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Cambridge Infectious Diseases

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

Studying at Cambridge


Dr. Javier Castillo-Olivares

Dr. Javier Castillo-Olivares

Department of Veterinary Medicine

My research focus is the study of mechanisms of immunity induced by vaccination and the derivation of correlates of protection


Senior Research Associate 

I joined the Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics, University of Cambridge in Feb 2018 where I am working on African horse sickness (AHS) vaccinology in the BSL-3 facility of the Vet School, licensed by the HSE to handle AHS virus.
In addition, I am working on assessing the bio-regulatory landscape of vaccine candidates for Ebolavirus and other filoviruses, which includes reviewing the current knowledge on Ebola virus disease (EVD) immunology in humans and animals. The ultimate purpose of this work is guide further research into the derivation of reliable correlates of protection for these diseases, which in turn would facilitate vaccine licensing by regulatory authorities.

Overall my main interests are:
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 control programmes for veterinary and zoonotic diseases.

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 equine industry (FEI and IFHAA).
The major aim of this work is improved control of infectious diseases through the coordinated application of vaccination and diagnostics to develop DIVA (Differentiation of Infected from Vaccinated Animals) strategies. Part of my published research is inspired by the DIVA concept and used different vaccine technology platforms (recombinant poxviruses, deletion mutant viruses, heterologous in vitro expression systems - i.e. baculovirus) to express protective viral antigens that are not used in the design of the accompanying DIVA diagnostic test. Protecting an animal population against a notifiable viral disease using a DIVA vaccine and conducting sero-surveillance procedures using a DIVA test would not compromise the disease-freedom status of the country resulting in better protection and reduced risk of disease spread.

International Links

Collaborations in Africa, Collaborations in Australasia, Collaborations in Europe, Collaboratons in North America

Key Projects, Countries, and Partners

1. Ebola Survivors Data and Literature Review - funded by Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)
Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics, Cambridge University
Public Health England - Porton Down

2. Evaluation of vaccine technology platforms for African horse sickness - funded by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
Pirbright Institute
ANSES, Paris, France
Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, South Africa
University of Madrid, Spain
Deltamune, South Africa
Wageningen University, The Netherlands

3. Validation of an ELISA serological diagnostic test for African horse sickness - funded by OIE
Pirbright Institute (OIE ref Centre)
ANSES, Paris, France
Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, South Africa
Deltamune, South Africa
University of Madrid, Spain
Central Veterinary Laboratory, Madrid, Spain (OIE Ref Centre)
INGENASA, Madrid, Spain,
Istitutto Zooprofilaticco Sperimentale, Teramo, Italy
National Animal Disease Centre, USDA, Iowa, USA

4. Development of antigen delivery platforms for the development of African horse sickness vaccines- funded by DEFRA
Pirbright Institute
Centro de Investigación en Sanidad Animal, CISA, Madrid, Spain

Research themes

Drugs and Vaccines:

Departments and Institutes

Veterinary Medicine:


  • Immunology
  • Viral pathogenicity
  • Virology
  • Africa
  • Vaccine development


  • Ebola
  • Nipah


  • Antigenic Cartography

Key Publications

1. 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.
2. 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, 154.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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).
11. 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).
12. 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).
13. 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). PLoS ONE.
14. Castillo-Olivares, J., & Wood, J.( 2004). West Nile virus infection of horses. Veterinary Research, 35(4).
15. 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).