Professor Graham Anderson PhD, BSc

Graham Anderson

Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
Professor of Experimental Immunology

Contact details

Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT
Research Stars: Graham Anderson

Graham Anderson is a Professor of Experimental Immunology in The Institute of Immunology and Immuntherapy.

For the last 25 years, Graham's research has focused on T-cell development and thymus development and function, including mechanisms of immune tolerance. He holds an MRC programme grant, a Cancer Immunology grant from CRUK, and PhD studentship funding from the Wellcome Trust and the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau.

In this video Professor Graham Anderson describes his background and career to date, what drives his research and how it affects the world. He discusses his research work with postgraduates from the UK and overseas - and explains our unique relationship with the University of Tokushima in Japan.


  • PhD Immunology 1993
  • BSc (Hons) Anatomical Studies 1987


Graham Anderson gained a BSc (Hons) in Anatomical Studies from the University of Birmingham in 1990. He then studied for a PhD in Immunology as a Wellcome Prize PhD student. He then continued his research into thymus biology as a Wellcome Prize Fellow until 1994, and was appointed to a lectureship in the Department of Anatomy in 1995. Since then, Graham has continued to work in Birmingham studying the role of the thymus in the development of a self-tolerant T-cell pool.

Following project grant support from The Wellcome Trust, and MRC Programme Grant support, Graham was appointed to a Chair in T-Lymphocyte Biology in 1995.

He has acted as as a member of the ARUK Research Subcommittee (2007-2009), as Deputy Chairman (2009-2012) and as a member of the ARUK Programme Triage Committee (2010-2012).

Graham has served on the Editorial Boards of 'Journal of 'Immunology' ‘European Journal of Immunology’ and ‘Trends in Immunology’, and 'Frontiers in Immunological Tolerance'. He is currently a member of the Wellcome Trust Expert Review Group ‘Immune System In Health and Disease’, and a Scientific Advisory Board member for activities in The Universities of Glasgow and Oxford, and the KG Jebsen Centre for Autoimmune Disorders, in Norway.


Postgraduate supervision

Graham supervises doctoral research students in the areas of thymus biology and T-cell development.

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Professor Graham Anderson directly, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email

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


Research themes

T-cell biology, Thymus and T-cell development, T-cell Tolerance and Immunity.

Research activity

As Professor of Experimental Immunology in The Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, Graham's laboratory examines the developmental and functional biology of T-cells in immunity. His research for the past 25 years has focused on the developmental biology of T-cells, and the role of the thymus in this process. Research from his lab has identified important regulatory mechanisms in self-tolerant T-cell generation. This has consistently led to original research publications including Nature (1993, 2006), J. Exp. Med. (1992, 1994, 2003, 2007, 2013, 2017a, 2017b, 2018), PNAS (2009), Immunity (2009, 2012) and Blood (2005, 2007a, 2007b, 2007c, 2012) together with invited commentaries and reviews in Annual Reviews in Immunology (1996, 2017), Immunity (2014), Immunology Today (1997, 1999), Trends in Immunology (2012, 2019), and Nature Reviews Immunology (2001, 2007, 2017).

Major findings include:

  • Defining stromal cell requirements for T-cell development (J. Exp. Med. 1992, Nature 1993).
  • Identifying cortical epithelium as unique regulators of positive selection (J. Exp. Med. 1994).
  • Identification of bipotent thymic epithelial progenitors. (Nature 2006).
  • Determining the influence of mesenchyme on thymic epithelial progenitors (J. Exp. Med. 2003).
  • A novel role for RANK in thymic medulla formation and central tolerance (J.Exp. Med. 2007).
  • Identification of a novel role for invariant dendritic epidermal T-cell precursors in thymus 
medulla formation (Immunity2012).
  • Demonstrating that medullary epithelial cells control Foxp3+ T-reg generation by regulating development of their Foxp3- precursors (J. Exp. Med. 2013).
  • That CD1d-restricted iNKT-cells regulate thymus medulla development and thymocyte egress (J. Immunol 2014a, 2014b, J. Exp. Med. 2017a).
  • CCR7 determines the developmental makeup of the intrathymic TReg pool (Cell Reports 2016).
  • Regulation of central tolerance via LTbR-mediated control of thymic dendritic cells (J. Exp. Med. 2017b).
  • Control of thymus emigration by LTbR expression by thymus endothelium (J. Exp. Med. 2018).

Graham is currently interested in multiple aspects of thymus function, including:

  • Development of thymic epithelial cell lineages.
  • Mechanisms of thymus emigration.
  • Control of Foxp3+ Regulatory T-cell development.
  • Control of intrathymic NKT-cell development.
  • Recovery of thymus function following bone marrow transplantation and acute injury.

