The Pirbright Institute receives strategic funding from BBSRC

Avian Influenza continues to be a threat to the worldwide poultry industry. Also, the viruses responsible for all four of the worldwide human influenza pandemics seen in the last 100 years have originated from birds. An effective control strategy for avian influenza in domesticated poultry is therefore a prerequisite for the protection of both avian and human populations.

The Avian Viral Immunology group seeks to develop strategies for the better protection of poultry, based on an enhanced understanding of their immunological responses to viruses. To this end we are studying the biology of avian dendritic cells, a critical component in initiating protective immune responses, novel locations of response (including the avian lung), and the molecular basis of the immediate response to viral infection.

The practical outcome of this work informs both better breeding and vaccination strategies. We are developing a number of novel vaccines, based on specific modulation of the immune response and targeting of dendritic cells, in order to produce robust immunity in neonatal birds.


  • Butter C, Sturman TD, Baaten BJ, Davison TF (2003) Protection from infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV)-induced immunosuppression by immunization with a fowlpox recombinant containing IBDV-VP2. Avian Pathol. 2003. 32:597-604 [Abstract]
  • Baaten BJ, Butter C, Davison TF (2004) Study of host-pathogen interactions to identify sustainable vaccine strategies to Marek's disease. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2004. 100:165-77. [Abstract]
  • Butter C, Staines K, Baaten B, Smith L, Davison TF. (2007) Route of challenge is critical in determining the clinical outcome of infection with a very virulent oncogenic herpesvirus, Marek's disease virus. Avian Pathol. 2007. 36:93-9. [Abstract]
  • Balkissoon D, Staines K, McCauley J, Wood J, Young J, Kaufman J, Butter C. (2007) Low frequency of the Mx allele for viral resistance predates recent intensive selection in domestic chickens. Immunogenetics. 2007. 59:687-91. [Abstract]
  • Kaspers, B, Kotrhlow, S and and Butter, C. (2008) Avian antigen presenting cells in: in Avian Immunology, ed: Davison, F., Kaspers, B. & Schat, K.A. Elsevier, London, San Diego, CA.