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Department of Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge Veterinary School

Studying at Cambridge


Romain Garnier

Romain Garnier

Research Associate - AXA Research Fund Junior Fellow


 obtained my DVM from Nantes Vet School in March 2008, as well as a master’s degree in Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution (with highest honours) from Supagro Montpellier in June 2008.

I subsequently spent 3 years at the Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology (CEFE –CNRS) working on the evolutionary ecology of the transfer of maternal antibodies, mostly in seabirds, with Dr. Thierry Boulinier and Dr. Sylvain Gandon. This led to a successful PhD defense in December 2011.

I then joined the group of Pr. Andrea Graham at Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University (USA) in September 2012. There I worked on the nutrional and immunological ecology in the well-studied Soay sheep population.

I left Princeton in September 2015 after having been awarded an AXA Postdoctoral Fellowship to join the Department of Veterinary Medicine and work with Dr. Olivier Restif and Pr. James Wood.

Subject groups/Research projects

Mathematical Biology:

Research Interests

I am an ecologist and a veterinarian with a particular interest in understanding the evolutionary determinants and the epidemiological consequences of the variation in immunity in wild animal populations. I approach these questions by combining field and laboratory data with epidemiological and evolutionary mathematical models.

My PhD research focused on the evolutionary ecological role of maternally acquired antibodies. Most importantly, I used an experimental approach to identify a surprisingly long half-life for the IgY of a seabird species. This opens the possibility to use vaccination to protect chicks in wild bird colonies. Maternal antibodies may also be used as markers of exposure in eco-epidemiological surveys at large geographical scales.

Another crucial aspect of wild immunology is understanding the costs and benefits of immune responses, which may be exacerbated in wild animals by seasonal variations in access to nutritional resources. I am interested in using nutritional ecology to understand immunological variations, and how these may in turn impact both population dynamics and parasite epidemiology. This was the center of the research I performed on Soay sheep.

In my current project, I aim at quantifying the seasonal dynamics of the humoral immunity of captive Straw-coloured fruit bats exposed to henipaviruses. I will also study the role of maternal antibodies in these bats. The dynamics in adult females and their pups can then be used to inform mathematical models of viral transmission, and identify possible periods of heightened risk of spillover to humans.



  • Ecological immunology
  • Host-parasite interactions
  • Epidemiology
  • Maternal antibodies
  • Evolutionary biology

Collaborators outside this directory

Key Publications

Garnier R., Grenfell B. T., Nisbet A. J., Matthews J. B. & Graham A. L. (2015) "Integrating immune mechanisms to model nematode worm burden: an example in sheep". Parasitology. (doi: 10.1017/S0031182015000992)

Ramos R., Garnier R., Gonzales-Solis J. & Boulinier T. (2014) "Long antibody persistence and transgenerational transfer of immunity in a long-lived vertebrate". American Naturalist. 184:764-776 (doi: 10.1086/678400)

Garnier R. & Graham A. L. (2014) "Insights from parasite-specific serological tools in eco-immunology". Integrative and Comparative Biology. 54:363-376 (doi: 10.10193/icb/icu022)

Garnier R., Boulinier T. & Gandon S. (2012) “Coevolution between maternal transfer of immunity and other resistance strategies against pathogens”. Evolution. 66:3067-3078 (doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2012.01665.x)

Garnier R., Ramos R., Staszewski V., Militão T., Lobato E., Gonzalez-Solis J. & Boulinier T. (2012) “Maternal antibody persistence: a neglected life history trait with implications from albatross conservation to comparative immunology”. Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences. 279: 2033-2041. (doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.2277)