Photo of Robert Busch
  • 1053 Parkstead House, Whitelands

1989 …2020

Research output per year

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Personal profile


  • Dr Busch began his research career by studying how peptides bind to tissue antigens, also known as histocompatibility antigens, MHC molecules or, in humans, HLA antigens. MHC molecules normally bind a very broad repertoire of protein fragments (peptides), which arise from the degradation of proteins (including proteins from infectious agents, if present) by cells. They present these peptides at cell surfaces for detection by T cells of the immune system. This is a key step in the initiation of immune responses to infection, and also plays important roles in vaccination, transplant rejection, and various diseases caused by immune dysfunction, such as allergy and autoimmune disease.
  • After obtaining his PhD, Dr Busch continued his investigations into MHC proteins, first in Germany at the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, and then in the United States, beginning at the University of Pennsylvania (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia) and continuing at Stanford University. This research focussed on the mechanisms by which cellular factors regulate where and when in the cell peptides are able to bind to MHC class II molecules (a subgroup of MHC molecules that stimulate "helper" and "regulatory" T cells).
  • Dr Busch then worked at a start-up company in California, KineMed, on the development of technologies for probing dynamic processes in living organisms, using non-radioactive tracers, for use in biomarker and drug development, targeted at diseases of the immune system, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer.
  • Returning to Academia in 2006, Dr Busch worked at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge on biomarkers of blood vessel damage and immune abnormalities in autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and Sjøgren's syndrome. Funded by Cambridge Arthritis Research Endeavour and in collaboration with the Cambridge Centre for Proteomics, he also developed novel ways of quantifying the rates of production and destruction of proteins using stable isotopes and mass spectrometry. A Senior Research Fellowship from Arthritis Research UK enabled him to start a research group at the Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, in order to investigate the role of MHC class II protein turnover in autoimmune diseases.
  • Dr Busch joined the University of Roehampton as a Senior Lecturer in September 2013, continuing to work on biomarkers and gene/environment interactions in autoimmunity and on applications and development of stable isotope tracer techniques in biomedicine.


  • B.Sc. in Biochemistry and Chemistry (University of Wales, 1987)
  • Ph.D. in Biochemistry (University of London, 1992): "The interaction of peptides with human class II histocompatibility antigens"
  • M.A. (Cantab.)
  • Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (2014)

Research interests

  • Influence of genetic polymorphism on the fate and function of MHC class I and class II molecules
  • Mechanisms of MHC gene associations with autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and several forms of inflammatory arthritis
  • Kinetic processes in disease and the development of new methods for quantifying them
  • Immune application of stable isotope/mass spectrometric techniques to quantify normal and abnormal dynamic processes in the immune system
  • Immune pathophysiology of Sjøgren's syndrome.

Research projects

Professional affiliations

  • British Society for Immunology
  • Biochemical Society
  • American Association of Immunologists
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Teaching roles include:

  • Module Convenor for Cell Biology (BSS020C141Y)
  • Module Convener and project proposal supervisor, Biosciences Research Methods (BSS020N231Y)
  • Final-year undergraduate dissertation project supervisor, Biomedical and Biological Sciences
  • Module tutor in other course modules (Chemistry of Life, Introduction to Human Diseae, Principles of Human Nutrition, Immunology, Pathophysiology, Advances in Nutrition and Health)
  • Personal tutor for undergraduate students in Biomedical Science
  • Available to supervise Master's degree dissertations.

Research studentship applications may be routed through any suitable degree programme in the Department of Life Sciences (PGDip, MSc, MRes, or MPhil/PhD in a relevant field). Prospective applicants should approach Dr Busch first to discuss suitable topics and funding arrangements.

Prior teaching experience includes:

  • Development and delivery of cross-disciplinary curricula in Medicine for non-clinicians (Cambridge and Stanford)
  • Small-group supervisions (Cambridge)

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Research Output

  • 60 Article
  • 4 Meeting Abstract
  • 1 Literature review

Lysosomal quality control of HLA-DR molecules by the aspartyl protease, cathepsin D

Shah, N., McDonald, S., Parker, C. T. A., Robinson, R. W. M., Oomatia, A., De Riva, A., Deery, M. J., Mellins, E. D. & Busch, R., 25 Mar 2020, (Submitted) In : The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Current estimates of T-cell kinetics in humans

Macallan, D., Busch, R. & Asquith, B., 6 Nov 2019, In : Current Opinion in Systems Biology. 18, p. 77-86

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

HLA associations in inflammatory arthritis: emerging mechanisms and clinical implications

Busch, R., Kollnberger, S. & Mellins, E. D., 15 May 2019, In : Nature Reviews Rheumatology. 15, June 2019, p. 364–381

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
244 Downloads (Pure)
117 Downloads (Pure)

Regulation of type 1 diabetes development and B-cell activation in nonobese diabetic mice by early life exposure to a diabetogenic environment

De Riva, A., Wallberg, M., Ronchi, F., Coulson, R., Sage, A., Thorne, L., Goodfellow, I., McCoy, K. D., Azuma, M., Cooke, A. & Busch, R., 3 Aug 2017, In : PLoS One. 12, 8, 23 p., e0181964.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
85 Downloads (Pure)


  • 3 Public lecture/debate/seminar

Individuality in the Immune System

Robert Busch (Speaker)

24 Jun 2019

Activity: Public engagement and outreachPublic lecture/debate/seminar

UR Pint of Science 2019 (Health Sciences events)

Robert Busch (Organiser)

20 May 201922 May 2019

Activity: Public engagement and outreachPublic lecture/debate/seminar

Whitelands College Science Week, Spring 2014, 15, 16, 18

Robert Busch (Organiser)


Activity: Public engagement and outreachPublic lecture/debate/seminar


Regulation of MHC II protein expression by lysosomal degradation and vitamin D

Author: Shah, N., 10 Jan 2019

Supervisor: Opacka Juffry, J. (Supervisor) & Busch, R. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis