The Roslin Institute
I hold a joint appointment between the Roslin Institute (20%) and the Pirbright Institute (80%). I lead a research team which investigates the pathogenesis of a particular group of large DNA viruses which replicate in the cytoplasm of the host cell. This specalised group includes poxviruses. My research can be split into three areas:
1. The pathogenesis of Vaccinia virus. Our work focuses on using Vaccinia virus, the prototype poxvirus, as a tool to learn more about cellular biology including miRNA biogenesis, anti-viral host responses and vesicle transport. We then extrapolate our findings to clinically relevant related viruses such as the capripoxviruses and African swine fever virus.
2. Capripoxviruses. The most important poxviruses of domestic ruminants are the three species of the Capripoxvirus (CPPV) genus which each cause severe systemic disease. Lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) causes lumpy skin disease in cattle, Sheeppox virus (SPPV) causes sheeppox in sheep and Goatpox virus (GTPV) causes goatpox in goats. The three viruses are currently expanding beyond their traditional geographic niches in Africa and Asia. LSDV entered Europe for the first time in August 2015 and has since spread through the Balkans and Caucasus. It represents a rapidly emerging threat to cattle in Europe and Asia. Our group is studying the immunological response of livestock to infection with these viruses with the aim of producing better diagnosis and control tools. We are also studying the vector-borne transmission of LSDV in order to improve the current control, prevention and eradication programmes.
3. African swine fever virus. This virus is closely related to poxviruses, sharing a number of biological features. It causes the high consequence, transboundary disease African swine fever. My group is collaborating with the Roslin groups of Bruce Whitelaw and Alan Archibald to develop new methods to control this disease.
In addition to my role as a PI I am a veterinary pathologist. I am consultant pathologist for research teams within The Roslin and Pirbright Institutes and externally.