Professor Ma is the Hotung Chair of Molecular Immunology and Director of the Institute for Infection and Immunity at St. George’s, University of London. He also holds an honorary Hospital Consultant appointment in Oral Medicine at King’s College London. He graduated in dentistry at Guy's Hospital in 1983, and went on there to gain his PhD in Immunology, studying topical anti-microbial immunotherapy using monoclonal antibodies. He was a post-doctoral fellow at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, in Dr. Andrew Hiatt's laboratory which pioneered the expression of recombinant antibodies in transgenic plants. On his return to the UK, his research group developed the first description of a monoclonal secretory antibody expressed in plants and its clinical applications in human immunotherapy against dental caries.
His research group studies basic mechanisms of protein assembly, processing and expression in plant cells, as well as the design, engineering and clinical applications of novel recombinant proteins in plants for systemic and mucosal vaccination and immunotherapy. Disease targets focus on infectious diseases that predominantly affect the poor in developing countries, including HIV, rabies and TB. Julian Ma is a leading proponent in Europe for the development of plant biotechnology for medicines for human health.