Ilaria Capua

  • Born: 1966 (Italy)
  • Inducted: 2013
Born in Rome, Ilaria Capua graduated in Veterinary Medicine, with honours, from the University of Perugia in 1989. Following a postgraduate qualification as a specialist in Animal Health and Hygiene in 1991 at Pisa University, she earned her PhD from the University of Padova in 2007.

Ilaria started her career as an avian virologist in 1991. Before concentrating on influenza, she worked with infectious bronchitis virus, avian adenoviruses, and Newcastle disease. She has authored more than 180 peer-reviewed publications.

She is currently Director of the OIE/FAO and National Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease at the OIE Collaborating Centre for Diseases at the Human-Animal Interface and of the Research and Development Unit at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, in Legnaro, Italy.

She has had extensive experience in the direct management of several avian influenza and Newcastle disease epidemics, and in 2000 developed the DIVA (Differentiating Infected from Vaccinated Animals) vaccination strategy. This innovative strategy enabled the continuation of trade while combating avian influenza by vaccination. As a result, avian influenza was eradicated from Italy at that time.

In 2005 she was nominated as Chairman of the executive committee of OFFLU, the OIE/FAO network on animal influenza that offers veterinary expertise and crisis management support to developing countries.

In 2006 she ignited an international debate on the sharing of genetic information on panzootic H5N1strains, 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.

Awards include the Scientific American 50 award in 2007, the Penn World Leadership in Animal Health Award in 2011, and the R F Gordon Memorial Medal in 2012.

Dr Capua was elected a member of the Italian Parliament in 2013, in Mario Monti’s coalition.

Ilaria is married to a Scotsman, Richard, and they have a daughter born in 2004. Ilaria fundamentally enjoys sleeping and being in the sunshine.

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