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Department of Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge Veterinary School

Studying at Cambridge


Dr Colin Russell

Dr Colin Russell

Principal Research Associate

Royal Society University Research Fellow

Colin Russell is accepting applications for PhD students.

Colin Russell is available for consultancy.

Office Phone: 01223 761358


I first came to Cambridge in 2002 to pursue a PhD in Zoology as a Gates Scholar. After completing my PhD I remained in Zoology until 2013, first as a Research Associate (2006-2008), then as a Junior Research Fellow of Clare College (2008-2009), and finally as a Royal Society University Research Fellow (2009-2013). In 2013 I joined the Department of Veterinary Medicine as a Principal Research Associate (equivalent to Reader) and Royal Society University Research Fellow.

Subject groups/Research projects

Mathematical Biology:

Departments and Institutes

Cambridge Infectious Diseases:

Research Interests

My research focuses on the interface between infectious disease evolution and epidemiology. I am particularly interested in how processes operating at different evolutionary and epidemiological scales act in concert to give rise to patterns in disease population dynamics. The majority of my work focuses on influenza viruses due to the wealth of available data, the breadth of unanswered fundamental questions, and the opportunity for major public health impact.

Current work mostly falls into four major areas:

1. The global movement of human seasonal influenza viruses.

2. Mapping heterogeneities in surveillance and cross-species transmission risk.

3. Predictability of virus evolution.

4. Linking within-host and between-host virus dynamics.

I am also one of the chief scientists of the University of Cambridge WHO Collaborating Centre for Modelling, Evolution and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases (

My work is funded by the Royal Society, the Isaac Newton Trust, and the Wellcome Trust.


  • Genomics
  • Evolution
  • Ecology
  • Genetics
  • Mathematical modelling
  • Emerging diseases
  • Epidemic control
  • Public health
  • Virology
  • Infection
  • Vaccines
  • Epidemiology
  • Infectious disease dynamics
  • Influenza
  • Emerging viral diseases
  • Molecular epidemiology
  • Dynamics
  • Infectious Diseases

Key Publications

Lewis NS*, CA Russell*, P Langat, TK Anderson, K Berger, F Bielejec, D Burke, G Dudas, JM Fonville, RAM Fouchier, P Kellam, BF Koel, P Lemey, T Nguyen, B Nuansrichy, JSM Peiris, T Saito, G Simon, E Skepner, N Takemae, ESNIP3 consortium, R Webby, K Van Reeth, S Brookes, L Larsen, SJ Watson, IH Brown, AL Vincent. The global antigenic diversity of swine influenza A viruses. eLife. 5:e12217. (2016) *co-first authors article

Bedford T, S Riley, IG Barr, S Broor, M Chadha, NJ Cox, RS Daniels, CP Gunasekaran, AC Hurt, A Kelso, A Klimov, NS Lewis, X Li, JW McCauley, T Odagiri, V Potdar, A Rambaut, Y Shu, E Skepner, DJ Smith, MA Suchard, M Tashiro, D Wang, X Xu, P Lemey, CA Russell. Global circulation patterns of seasonal influenza viruses vary with antigenic driftNature. 523:217-220. (2015) article

Katzelnick LC, JM Fonville, GD Gromowski, SL James, TC Pierson, P Buchy, E Harris, JG Aaskov, JL Muñoz-Jordán, N Vasilakis, RV Gibbons, RB Tesh, LA Van Blargan, CA Russell, ADME Osterhaus, RAM Fouchier, CP Simmons, EC Holmes, E Harris, SS Whitehead, DJ Smith. Dengue viruses cluster antigenically but not as discrete serotypes. Science. 349:1338-1343. (2015) article

Russell CA, P Kasson, RO Donis, J Dunbar, J Asher, S Burke, CT Davis, R Garten, S Gnanakaran, S Hay, S Herfst, N Lewis, J Lloyd-Smith, C Macken, S Maurer-Stroh, E Neuhaus, C Parrish, K Pepin, A Rambaut, S Riley, S Shepard, DL Smith, D Suarez, S Trock, M-A Widdowson, D George, M Lipsitch, JD Bloom. Improving pandemic influenza risk assessment. eLife. 3:e03883. (2014) article

Neher R, CA Russell, BI Shraiman. Predicting evolution from the shape of genealogical trees. eLife. 3:e03568. (2014) article

Fonville JM, SH Wilks, SL James, M Aban, L Xue, TC Jones, M Ventresca, A Fox, LNMH Pham Q, Tran ND, Y Wong, A Mosterin, LC Katzelnick, G van der Net, E Skepner, CA Russell, TD Kaplan, GF Rimmelzwaan, N Masurel, JC de Jong, A Palache, WEP Beyer, LQM Nguyen, H Wertheim, A Hurt, ADME Osterhaus, IG Barr, RAM Fouchier, P Horby, DJ Smith. Antibody landscapes after influenza virus infection or vaccinationScience. 346:996-1000. (2014) article

Watanabe T*, G Zhang*, CA Russell*, N Nakajima, M Hatta, A Hanson, R McBride, S Watanabe, M Imai, G Neumann, H Hasegawa, J Paulson, DJ Smith, Y Kawaoka. Circulating avian influenza viruses with pandemic potential due to their relatedness to the 1918 virus. Cell Host & Microbe. 15:692-705. (2014) *co-first authors article

Koel BF,  DF Burke, TM Bestebroer, S van der Vliet, GCM Zondag, G Vervaet, E Skepner, NS Lewis, MIJ Spronken, CA Russell, MY Eropkin, AC Hurt, IG Barr, JC de Jong, GF Rimmelzwaan, ADME Osterhaus, RAM Fouchier, DJ Smith. Substitutions near the receptor binding site determine major antigenic change during influenza virus evolution. Science. 342:976-979(2013) article

Russell CA, J Fonville, AEX Brown, DF Burke, DL Smith, S James, S Herfst, S van Boheeman, M Linster, EJ Schwauren, L Katzelnick, A Mosterin, T Kuiken, E Maher, G Neumann,  ADME Osterhaus, Y Kawaoka, RAM Fouchier, DJ Smith. The potential for airborne transmissible avian A/H5N1 influenza viruses to evolve in natureScience. 336:1541-1547. (2012) article

Garten RJ, CT Davis, CA Russell, B Shu, S Lindstrom, A Balish, WM Sessions, X Xu, E Skepner, V Deyde, M Okomo-Adhiambo, L Gubareva, J Barnes, CB Smith, SL Emery, MJ Hillman, P Rivailler, J Smagala, M de Graaf,  DF Burke, RAM Fouchier, C Pappas, CM Alpuche-Aranda, H López-Gatell, H Olivera, I López, CA Myers, D Faix, PJ Blair, C Yu, KM Keene, PD Dotson, D Boxrud, AR Sambol, SH Abid, K St. George, T Bannerman, AL Moore, DJ Stringer, P Blevins, GJ Demmler-Harrison, M Ginsberg, P Kriner, S Waterman, S Smole, HF Guevara, EA Belongia, PA Clark, ST Beatrice, R Donis, J Katz, L Finelli, CB Bridges, M Shaw, DB Jernigan, TM Uyeki, DJ Smith, AI Klimov, NJ Cox. Antigenic and genetic characteristics of swine-origin 2009 A(H1N1) influenza viruses circulating in humansScience. 325:197-201. (2009) article

Russell CA, TC Jones, IG Barr, NJ Cox, R Garten, V Gregory, I Gust, AW Hampson, AJ Hay, AC Hurt, JC de Jong, AI Klimov, T Kageyama, N Komadina, AS Lapedes, YP Lin, A Mosterin, M Obuchi, T Odagiri, ADME Osterhaus, GF Rimmelzwaan, MW Shaw, E Skepner, K Stohr, M Tashiro, RAM Fouchier, DJ Smith. The global circulation of seasonal influenza A(H3N2) virusesScience. 320:340-346. (2008) article


A complete list of publications can be found here.