Dr Debra Elton

Head of Virology

Debra's teams are currently studying equine influenza virus (EIV) and equine herpes virus type-1 (EHV-1). Debra has over 30 year’s experience in virology, including influenza virus replication, assembly and transmission.

Debra and her team’s influenza virus research is centred around surveillance and antigenic variation, the primary aim being to monitor changes in EIV worldwide to facilitate selection of suitable vaccine strains. Debra is also interested in the cross species transmission of influenza viruses and viral determinants of pathogenicity. Debra works closely with Dr Neil Bryant, who heads the EHV-1 research group. His work on EHV-1 aims to develop improved vaccines against the more serious consequences of EHV-1 infection, namely abortion, neonatal foal death and neurological disease.

Debra is the UK OIE expert for EIV and EHV-1 and a member of the Expert Surveillance Panel for EIV, responsible for selecting vaccine strains for EIV.


BSc, PhD


Debra gained her BSc and PhD at the University of Leeds, spending 5 years working on EHV-1. She then moved to the USA as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, investigating nuclear assembly of the baculovirus AcMNPV. On returning to the UK, she spent 11 years working in the Division of Virology, University of Cambridge, primarily on the replication of human influenza virus, before moving to the Animal Health Trust to run the EIV programme. Debra is now Head of Virology at the Trust.