Dr. Ilaria Capua


Dr Ilaria Capua is a veterinarian by training, and has devoted most of her professional life to virology. She has obtained her qualifications in Italy,  Perugia (DVM), Pisa (Post Graduate Specialisation) and Padova (PhD), and has trained in virology in several  labs worldwide.

After Italy's general elections on February 24 -25 Ilaria Capua became member of the Italian Parliament within Scelta Civica - Con Monti per l'Italia. Until then she was Director of the Division  of Comparative Biomedical Sciences  at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Legnaro, (Padova)  Italy  and of the  International  Reference Laboratory for Animal influenza and  of the OIE Collaborating Centre for Diseases at the Human–Animal Interface. Her group of  over 70 staff provided - and still does -  diagnostic expertise globally and conducts cutting edge research on influenza viruses and viral zoonoses, funded by the EC and other international organisations.

In 2000 she developed the “DIVA” vaccination system for avian influenza, the first to successfully eradicate an influenza epidemic. In 2006 she ignited  an international debate on sharing of genetic data across disciplines in the face of the H5N1 “birdflu” epidemic using web based platforms in an open access environment. This debate eventually led to policy  changes at an international level on sharing of data for improved pre-pandemic preparedness.

In 2007 she was among the winners of the Scientific American 50 award and in 2008 was included among Seed Magazine’s “Revolutionary Minds”, for leadership in science policy. She  In 2011 she was the first woman  recipient of the Penn Vet World Leadership Award, the most prestigious award in veterinary medicine.

In 2012 she has been given the Gordon Memorial Medal in UK for her contribution to research; in 2013 she has been awarded from Italy’s Accademia dei Lincei and in 2014 she received the Excellence Award from ESCMID, the European Society of clinical microbiology and infectious diseases.

In June 2016 she moved to University of Florida in Gainesville as Director of the One Health Center of Excellence. 

In December 2016 she was appointed Honourary Accademic Member of the Accademia dei Georgofili, which, founded in Florence in 1753, is to improve and contribute to the progress of agricultural studies in order to preserve the environment and develop the rural world. 


Member of the Italian Parliament (15 March 2013- ), in the political party founded by former Prime Minister and EU Commissioner, Mario Monti.

Vice-President of the 7th Parliamentary Commission “Culture, Science and Education”; since July 2015 Scelta Civica main representative at 14th Parliamentary Commission "UE Policies".

Director of the Division of Comparative Biomedical Sciences at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (IZSVe), Legnaro (Padova - Italy).

Director of the FAO/OIE and National Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease, OIE and National Collaborating Center for Diseases at the Human - Animal Interface (on leave of absence following my election as a Member of Parliament)


2013- 2018: Visiting Professor, University of Glasgow, Center for Virus Research
2012: Member of the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC) - Advisory Board
2012-ongoing: Member of the EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Animal Welfare
2011-ongoing:Member of the OFFLU working group on Human Animal interface issues of animal influenzas
2009: Senior Policy Advisor to the Director, National Center for Zoonotic Vector-borne and Enteric Diseases, CDC Atlanta, USA
2009-2011: Member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Group to the WHO’s Global Influenza Programme
2009-2010: Stream leader (Stream 1: Human animal interface and emergence of novel pandemic viruses) for WHO’s Global Research Agenda on Influenza
2009-2010: Welcome Trust Advisory Group on Influenza research
2004-2010: Chairman of the Executive Committee of OIE/FAO Network on Animal Influenza (OFFLU)
2006-2009: Member of the Advisory Group to the EU Commissioner for Research on the EU 7th Framework Programme in the area “Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology”.
2007-2010: Member of the Networking Executive Committee of the US Centres of Excellence on Avian Influenza funded by NIH/NIAID
2003-2006: Member of the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) Panel on Animal Health and Animal Welfare.
2001-ongoing: OIE working groups for the revision of the chapters of the OIE Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals and member of “Ad hoc” working groups
2001/2004: Nominated OIE/FAO Expert for avian influenza and Newcastle Disease
Major International Awards and Honours
2014 - European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) Excellence Award
2013- “Guido Lenghi e Flaviano Magrassi” International award by the Italian Academy of Sciences (Accademia dei Lincei)
2013 – Inducted into the Hall of Fame of the World Veterinary Poultry Association
2012 - Gordon Memorial Medal (UK) for her distinguished contributions to poultry science
2011 - Penn Vet World Leadership in Animal Health Award from the University of Pennsylvania (USA), the most prestigious award in veterinary medicine
2009 – Phi Zeta Lecture University of Florida
2008 – “Revolutionary Mind” by Seed magazine for his leadership role in sharing information internationally
2008 – Charnock Bradeley Lecture, University of Edinburgh
2007 - Scientific American 50, awarded annually to the world's top 50 researchers for leadership in science policy
2006 - PROMED 2006 “Reporting on the Internet”
2005 - Career Achievement Award of “Houghton Trust” (UK)

