• Room 04.037 - Medical Biology Centre Block 97 MBC Site

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

Willing to speak to media

1985 …2019
If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Research Statement


Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in infants worldwide and also causes considerable morbidity and mortality in the elderly and immunecompromised individuals. Re-infections are common throughout life. Despite more than 50 years of research there are no vaccines or specific therapeutics against RSV. Importantly, the mechanisms by which RSV causes disease in humans remain poorly understood. 

The Power group has developed models of RSV infection based on well-differentiated primary paediatric airway epithelial cell cultures (WD-PAEC), the primary targets of RSV infection in vivo. These cultures are derived from both bronchial and nasal brushes of airway epithelium in ethically approved protocols. Our RSV/WD-PAEC model derived from bronchial epithelium demonstrated remarkable similarities to hallmarks of RSV infection in infant lungs, both at the cellular and molecular levels. This research indicated that our model provides an authentic surrogate for RSV infection of lower airway epithelium in vivo. Similarly, our RSV/WD-PAEC model derived from nasal epithelium provided the means to comprehensively study RSV infection in authentic paediatric upper respiratory tract epithelium tissue. Our exploitation of these models has provided several novel insights into the consequences of RSV infection of paediatric airway epithelial cells that are the basis of ongoing research. In particular, using nasal-derived WD-PAECs from cohorts of infants with defined histories of severe and mild RSV disease, respectively, we have generated data identifying potential gene biomarkers of severe RSV disease in infants and are currently validating them. 

We are confident that these models will provide insights into RSV pathogenesis in humans that ultimately lead to successful RSV vaccines and/or therapeutics. Be extension, we expect that they will also provide the basis for authentic pre-clinical models to test novel anti-RSV therapeutics. 

Although our models are based on RSV infections, these cultures will be undoubtedly adaptable to studying the molecular pathogenesis of other important respiratory viruses, such as influenza virus and human parainfluenza viruses. Indeed, by way of comparison with RSV, we have extensively characterised the consequences of WD-PAEC infection with Sendai virus, a murine parainfluenza virus type 1 (mPIV1) that is considered non-pathogenic in humans. Sendai virus is of interest to us and others as a live attenuated viral vaccine vector for RSV antigens. As such, studying its interaction with WD-PAECs provided novel insights into the cytopathogenesis of Sendai virus in paediatric airway epithelial cells. 

This research programme is the result of highly productive collaboration with Prof. Mike Shields and members of the Respiratory Research Cluster at QUB. It has attracted substantial peer-reviewed research funding from local and national funding agencies, as well as substantial research investment from international pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.


Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Ultan Power is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 8 Similar Profiles
Respiratory Syncytial Viruses Medicine & Life Sciences
Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections Medicine & Life Sciences
Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccines Medicine & Life Sciences
Epithelial Cells Medicine & Life Sciences
Epithelium Medicine & Life Sciences
Virus Diseases Medicine & Life Sciences
Pediatrics Medicine & Life Sciences
viruses Agriculture & Biology

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2012 2016

Research Output 1985 2019

Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections

Airway surface liquid has innate antiviral activity that is reduced in cystic fibrosis

Berkebile, A. R., Bartlett, J. A., Alaiwa, M. A., Varga, S. M., Power, U. & McCray, P. B., 26 Jun 2019, In : American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Cystic Fibrosis
Antiviral Agents

Original Antigenic Sin and Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccines

Tripp, R. & Power, U., 06 Sep 2019, In : Vaccines. 7, 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccines
Respiratory Syncytial Viruses
5 Citations (Scopus)

The Viral protein Corona Directs Viral Pathogenesis and Amyloid Aggregation

Ezzat, K., Pernemalm, M., Palsson, S., Roberts, T. C., Jarver, P., Dondalska, A., Bestas, B., Sobkowiak, M. J., Levanen, B., Skold, M., Thompson, E. A., Saher, O., Kari, O. K., Lajunen, T., Ekstrom, E. S., Nilsson, C., Ishchenko, Y., Malm, T., Wood, M. J. A., Power, U. & 6 othersMasich, S., Linden, A., Sandberg, J. K., Lehtio, J., Spetz, A-L. & Andaloussi, S. EL., 27 May 2019, In : Nature Communications.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Viral Proteins
5 Citations (Scopus)

Causes of variability in latent phenotypes of childhood wheeze

Oksel, C., Granell, R., Mahmoud, O., Custovic, A., Henderson, J., investigators, STELAR., Investigators, B. T., Power, U. & Shields, M., 05 Dec 2018, In : Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Sample Size
Respiratory Sounds


School Dentistry
Medical Schools
School Dentistry
Medical Schools

Postgraduate Supervisory Excellence Award 2016

Ultan Power (Recipient), 24 May 2016

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


Activities 1990 2018

Microbiology Society Annual Conference 2018

Ultan Power (Contributor)
10 Apr 201813 Apr 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

RSV and airway epithelium - identification of molecular factors potentially implicated in severe disease.

Ultan Power (Invited speaker)
11 Nov 201814 Nov 2018

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

11th International Respiratory Syncytial Virus Symposium.

Ultan Power (International committee member)
31 Oct 201804 Nov 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

PLoS One (Journal)

Helen Groves (Peer reviewer), Hong Guo Parke (Peer reviewer), Lindsay Broadbent (Peer reviewer), Michael Shields (Peer reviewer), Ultan Power (Peer reviewer)
01 Dec 2018

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

External Examiner MSc by Research, University of Edinburgh

Ultan Power (Examiner)
10 Oct 201801 Dec 2018

Activity: Examination typesOther examination

Press / Media

Polio survivor group talks of legacy and a new battle.

Ultan Power


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities

1966 Failed RSV Vaccine Finally Explained

Ultan Power


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Vaccine failure explained.

Ultan Power


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Expert Comment


Elucidation of the roles of PTN and ISG15 in RSV cytopathogenesis: possible biomarkers of severe disease?

Author: Groves, H., Jun 2018

Supervisor: Power, U. (Supervisor) & Shields, M. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy