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Evolution of Influenza Viruses

Evolution of Influenza Viruses

Supervisor: Prof Derek Smith

Project summary:

Our research focus is to design and develop analytical, computational, and mathematical methods to understand the fundamental processes that govern the evolution of influenza viruses. The aim is to translate this understanding into the prediction of possible future antigenic variants to guide currently funded phase II clinical trials of next generation influenza vaccines.  Our research is highly interdisciplinary and involves substantial global collaboration with experimental virologists, immunologists and clinicians to quantify the selection pressures on influenza viruses to better understand their evolutionary dynamics, and to inform control strategies. 

What the student will be doing:

The work in our group is theoretical and computational, in very close collaboration with experimental partners. A variety of related projects are possible, and the candidate PhD student will be able to choose a project within our area of research to match their skills and interests.


  • D. J. Smith, A. S. Lapedes, J. C. de Jong, T. M. Bestebroer, G. F. Rimmelzwaan, A. D. M. E. Osterhaus, and R. A. M. Fouchier. 2004. Mapping the Antigenic and Genetic Evolution of Influenza Virus. Science 305: 371-376.
  • Colin A. Russell, Judith M. Fonville, André E. X. Brown, David F. Burke, David L. Smith, Sarah L. James, Sander Herfst, Sander van Boheemen, Martin Linster, Eefje J. Schrauwen, Leah Katzelnick, Ana Mosterín, Thijs Kuiken, Eileen Maher, Gabriele Neumann, Albert D. M. E. Osterhaus, Yoshihiro Kawaoka, Ron A. M. Fouchier, and Derek J. Smith. 2012. The Potential for Respiratory Droplet-Transmissible A/H5N1 Influenza Virus to Evolve in a Mammalian Host. Science 336 (6088):1541-1547.
  • Fonville, JM; Wilks, SH; James, SL; Fox, A; Ventresca, M; Aban, M; Xue, L; Jones, TC; Le, NMH; Pham, QT; Tran ND; Wong, Y; Mosterin, A; Katzelnick, LC; Labonte, D; Le, TT; van der Net, G; Skepner, E; Russell, CA; Kaplan, TD; Rimmelzwaan, GF; Masurel, N; de Jong, JC; Palache, A; Beyer, WEP; Le, QM; Nguyen, TH;  Wertheim, HFL; Hurt, AC; Osterhaus, ADME; Barr, IG; Fouchier, RAM; Horby, PW; Smith, DJ. Antibody landscapes after influenza virus infection or vaccination. Science 21 November 2014: 346 (6212): 996-1000; DOI: 10.1126/science.1256427.
  • Koel, BF; Burke, DF; Bestebroer, TM; van der Vliet, S; Zondag, GCM; Vervaet, G; Skepner, E;  Lewis, NS; Spronken, MIJ; Russell, CA; Eropkin, MY; Hurt, AC; Barr, IG; de Jong, JC; Rimmelzwaan, GF; Osterhaus, ADME; Fouchier, RAM; Smith, DJ. Substitutions near the receptor binding site determine major antigenic change during influenza virus evolution. Science. 2013 Nov 22;342(6161):976-9. doi: 10.1126/science.1244730.