Major National Awards

2016 - Appointed Honourary Accademic Member of the Accademia dei Georgofili
2012- Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Grande Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana)
2012 – “Gentile da Fabriano” national award in “Science, Research and Innovation”
2012 - "Fabbricatori di Idee", Festival Città Impresa award for "her ability to create new ideas and her contribution to a new phase of scientific development “
2009 – “Grande Ippocrate” award for the medical researcher of the year
2009 – “Casato Prime Donne” award, a recognition for leading women in society
2008 - “G. Bogoni” national award for veterinary medical career

GLOBAL initiatives

2006: I ignited an international debate on transparency and sharing of genetic information on panzootic H5N1 strains, across disciplines. Her advocacy of increased openness was endorsed by OIE, FAO and WHO, and resulted in resolutions towards a greater transparency with consequent prospects for improved public and animal health. The sharing of avian influenza virus sequences to allow a better understanding of animal and human influenza infections has now become a core part of the global influenza preparedness strategy.
This initiative was reported by the international non-scientific press (The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post) and obtained significant coverage and support by Science and Nature magazines

2004- 2009: Chairman of the Executive Committee of OFFLU Network, and OIE/FAO network in support of countries affected by the Avian influenza virus. The network promotes the exchange and analysis of virus strains responsible for the H5N1 outbreak and represents a link between the veterinary community and the WHO


PhD: University of Padova, Italy 2007. “Public Health, Veterinary Hygiene and Hygiene of Animal production - Avian Influenza: review on epidemiology and aspects of pathogenesis and control”

2 year Post Graduate Specialization : University of Pisa, Italy 1991. “Animal health and hygiene of animal breeding and production”

DVM: University of Perugia, Italy 1989, Graduation with honors (110/110 cum laude)


VLA Weybridge, UK selected periods 1992, 1993, 1994. Training on avian and mammalian virology and collaborative studies

Moredun Research Institute, Edinburgh, UK, 1995 Training on Malignant Catarrhal Fever diagnosis

IAH, Pirbright UK, 1995. Training on viral exotic diseases of ruminants and equids

Special Pathogens Unit, National Institute for Virology, Johannesburg, RSA 1996. Training on haemorrhagic fever diagnosis


15 March 2013- Member of the Italian Parliament, (Camera dei Deputati); Vice-president of the 7th Parliamentary Commission “Culture, Science and Education”

Previous position description: Director of the OIE/FAO and National Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease, the OIE Collaborating Centre for Diseases at the Human- Animal Interface and the Division of Comparative Biomedical Sciences (2010-2013), formerly of the Research and Development Department at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (IZSVe), Legnaro (Padova), Italy.

The group has grown from <10 to 70 individuals in 10 years under my supervision, and is now a leading international group in the field of influenza virology and on emerging viral diseases. The group includes both Italian and foreign scientists and hosts annually 5-10 scientists coming from abroad for training or joint research activities. The group has significant collaborations with international organizations and NGO’s for empowerment of diagnostic facilities in developing countries. I annually manage a research budget of 2-3 million euros, which fund over 30 temporary employees, consumables and equipment.

