Department: Pathobiology and Population Sciences

Campus: Hawkshead

Research Groups: Host-Pathogen Interactions and Vaccinology

Camilla is a Lecturer in Virology with research interests in emerging and multi-host viruses, especially Peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV) and influenza A, and in comparative antiviral immunity in wild and domestic hosts.

Qualifications & Awards:
2018: Soulsby Fellow in One Health
2014: Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellow
2014: Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
2010: PhD in Molecular Virology, University of Cambridge
2004: VetMB, University of Cambridge
2005: MA (Zoology), University of Cambridge
2001: BA(Hons) Veterinary & Medical Science Tripos, 1st Class, University of Cambridge

2013-Present: Lecturer in Virology, Royal Veterinary College
(2017: Rinderpest Technical Consultant for Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO);
2014: Leverhulme International Academic Fellow & Visiting Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney)

2010-2012: Post-doctoral Research Associate, Imperial College & University of Cambridge

2007-2012: Undergraduate Supervisor, St Catharines College & Trinity Hall College, Cambridge (in Biochemistry and Veterinary Professional Development)

2006-2009: PhD in Molecular Virology, University of Cambridge

2004-2006: Veterinary Surgeon, mixed animal practice

Camilla’s laboratory currently receives grant funding from The Royal Society, Innovate UK and The Soulsby Foundation

Current Research Projects:

Interferon-induced Transmembrane Proteins:

I am interested in how the innate antiviral immune response of different species (in particular bats) influences the emergence and pathogenicity of virus infections. I currently study interferon-induced transmembrane proteins (IFITMs), host cell proteins that block cell entry by numerous pathogenic and zoonotic viruses including influenza virus, lyssaviruses and filoviruses. I perform laboratory and phylogenetic analyses comparing IFITMs of different species (in particular bats, pigs and humans) to identify the molecular determinants of antiviral restriction by IFITMs. This can potentially enable us to harness IFITMs as prophylactic or therapeutic antivirals against high impact human and animal pathogens.

Peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV) ecology and host range:

PPRV is a morbillivirus of small ruminants currently targeted for eradication by FAO. I am investigating PPRV infection in wildlife hosts, with the aim of advancing our understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which PPRV is emerging in novel species and of informing the PPRV eradication pathway. Find more at

Postdoctoral Research:
I studied immune modulation by vaccinia virus in the laboratory of Prof Geoffrey Smith FRS with the aim of developing more immunogenic vaccinia-vectored vaccines and novel anti-inflammatories. My work focused on the molecular mechanisms by which vaccinia virus blocks immune signaling pathways and the consequences for virulence and immunogenicity in vivo.

PhD Thesis: Investigation of the Antiviral Properties of Mx proteins
I studied the polymorphism and function of the interferon-inducible chicken Mx gene, with the aim of using variants of this gene to enhance influenza virus resistance in chickens. I gained extensive experience of working with influenza virus and of applying diverse molecular biology techniques.

Benfield C. 2016. One vaccinology? Overcoming challenges in vaccine development. Vet Rec. Nov 19;179(20):508-509. doi: 10.1136/vr.i6099

Long JS, Benfield CT, Barclay WS. 2015. One-way trip: Influenza virus' adaptation to gallinaceous poultry may limit its pandemic potential. Bioessays. 37, 204-212.

Benfield C, Smith SE, Wright E, Wash RS, Ferrara F, Temperton NJ & Kellam P. 2015. Bat and pig Interferon-Induced Transmembrane Protein 3 restrict cell entry by influenza virus and lyssaviruses. Journal of General Virology doi: 10.1099/vir.0.000058  

Benfield C. T. O , Ren H., Lucas S., Bahsoun B. & Smith G. L. 2013. Vaccinia Virus protein K7 is a virulence factor that alters the acute immune response to infection. Journal of General Virology. 94, 1647-1657

Benfield, C. T. O, Mansur D, McCoy L. E, Ferguson B. J, Bahar M, Oldring A, Grimes J. M, Stuart D. I, Graham S. C. and Smith G. L. 2011. Mapping the IκB kinase beta (IKKß)-binding interface of B14, a vaccinia virus inhibitor of IKKß-mediated activation of nuclear factor kappa B. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 286, 20727-20735

Benfield, C. T. O, Lyall, J. W. & Tiley, L. S. 2010. Wild type and nuclear-localised chicken Mx proteins lack antiviral properties against Newcastle Disease and Thogoto Viruses. PLoS ONE 5(8): e12151.

Benfield, C. T. O, Lyall, J. W., Kochs, G. & Tiley, L. S. 2008. Asparagine 631 variants of the chicken Mx protein do not inhibit influenza replication in primary chicken embryo fibroblasts or in vitro surrogate assays.  Journal of Virology 82: 7533-7539

B.J. Ferguson, C.T.O. Benfield, H. Ren, V.H. Lee, G.L. Frazer, P.Strnadova, R. P. Sumner & G.L. Smith. 2013. Vaccinia virus protein N2 is a nuclear IRF3 inhibitor that promotes virulence. Journal of General Virology 94, 2070-2081.

G.L.Smith, C.T.O. Benfield, C.Maluquer de Motes, M.Mazzon, S.W.J. Ember, B.J. Ferguson & R.P. Sumner. 2013. Vaccinia virus immune evasion: mechanisms, virulence and immunogenicity. Journal of General Virology 94, 2367-2392.

Camilla is Course Director for the MSc in One Health and is Module Leader for ‘Introduction to Disease Agents for One Health’ for this MSc. She also developed and leads a module ‘Introduction to One Health’ on the BSc/MSc Biological and Bioveterinary Sciences courses, and was Theme Leader for Virology 2013-2018 for BVetMed.

She teaches a range of virology related topics on the BVetMed, Graduate Accelerated BVetMed, BSc BioVeterinary Science and MSc One Health courses at RVC.

Camilla completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Veterinary Education with Merit in 2014 and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Camilla is a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and worked in first opinion mixed animal and exotics practice (2004-2006).

She has no clinical responsibilities at RVC.

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