Dr. Aruna Ambagala

Image Aruna Ambagala
Research Scientist, Head - Mammalian Diseases Unit & the OIE Reference Laboratory for Classical Swine Fever
  • Lead diagnostic and research activities on high consequence exotic and emerging viral diseases of farm animals

  • Lead the OIE Reference Laboratory activities related to classical swine fever

Current research and/or projects

The current research projects are focused on

  • Development and validation of novel or improving the existing laboratory diagnostic assays for rapid and sensitive detection of exotic and emerging high consequence viral diseases of farm animals, with the main focus on classical swine fever, Africa swine fever, pseudorabies, bluetongue and Schmallenberg disease

  • Evaluation of novel diagnostic platforms for laboratory and on-site detection of exotic and emerging viral diseases of farm animals

  • Pathogenesis of emerging viral pathogens of farm animals

  • Evlauation of novel vaccines or vaccine candidates for exotic and emerging viral diseases of farm animals

Education and awards

Senior Postdoctoral Fellow (2007-2010) - Department of Microbiology, Mt. Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada

Postdoctoral Fellow (2004-2007) - Medical Virology Section, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

Ph.D. (2004)  - Dept. of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA

M.Sc. (1998) - Dept. of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA

B.V.Sc. (Sri Lankan equivalent of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) (1994) with a First class honors - Faculty of Veterinary Medicine & Animal Sciences, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

International experience and/or work

  • OIE Reference Laboratory Related Activities
  • Twinning Projects and Research Collaborations  

Key publications

  1. Allen SE, Jardine CM, Hooper-McGrevy K, Ambagala A, Bosco-Lauth AM, Kunkel MR, Mead DG, Nituch L, Ruder MG, Nemeth NM. Serologic Evidence of Arthropod-Borne Virus Infections in Wild and Captive Ruminants in Ontario, Canada. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2020 Aug 17.

  2. Daigle J, Onyilagha C, Truong T, Le VP, Nga BTT, Nguyen TL, Clavijo A, Ambagala A. Rapid and highly sensitive portable detection of African swine fever virus. Transbound Emerg Dis. 2020 Aug 6.

  3. Allen SE, Rothenburger JL, Jardine CM, Ambagala A, Hooper-McGrevy K, Colucci N, Furukawa-Stoffer T, Vigil S, Ruder M, Nemeth NM.Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease in White-Tailed Deer, Canada. Emerg Infect Dis. 2019 Apr;25(4):832-834.

  4. Lung O, Fisher M, Erickson A, Nfon C, Ambagala A. Fully automated and integrated multiplex detection of high consequence livestock viral genomes on a microfluidic platform. Transbound Emerg Dis. 2018 Aug 13.

  5. Thanthrige-Don N, Lung O, Furukawa-Stoffer T, Buchanan C, Joseph T, Godson DL, Gilleard J, Alexander T, Ambagala A. A novel multiplex PCR-electronic microarray assay for rapid and simultaneous detection of bovine respiratory and enteric pathogens. J Virol Methods. 2018 Nov;261:51-62.

  6. Chernick A, Ambagala A, Orsel K, Wasmuth JD, van Marle G, van der Meer F. Bovine viral diarrhea virus genomic variation within persistently infected cattle. Infect Genet Evol. 2018 Mar; 58:218-223.

  7. Erickson A, Fisher M, Furukawa-Stoffer T, Ambagala A, Hodko D, Pasick J, King DP, Nfon C, Ortega Polo R, Lung O. A multiplex reverse transcription PCR and automated electronic microarray assay for detection and differentiation of seven viruses affecting swine. Transbound Emerg Dis. 2018 Apr;65(2)

  8. Leidenberger S, Schröder C, Zani L, Auste A, Pinette M, Ambagala A, Nikolin V, de Smit H, Beer M, Blome S. Virulence of current German PEDV strains in suckling pigs and investigation of protective effects of maternally derived antibodies. Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 7;7(1):10825.

