Geoffrey Smith is a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow and the Head of the Section of Virology and Division of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London. He graduated in Biochemistry and Microbiology from the University of Leeds in 1997 and obtained his PhD in 1981 working with Alan J. Hay on influenza virus at the National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London. As a postdoctoral fellow in Bernard Moss’s laboratory at the National Institutes of Health, USA (1981-84) he developed vaccinia virus as an expression vector and pioneered the use of genetically engineered viruses as live vaccines, a principle applied subsequently to many other viruses and micro-organisms. He continued working with poxviruses after returning to UK, first in Cambridge (1985-89), then in Oxford (1989-2000) and now at Imperial College London. His research group studies the interactions of poxviruses (particularly vaccinia virus) with the host cell and immune system.
Currently, he is President-Elect of the International Union of Microbiological Societies, Chairman of the WHO Advisory Committee for Variola Virus (smallpox) Research, Chairman of the Royal Society Committee for Scientific Aspects of International Security, and a Governor of the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine. He is also a member of the UK Defence Scientific Advisory Council and the Royal Society Science Policy Advisory Group. In 2002 he was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Institute of Biology. In 2003 he became Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of General Virology and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 2005 he was awarded the Feldberg Foundation Prize in Medical and Biological Science to promote Anglo-German Friendship. In 2009 he was elected a Founding Member of the European Academy of Microbiology, and in 2010 was elected a Corresponding Member of the Gesellschaft für Virologie (GfV).