Professor Munir Iqbal is head of the Avian Influenza Virus (AIV) group in the Avian Viral Diseases programme at The Pirbright Institute. Munir obtained Veterinary Medicine and MPhil degrees in Pakistan and a PhD in Biotechnology at Imperial College London in 1991. He worked as postdoctoral researcher at the University of Liverpool and the University of St Andrews, before joining the Institute in 1996. Currently, he is leading a number of research projects aimed at identifying the molecular factors that potentially facilitate wild bird-origin AIV to establish and spread in poultry and the development of new vaccines and diagnostics for better control of AIV infection in poultry.
Recently his group has developed a herpesvirus of turkey (HVT)-based live vaccine, providing life-long immunity in in ovo (in egg) vaccinated chickens to both AIV and Marek’s disease. His recent studies have identified antigenic epitopes on the haemagglutinin antigen of H9N2 viruses that induce protective immune responses, with implications for vaccine strain selection. Studies also identified host-restrictions factors that determine avian-origin influenza virus replication fitness in mammalian species. His group is developing novel easy-to-use aptamer-based diagnostic tests allowing rapid, sensitive and reliable diagnosis of influenza in animals and humans at the pen-side or point-of-care.
Investigating avian influenza virus evolution and defining the functional role of evolutionary changes on virus antigenicity, virulence, transmission and host-range. Improving vaccines and vaccination strategies for effective control of influenza virus infection in poultry Developing reagents and assays for rapid detection and differentiation of influenza virus subtypes infecting poultry.