Other activities

  • Deputy Chair, ARUK Research Subcommittee
  • Member, ARUK Programme Grant Triage Committee
  • Editorial Board Member, European Journal of Immunology
  • Editorial Board Member, Trends in Immunology.
  • Editorial Board Member, Journal of Immunology
  • Editorial Board Member, Frontiers in Immunological Tolerance.
  • Visiting Professor, Institute for Genome Research, Unversity of Tokushima, Japan.
  • Panel member, Wellcome Trust Expert Review Group ‘Immune System in Health and Disease’
  • Scientific Advisory Board, Great Ormond Street Hospital, steering group on thymus transplantation.
  • Scientific Advisory Board, KG Jebsen Centre for Autoimmunity, University of Bergen, Norway.


Recent publications


Li, D, Pan, Z, Hu, G, Anderson, G & He, S 2020, 'Active module identification from multilayer weighted gene co-expression networks: a continuous optimization approach', IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics.

Lucas, B, White, AJ, Cosway, EJ, Parnell, SM, James, KD, Jones, ND, Ohigashi, I, Takahama, Y, Jenkinson, WE & Anderson, G 2020, 'Diversity in medullary thymic epithelial cells controls the activity and availability of iNKT cells', Nature Communications, vol. 11, no. 1, 2198.

Frumento, G, Verma, K, Croft, W, White, A, Zuo, J, Nagy, Z, Kissane, S, Anderson, G, Moss, P & Chen, FE 2020, 'Homeostatic Cytokines Drive Epigenetic Reprogramming of Activated T Cells into a "Naive-Memory" Phenotype', iScience, vol. 23, no. 4, 100989.

Jennings, E, Elliot, T, Thawait, N, Kanabar, S, Yam-Puc, JC, Ono, M, Toellner, K-M, Wraith, DC, Anderson, G & Bending, D 2020, 'Nr4a1 and Nr4a3 reporter mice are differentially sensitive to T cell receptor signal strength and duration', Cell Reports, vol. 33, no. 5, 108328.,

Inglesfield, S, Cosway, EJ, Jenkinson, WE & Anderson, G 2019, 'Rethinking Thymic Tolerance: Lessons from Mice', Trends in Immunology, vol. 40, no. 4, pp. 279-291.

Jimeno, R, Lebrusant-Fernandez, M, Margreitter, C, Lucas, B, Veerapen, N, Kelly, G, Besra, GS, Fraternali, F, Spencer, J, Anderson, G & Barral, P 2019, 'Tissue-specific shaping of the TCR repertoire and antigen specificity of iNKT cells', eLife, vol. 8, e51663.

Cowan, JE, Baik, S, McCarthy, NI, Parnell, SM, White, AJ, Jenkinson, WE & Anderson, G 2018, 'Aire controls the recirculation of murine Foxp3+ regulatory T-cells back to the thymus', European Journal of Immunology, vol. 48, no. 5, pp. 844-854.

Jones, R, Cosway, E, Willis, C, White, A, Jenkinson, W, Fehling, HJ, Anderson, G & Withers, D 2018, 'Dynamic changes in intrathymic ILC populations during murine neonatal development', European Journal of Immunology, vol. 48, no. 9, pp. 1481-1491.

James, KD, Cosway, EJ, Lucas, B, White, AJ, Parnell, SM, Carvalho-Gaspar, M, Tumanov, AV, Anderson, G & Jenkinson, WE 2018, 'Endothelial cells act as gatekeepers for LTβR-dependent thymocyte emigration', The Journal of Experimental Medicine, vol. 215, no. 12, pp. 2984-2993.

Cosway, E, Ohigashi, I, Schauble, K, Parnell, S, Jenkinson, W, Luther, SA, Takahama, Y & Anderson, G 2018, 'Formation of the Intrathymic Dendritic Cell Pool Requires CCL21-Mediated Recruitment of CCR7+ Progenitors to the Thymus', Journal of Immunology, vol. 201, no. 2, pp. 516-523.


Jimeno, R, Lebrusant-Fernandez, M, Margreitter, C, Lucas, B, Veerapen, N, Besra, GS, Fraternali, F, Spencer, J, Anderson, G & Barral, P 2020, 'Erratum: Correction: Tissue-specific shaping of the TCR repertoire and antigen specificity of iNKT cells (eLife (2019) 8 PII: e56997)', eLife, vol. 9, e56997.


Anderson, G 2018, 'Bruno Kyewski (1950-2018)', European Journal of Immunology, vol. 48, no. 5.

Review article

James, KD, Jenkinson, WE & Anderson, G 2021, 'Non-Epithelial Stromal Cells in Thymus Development and Function', Frontiers in immunology, vol. 12, 634367.

Cosway, EJ, James, KD, Lucas, B, Anderson, G & White, AJ 2021, 'The thymus medulla and its control of αβT cell development', Seminars in immunopathology, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 15-27.

Alawam, AS, Anderson, G & Lucas, B 2020, 'Generation and Regeneration of Thymic Epithelial Cells', Frontiers in immunology, vol. 11, 858.

View all publications in research portal


The development of the immune system; the organs in the body that support the generation of a range of cells, including lymphocytes, that are responsible for fighting infections

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