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Division of Microbiology and Infection Seminar

26 February 2014, 12pm-1pm, Room GLT4 , Warwick Medical School Building, University of Warwick

Title: 'Genomics to Study Farm Animal Bacterial Pathogens'


Professor Duncan Maskell, Marks and Spencer Professor of Farm Animal Health, Food Science and Food Safety,Head of the School of the Biological Sciences, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge


Bacterial infections of farm animals can cause serious disease with associated mortality, morbidity and economic loss, or they can be carried with apparently few to no consequences for the farm animal. Many of the same bacteria can also infect humans, again with consequences ranging from very mild infection through to death. Different patterns of zoonotic spread of these bacteria occur in different countries, and it is very likely that the specific cultural and farming practices that pertain in different places have major effects on disease patterns. Here I will describe laboratory-based research to try to understand what elements of the genomes of the farm animal and zoonotic pathogens Salmonella and Streptococcus suis are required for colonization and disease causation, and some field-based whole genome sequencing research to understand the phylodynamics of Streptococcus suis in the UK and Vietnam.


Duncan Maskell is Marks and Spencer Professor of Farm Animal Health, Food Science and Food Safety at the Department of Veterinary Medicine, and Head of the School of the Biological Sciences at the University of Cambridge. He worked at Wellcome Biotech, the Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, and the Department of Biochemistry, Imperial College London, before being elected to his current Professorship in 1996. He was Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine from 2004 until taking up his current Head of School role at Cambridge in 2013. He has also been a founder shareholder and consultant to a number of biotech companies and a member of many UK and overseas funding panels, advisory boards and Councils. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2011.

His main research interests have centred on bacterial diseases of humans and other animals, with zoonotic bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and Streptococcus suis being particularly constant elements of his research portfolio. His work has covered all aspects of the host-pathogen interaction, from how the bacteria themselves work, through to how host responses operate to lead to infection or clearance of the bacteria, and he has been a keen advocate for using genomics to study these pathogens in the laboratory and in the field.

duncan maskell