Mark has published extensively in the area of human and animal tuberculosis and related disciplines. His current research interest focuses on the development of an oral vaccine against tuberculosis in badgers. In April 2012 Mark was appointed acting TB Science Lead and Head of the TB Department at AHVLA. In October 2013 he was appointed Professor of Veterinary Bacteriology at the University of Surrey and Head of Bacteriology Department at AHVLA. The research interests of the Department of Bacteriology at AHVLA focus on Bacteriology, Food Safety, and Bovine Tuberculosis.
Bacteriology and Food Safety - We support the work of key customers, Defra, Scottish Government and Welsh Government, Food Standards Agency and Veterinary Medicines Directorate by providing expert scientific evidence-based information:
• To reduce the incidence of food borne zoonoses, chemical toxicity and antimicrobial resistance in livestock, their environment and the food chain;
• To maintain capability to detect and respond to incursions of exotic bacterial disease;
• To provide diagnosis and veterinary consultancy for a range of dangerous pathogens.
These aims are met by providing nationwide surveillance underpinned by world-class strategic research; veterinary consultancy by internationally-recognised experts and extensive expertise and intelligence gathering through a global collaborative network of government, academic, public health, and industry partners.
Food safety expertise is maintained for key infectious agents associated with food and water borne illness in people – Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., E. coli O157 and Cryptosporidium spp. – antimicrobial resistance and chemical food safety. A watching brief is kept on other non-statutory zoonoses. Expertise in exotic bacteria is focussed on brucellosis and the serious mycoplasmal diseases, contagious agalactia in small ruminants and contagious bovine pleuropneumonia.
Bovine TB - We provide the research, development, and advice needed by GB Government to eradicate bovine TB by seeking to understand pathogenic mycobacteria and their hosts and how the two interact – in particular Mycobacterium bovis infection of cattle and badgers. Particular emphasis is on developing new and improved diagnostic tools and licensing vaccines for cattle and badgers; whilst increasing the fundamental understanding of the host-pathogen interaction, pathogenesis and transmission of bovine TB.
A range of molecular and phenotypic techniques is available within the department to detect and characterize pathogens and understand their complexities thus contributing to an understanding of the molecular epidemiology of organisms, host/pathogen interactions and control.
The department leads several national and international reference laboratories. It is also responsible for Defra approval of disinfectants, and research and investigatory work is carried out on behalf of diagnostic, disinfectant, feed and vaccine companies and food animal producers.
Personal research interests include the development and licensing of an oral BCG vaccine for use in badgers, improved diagnostic tests for TB in animals, and a greater appreciate of host-pathogen interactions through which better diagnostics and intervention methods can be developed.