Prof Tom Wilkinson, research lead for airways diseases

Prof Tom Wilkinson is a clinician and researcher interested in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


Prof Wilkinson leads our research into airway diseases. He is also lead of the Southampton COPD research group, and respiratory theme lead for the NIHR Wessex CLAHRC. His research focuses on two common and complex respiratory diseases which affect millions of patients worldwide - asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  

Better lung disease treatments

Prof Wilkinson's research seeks to improve understanding of the mechanisms which drive susceptibility to respiratory infections and exacerbations in patients with chronic lung disease, and to develop new vaccines and therapies to impact on these.

His group integrates clinical expertise with scientific discovery, and have developed a seamless and clinically informed pathway to take mechanistic discoveries through to new therapies and into the clinical setting of the NHS.

They are particularly interested in the role of respiratory infection and host pathogen interactions in the lung, and lead a large respiratory vaccine and therapeutics programme with major industrial partners in this field. 

Advancing respiratory research

Prof Wilkinson's research spans basic science, translational studies and implementation science, linking the NIHR Clinical Research Facility, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) Wessex and NHS teams, so that they can work together to improve patient outcomes. 

He leads a long term collaborative program of vaccine development with industry, is co-chair of the British Thoracic Society Home Oxygen Guidelines standards of care committee, associate editor for the journal Thorax and co-founder of the health technology company myMHealth.

He has published over 60 peer reviewed papers and reviews on the topics of airways disease, exacerbations and airway immunology. His work has won National and International Awards including the Leading Innovation in Respiratory Medicine in Europe by the European Respiratory Society in 2012.


Prof Wilkinson is Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Southampton, Faculty of Medicine and Honorary Consultant at University Hospitals Southampton.

He trained at the University of Cambridge and Barts and the London School of Medicine, and completed his PhD at UCL, studying disease mechanisms that drive infective exacerbations of COPD.