Professor Graham Anderson BSc, PhD, FMedSci

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.

Since 1990, Graham's research has focused on T-cell development and thymus function, including mechanisms of immune tolerance. He holds an MRC programme grant, a Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award, and PhD studentship funding from 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.


  • Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences 2022
  • 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, he has held MRC Programme Grant support since 2000. Graham was appointed to a Chair in T-Lymphocyte Biology in 1995, and Professor of Experimental Immunology in 2016. 

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'. Past and current memberships include the Wellcome Trust Expert Review Group ‘Immune System In Health and Disease’, Scientific Advisory Board memberships at The Universities of Glasgow and Oxford, and the KG Jebsen Centre for Autoimmune Disorders, in Norway. He is also part of the advisory group for the Thymus Transplant Programme at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and a member of European Science Foundation College of Experts. Graham is also a Visiting Professor at The Institute of Genome Research, University of Tokushima, Japan.


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

Graham Anderson is Professor of Experimental Immunology at The University of Birmingham. His research focus is thymus biology, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed research articles in this field. Early in his career, he established new approaches to study thymus function within defined three-dimensional reaggregate cultures. This resulted in a landmark publication in 1993 in ‘Nature’, and in 2022 this was highlighted by The Journal of Immunology in their ‘Pillars in Immunology’ series. This experimental system is now used worldwide as a cornerstone technique of thymus research.

Following a Wellcome Fellowship, Graham was appointed as an independent group leader in in 1994. He continued to work on specialization of thymic stroma for T-cell development, including identifying unique properties of the thymic cortex for positive selection (J. Exp. Med. 1994). The discovery that fibroblasts influence thymic epithelial progenitors (J. Exp. Med. 2003) opened up new research directions with stromal crosstalk as a focus. In 2005, Graham was appointed Professor of T-cell Biology at the MRC Centre for Immune Regulation. In 2006 in ‘Nature’, he provided the first description of a new progenitor cell type that generates both cortical and medullary thymic areas. In 2007 in J. Exp. Med., he showed the Tumor Necrosis Receptor Superfamily member RANK controls thymus medulla formation and tolerance induction. This first demonstration of innate immune regulation during development of a primary lymphoid organ provided a molecular explanation for lymphostromal crosstalk in thymus. In 2012, these ideas were further developed in an ‘Immunity’ paper describing the importance of T-cells in thymus development, and helped form an emerging concept of innate/adaptive immune interplay.

Most recently, his studies highlight how thymic epithelial subtypes regulate qualitatively different T-cell subsets (Nature Comms. 2020), and control pregnancy success (Nature 2020). Finally, his work identifying an intra-thymic innate cell network that drives thymus regeneration (Science Immunology 2022), and selective failures in thymus function post bone marrow transplant (J. Exp. Med. 2022), offer clinically tractable targets to effective immune reconstitution.

Other activities

Previous and ongoing positions include:

  • Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences
  • 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
  • Advisory group member for the Thymus Transplant Programme at Great Ormond Street Hospital
  • Member of European Science Foundation College of Experts


Recent publications


Maneta, E, Fultang, L, Taylor, J, Pugh, M, Jenkinson, W, Anderson, G, Coomarasamy, A, Kilby, MD, Lissauer, DM, Mussai, F & De Santo, C 2022, 'G-CSF induces CD15+ CD14+ cells from granulocytes early in the physiological environment of pregnancy and the cancer immunosuppressive microenvironment', Clinical and Translational Immunology, vol. 11, no. 5, e1395.

Alawam, AS, Cosway, EJ, James, KD, Lucas, B, Bacon, A, Parnell, SM, White, AJ, Jenkinson, WE & Anderson, G 2021, 'Failures in thymus medulla regeneration during immune recovery cause tolerance loss and prime recipients for auto-GVHD', The Journal of Experimental Medicine, vol. 219, no. 2, e20211239.

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.


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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