  9. Darbellay J, Lai K, Babiuk S, Berhane Y, Ambagala A, Wheler C, Wilson D, Walker S, Potter A, Gilmour M, Safronetz D, Gerdts V, Karniychuk U. Neonatal pigs are susceptible to experimental Zika virus infection. Emerg Microbes Infect. 2017 Feb 15;6(2).

  10. Senthilkumaran C, Yang M, Bittner H, Ambagala A, Lung O, Zimmerman J, Giménez-Lirola LG, Nfon C. Detection of genome, antigen, and antibodies in oral fluids from pigs infected with FMDV. Can J Vet Res. 2017 Apr; 81(2):82-90.

  11. Senthilkumaran C, Bittner H, Ambagala A, Lung O, Babiuk S, Yang M, Zimmerman J, Giménez-Lirola LG, Nfon C. Use of Oral Fluids for Detection of Virus and Antibodies in Pigs Infected with Swine Vesicular Disease Virus. Transbound Emerg Dis. 2016 Sep 15.

  12. Ambagala A, Fisher M, Goolia M, Nfon C, Furukawa-Stoffer T, Ortega Polo R, Lung O. Field-Deployable Reverse Transcription-Insulated Isothermal PCR (RT-iiPCR) Assay for Rapid and Sensitive Detection of Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus. Transbound Emerg Dis. 2016 Sep 3.

  13. Russell JN, Marsh AK, Willer DO, Ambagala AP, Dzamba M, Chan JK, Pilon R, Fournier J, Brudno M, Antony JM, Sandstrom P, Evans BJ, MacDonald KS. A novel strain of cynomolgus macaque cytomegalovirus: implications for host-virus co-evolution. BMC Genomics. 2016 Apr 5;17(1):277.

  14. Lung O, Ohene-Adjei S, Buchanan C, Joseph T, King R, Erickson A, Detmer S, Ambagala A. (2015) Multiplex PCR and Microarray for Detection of Swine Respiratory Pathogens. Transbound. Emerg. Dis. Dec 12.

  15. Ambagala, A, Pahari, S, Fisher, M, Lee P. Y. A, Pasick, J, Ostlund E.N., Johnson D.J. and O Lung (2015) A rapid field-deployable insulated isothermal RT-PCR assay for sensitive and specific detection of Bluetongue virus. Transbound. Emerg. Dis., 10.1111/tbed.12388.

  16. Marsh AK, Ambagala AP, Perciani CT, Russell JN, Chan JK, Janes M, Antony JM, Pilon R, Sandstrom P, Willer DO, MacDonald KS (2015). Examining the Species-Specificity of RhCMV in Cynomolgus Macaques. PLoS One. 2015 Mar 30;10(3):e0121339.

  17. Lung O, Pasick J, Fisher M, Buchanan C, Erickson A, Ambagala A. (2015) Insulated Isothermal Reverse Transcriptase PCR (iiRT-PCR) for Rapid and Sensitive Detection of CSFV Transbound. Emerg. Dis. 2015 Jan 27. doi: 10.1111/tbed.12318.

  18. Lung, S Nadin-Davis, M Fisher, A Erickson, MK Knowles, T Furukawa-Stoffer & A Ambagala (2013) Microarray for identification of the Chiropteran host species of Rabies virus in Canada. Microarrays. 2(2), 153-169.

  19. AP Ambagala, AK Marsh, JK Chan, R Mason, R Pilon, J Fournier, P Sandstrom, DO Willer & KS MacDonald (2013) Establishment of an immortal cynomolgus macaque fibroblast cell line for propagation of cynomolgus macaque cytomegalovirus. Archives of Virology. Arch Virol. May;158(5):955-65.

  20. DO Willer DO, AP Ambagala, R Pilon, JK Chan, J Fournier, J Brooks, P Sandstrom & KS Macdonald (2012) Experimental Infection of Cynomolgus Macaques (Macaca fascicularis) with human Varicella Zoster Virus. Journal of  Viroogy. 86(7):3626-3634.

Research facility

1015 Arlington Street
Winnipeg, MB R3E 3M4


Adjunct Professor, Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg MB, Canada

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Dept. of Comparative Biology & Exp. Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada




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