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Dr Umakhanth Venkatraman Girija

Job: Senior Lecturer (VC2020) and Programme Leader for MSc Advanced Biomedical Science

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: School of Allied Health Sciences

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44(0) 116 2577717




Personal profile

Dr Umakhanth Venkatraman Girija is a lecturer in Immunology in the School of Allied health Sciences, De Montfort University. He completed his PhD in Biochemistry from University of Oxford.

During his doctoral research, Umakhanth investigated the protein-protein interactions leading to the lectin pathway of complement activation, an important component of innate immune system. His postdoctoral work with University of Leicester expanded his interest into the molecular mechanism of classical pathway of complement activation and also on the role of lectins in immunity.  

In addition to academic research, Umakhanth has six years of industrial research experience from Biocon, India, where he developed company’s first GMO producing recombinant therapeutic which is in market. He was a team leader for various molecular biology projects which were done in collaboration with multinational pharma companies from Europe and USA.

Currently, Umakhanth's research focuses on how microbial pathogens evade host complement attack and also on the role of adiponectins which has important cardio protective function. He has research collaborations with Universities of Leicester, Brunel and Warwick. 

Research group affiliations

  • Biomedical and Environmental Health Group
  • Infectious Disease Research Group

Research interests/expertise

  • Innate Immune System and complement pathways
  • Microbial pathogens and immune evasion strategies
  • Applied Biotechnology (recombinant protein expression)
  • Microbial strain engineering

Main techniques used in the laboratory include gene cloning, site-directed mutagenesis, recombinant protein expression in various host systems, protein purification, protein-protein interactions, assay development, cell culture and molecular microbiology (e.g. gene knockouts). 

Areas of teaching

  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Applied Biotechnology


  • PhD Biochemistry (University of Oxford)
  • MSc Microbiology (India)
  • PGCertHE (DMU)

Courses taught

  • BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science
  • BSc Medical Science
  • MSc Advanced Biomedical Science

Honours and awards

  • Best Poster Award, Complement UK meeting, New Castle, UK (October 2013)
  • Overseas Research Scholarship award for Doctoral study at University of Oxford (2006-08)
  • Biocontribute award in the industry for developing company’s first GMO and for successful collaborative research with pharma clients (December 2002 and December 2003)
  • Gold Medal for securing University First Rank in graduate studies in Microbiology (June1997 and June 1999)

Membership of external committees

Review Editor,  the Editorial Board of Molecular Innate Immunity, a specialty of Frontiers in Immunology  (since Nov 2015).

Conference attendance

  • 4th Complement UK meeting, Leicester, UK, November 2016
  • 11th International Conference on Innate Immunity, Olympia, Greece, June 2014
  • Complement UK meeting, New Castle, UK, October 2013
  • XII International Complement Workshop, Basel, Switzerland, October 2008
  • International Complement Meeting, MRC Immunochemistry Unit, Oxford, UK; July 2008
  • XI European meeting on Complement in Human Disease, Cardiff, UK; September, 2007
  • VI International Workshop on C1 and the Collectins, Seeheim, Germany; June 2006

Current research students

  • Miss Nisha Valand (PhD student, 1st supervisor; Topic: Molecular immune evasion strategies of Candida tropicalis; Oct 2017 -)
  • Miss Emily Brunt (MSc research, Molecular Immunology, 1st supervisor; Oct 2017 -)
  • Mr Medhanie Habtom (MSc research, Molecular Immunology, 1st supervisor; Oct 2017 - )

Internally funded research project information

Project title: Schistosomiasis: Molecular investigation towards novel drug target and vaccine design

Value: £6959

Funding source: RIF7 (Research Investment Fund)

Start date: August 2015

End date: July 2016

Role in project: Principal Investigator


Project title: Protein Production Facility

Value: £46942

Funding source: RCIF2 (Research Capital Investment Funding 2)

Start date: December 2015

End date: July 2016

Role in project: Principal Investigator


Project title: Molecular characterization and identification of emerging parasitic pathogens in the environment in the midlands UK: Public health implications

Value: £21768

Funding source: RCIF2 (Research Capital Investment Funding 2)

Start date: December 2015

End date: July 2016

Role in project: Co-applicant (PI: Dr A Peña Fernández)


Project title: Coulter Counter and Cytospin

Value: £22494

Funding source: Capital bid

Start date: July 2016

Role in project: Co-applicant (PI: Dr Neenu Singh)