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Fellows Directory

Gurdyal Besra

Gurdyal Besra

Professor Gurdyal Besra FMedSci FRS


Elected: 2019






Gurdyal has established himself as a world-leader in tuberculosis research and has made many ground-breaking discoveries in our understanding of Mycobacterium tuberculosis   cell wall assembly. The cell wall of M. tuberculosis  is very distinctive, differing from other bacteria in containing an exceptional amount of unique lipids and sugars. In unravelling and characterising the proteins involved in cell wall biosynthesis, he aims to find good drug targets, which can then be further exploited using specialised assays, screens and structural biology, to identify new molecules for hit-to-lead programmes for tuberculosis.

Alongside international collaborators, Gurdyal has been at the forefront in the discovery of M. tuberculosis  T-cell lipid antigens and the elucidation of the CD1 antigen presentation pathway. He is also currently exploring the immunotherapeutic potential of glycosyl ceramides and synthetic small-molecules with colleagues against a wide range of tumours and infectious diseases, where it is important to fine tune the hosts immune response through the CD1 pathway.

The many accolades received by Gurdyal for his scientific contributions include the Biochemical Society Award (2008) and Morton Lecture (2020); the Colworth Prize from the Microbiology Society (2016); the Jeremy Knowles Medal (2014) and Carbohydrate Award (2003) from the Royal Society of Chemistry. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2013.

Professional positions

, Institute of Microbiology and Infection, University of Birmingham

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, organic, Chemistry, biological
  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Biochemistry and molecular biology, Molecular immunology, Molecular microbiology
  • Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology
    • General microbiology (incl bacteriology and virology)
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