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Department of Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge Veterinary School

Pathogenesis and immunity to viral infections

I have a long term interest in the immune response to persistent viral infections. Presently we are studying the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal viruses using murine norovirus as a model virus.  This can establish both acute and persistent infections.  It may also spread from the gut to cause a systemic infection that can lead to pathology in different organ systems.  As such it is both a good model system for studying gastrointestinal immunity and mechanisms of viral persistence.  We are investigating the role of different cell types and factors in the gut that protect from infection as well as properties of the virus itself that affect its pathogenesis. 

Previously I have worked with visna maedi virus, a lentiviral infection of sheep. This is a model lentiviral infection with a strict tropism for macrophages and dendritic cells and as such allows the study of viral control mechanisms in the absence of immune deficiencies as is seen with HIV.

A common theme of my work is infection of dendritic cells and macrophages and how these infections alter the biology of these important immune cell types.  This includes studies with Salmonella enterica as well as the virus infections above.

Recent work has moved into metagenomic sequencing to identify viruses, and study the microbiome (which links to gastrointestinal viruses).  We are also currently using metagenomic sequencing of non-invasive samples in conservation studies of Juan Fernandez Fur seals to derive information on the microbiome, diet and population genetic structure.


I received my BSc (Hon) in Biochemistry from University of Aberdeen, then did a PhD in Virology at University of Cambridge.  I undertook post-doctoral positions in University of Cambridge and Edinburgh before coming to University of Cambridge as a University Fellow then lecturer.


Immunopathogenesis of persistent viral and bacterial diseases

Cancer immunoregulation

Chronic immune mediated disease


Key publications: 

Assessment of a multiplex PCR and Nanopore-based method for dengue virus sequencing in Indonesia. Stubbs, S.C.B., Blacklaws, B.A., Yohan, B. Yudhaputri, F.A., Hayati, R.F., Schwem, B., Salvana, E.M. Destura, R.V.D., Lester, J.S., Myint, K.S., Sasmono, R.T. & Frost, S.D.W. (2020) Virol. J. 17, 24. doi: 10.1186/s12985-020-1294-6.

An investigation into the epidemiology of chikungunya virus across neglected regions of Indonesia. Stubbs, S.C.B., Johar, E., Yudhaputri, F.A., Yohan, B., Santoso, M.S., Hayati, R.F., Denis, D., Blacklaws, B.A., Powers, A.M., Sasmono, R.T., Myint, K.S.A. & Frost, S.D.W. (2020) PLoS Neg. Trop. Dis. 14, e0008934. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0008934.

Distinct Dengue Disease Epidemiology, Clinical, and Diagnosis Features in Western, Central, and Eastern Regions of Indonesia, 2017-2019. Sasmono, R.T., Santoso, M.S., Pamai, Y.W.B., Yohan, B., Afida, A.M., Denis, D., Hutagalung, I.A., Johar, E., Hayati, R.F., Yudhaputri, F.A., Haryanto, S., Stubbs, S.C.B., Blacklaws, B.A., Myint, K.S.A. & Frost, S.D.W. (2020) Front. Med. (Lausanne) 7, 582235. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2020.582235.

Full genomic characterization of a porcine rotavirus strain detected in an asymptomatic piglet in Accra, Ghana. Stubbs, S.C.B., Quaye, O., Acquah, M.E., Adadey, S.M., Kean, I.R.L., Gupta, S. & Blacklaws, B.A. (2020) BMC Vet. Res. 16, 11. doi:10.1186/s12917-019-2226-9. 

Patterns of the fecal microbiota in the Juan Fernández fur seal (Arctocephalus philippii). Toro-Valdivieso, C., Toro, F., Stubbs, S., Castro-Nallar, E. & Blacklaws, B. (2021) MicrobiologyOpen 10, e1215. doi: 10.1002/mbo3.1215.

Dual role of splenic mononuclear and polymorphonuclear cells in the outcome of ciprofloxacin treatment of Salmonella enterica infections. Kanvatirth, P., Rossi, O., Restif, O., Blacklaws, B.A., Tonks, P., Grant, A.J. & Mastroeni, P.J. (2020) Antimicrob. Chemother. 75, 2914. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkaa249.

Chronic inflammatory disease in pancreas, kidney and salivary glands of English cocker spaniels and dogs of other breeds shows similar histological features to human IgG4-related disease. Coddou, M.F., Constantino-Casas, F., Scase, T., Day, M.J., Blacklaws, B.A. & Watson, P.J. (2020) J. Comp. Pathol. 177, 18-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jcpa.2020.03.008.

Other publications: 

Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium trxA mutants are protective against virulent challenge, but induce less inflammation than the live-attenuated vaccine strain SL3261. Peters, S. E., Paterson, G. K., Bandularatne, E. S. D., Northen, H. C., Pleasance, S., Willers, C., Wang, J., Foote, A. K., Constantino-Casas, F., Scase, T. J., Blacklaws, B. A., Bryant, C. E., Mastroeni, P., Charles, I. G. & Maskell, D. J. (2010) Infect. Immun. 78, 326-336. 

Molecular characterization of poxviruses associated with tattoo skin lesions in UK cetaceans. Blacklaws, B.A., Gajda, A. M., Tippelt, S., Jepson, P. D., Deaville, R., Van Bressem, M.-F., Pearce, G. P.  (2013) PLOS ONE, 8, e71734.

Pathology caused by persistent murine norovirus infection. Shortland, A., Chettle, J., Archer, J., Wood, K., Bailey, D., Goodfellow, I., Blacklaws, B.A. & Heeney, J.L. (2014) J. Gen. Virol., 95, 413–422.

Differential expression of Toll-like receptors and inflammatory cytokines in ovine interdigital dermatitis and footrot. Davenport, R., Heawood, C., Sessford, K., Baker, M., Baiker, K., Blacklaws, B., Kaler, J., Green, L. & Tötemeyer, S. (2014) Vet. Immunol. Immunopathol. 161, 90-8. 

Intestinal intraepithelial lymphocyte activation promotes innate antiviral resistance. Swamy, M., Abeler-Dörner, L., Chettle, J., Mahlakõiv, T., Goubau, D., Chakravarty, P., Ramsay, G., Reis e Sousa, C., Staeheli, P., Blacklaws, B.A., Heeney, J.L. & Hayday, A.C. (2015)  Nature Comm. 6, 7090. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8090. PMID: 25987506.

Teaching and Supervisions


Veterinary Virology

Immune response to viruses

Biology of disease

Research supervision: 

Constanza Toro-Valdivieso

Senior Lecturer in Molecular Virology

Contact Details

Available for consultancy


Person keywords: 
Host-Pathogen Interaction
Dendritic cells
Emerging viral diseases
Adaptive immunity
Medical Research Council