Invest 125(12):4429-46

Herbert JA, Mitchell AM and Mitchell TJ (2015) A Serine-Threonine Kinase (StkP) Regulates Expression of the Pneumococcal Pilus and Modulates Bacterial Adherence to Human Epithelial and Endothelial Cells In Vitro. PLoS One 10(6):e0127212

Goncalves MT, Mitchell TJ and Lord JM (2015) Immune ageing and susceptibility to Streptococcus pneumoniae. Biogerontology [Epub ahead of print]

Fatykhova D, Rabes A, Machnik C, Guruprasad K, Pache F, Berg J, Toennies M, Bauer TT, Schneider P, Schimek M, Eggeling S, Mitchell TJ, Mitchell AM, Hilker R, Hain T, Suttorp M, Hippenstiel S, Hocke AC and Opitz B (2015) Serotype 1 and 8 Pneumococci Evade Sensing by Inflammasomes in Human Lung Tissue. PLoS One 10(8):e0137108

Bewley MA, Naughton M, Preston J, Mitchell A, Holmes A, Marriott HM, Read RC, Mitchell TJ, Whyte MK and Dockrell DH (2014) Pneumolysin activates macrophage lysosomal membrane permeabilization and executes apoptosis by distinct mechanisms without membrane pore formation. MBio 5(5):e01710-14

Mitchell TJ and Mitchell AM (2014) Pneumococcus adapts to the sickle cell host. Cell Host Microbe 15(5):521-3

Croucher NJ, Mitchell AM, Gould KA, Inverarity D, Barquist L, Feltwell T, Fookes MC, Harris SR, Dordel J, Salter SJ, Browall S, Zemlickova H, Parkhill J, Normark S, Henriques-Normark B, Hinds J, Mitchell TJ and Bentley SD (2013) Dominant role of nucleotide substitution in the diversification of serotype 3 pneumococci over decades and during a single infection. PLoS Genet 9(10):e1003868