Michael Malim received his DPhil in Biochemistry from Oxford University in 1987 and then moved to Duke University in North Carolina to train as a virologist working on HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS. A major focus of his post-doctoral research was the post-transcriptional control of gene expression, where he showed that the HIV-1 Rev protein is a sequence-specific activator of unspliced viral RNA nucleocytoplasmic export – an essential prerequisite for subsequent viral protein expression and particle production.
In 1992, Michael joined the faculty of the Departments of Microbiology and Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. His group became particularly interested in a hitherto obscure HIV-1 protein, Vif, a potent regulator of viral infectivity. Through classical cell-fusion experiments and studies undertaken in cells of different primate species, they proposed that Vif acts by suppressing an innate immune mechanism residing in human cells. A comparative transcriptomic strategy using cDNA subtraction led to the identification, in 2002, of the human protein APOBEC3G as an anti-viral protein specifically targeted by Vif. Subsequent work revealed that APOBEC3G inhibits HIV-1 infection by hypermutating viral cDNA by excessive cytidine deamination, and interfering with viral cDNA synthesis (i.e., reverse transcription), thus defining a novel mechanism of innate immunity.
Michael returned to the UK in 2001 to establish the Department of Infectious Diseases at King’s and is currently Head of the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences. The lab continues to work on the molecular pathogenesis of virus infections of importance to global health, particularly HIV-1 and influenza A virus and embraces a broad range of molecular genetic, cultured cell, biochemical, structural, bioinformatic and cohort-based methods to study fundamental principles of virus replication and host-mediated control.
Michael has delivered many named lectures, received an Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Scientist Award in 2001 and was awarded the 2010 M Jeang Retrovirology Prize. He was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci) in 2003, as a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) in 2005, and as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2007. He has served on numerous grant and fellowship review panels in the US and Europe is a Section Editor for the Open Access journal PLoS Pathogens, and an Editor for Virology.