Georgina Ferry interviews Gillian Griffiths.
Gillian Griffiths FRS is Professor of Immunology and Cell Biology and Director of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research at the University of Cambridge. While an undergraduate at University College London she was encouraged by immunologists Martin Raff and Avrion Mitchison to apply for a PhD with César Milstein at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Under Milstein’s guidance she was the first to sequence the complete variable regions of antibodies. She then spent five years as a post-doc at Stanford University in California before moving to the Basel Institute of Immunology in 1990 to work on the cell biology of killer T cells. In 1995 she won a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship and two years later came to the Dunn School to set up her lab. Her work revealed the mechanisms by which killer cells neutralise infected or cancerous cells with exquisite precision. In 2001 she was given the title of Professor, the first woman to hold such a title in the department. She moved to Cambridge for family reasons in 2008.