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Dr Ilaria CAPUA, DVM, PhD

Dr Ilaria Capua is Director of the Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Legnaro, Italy which hosts the National, FAO and OIE Reference Laboratory for avian influenza and Newcastle disease, and the OIE Collaborating Centre for Diseases at the Human-Animal Interface. Her group of over 70 staff provides diagnostic expertise globally and conducts cutting edge research on influenza viruses and viral zoonoses. Her group works together with major research institutes worldwide and has developed international collaborative projects that contribute significantly to the development of veterinary laboratory and diagnostic expertise in emerging countries.

In 2000 she developed the “DIVA” (Differentiating Vaccinated from Infected Animals) strategy, the first ever developed to combat avian influenza by vaccination, compatible with international trade. It is now among the strategies recommended by international organisations such as OIE/FAO and the European Union to combat avian influenza on a global scale.

From 2005 to 2009 she was Chairman of OFFLU - the OIE/FAO network on Animal Influenza, which aims to support developing countries in managing AI crises and offer veterinary expertise to complement the medical community in managing the pandemic threat posed by avian influenza and other animal influenza viruses.

In 2006 she ignited the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), endorsed by 70 medical and veterinary virologists and 6 Nobel laureates, to share avian influenza virus sequences. Sharing of genetic and epidemiological data using a transdisciplinary approach is now a core part of the global influenza preparedness strategy as it allows a better understanding of the evolving epidemiology of animal and human influenza infections.

From 1990 to date she has authored and co-authored over 150 publications in international peer-reviewed journals and has co-authored two text books on avian influenza.

She has extensive experience in coordinating international research projects funded by the European Commission and other agencies and has also worked closely with FAO managing Technical Cooperation Projects covering 40 countries. She has been in charge of two OIE Twinning projects and is Stream leader in the WHO Global research agenda on Influenza.

In 2007 she was among the winners of the Scientific American 50 award and in 2008 was included among Seed Magazine’s Revolutionary Minds series, for leadership in science policy through the promotion of sharing of information at an international level. She is the 2011 recipient of the PennVet Leadership Award in Animal Health, the most prestigious award in veterinary medicine.

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