Head of the Virology Department and Research Centre for Exotic Diseases, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’ Abruzzo e del Molise di Teramo, Italy

1994 – 1997
Head of the Virology Department and Head of Anatomy-Histopathology Department, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’ Abruzzo e del Molise di Teramo, Italy

1991 – 1994
Scientist in the Diagnostic Virology Laboratory, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’ Abruzzo e del Molise, Teramo, Italy

Scientist in the Diagnostic Serology Laboratory of the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Umbria e delle Marche, Perugia, Italy


Coordination of EFSA FLURISK project (2012-2013)

Management of EU FP7 PREDEMICS (2011-2016) project as partner

Management of EU FP6 funded projects FLUAID and FLUTRAIN (as coordinator)

Participation (as partner) in EU funded projects and Network of Excellence: FLUPATH, FLU-LAB-NET, FLURESIST; FLUBIRD, EPIZONE; RabMedControl; EPIZONE

International collaborations on the molecular evolution of influenza viruses, development and evaluation of novel intervention strategies for rabies (post-exposure prophylaxis) and influenza (vaccination)

Development of pan reactive vaccines against influenza infections (national grants)

Investigation on the occurrence and significance of selected mutations in the HA and PB2 genes of influenza viruses

Investigations on the metabolic consequences of influenza infection, with particular reference to glucose metabolism and pancreatic function

My group is currently involved in 29 national and 12 international research projects. Since 1993 I have coordinated/participated in over 50 projects.



2013 : University Qualification as Full Professor in infectious diseases of animals (Veterinary School) and as Full Professor in Microbiology (Medical School) by Italian University Assessment Board

Since 2002 - Guest lecturing at the University of Florida, University of Pennsylvania, University of Maryland, University of North Carolina, Royal Swedish Academy, Utrecht University, University of Ghent, University of Vienna, University of Tokyo, University of Georgia, Swedish Veterinary Institute, National Veterinary Institute of Pulawi, Poland.


Contract Lecturer in Avian Pathology at the University of Padua, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine


Lectures on viral diseases in the framework of the course “Infectious Diseases of Domestic Animals” at the University of Teramo, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

ORGANIZATION of international conferences:

3 February 2011. Organizer of “An Update on Human Health Implications of Animal Influenza Viruses”. Legnaro (Padova) - Italy

31 January – 3 February 2011. Co-Organizer with CDC Atlanta of the “One Flu” Strategic Retreat. Castelbrando (Treviso) – Italy

27-29 April 2010. Organizer of the “Second FAO-OIE-WHO Joint Scientific Consultation: Influenza and Other Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Human Animal Interface”. Verona - Italy

9 March 2010. Co organizer with EC of the “EU Research on Influenza: New Results, New Challenges”. Legnaro (Padova) - Italy

7-9 October 2008. Organizer of the “First OIE/FAO/WHO technical consultation on avian influenza at the human-animal interface”. Palazzo Verità Poeta, Verona - Italy

20 – 22 March 2007. Organizer of the “Vaccination: a tool for the control of avian influenza OIE/FAO/IZSVe Conference”. Palazzo della Gran Guardia, Verona - Italy

3-6 April 2006. Organizer of the “6th International Symposium on Avian Influenza”. St John’s College, Cambridge - UK

7 October 2005. Organizer of the “Joint OIE/WHO/FAO meeting on the H5N1 crisis”. Venice - Italy

8-10 November 2004. Organizer of the “OIE meeting Ad hoc group on AI for the updating of the Code Chapter on AI”. Legnaro (Padova) - Italy

20-21 June 2002. Organizer of the “8th Joint annual meeting of the Newcastle disease and Avian Influenza Reference Laboratories of countries of the EU”. Legnaro (Padova) - Italy

14-17 April 2002. Member of the organizing committee of the “5th International Symposium on Avian Influenza” Athens, Georgia - USA

15-16 November 2001. Organizer of the “Meeting of Member States’ national experts for avian influenza on the development and application of an N1-N3 discriminatory test in the framework of the control of avian influenza through vaccination with a heterologous vaccine”. Legnaro (Padova) - Italy

Publications by Dr. Ilaria Capua

The most recent publications

Diagnosing avian influenza infections in vaccinated populations using “DIVA” systems

Published 29 April, 2007 Dr. Ilaria Capua Dr. Giovanni Cattoli