Professor Altmann has run a lab at the Hammersmith Hospital Campus of Imperial College since moving to the site for the opening of the Medical Research Council Clinical Sciences Centre in 1994. Prior to that he worked at Imperial Cancer Research Fund (London UK), the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) and University of Bristol.
The lab has had an emphasis on the study of adaptive immunity in human disease, rooted in a background in the immunogenetics of HLA, T cell receptor and NK cell receptor interactions. The research is run in close collaboration with the lab of Dr Rosemary Boyton. One branch of the lab has been funded to work on autoimmune disease, especially multiple sclerosis, the other members having worked on adaptive immunity in severe bacterial infection, including Streptococcus pyogenes, Burkholderia pseudomallei, Yersinia pestis and Bacillus anthracis. Common themes underpinning the approach have been a strong focus on characterization of bacterial antigens and epitopes, host immunogenetics and T cell subset analysis to annotate host-pathogen interplay and disease outcome. Work on bacterial pathogenesis and immunity has been funded in the lab especially through the US NIH-NIAID ‘Epitope Discovery Program’, which exists to build an open-access pathogen database of immune epitopes for the international research community.
Altmann has worked as Associate Editor of Clinical and Experimental Immunology and of Vaccine, as well as serving for several years as Editor in Chief of Immunology. Altmann took two and a half years out of bench research from 2011 to work with the Wellcome Trust on strategy with respect to biomedical research funding initiatives in infection, immunity and population health. He is a Trustee of the Medical Research Council Medical Research Foundation.