Professor Vanessa BARRS

BVSc(hons) PhD MVetClinStud GradCertEd (Higher Ed) FANZCVS (Feline Medicine)
Associate Dean, Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences (JCC)
Director of Veterinary Affairs, Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences (JCC)
Chair Professor of Companion Animal Health and Disease, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences (VCS)
Office Address
Room 507, 5/F, Block 1A, To Yuen Building, 31 To Yuen Street, City University of Hong Kong


Professor Vanessa Barrs is Chair Professor of Companion Animal Health and Disease at City University’s Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences. She graduated from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Veterinary Science in 1990 with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. Vanessa worked in companion animal practice in Sydney for several years before specialising in Feline Medicine and was awarded Fellowship of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in 2000. Professor Barrs completed a Master’s degree in bacteriology and a PhD in one-health mycology at the University of Sydney, supported by an Australian Government Endeavour Research Fellowship.

Vanessa was appointed as Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Medicine at the University of Sydney in 2004, where she was Department Head of Small Animal Medicine for almost 15 years and also Professor of Feline Medicine & Infectious Diseases. Other senior leadership roles have included a four-year term as Director of the University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Sydney (UVTHS), and Advisory Board member of the Marie Bashir Institute of Infectious Diseases & Biosecurity, a One-Health transdisciplinary research institute at the University of Sydney.

Vanessa has held numerous roles advocating for companion animal health, including as a founding panellist of the Australasian Infectious Diseases Advisory Panel and serving on the Veterinary Practitioner’s Board of New South Wales and the Australian Veterinary Board Council’s Committee for Registration of Specialists. She is a past president of both the Feline Chapter of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Sciences and the International Society of Companion Animal Infectious Diseases. She was an associate editor for The Veterinary Journal and is a member of the editorial boards of The Veterinary Journal and The Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery, as well as associate editor for Medical Mycology Case Reports.


Google Scholar profile

Professor Barrs has broad research interests in infectious diseases, especially in mycology and virology. While investigating cases of unusual respiratory disease in cats, Professor Barrs discovered an emerging agent of invasive aspergillosis of animals and humans in 2013, Aspergillus felis. Her research has shed light on clinical, diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of disease caused by this pathogen in cats, and more broadly on antifungal resistance in both Aspergillus fumigatus and cryptic species in section Fumigati.

Professor Barrs also investigates viral outbreaks, including recent re-emergent outbreaks of feline parvoviral disease as well as severe outbreaks of feline calicivirus virulent systemic disease. She uses metagenomics and metatranscriptomics as tools to better understand viromes in cats and co-pathogens.

Selected Publications

Van Brussel, K.; Carrai, M.; Lin, C.; Kelman, M.; Setyo, L.; Aberdein, D.; Brailey, J.; Lawler, M.; Maher, S.; Plaganyi, I.; Lewis, E.; Hawkswell, A.; Allison, A.B.; Meers, J.; Martella, V.; Beatty, J.A.; Holmes, E.C.; Decaro, N.; Barrs, V.R.
Distinct Lineages of Feline Parvovirus Associated with Epizootic Outbreaks in Australia, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates.
Viruses 2019, 11(12), 1155. DOI: 10.3390/v11121155

Chong R, Shi M, Grueber C, Holmes EC, Hogg CJ, Belov K, Barrs VR.
Fecal viral diversity of captive and wild Tasmanian devils characterized using virion-enriched metagenomics and meta-transcriptomics.
Journal of Virology, 2019 May 15;93(11). pii: e00205-19. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00205-19. Print 2019 Jun 1. PMID:30867308

Barrs VR.
Feline Panleukopenia: A Re-emergent Disease.
Veterinary Clinics of North America Small Animal Practice 2019, Jul;49(4):651-670. DOI: 10.1016/j.cvsm.2019.02.006 Epub 2019 Apr 6. Invited Review

Byrne P, Meers J, DeCaro N, Beatty JA, Barrs VR.
Shedding of canine-parvoviruses by asymptomatic shelter-housed cats.
The Veterinary Journal, Sep;239:54-58. DOI: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2018.08.005.

Talbot JJ, Subedi S, Halliday C, Hibbls D,Lai F, Lopez-Ruiz F, Harper L, Park R, Cuddy W, Cooley L, Carter D, Sorrell T, Barrs VR*, Chen SC*.
Surveillance for azole resistance in clinical and environmental isolates of Aspergillus fumigatus in Australia and cyp51A homology modelling of azole-resistant isolates.
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 2018 Sep 1;73(9):2347-2351. DOI: 10.1093/jac/dky187. PMID:29846581 *Joint senior authors.

