Faculty of Biological Sciences

Dr Andrew Macdonald

BSc, Leeds; PhD 2001, Leeds
Associate Professor in Virology
School of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Background: Post-doctoral work in the Division of Microbiology, University of Leeds with Professor Mark Harris (2001 - 2004); MRC funded Career Development Fellow, MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit, University of Dundee with Dr Simon Arthur (2004 - 2006). RCUK funded Independent investigator (2006 - present).

Contact:  Garstang 8.54 (lab) 8.53e (Office), +44(0) 113 34 33053, email address for  

You can read more about Dr Macdonald's interests here:

Research Interests

Studies of small DNA tumour viruses that cause disease in humans

Members of the Papovaviridae, which includes the Papillomaviruses and Polyomaviruses, are the causative agents of a number of severe diseases in humans. Notable examples include oral and anogenital cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), kidney transplant rejection caused by BK polyomavirus (BK PyV) and brain disease caused by JC polyomavirus (JC PyV). Current therapeutic strategies to treat these viruses are lacking. 

We have established a multi-disciplinary research group to undertake a broad ranging analysis of these viruses in an effort to identify new targets for therapeutic intervention.  These studies continue to reveal novel information about this family of viruses.

Human papillomaviruses

We are focussing on the role of virus proteins both in transformation and their requirement during the virus lifecycle.  We are particularly interested in a virus oncoprotein called E5, which is poorly understood. Our research provided the first evidence that the E5 protein is a virus-encoded ion channel or viroporin (Wetherill et al., 2012).  Importantly, small molecule inhibitors against this channel prevented the transforming phenotype of this protein. E5 is the first known oncogenic virus ion channel.  We are further characterising the role of the E5 protein in the virus life cycle using three dimensional organotypic raft culture models.  These cultures recapitulate the development of the skin in culture and are the only method to study the entire HPV lifecycle in the laboratory.  We have shown that E5 is necessary for the later stages of the virus lifecycle using these  methods.  We are also mapping the E5 interactome using proteomic approaches in an effort to better understand the mechanisms of E5 pathogenesis.

In additional studies using a small molecule inhibitor screen, we have identified novel host determinants of HPV infection.  We are currently using a combination of cellular and virological techniques to understand the molecular basis for the role of these host proteins in the HPV lifecycle.  Excitingly, these host proteins may be a novel target for therapeutic intervention to treat HPV-associated disease.


Human polyomaviruses

We have recently started working on these disease-causing viruses and have already made great progress in our understanding of their lifecycles.  Our research again focusses both on virus and host factors that are needed for an effective infection.  We are mapping new virus targets for therapeutics and have already identified novel host proteins that are needed by BK virus to complete an infection. 


For more information about the research and our group at Leeds, please see the Macdonald group web page.

Potential undergraduate and post-graduate projects.
We are keen to recruit exceptional individuals and undergraduate and post-graduate level to join our multi-disciplinary team of researchers. We are a well-funded laboratory, based in refurbished laboratory space with access to state of the art molecular and cellular facilities.  We have a thriving mix of post-doctoral and graduate scientists and we publish in high impact peer reviewed journals.



Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

Undergraduate project topics:

  • Human papillomaviruses and their links to cancer
  • Studying polyomavirus lifecycle and pathogenesis
  • Host factors required for virus lifecycles
  • Immune evasion strategies of viruses

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Human papillomaviruses and their links to cancer
  • Studying polyomavirus lifecycle and pathogenesis
  • Host factors required for virus lifecycles
  • Immune evasion strategies of viruses

See also:

Modules managed

BIOL3398 - Research Tools and Applications

Modules taught

BIOC3111/12/BIOL3112/MICR3120/BIOL5146M a - ATU - Innate immunity
BIOC3160 - Laboratory/Literature/Computing Research Project
BIOL2210/BIOC2301 - Integrated Biochemistry/Biological Membranes
BIOL2301 - Intermediate Skills for Biological Sciences
BIOL3306 - Biological Sciences Research Project
BIOL3398 - Research Tools and Applications
BIOL3399 - Extended Research Project Preparation
BIOW5901X - Foundation module
MICR1220 - Introduction to Immunology
MICR2120/BIOC2301 - Integrated Biochemistry/Medical Bacteriology
MICR2121 - Molecular Virology
MICR2221 - Medical Immunology
MICR2222 - Medical Virology
MICR3325 - Skills for Microbiologists 3


Member of Graduate School Committee (Progression Tutor (SMCB/Astbury))

Centre membership: The Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology

Group Leader Dr Andrew Macdonald  (Associate Professor in Virology)

Studies of small DNA tumour viruses that cause disease in humans 

Miss Rajni Mehta  (Research Technician)

Dr Christopher Wasson  (Research Fellow)


Michelle Antoni (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
David Kealy (Primary supervisor) 80% FTE
Ethan Morgan (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Margarita Panou (Primary supervisor) 80% FTE
Gemma Swinscoe (Primary supervisor) 34% FTE
Daniel Hurdiss (Co-supervisor) 50% FTE
Bharat Pokhrel (Co-supervisor) 10% FTE
Ajinkya Rao (Co-supervisor) 33% FTE
Jeanne Rivera (Co-supervisor) 50% FTE
Philip Rowell (Co-supervisor) 33% FTE
Anna Tang (Co-supervisor) 30% FTE