Dr Francis Mussai MA(Oxon) BM BCh DPhil MRCPCH FRCP(Edin)

Francis Mussai

Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
Clinical Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Oncology
Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Oncology

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Francis Mussai is a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Oncology in the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy and an Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Oncology at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

His research is focused on understanding the interaction between paediatric and adult cancers and the immune system, in particular how cancers suppress the immune response to avoid destruction. Projects involving solid tumours and haematological malignancies are currently underway.

In addition Francis aims to develop novel therapies for cancers and rare diseases, from pre-clinical studies through to early phase clinical trials.


  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Physicians of Edinburgh, 2016
  • CESR in Paediatric Oncology, 2012
  • DPhil in Clinical Medicine, Magdalen College, University of Oxford, 2012
  • Membership of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, 2007
  • Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (USMLE), USA, 2007
  • BM BCh, Christ Church College, University of Oxford
  • MA (Oxon) in Physiological Sciences, St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford


Francis read Medicine at the University of Oxford graduating in 2004. He developed an interest in Paediatric Oncology through early clinical experience with the late Dr John Pritchard. Francis went on to complete his General Paediatrics training at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford under the stewardship of Dr Chris Mitchell.

In 2007, Francis was accepted onto the Johns Hopkins-National Institutes of Health Joint Fellowship Program in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (USA) and underwent sub-speciality training. Whilst at the NIH, he begun doctoral studies, through a Wellcome Trust-NIH Studentship. Under the mentorship of Dr Ira Pastan and Dr Alan Wayne, Francis investigated the cytotoxicity of a novel anti-CD22 immunotoxin against paediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

In 2010, Francis returned to the University of Oxford to complete his doctoral studies in the late Professor Vincenzo Cerundolo’s laboratory. Here he identified the critical role of Arginase II as the mechanism by which Acute Myeloid Leukaemia blasts create an immunosuppressive niche and suppress haematopoiesis.

In 2012, Francis moved to Birmingham to lead a research group investigating the immunosuppressive microenvironment created by malignancies and development new treatment approaches.

Clinically, Francis is an honorary Paediatric Oncology Consultant at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. He continues to work on the development of early phase clinical trials for adult and paediatric cancers and rare diseases. He is a member of the Innovative Therapies for Children with Cancer (ITCC) European Clinical Trials Committee and is an invited member of clinical trial and drug development panels nationally. He is involved in teaching within the hospital and University and has established an International Clinical Fellowship program within the clinical department.


  • Paediatric Haematology-Oncology International Clinical Fellow program - Lead
  • MBChB Year 5 Paediatric Course
  • MSc Clinical Oncology: Pathology of Cancer and Paediatric Oncology modules

Postgraduate supervision

Francis supervises pre- and post- doctoral research students who are interested in the immunology of paediatric and adult cancers or investigating the activity of novel targeted therapies.   The group contains a number of technical, undergraduate, doctoral, and post-doctoral staff. The group welcomes applications from prospective doctoral or post-doctoral candidates who wish to apply for Fellowship/ Grant programs to join the team.


Francis leads a laboratory research group, at the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, University of Birmingham. The group is focused on investigating and targeting the immunosuppressive microenvironment in adult and paediatric malignancies, and the development and translation of novel therapeutic strategies. In particular the group has focused on the role of aberrant amino acid metabolism in the promotion of tumour growth and escape from autologous and engineered-immune responses. A number of preclinical research projects are currently underway and they collaborate actively with local, national, and international academic and industrial investigators to develop their findings.

Working with collaborators the laboratory has supported the translational research alongside 5 international clinical trials in cancer and diseases, and are leading on the clinical development of a number of immunotherapy strategies – including immunotoxin, therapeutic recombinant enzyme, and cell based therapies (CAR-T). The group’s work has been translated into international Phase I and II clinical drug trials and the intellectual property has led to patent filings and commercialisation.

The Mussai laboratory is delighted to have collaborations across the globe and is keen to foster new developments that lead to patient benefit. The group are actively engaged in improving public awareness through coverage in the media, online blogs, and biennial research showcase days. The group are grateful for all the research that has been generously funded by donors to the University of Birmingham, local charities, and national funding agencies.

We welcome enquiries interested in finding out more about our work or how to contribute to our research funding.