Talbot JJ, Frisvad JC, Meis JF, Hagen F, Verweij PE, Hibbs DE, Lai F, Samson RA, Kidd SE, Barrs VR*, Houbraken J*.
Cyp51A mutations, Extrolite Profiles and Antifungal Susceptibility in Clinical and Environmental Isolates of the Aspergillus viridinutans Species Complex.
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 2019 Oct 22;63(11). pii: e00632-19. DOI: 10.3390/vetsci4010016. Print 2019 Nov. *Joint senior authors.

Brennan A, Hawley J, Dhand N, Boland L, Beatty JA, Lappin MR, Barrs VR.
Seroprevalence and risk factors for Toxoplasma gondii infection in owned domestic cats in Australia.
Vector Borne & Zoonotic Diseases, Accepted for publication 20.09.2019.

Brennan A, Donahoe SL, Beatty JA, Belov K, Lindsay SL, Briscoe KA, Slapeta J, Barrs VR.
Comparison of genotypes of Toxoplasma gondii in domestic cats from Australia with latent infection or clinical toxoplasmosis.
Veterinary Parasitology, 2016 Sep 15;228:13-16. DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2016.06.008. [Epub ahead of print]

Whitney J, Haase B, Beatty J, Barrs VR.
Genetic polymorphisms in Toll-like receptors 1, 2 and 4 in feline upper respiratory tract aspergillosis.
Veterinary Immunology &l Immunopathology, 2019 Aug 7;217:109921. DOI: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2019.109921. [Epub ahead of print]

Talbot JJ, Barrs VR.
One Health pathogens in the Aspergillus viridinutans complex.
Medical Mycology, 2018 Jan 1;56(1):1-12. DOI: 10.1093/mmy/myx016 Review

Talbot JJ, Thompson P, Vogelnest L, Barrs VR.
Identification of pathogenic Aspergillus isolates from captive birds in Australia.
Medical Mycology, 2018 56(8):1038-1041. DOI: 10.1093/mmy/myx137

Leshinksy J, McLachlan A, Foster DJ, Norris R, Barrs VR.
Pharmacokinetics of caspofungin acetate to guide optimal dosing in cats.
PLoS One, 2017 Jun 2;12(6):e0178783. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178783. eCollection 2017.

Talbot JJ, Houbraken J, Frisvad JC, Samson RA, Kidd SE, Pitt J, Lindsay S, Beatty JA, Barrs VR.
Discovery of Aspergillus frankstonensis sp. nov. during environmental sampling for animal and human fungal pathogens.
PLoS One, Aug 2017 9;12(8):e0181660. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0181660. eCollection 2017.

Taylor A, Peters I, Dhand NK, Whitney J, Johnson LR, Beatty JA, Barrs VR.
Evaluation of serum Aspergillus-specific immunoglobulin A by indirect ELISA for diagnosis of feline upper respiratory tract aspergillosis.
Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 2016 30: 1708-1714. DOI: 10.1111/jvim.14567

Taylor A, Peters I, Dhand NK, Whitney J, Johnson LR, Beatty JA, Barrs VR.
Evaluation of serum Aspergillus-specific immunoglobulin A by indirect ELISA for diagnosis of feline upper respiratory tract aspergillosis.
Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 2016 30: 1708-1714. DOI: 10.1111/jvim.14567

Barrs VR, Urjvari B, Peeters I, Dhand N, Beatty JA, Johnson L, Talbot J, Billen F, Martin P, Madsen T, Belov K.
Detection of Aspergillus-specific antibodies by agar gel immunodiffusion and IgG ELISA for diagnosis of feline upper respiratory tract aspergillosis.
The Veterinary Journal, 2015 203:285-289. DOI: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.12.020

Barrs VR, Tineke M. van Doorn TM, Houbraken J, Kidd SE, Martin P, Pinheiro MD, Richardson R, Varga J, Samson RA.
Aspergillus felis sp. nov., an emerging agent of invasive aspergillosis in humans, cats and dogs 2013.
PLoS One , 8(6): e64871. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064871

Barrs VR, Beatty JA, Dhand NK, Talbot JJ, Bell E, Abraham LA, Chapman P, Bennett S, van Doorn T, Makara M.
Computed tomographic features of feline sino-nasal and sino-orbital aspergillosis.
The Veterinary Journal, 2014: 201 (2):215-222. DOI: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.02.020