Professor Richard Aspinall

Emeritus Professor

Faculty:Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care

Location: Chelmsford

Professor Aspinall is an internationally recognised expert in the area of defining and monitoring age related changes leading to increased disease susceptibility and also the issues concerning vaccination in older people.

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Professor Aspinall has degrees from Bristol University, Birmingham University and Cranfield University and has worked at Oxford University and the Babraham Institute in Cambridge from where he was invited to join a Biotech company. From there he moved to Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School which later became part of Imperial College London. In 2008 he was appointed Professor in Translational Medicine at Cranfield University and is a Visiting Professor at the Open University.

He is a member of the British Society for Immunology, the British Transplantation Society and the British Society for Research on Ageing. In addition he is an External Examiner for HKU Space and is a member of the editorial boards of the academic journals Longevity and Healthspan, Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research, and also Immunity and Ageing. He has also served on the editorial boards of Mechanisms of Ageing & Development and also Biogerontology. He has been a Member of MRC College of Experts, a member of the Board of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Postgraduate Medical School, Chairman of the British Society for Research on Ageing, a consultant for several major pharmaceutical companies and a referee for the NIH (USA).

He was appointed a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2007, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (Edin) in 2012 and a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathology in 2014.

Research interests

  • Medical Technology (The design and production of devices to assist in the diagnosis and management of disease)
  • Rejuvenation of the immune response in older people (Design and testing of compounds which improve immunity in older people)
  • Drug Development: (The identification of small molecule inhibitors of ligand receptor interactions with particular focus on cytokines, specifically Interleukin 7)
  • Vaccination in the older people (Design and testing of compounds which improve vaccine responses in the elderly)
  • Synthetic Biology (The design and construction of human lymphoid organs in the laboratory)
  • Dry Biology (The use of sugars to preserve the integrity of biological structures in the dry state such that on rehydration they function normally)

Areas of research supervision

Medical Technology

Supervision of 2 PhD students:
  • Development of an ear based vital signs monitor
  • Design of software for digital triaging

Drug Development

Supervision of a PhD student:
  • Identification of a small molecule inhibitor of interleukin 7

Synthetic Biology:

Supervision of one PhD student:
  • Design and production of a working human thymus in the laboratory

Rejuvenation of the immune system

Supervision of 2 students:
  • Measurement of change in the immune response with age
  • Rejuvenation of the immune response with Interleukin 7


  • BSc (Microbiology)  Bristol
  • PhD (Immunology) Birmingham
  • DSc (Immunology) Cranfield

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Member of the British Society for Immunology
  • Member of the British Society for Research on Ageing since 1995
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2007)
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (Edin) (since 2012)
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (since 2014)

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

  • 2008 Novartis Global Advisory Board
  • 2010 Future Health
  • 2012-14 L’Oréal-UNESCO UK and Ireland Women In Science
  • 2012 Sanofi Pasteur Merck Sharpe and Dome

Selected recent publications

Siegrist, C.A. and Aspinall, R. (2009) B cell responses to vaccination at the extremes of age Nat Imm Revs 9 pp1-10

Monto, A.S., Aspinall, R., McElhaney, J.E., Montaño, L.F., Nichol, K.L., Puig-Barberà, J., and Stephenson, I. (2009) Influenza control in the 21st century: optimizing protection of older adults Vaccine. 13 pp5043-53

Mitchell, W., Lang, P.O. and Aspinall, R. (2010) Tracing thymic output in older individuals Clin Exp Imm. 161 pp497–503

Lang, P.O., Govind, S., Mitchell, W.A., Siegrist, C.A., Aspinall, R. (2010) Vaccine effectiveness in older individuals. What have we learned from the influenza vaccine experience? Aging Research Reviews 10 pp389-95

Lang, P.O., Govind, S., Mitchell, W.A., Aspinall, R. (2011) Real time-PCR assay estimating the naive T-cell pool in whole blood and dried blood spot samples: Pilot study in young adults J. Imm. Methods 369 pp133-40

Aspinall, R., Prentice, A.M. and Ngom, P.T. (2011) Interleukin 7 from maternal milk crosses the intestinal barrier and modulates T-cell development in offspring. PLoS one 6: 6, e20812

Lang, P.O. and Aspinall, R. (2012) Immunosenescence and herd immunity: with an ever-increasing aging population do we need to rethink vaccine schedules? Expert Rev Vaccines 2 pp167-76

Mitchell, W.A., Castells, A., Lang, P.A., Matas, E., Lapenna, A. and Aspinall, R. (2012) Pulmonary delivery of Interleukin 7 provides efficient and safe delivery to the aging immune system. Rejuvenation Research 15 pp414-22

Aspinall, R., and Lang, P.O. (2013) The avalanche is coming… and it’s starting to snow frontiers in Immunology 4:165

Pitts, D.G., Patel, M.G. Sinclair, A.J. and Aspinall, R. (2013) A respiratory monitoring device based on clavicular motion Physiological Measurement 34 ppN51-N61

Lapenna, A., B-Lynch, C., Kapeni, C. and Aspinall, R. (2013) A simple model enabling human CD34+ cells to undertake differentiation towards T cells PLoS one 8:e69572

Aspinall, R., Govind, S., Lapenna, A., Mitchell, W.A., Lang, P.O. ( 2013) Dose response kinetics of CD8 lymphocytes from young animals transfused into old animals and challenged with influenza. Immunity & Ageing 10:34 pp1-8

Hegedus, A., Nyamweya, S., Zhang, Y., Govind, S., Aspinall, R., Mashanova, A., Jansen, V., Whittle, H., Jaye, A., Flanagan, K., Macallan, D. (2014) Protection Versus Pathology in Aviremic and High Viral Load HIV-2 Infection-The Pivotal Role of Immune Activation and T-cell Kinetics J. Inf Dis. 210 pp752-61

Aspinall, R. and Lang, P.O. (2014) Vaccine responsiveness in the elderly: best practise for the clinic. Expert Reviews 7 pp885-94

Recent presentations and conferences

Aspinall, R. The challenge of vaccination in the elderly population. Conference presentation at the Collège de France (2010)

Aspinall, R. Immune responses throughout the Lifespan. Conference hosted by Pasteur Institute in Tokyo in 2010

Aspinall, R. Changes in the immune response with age. Conference at the World Health Organisation, Geneva May 2011

Aspinall, R. Vaccination and the problems of an ageing population. At the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society Meeting in September 2012

Aspinall, R Immunosenesence and Vaccine responses. At the Congrès Suisse de Vaccination in Basel November 2012

Aspinall, R. Vaccination across the ages. At the Nordic Vaccine meeting arranged by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in collaboration with representatives from Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland April 2014

Aspinall, R. Is chronological age a useful indicator for age-related immune decline? At the 9th Congress of the International Society for NeuroImmunoModulation Liege, Belgium, September 2014