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Gavin James Smith


Associate Research Professor, Duke Global Health Institute


Dr Gavin Smith is a Professor in the Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme at Duke-NUS Medical School Singapore.

Prof Smith’s research integrates ideas from a number of scientific fields, including evolutionary genetics, virology, ecology, and infectious disease epidemiology. He conducts human and animal disease surveillance, virus isolation and characterisation (genetic and phenotypic), then conducts large-scale analyses to generate hypotheses that are tested in the laboratory using tissue culture and animal models.

Prof Smith is primarily interested in the roles played by mutation, natural selection, recombination/reassortment and host immune response on virus diversity within an individual, during transmission within a population and during inter-species transmission between hosts. While Prof Smith works mostly on influenza, he also studies a wide range of respiratory and enteric viruses. His research programme is directed at efforts to better understand viral disease ecosystems in Asia, specifically the animal-human interface, to inform and enhance disease control.

In the context of COVID-19, Prof Smith has been engaged in research on genetic changes in the SARS-COV-2 virus and their potential implications for the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.



The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, PhD, 2003

The University of Melbourne, Australia, BSc(Hons), 1996

The University of Melbourne, Australia, BSc, 1995

Professional Experience

Research Assistant Professor, State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases, The University of Hong Kong 2006 – 2010 

Posdoctoral Fellow, The University of Hong Kong 2003 - 2006

Awards and Fellowships

2013 Elected Fellow of the Australian Society for Microbiology 

2012 Research Output Prize 2011–12, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, awarded for “Long-term evolution and transmission dynamics of swine influenza A virus” published in Nature, 2011 

2011 Beijerinck Guest Professor, Beijerinck Virology Fund, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Kingdom of the Netherlands

2010 NIAID/NIH Selected Science Advances 2009 for “Rapid Characterization of the 2009 H1N1 Influenza Virus”

2010 DMID/NIAID/NIH Special Recognition Award “In Honor of Extraordinary Work in H1N1 Influenza Research”

2010 Research Output Prize 2009–10 (HK$80,000), Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, awarded for “Origins and evolutionary genomics of the 2009 swine-origin H1N1 influenza A epidemic” published in Nature, 2010

2009 Outstanding Young Researcher Award 2008–2009 (HK$300,000), The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

2007-2014 Career Development Award for research into the ecology, evolution and population genetics of influenza A (H5N1) virus. Awarded as part of the NIAID Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, USA


Laing ED, Mendenhall IH, Linster M, Low DHW, Chen Y, Yan L, Sterling SL, Borthwick S, Neves ES, Lim JSL, Skiles M, Lee BPY, Wang L, Broder CC and Smith GJD. (2018). Serologic Evidence of Fruit Bat Exposure to Filoviruses, Singapore, 2011–2016. Emgerging Infectious Diseases,  24(1), 122-126.

Mendenhall IH, Skiles MM, Neves ES, Borthwick SA, Low DHW, Liang B, Lee BPY, Su YCF and Smith GJD. (2017) Influence of age and body condition on astrovirus infection of bats in Singapore: An evolutionary and epidemiological analysis. One Health, Oct 6;4:27-33. doi: 10.1016/j.onehlt.2017.10.001.

Joseph U, Vijaykrishna D, Smith GJD and Su YCF. (2017) Adaptive evolution during the establishment of European avian-like H1N1 influenza A virus in swine. Evol Appl, 2017;00:1–13.

Mendenhall IH, Borthwick S, Neves ES, Low D, Linster M, Liang B, Skiles M, Jayakumar J, Han H, Gunalan V, Lee BPY, Okahara K, Wang LF, Maurer-Stroh S, Su YCF and Smith GJD. (2017) Identification of a Lineage D Betacoronavirus in Cave Nectar Bats (Eonycteris spelaea) in Singapore and an Overview of Lineage D Reservoir Ecology in SE Asian Bats. Transbound Emerg Dis, Dec;64(6):1790-1800. doi: 10.1111/tbed.12568. Epub 2016 Sep 16.

Bahl J, Pham TT, Hill NJ, Hussein IT, Ma EJ, Easterday BC, Halpin RA, Stockwell TB, Wentworth DE, Kayali G, Krauss S, Schultz-Cherry S, Webster RG, Webby RJ, Swartz MD, Smith GJ and Runstadler JA. (2016) Ecosystem Interactions Underlie the Spread of Avian Influenza A Viruses with Pandemic Potential. PLoS Pathog, May 11;12(5):e1005620. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005620. eCollection 2016 May.

Su YC, Bahl J, Joseph U, Butt KM, Peck HA, Koay ES, Oon LL, Barr IG, Vijaykrishna D and Smith GJ. (2015) Phylodynamics of H1N1/2009 influenza reveals the transition from host adaptation to immune-driven selection. Nat Commun, Aug 6;6:7952. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8952.

Vijaykrishna D, Holmes EC, Joseph U, Fourment M, Su YCF, Halpin R, Lee RTC, Deng Y-M, Gunalan V, Lin X, Stockwell T, Fedorova NB, Zhou B, Spirason N, Kühnert D, Boškováh V, Stadler T, Costai A, Dwyer DE, Huang QS, Jennings LC, Rawlinson W, Sullivan SG, Hurt A, Maurer-Stroh S, Wentworth D, Smith GJD and Barr IG. (2015) The contrasting pyhlodynamics of human influenza B virus.  eLife 2015;4:e05055 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.05055

Bahl J, Krauss S, Kühnert D, Fourment M, Raven G, Pryor SP, Niles LJ, Danner A, Walker D, Mendenhall IH, Su YC, Dugan VG, Halpin RA, Stockwell TB, Webby RJ, Wentworth DE, Drummond AJ, Smith GJ and Webster RG. (2013) Influenza a virus migration and persistence in North American wild birds. PLoS Pathog, 9(8):e1003570. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003570. Epub 2013 Aug 29.

Bahl J, Nelson MI, Chan KH, Chen R, Vijaykrishna D, Halpin RA, Stockwell TB, Lin X, Wentworth DE, Ghedin E, Guan Y, Peiris JS, Riley S, Rambaut A, Holmes EC and Smith GJ. (2011) Temporally structured metapopulation dynamics and persistence of influenza A H3N2 virus in humans. Proc Natl Acad, Sci U S A. Nov 29;108(48):19359-64. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1109314108. Epub 2011 Nov 14.

Smith GJ, Vijaykrishna D, Bahl J, Lycett SJ, Worobey M, Pybus OG, Ma SK, Cheung CL, Raghwani J, Bhatt S, Peiris JS, Guan Y and Rambaut A. (2009) Origins and evolutionary genomics of the 2009 swine-origin H1N1 influenza A epidemic. Nature, Jun 25;459(7250):1122-5. doi: 10.1038/nature08182.