Meet the Guest Lecturers

Because meeting the challenge of viruses and pandemics is a collaborative scientific effort, in the 2021 CHRISTMAS LECTURES Jonathan Van-Tam will be supported by six expert UK scientists acting as Guest Lecturers.

  • computer generated visualisation of the Covid-19 virus, bobbly red ball with tree like nodules that cover the surface giving it a spiky ball appearance

    Visualisation of the Covid-19 virus

    Credit: Fusion Medical Animation

Katie Ewer

Prof Katie Ewer is a cellular immunologist specialising in immune responses to vaccines. She is an Associate Professor at the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, acting as senior immunologist for clinical trials of Oxford's Ebola and pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccines. She oversees the immunology on Phase I, II and III trials of new malaria vaccines, both in the UK and in field trials in Africa.

Having earned her PhD in 2004, Katie joined the UK's Animal and Plant Health Agency where she studied the effectiveness of TB vaccines in cattle and managed the roll-out of interferon-gamma-based diagnosis for bovine TB in the UK herd, before moving to the Jenner Institute in 2008.

During the Covid-19 pandemic she was an investigator on clinical trials of the Oxford/AZ COVID vaccine, studying samples from volunteers to determine the strength of their cellular immune response to vaccination and how those responses relate to protection against COVID-19 infection.


Julia Gog

Prof Julia Gog OBE is Professor of Mathematical Biology at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge and the David N. Moore Fellow and Director of Studies in Mathematics at Queens' College, Cambridge. Julia is co-lead of the JUNIPER consortium.

Julia is a specialist in modelling the spread and evolution of infectious diseases, particularly influenza and Covid-19. During the pandemic she has contributed to scientific advice to the UK government through Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and SPI-M, the group which provides input based on infectious disease modelling and epidemiology.

In 2020 Julia was awarded the Royal Society’s Rosalind Franklin prize, honorary membership of the Mathematical Association and an OBE for services to academia and the Covid-19 response.


Ravi Gupta

Prof Ravi Gupta is Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Diseases.

He has worked extensively in HIV drug resistance, both at molecular and population levels, and his work demonstrating escalating global resistance led to change in WHO treatment guidelines for HIV.  While at UCL, he led the team demonstrating HIV cure in the ‘London Patient’ – the world’s only living HIV cure, and the second recorded in history.

During the pandemic he has deployed his expertise in RNA virus genetics and biology to report the first genotypic-phenotypic evidence for immune escape of SARS-CoV-2 within an individual, defining the process by which new variants likely arise, and also reporting some of the first data on Pfizer BioNTech vaccine-induced antibody responses against the B.1.1.7 variant that arose in the UK. In addition his group has defined poorer vaccine responses in the elderly, particularly with regard to variants of concern. Most recently Ravi’s work has defined the immune escape and transmissibility advantage of the Delta variant as the driver behind its global expansion.

In 2020 Ravi was named as one of the 100 Most influential people worldwide by TIME Magazine.


Teresa Lambe

Prof Teresa Lambe is an Associate Professor, based in the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford. Her research aims to improve human health by working to understand infectious disease and to control disease through vaccination – stopping epidemics before they become pandemics.

Teresa was awarded her BSc and PhD by University College Dublin, before coming to Oxford in 2002, joining the Jenner Institute in 2009.

During the pandemic Teresa has been one of the Principal Investigators overseeing the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine programme. In January 2020, she co-designed the vaccine, led the pre-clinical studies and then oversaw the delivery of the immune results needed to support regulatory approval of the vaccine in late 2020. The vaccine has played a pivotal role in the fight against COVID-19. 

Teresa was awarded an honorary OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2021, and continues to work on vaccines against globally important diseases including Ebola, Influenza, MERS, and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.


Catherine Noakes 

Prof Catherine Noakes, OBE FREng FIMechE, is Professor of Environmental Engineering for Buildings at the University of Leeds. She is also Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and was appointed as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in September 2021.

A chartered mechanical engineer with a background in fluid dynamics, Catherine’s research expertise is in building physics and environmental engineering, in particular exploring the transport of airborne pathogens, the influence of indoor airflows and effectiveness of engineering approaches such as ventilation to controlling airborne disease transmission.

During the pandemic, Catherine has applied her knowledge to understanding the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus including the importance of ventilation in reducing the risk of inhaling small particles containing the virus. Since April 2020 she has co-chaired the Environment and Modelling sub-group of the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) providing advice on how the virus transmits and the best strategies to control the spread.


Sharon Peacock    

Sharon Peacock CBE FMedSci is Professor of Public Health and Microbiology in the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge, Chair of the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium, and Non-Executive Director on the Board of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation trust

Sharon has worked in academic clinical microbiology in the UK and Southeast Asia for the last 25 years. She has built her scientific expertise around pathogen genomics, antimicrobial resistance, and a range of tropical diseases. Sharon has spent the last decade focused on research that is finding ways to use sequencing technologies to provide actionable information for public health and patient care relating to infectious diseases. Her work on SARS-COV-2 is a prime example.

During the pandemic the COG-UK consortium delivered large-scale and rapid whole-genome virus sequencing to local NHS centres and the UK government. The virus genome data is combined with clinical and epidemiological datasets to inform UK public health interventions and policies. 

Sharon is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and was awarded a CBE for services to medical microbiology in 2015.

Katie Ewer, image credit John Cairns

Julia Gog, image credit Lionel D'Souza

Ravi Gupta, image credit Nick Saffell

Tess Lambe, image credit University of Oxford

Catherine Noakes, image credit Leeds University

Sharon Peacock, image credit Nick Saffell