skip to content

Lab of Viral Zoonotics (LVZ)


Jonathan Heeney          Professor Jonathan Heeney

Professor of Comparative Pathology, Head of the Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics


I obtained my Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1984. After an externship with Peter Kennedy at UC Davis, I decided to pursue pathology and trained under Ted Valli in anatomic and clinical pathology receiving a DVSc in Pathology from the U of Guelph (1986). Subsequently I moved from Canada to SJ O'Brien's lab at the NIH in Maryland where I completed my PhD on the oncogenic transformation of B-cells by a bovine retrovirus, BLV. I became interested in genetic susceptibility to infectious disease and stayed on for postdoctoral work with O'Brien where I studied an outbreak of Feline Infectious Peritonitis virus in Cheetahs. I then moved to California as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Pathology at the Stanford School of Medicine to study a human cancer caused by HTLV-1, obtaining valuable technologies from the Crabtree (NFAT, T-cel activation) and Herzenberg (FACS) labs. After my fellowship in Human Pathology, I moved to study Transplant and retroviral disease pathology at TNO the Netherlands with P Bentvelzen and became interested in the origins of HIV and the challenge of how to design/develop a vaccine variable and immunosupressive viruses. I built and established my own lab, the Lab of Viral Pathogenesis at TNO which grew to become the Department of Virology which I headed for more than 10 years. After becoming an associate Professor at the University of Leiden, in 2007 I moved to Cambridge to start the Lab of Viral Zoonotics. 


Barbara BlacklawsBarbara Blacklaws

Senior Lecturer in Molecular Virology 


I received my BSc (Hon) in Biochemistry from University of Aberdeen, then did a PhD in Virology at University of Cambridge.  I undertook post-doctoral positions in University of Cambridge and Edinburgh before coming to University of Cambridge as a University Fellow then lecturer.

I have a long term interest in the immune response to persistent viral infections, in particular the CTL response to viruses. I have investigated the immune response to visna maedi virus, a lentiviral infection of sheep. This is a model lentiviral infection with a strict tropism for macrophages and dendritic cells and as such allows the study of viral control mechanisms in the absence of immune deficiencies as is seen with HIV. The group was also part of a European wide project to study possible protective vaccination antigens and protocols against the virus. The work of the group has expanded to look at dendritic cell function in this infection as well as in other infectious diseases including Salmonella. We are also beginning to move into mouse models with an interest in murine norovirus pathogenesis and immune responses to the virus.





Laurence TileyLaurence Tiley

Senior Lecturer in Molecular Virology

My group investigates strategies for inhibiting the replication of influenza virus. Current our applied research is  funded by the BBSRC and is focused on: the development of genetically modified chickens carrying transgenes that interfere with the virus replication cycle;  the  enhancement or impairment of natural antiviral gene activity in chicken cells (e.g Mx and interferon gene expression); and improving vaccine production in chicken eggs. We recently reported the development of a line of chickens that produces an RNA decoy molecule that misdirects the virus polymerase and prevents the onward 

transmission of infection between chickens. Our primary objective is to produce chickens that are intrinsically resistant to infection by influenza viruses, to reduce the risk of  emergence of  new pandemic strains and eliminate the economic and animal welfare consequences of  avian influenza virus. This work is being done in collaboration with scientists at the Roslin Institute , The Animal Health Veterinary Laboratories Agency and the Animal Health Trust.  

Our other areas of basic research are:

  1. Investigating the interaction of the viral polymerase with the genome RNAs to determine how this controls virus replication, transcription and packaging.
  2. Barcoded influenza viruses for studying cell culture and in-host replication and transmission dynamics.
  3. Determinants of avian to swine cross-species adaptation of influenza virus.


Simon FrostSimon Frost1

University Reader in Pathogen Dynamics


My research interests focus on the use of mathematical and statistical modeling to understanding the dynamics and evolution of infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis C and influenza A. My work covers both within- and between-host dynamics, and while my past research has focused on viruses, it is broadening to examine the role of contact structure and heterogeneity in the host population.

Current projects include:

  • The dynamics and evolution of viruses, especially emerging infections
  • Analysis of viromes, to identify uncharacterised viruses, in samples from humans as well as non-humans
  • B cell repertoire dynamics, particularly in the context of immunisation and infection
Our work covers a wide range of virus-host systems, including HIV and simian retroviruses, enteric viruses such as norovirus and rotavirus, hepatitis viruses, including HBV, HCV, and HEV, as well as viruses that have yet to be associated with pathological consequences such as pegiviruses and anelloviruses.




Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su