Spotlight on...

Professor Michael Malim

Professor Michael Malim (BSc Biochemistry, 1984)

October 2007

Professor Malim is Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at King’s College London School of Medicine. He studied for his DPhil at Oxford University and was then a post-doctoral fellow at Duke University. In 1992 he joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, spending nine years there before returning to the UK to take up his current position. He is most famous for his identification of a human enzyme (called APOBEC3G) that HIV must overcome in order to survive in the body. This was crucial in demonstrating that the virus needs to actively defend itself against an infected host, a concept that could lead to new therapies. Professor Malim received an Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Scientist Award in 2001 and was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2003, as a Fellow of the American Society of Microbiology in 2005, as a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) in 2005, and as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2007.

Why did you choose to study at Bristol?
I wanted to study biochemistry and Bristol had one of the best courses in the country. I always enjoyed chemistry and biology at school, so biochemistry seemed like a good fit – the ‘Chemistry of Life’ as it were.

What is your favourite memory from Bristol?
I had a lot of good times, I enjoyed my course and living in Bristol, which is a lovely city. I particularly enjoyed my third year lab project in the Department of Microbiology where I studied fungal genetics.

Who has been an inspirational person in your life?
There isn’t one single person who has been an inspiration to me. However, I was a DPhil student in the 1980s, which was just after HIV was discovered. I read, and was fascinated by, the early papers on the subject. I think these inspired me to want to work in the area.

What are you most proud of?
My family – Rebecca Oakey, George and Jess.

If you could study again, which subject would you choose and why?
I love the subject I do now! However, there are things in my education I wish I knew more about. For example, I think it may have been useful to gain a medical qualification along the way. We have very strong collaborations with medical staff, but greater knowledge would be helpful in my work on disease-related questions.  I also wish I’d studied maths for longer.

Professor Michael Malim (BSc 1984)