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Host Responses to Viral Infection

Programme Lead: Prof Simon Graham


The Host Responses to Viral Infection programme aims to understand host response properties that determine the outcome of viral infection, informing new control measures and enhancing existing vaccine-induced protection.


Infection studies in natural hosts using high-consequence viruses will provide essential insights into basic biological mechanisms. Focusing on major farmed animals and insect vectors, the programme explores fundamental questions on disease pathways, protective immune responses, and host factors influencing viral spread.

Integrating high-resolution and highly controlled data across organism scales (from host genome to overall disease outcome) enables systems-like analyses. This approach facilitates predicting disease severity, understanding virus host range, identifying genomic targets for resilient livestock, and designing tailored vaccines.

Strategic Partners 

  • Biological Cryo-Imaging, Diamond Light Source 
  • University of Surrey
  • Centre for Virus Research, University of Glasgow
  • The Roslin Institute
  • Babraham Institute


1. A Fundamental Understanding of Immune Responses 

Topic Lead: Prof Simon Graham

Linking host viral restriction factors with early innate immune responses and subsequent adaptive immune responses.

Impact: Revolutionising the understanding of responses to virus infection, from cell to tissue to whole animal level; informing vaccine design and identifying targets to breed/engineer more disease resilient livestock and transmission incompetent vectors.

2. Differential Outcomes of Viral Infections

Topic Lead: Dr Wilhelm Gerner

Comparing responses of a host population to different viruses or between different hosts to the same virus.

Impact: Identification of immune pathways and host factors driving disease outcome; informing vaccine design and modelling of disease spread.

3. Enhancing Protective Responses in Vertebrate Hosts 

Topic Lead: Prof Elma Tchilian

Defining protective responses and how to induce durable cross protective immunity. 

Impact: Novel vaccine design and delivery platforms.



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