Professor Chris Brightling

NIHR Senior Investigator and Clinical Professor in Respiratory Medicine

Chris Brightling

School/Department: Respiratory Sciences, Department of



Professor Chris Brightling’s research focusses on improving the clinical management and understanding the mechanisms of airway diseases such as asthma, chronic coughs and COPD. He has published over 450 peer reviewed articles.

Chris Brightling is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, National Institute for Health Research Senior Investigator, Respiratory Theme Lead for Leicester NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Director Institute for Lung Health, and Honorary Consultant Respiratory Physician. He is Coordinator of the MRC Molecular Pathology Node EMBER and Respiratory lead for the IMI 3TR. He was founding Director of the European Respiratory Society Clinical Research Collaborations and is the current ERS Science Council Chair.

Professor Brightling is the national lead for the post-COVID consortium PHOSP-COVID and local research lead for the COVID-19 pandemic. His main research focus is on improving the clinical management and understanding the immunopathogenesis of the airway diseases asthma, chronic cough and COPD.  He is a member of the American College of Chest Physicians’ Cough Guidelines, the British Thoracic Society, American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory Society Severe Asthma guidelines and is on the scientific committee for the Global INitiative for Asthma - GINA.

Professor Brightling draws on his experience in research excellence and leadership to coordinate the research teams at the University of Leicester and three Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust sites in their COVID-19 response.

The University and NHS Trust are working closely together, coordinated by Professor Brightling, to support the clinical COVID-19 research response. They recruited participants for national priority trials of therapies for COVID-19 and have been recognised for both the highest and fastest recruitment rate of patients to the RECOVERY trial – a national study into the most effective treatments for COVID-19. Following the team’s success they were approached to support the set up of research in the NHS Nightingale Hospital London. The team are also working with the European Respiratory Society to develop a long-term follow-up of those admitted to hospital with COVID-19 and will collect clinical data to provide deeper insight into the disease.


  • Immunopathogenesis of airway disease namely asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic cough
  • Current projects include understanding the interactions between mast cells and airway smooth muscle cells in the development of the asthmatic phenotype, airway smooth muscle migration and remodelling in asthma and COPD.


Severe exacerbations in moderate-to-severe asthmatics are associated with increased pro-inflammatory and type 1 mediators in sputum and serum. MA Ghebre, PH Pang, D Desai, B Hargadon, C Newby, J Woods, ... BMC pulmonary medicine 2019 19 (1), 1-10

Neutrophil elastase as a biomarker for bacterial infection in COPD. SJ Thulborn, V Mistry, CE Brightling, KL Moffitt, D Ribeiro, M Bafadhel Respiratory research 2019 20 (1), 170

Blood eosinophil count and airway epithelial transcriptome relationships in COPD versus asthma. L George, AR Taylor, A Esteve‐Codina, M Soler Artigas, GA Thun, ... Allergy 2019

The ERS fellowship portfolio: fostering excellence and diversity. RE Morty, LE Donnelly, D Stolz, N Roche, T Welte, KA Forrest, ... European Respiratory Journal 2019 54 (3), 1901503

Small airways dysfunction: is there any involvement in patients with atopy?–Authors' reply. M Kraft, C Brightling, D Postma The Lancet Respiratory Medicine 2019 7 (9), e27

Non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae protein vaccine in adults with COPD: A phase 2 clinical trial. TMA Wilkinson, S Schembri, C Brightling, ND Bakerly, K Lewis, ... Vaccine (2019)

The impact of the prostaglandin D2 receptor 2 and its downstream effects on the

Back to top