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Dr Michael Themis

Dr Michael Themis
Lecturer/Health & Safety


Dr Themis lectures in the Department of Life Sciences Brunel University London and at Imperial College, London. His research at Brunel concerns gene therapy efficacy and safety.

TestaVec Ltd

Between 2015 and 2017 over 1800 gene therapy (GT) trials were initiated or approved worldwide. Large pharmaceutical companies including GSK, Novartis, Astra Zeneca and Pfizer are investing heavily in gene therapy virus technology and two new licensed products, ‘Glybera” (Uniqure) and Strimvelis (GSK) have now entered the market. Treatments for several genetic disorders are available including cancer, however, no standardised platform has been available to test safety, which is concerning following the development of leukaemia in several children treated for X-linked immunodeficiency by this therapy. Dr Themis has recently launched the first company that focusses on screening the safety of gene therapy. The technology developed and led by Dr Themis in collaboration with UCL, KCL, GeneWerk, Germany, the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control and NMI, Germany won the SBRI, InMutaGene CRACK-IT Challenge funded by GSK and Novartis via the NC3Rs introduced the first human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSc) based platform that evaluates virus vector safety prior to clinical use and a pre-screen for patient tolerance of gene therapy for which IP is filed. TestaVec Ltd is a spin-out of Brunel University to provide a comprehensive service that tests GT safety and efficacy intended for academic and pharmaceutical use in the clinic.


  • BSc: 1st class honours with Brunel University London and University Prize
  • PhD: 1994 entitled “Insertional mutagenesis:experiences at the hprt locus”
  • Post Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PGCert)
  • Post Graduate Certificate in Intellectual Property Law (PGCert)


Persuasion and Assertiveness - 2008

PgCert in Teaching - 2008

PgCert in Patent Law - 2010

Blackboard Learn - 2012

Biological Monitoring for Health and safety – HSE Buxton 2012

Introduction to the Principles and Practices of working at Containment Level 3 – HPA Porton Down 2013


Teaching Interests

Cancer genetics, Gene Therapy and Genotoxicity, Health and Safety and Intellectual Property law. He coordinates the Gene Therapy and Genomic Technologies modules to undergraduates.


Health and Safety Coordinator

Chair of the Animal Welfare and Ethics Review Body (AWERB) and supports the concordat for Openness on Animal Research. He also holds a PIL and PPL.

He is part of the Quality Assurance Group for PPL management

He coordinates the Biology at Brunel event each year.

Lead for gene therapy technologies in the Synthetic Biology theme in the Institute of Life Sciences  

Newest selected publications

Themis, M. (2018) 'Three-dimensional cell culture: From evolution to revolution'. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 373 (1750). pp. 1750 - 1750. ISSN: 0962-8436 Open Access Link

Journal article

Themis, M., Khonsari, H., Pook, M., Parris, C., Al-Mahdawi, S., Gozaly Chianea, Y. and et al. (2016) 'Lentivirus-meditated frataxin gene delivery reverses genome instability in Friedreich ataxia patient and mouse model fibroblasts'. Nature Gene Therapy, 23 (12). pp. GT-2015-00164R - GT-2015-00164R. ISSN: 0969-7128 Open Access Link

Journal article

Ghorbani, M., Themis, M. and Payne, AM. (2016) 'Genome wide classification and characterisation of CpG sites in cancer and normal cells'. Computers in Biology and Medicine, 68. pp. 57 - 66. ISSN: 0010-4825 Open Access Link

Journal article

Condiotti, R., Goldenberg, D., Giladi, H., Schnitzer-Perlman, T., Simerzin, A., Galun, E., et al. (2014) 'Transduction of fetal mice with a feline lentiviral vector induces liver tumors which exhibit an E2F activation signature'. Molecular Therapy, 22 (1). pp. 59 - 68. ISSN: 1525-0016 Open Access Link

Journal article

Nowrouzi, A., Arens, A., Paruzynski, A., Schmidt, M., Cheung, WT., Al-Allaf, F., et al. (2013) 'The fetal mouse is a sensitive genotoxicity model that exposes lentiviral-associated mutagenesis resulting in liver oncogenesis'. Molecular Therapy, 21 (2). pp. 324 - 337. ISSN: 1525-0016 Open Access Link

Journal article
More publications(85)