Other activities

  • Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Oncology at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital


Collins P, Fox CP, George LC, Pearce H, Ryan GB, De Santo C, Mussai FJ, Lewis D, Long HM, Shannon-Lowe CD. Characterising EBV-associated lymphoproliferative diseases and the role of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Blood. 2020 Aug 25:blood.2020005611. doi: 10.1182/blood.2020005611. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32842145.

Fultang L, Booth S, Yogev O, Martins da Costa B, Tubb V, Panetti S, Stavrou V, Scarpa U, Jankevics A, Lloyd G, Southam A, Lee SP, Dunn WB, Chesler L, Mussai F, De Santo C. Metabolic engineering against the arginine microenvironment enhances CAR-T cell proliferation and therapeutic activity. Blood. 2020 Sep 3;136(10):1155-1160. doi: 10.1182/blood.2019004500. PMID: 32573723; PMCID: PMC7565134.

Fultang L, Panetti S, Ng M, Collins P, Graef S, Rizkalla N, Booth S, Lenton R, Noyvert B, Shannon-Lowe C, Middleton G, Mussai F, De Santo C. MDSC targeting with Gemtuzumab ozogamicin restores T cell immunity and immunotherapy against cancers. EBioMedicine. 2019 Sep;47:235-246. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2019.08.025. Epub 2019 Aug 25. PMID: 31462392; PMCID: PMC6796554.

Petrof G, Casey GA, Colmenero I, Mussai F, Gach JE. Disseminated Congenital Malignant Rhabdoid Tumor Misdiagnosed as Multiple Congenital Hemangiomas. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2020 Jan;42(1):79-80. doi: 10.1097/MPH.0000000000001587. PMID: 31415283.

Craddock C, Slade D, De Santo C, Wheat R, Ferguson P, Hodgkinson A, Brock K, Cavenagh J, Ingram W, Dennis M, Malladi R, Siddique S, Mussai F, Yap C. Combination Lenalidomide and Azacitidine: A Novel Salvage Therapy in Patients Who Relapse After Allogeneic Stem-Cell Transplantation for Acute Myeloid Leukemia. J Clin Oncol. 2019 Mar 1;37(7):580-588. doi: 10.1200/JCO.18.00889. Epub 2019 Jan 17. PMID: 30653424; PMCID: PMC6494237.

Cader FZ, Colmenero I, Mussai F. Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis Associated With 2 Cases of Pediatric Lymphocyte-depleted Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2019 Jul;41(5):e341-e345. doi: 10.1097/MPH.0000000000001398. PMID: 30601404.

Fultang L, Gamble LD, Gneo L, Berry AM, Egan SA, De Bie F, Yogev O, Eden GL, Booth S, Brownhill S, Vardon A, McConville CM, Cheng PN, Norris MD, Etchevers HC, Murray J, Ziegler DS, Chesler L, Schmidt R, Burchill SA, Haber M, De Santo C, Mussai F. Macrophage-Derived IL1β and TNFα Regulate Arginine Metabolism in Neuroblastoma. Cancer Res. 2019 Feb 1;79(3):611-624. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-2139. Epub 2018 Dec 13. PMID: 30545920; PMCID: PMC6420118.

Bokori-Brown M, Metz J, Petrov PG, Mussai F, De Santo C, Smart NJ, Saunders S, Knight B, Pastan I, Titball RW, Winlove CP. Interactions Between Pseudomonas Immunotoxins and the Plasma Membrane: Implications for CAT-8015 Immunotoxin Therapy. Front Oncol. 2018 Nov 27;8:553. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2018.00553. PMID: 30538953; PMCID: PMC6277520.

Mussai F, Wheat R, Sarrou E, Booth S, Stavrou V, Fultang L, Perry T, Kearns P, Cheng P, Keeshan K, Craddock C, De Santo C. Targeting the arginine metabolic brake enhances immunotherapy for leukaemia. Int J Cancer. 2019 Oct 15;145(8):2201-2208. doi: 10.1002/ijc.32028. Epub 2019 Jan 11. PMID: 30485425; PMCID: PMC6767531.

De Santo C, Cheng P, Beggs A, Egan S, Bessudo A, Mussai F. Metabolic therapy with PEG-arginase induces a sustained complete remission in immunotherapy- resistant melanoma. J Hematol Oncol. 2018 May 18;11(1):68. doi: 10.1186/s13045-018-0612-6. PMID: 29776373; PMCID: PMC5960181.

See Dr Francis Mussai's full list of publications.