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An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge


I joined the Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics, University of Cambridge, in Feb 2018 where I work on the study of Immune Correlates of Protection of viral diseases of high public health impact, such as Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) or COVID-19. 

I currently work on the HICC (Human Immune Correlates of COVID-19) Project coordinating the laboratory analysis of serum / plasma samples of COVID-19 patients and NHS healthcare workers. The main objective of this project is to characterise the human antibody responses to SARSCoV2 infection in order to derive correlates of protection for COVID-19. 

Previously, I conducted a review of the current knowledge on Ebola virus disease (EVD) immunology in humans and animals and the bio-regulatory pathways for licensing of Ebola vaccines. The ultimate purpose of this work was providing information supporting the derivation of reliable correlates of protection for EVD and to facilitate vaccine licensing by regulatory authorities. 

Overall, my main research interest in immunology and pathogenesis of viral diseases focuses on: a) the study of mechanisms of adaptive immunity to viral infections of animals and humans; and b) the development of novel vaccines, animal models and disease control programmes.

Over the years, I developed this interest through working on equine viral arteritis, West Nile fever and African horse sickness, a disease for which I acted as a consultant to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), UK, and the International Horse Sports Confederation (IHSC). Part of my published research focused on developing DIVA (Differentiation of Vaccinated from Infected Animals) strategies, through the use various of vaccine technology platforms (recombinant poxviruses, deletion mutant viruses, heterologous in vitro expression systems - i.e. baculovirus) that express protective viral antigens that are not used in the accompanying differential diagnostic test. This strategy enables the vaccinating animal populations against notifiable viral diseases without compromising sero-surveillance procedures and are therefore suitable for disease eradication and /or maintaining the disease-freedom status of a country. 


Immune Correlates of Protection


Coronaviruses and other nidoviruses (equine viral arteritis), Ebolavirus, Orbiviruses (African horse sickness, bluetongue), 

DIVA (Differentiation of Infected from Vaccinated Animals) vaccines and diagnostics

World Health Organisation, CEPI, FDA, EMA

World Organisation for Animal Health


Key publications: 
  1. Castillo-Olivares J. African horse sickness in Thailand: Challenges of controlling an outbreak by vaccination. Equine Vet J. 2020 Oct 2. doi: 10.1111/evj.13353. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33007121.
  2. Duran-Ferrer, M., Aguero, M., Zientara, S., Beck, C., Lecollinet, S., Sailleau, C., ... Castillo-Olivares, J. (2019). Assessment of reproducibility of a VP7 Blocking ELISA diagnostic test for African horse sickness. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 66(1), 83–90. 
  3.  Calvo-Pinilla, Eva, Gubbins, S., Mertens, P., Ortego, J., & Castillo-Olivares, J. (2018). The immunogenicity of recombinant vaccines based on modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) viruses expressing African horse sickness virus VP2 antigens depends on the levels of expressed VP2 protein delivered to the host. Antiviral Research, 
  4. Aksular, M., Calvo-Pinilla, E., Marín-López, A., Ortego, J., Chambers, A. C., King, L. A., & Castillo-Olivares, J. (2018). A single dose of African horse sickness virus (AHSV) VP2 based vaccines provides complete clinical protection in a mouse model. Vaccine. 
  5. Manning, N. M., Bachanek-Bankowska, K., Mertens, P. P. C., & Castillo-Olivares, J. (2017). Vaccination with recombinant Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) viruses expressing single African horse sickness virus VP2 antigens induced cross-reactive virus neutralising antibodies (VNAb) in horses when administered in combination. Vaccine. 
  6. Calvo-Pinilla, Eva, De La Poza, F., Gubbins, S., Mertens, P. P. C. P. P. C., Ortego, J., & Castillo-Olivares, J. (2015). Antiserum from mice vaccinated with modified vaccinia Ankara virus expressing African horse sickness virus (AHSV) VP2 provides protection when it is administered 48 h before, or 48 h after challenge. Antiviral Research, 116. 
  7. Alberca, B., Bachanek-Bankowska, K., Cabana, M., Calvo-Pinilla, E., Viaplana, E., Frost, L., ... Castillo-Olivares, J. (2014). Vaccination of horses with a recombinant modified vaccinia Ankara virus (MVA) expressing African horse sickness (AHS) virus major capsid protein VP2 provides complete clinical protection against challenge. Vaccine. 
  8. Calvo-Pinilla, E., Castillo-Olivares, J., Jabbar, T., Ortego, J., De la Poza, F., & Marín-López, A. (2014). Recombinant vaccines against bluetongue virus. Virus Research, 182. 
  9. Jabbar,T.K.,Calvo-Pinilla,E.,Mateos,F.,Gubbins,S.,Bin-Tarif,A.,Bachanek-Bankowska,K.,...Castillo-Olivares,J.(2013).ProtectionofIFNAR(- /-) Mice against Bluetongue Virus Serotype 8, by Heterologous (DNA/rMVA) and Homologous (rMVA/rMVA) Vaccination, Expressing Outer-Capsid Protein VP2. PLoS ONE, 8(4). 
  10. Castillo-Olivares, Javier,Calvo-Pinilla,E.,Casanova,I.,Bachanek-Bankowska, K., Chiam, R.,Maan, S.,...Mertens,P.P.C.(2011). A Modified vaccinia Ankara virus (MVA) vaccine expressing African horse sickness virus (AHSV) VP2 protects against AHSV challenge in an IFNAR 2/2 mouse model. PLoS ONE, 6(1). 
  11. Castillo-Olivares, J., Mansfield, K.L.,Phipps, L.P.,Johnson, N.,Tearle, J., &Fooks, A. R.(2011). Antibody response in horses following experimental infection with west nile virus lineages 1 and 2. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 58(3). 
  12. Chiam, R., Sharp, E., Maan, S., Rao, S., Mertens, P., Blacklaws, B., ... Castillo-Olivares, J. (2009). Induction of antibody responses to African horse sickness virus (AHSV) in ponies after vaccination with recombinant modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA). PLoSONE. 
  13. Castillo-Olivares, J., & Wood, J.( 2004). West Nile virus infection of horses. Veterinary Research, 35(4). 
  14. Castillo-Olivares, J., Wieringa, R., Bakonyi, T., De Vries, A. A. F., Davis-Poynter, N. J., & Rottier, P. J. M. (2003). Generation of a candidate live marker vaccine for equine arteritis virus by deletion of the major virus neutralization domain. Journal of Virology, 77(15).
Immune Correlates of Protection
Project Coordinator - Human Correlates of Protection of COVID-19 (HICC)
Dr. Javier  Castillo-Olivares
Available for consultancy


Collaborator profiles: 
Departments and institutes: 
Person keywords: 
Viral pathogenicity
Global Health
Vaccine development
Veterinary Science