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Heli Harvala

Heli Harvala

MSc LicMed PhD FRCPath EUPHEM alumni

Consultant Medical Virologist & Principal Investigator

Dr Harvala is a Consultant Medical Virologist for NHS Blood and Transplant, and she also leads the Blood Safety research team within the NIHR funded Blood and Transplant Research Unit at the University of Oxford.


Dr Harvala graduated in Medicine, obtained a MSc in Organic Chemistry and a PhD in Virology at the University of Turku, Finland. Subsequently she completed her Medical Virology training in Edinburgh and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists in 2015. During that time, she joined the European Public Health Microbiology fellowship programme at the Public Health Agency of Sweden for two years before returning to the UK. 


Her main research focuses on transfusion transmitted viral infections aiming to improve our understanding of current risks and preparedness for emerging pathogens. She recently led the work in identifying occult hepatitis B infections as a blood transfusion risk. She also has wide interests in molecular epidemiology and is supporting investigations into how next generation sequencing could be used to enhance the effectiveness of microbiological donation screening. She has established and continues to lead the European Non-Polio Enterovirus Network (ENPEN) which evaluates the importance of enterovirus and parechovirus infections and monitors for their emergence together with collaborators from over 20 European countries. During COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Harvala was involved with setting up SARS-CoV-2 testing of convalescent plasma donors in England, and the related international REMAP-CAP trial.


Dr Harvala is widely published in many high impact and peer reviewed scientific journals (110 peer reviewed publication, h-index 45). She is an executive committee member of European Society for Clinical Virology and the programme committee member for the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and infectious Diseases. She also chairs the WHO R&D Blueprint group on Picornaviruses, the Microbiology Specialist Interest Group for the British Blood Transfusion Society and the Panel of Senior Virology Examiners for the RCPath.