Edinburgh Infectious Diseases
EID logo 2019

Belated Annual Symposium showcases work from across Edinburgh Infectious Diseases

All the talks from the 9th Annual Edinburgh Infectious Diseases Symposium are now available to watch again.

Our 9th Annual Symposium was due to be held on 2 June 2020.  However the current Covid-19 pandemic meant that the event had to be postponed. 

Instead, we were delighted to celebrate the fantastic breadth and depth of infectious disease research across our network at the virtual edition of the event on 10 and 11 November 2020.

As in previous years we presented a showcase of the world-class infectious disease research in Edinburgh.


The programme was extremely varied and covered topics from clinical diagostics, to pathogen evolution and the history of epidemiology.


Quorum sensing and competition in African trypanosomes

Keith Matthews (School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh)

Coronavirus Diagnostics

Kate Templeton (Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh)

Generalists and specialists: more on a new way of thinking about MHC and disease

Jim Kaufman (School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh

Evolution to the rescue: understanding pathogen survival in challenging environments

Helen Alexander (School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh)

The life and times of a macrophage: only the good die young?

Steve Jenkins (Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh)

Lightening talks

  1. Iona Walker – AMR and COVID-19 Beyond the Military Metaphor  
  2. Samantha Griffiths – A novel miRNA-host transcription factor feedback loop to control HSV-1 replication
  3. Stanley Otoboh – Genetic validation of the function of PfEMP1 in Plasmodium falciparum rosette formation  
  4. Nia Verdon –  AMR bacteria can protect each other in small populations 
  5. Susana Keane – Potential proviral human proteins in influenza A virus infection 

AMR, One Health, and the Path to Better Diagnostics

Till Bachmann (Infection Medicine, University of Edinburgh)

Deciphering the genetic basis for virulence traits in pathogenic streptococci

Nicki Lynskey (Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh)

Towards the characterisation of virulence of Toxoplasma gondii

Clare Hamilton (Moredun Research Institute)

Covid-19 and the Case for a new History of Epidemiology

Lukas Engelmann (School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh)

Using cattle immunogenetics and associated tools to enhance vaccine development

Tim Connelley (Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh)

Adherence to treatment: what does this mean for infectious disease control?

Helen Stagg (Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh)

Ker Memorial Prizes

The Ker Memorial Lecture is given annually by an eminent infectious disease researcher, and the The Memorial Prize is awarded each year for the best PhD thesis submitted to the University of Edinburgh in infectious diseases. 

Both prizes are made possible by the generous gift of Miss Aileen Ker (pronounced 'car') in memory of her father and grandfather, Drs Frank and Claude Ker, who were influential infectious diseases clinicians, practising in Edinburgh during the first half of the 20th century.

Dr. Claude Buchanan Ker (1867-1925) spent his professional medical career in Edinburgh, working ceaselessly to improving the treatment of infectious diseases.  He is best remembered for his tireless efforts to build the City Fever Hospital which opened in Colinton in 1903, and of which he was medical superintendent for 21 years.

Dr. Frank Leighton Ker (1907-1966), began his medical career in Edinburgh and went on to carry out his main work at the East Birmingham Hospital, where he became medical superintendent in 1950.

The glowing and heartfelt obituaries written for both these men, show the enormous regard and affection in which they were held, and to which the Ker Memorial Prize and Lecture now provide fitting testimony.

Ker Memorial Lecture

This year the lecture was given by Professor Ron Fouchier from Erasmus MC in Rotterdam. 

Ron's work focuses on the molecular biology of respiratory viruses, in particular influenza A virus.   Among the many achievements ofo his team are the identification and characterization of several "new" viruses, including the human metapneumovirus (hMPV), human coronavirus NL63, the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV), the MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and a new influenza A virus subtype (H16). 

He is the recipient of the 2006 Heine-Medin award of the European Society for Clinical Virology and the 2013 Huibregtsen prize for top innovative science with societal impact.


Ron Fouchier - Emergence of respiratory viruses in humans, with focus on influenza

Ker Memorial Prize

This year the prize was awarded to Dr You Li, from the Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh.

You completed a brilliant PhD with Profs Harish Nair and Harry Campbell on the  "Global seasonality of respiratory viruses and the association between viral acute respiratory infection and subsequent pneumococcal disease".

The judges of this year's prize, Drs Amy Pedersen and Tom McNeilly, said

The candidates were all around fantastic and we wish that we could have awarded it to them all. However, there was one outstanding applicant that stood out - You Li.

You's PhD supervisor Prof Harry Campbell described him as:

 “exceptional” , "outstanding”, “very positive and collaborative”, and "one of the most able PhD students that I have supervised in my 20 years in Edinburgh", showing “excellent potential to become a successful independent researcher”.

You Li - Global seasonality of respiratory viruses

Poster presentations

One of the highlights of the symposium were the poster sessions.  Although not quite the same as sessions at physical meetings, we used virtual breakout spaces that allowed each presenter to talk about their poster with attendees.

Online list of posters presented at Symposium

This year we had a People's Vote to decide the winners, and awarded prizes for the best student and postdoc posters on each day.  Many congratulations to all the winnners.

Poster prize winners

Students - Tessa Nash (Roslin Institute) and Guy Oldrieve (School of Biological Sciences)

Posdocs:  Pieter Steketee (Roslin Institute) and Bryan Wee (Usher Institute)