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Pharmaceutical based disease control in the livestock industries faces a significant challenge; dealing with resistance, a slowing of new product development, market and regulatory changes limiting product use. A transformation is needed to focus research on achievable alternatives to pharmaceuticals such as immunological tools, to achieve enduring control over time. In concert with this there is a need to develop more applicable and sophisticated tools for the objective assessment of livestock diseases, their causative organisms and the identification of animals genetically resilient to disease stress. Structural changes within industries and markets, expansion of disease risks due to climate change and the threat of exotic disease incursions all further emphasise the need for a reinvention of agriculture’s response to disease management. Similar problems are faced by disease and pest control in plant-based agriculture and for weed control in both plant and animal-based agriculture, so we have sought to develop a combined synergistic approach to bear across these agricultural systems. We call this approach the Agripest Challenge.

My over all aim is to undertake research which will: 1) allow flexibility and precision in pathogen management, and 2) facilitate the development of an objective managment culture for livestock health. Endemic diseases of veterinary importance have a large impact on livestock and companion animals throughout Australia. Despite this, there is little scope to objectively assess disease incidence or the success or failure of control mechanisms. Partly, this is because there are few tools available to objectively and consistently assess diseases and the abundance of disease organisms in animals across the agricultural, urban and environmental landscape. A good system where we know where diseases are, their characteristics and the methods of control which work, would be great for Australia. Endemic diseases are important but in addition, an objective measurement culture in animal health would also allow increased surveillance, vigilance and enhanced control of any exotic disease outbreak.

My background expertise is in molecular biology, including gene expression, diagnostics development and genetics. I have used my skills to study plants and animals, disease organisms and their hosts; addressing both basic and applied scientific questions.

Fields of Research

Current Roles

  • Team Leader
    Animal Health

Professional Experiences

  • 2002-present

    Research Scientist, CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Armidale, NSW Australia

  • 1998-2002

    Postdoctoral work, CSIRO Plant Industry, Canberra, ACT Australia

  • 1995-1998

    Postdoctoral work, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland UK
    University of Edinburgh

Community and Corporate Citizenship

  • 2012-ongoing

    Biological safety officer and QAP manager, Armidale