Professor Andrea Wilson

Personal Chair



2018 - now: Deputy  (currently acting) Head of Genetics & Genomics division of the Roslin Institute 

2013 – now: The Roslin Institute and R(D)SVS , University of Edinburgh: Group Leader

2010 – 2013: The Roslin Institute and R(D)SVS , University of Edinburgh: Career Track Fellow

2006 – 2010: Scottish Agricultural College: Research Scientist (Genetic-epidemiological modelling)

2002-2006: Genus (former Sygen) / PIC Research Scientist: Development of selection and performance testing strategies

1998-2001: Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Western Ontario, Canada  Teaching assistant.

1997-1998: MAS - Mathematische Analysen und Systeme, Regensburg, Germany  Software developer for databank management and logistics in paper factories


2002 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Western Ontario

1997 Master in Science, Department of Mathematics, University of Regensburg, Germany

1994, Department of Mathematics, University of Tasmania, Australia

1993 Bachelor of Science, Department of Mathematics, University of Regensburg, Germany

Responsibilities & affiliations


  • Host editor for Frontiers Research Topic and e-book “Animal Genetics and Diseases: Advances in Farming and Livestock Systems”. Frontiers in Genetics.
  • Member of the Scientific Organizing Committee of the 12th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, The Netherlands 2022.
  • Workpackage deputy leader and member of the executive committee of the EU-Horizon2020 project SMARTER
  • Workpackage Leader and member of the executive committee of EU-Horizon2020 project SAPHIR
  • Associate editor of Genetics, Selection & Evolution
  • Host editor for special research topic in Frontiers of Livestock Genomics: ‘should we aim for genetic improvement in host resistance or tolerance to infectious disease?’
  • External examiner of 6 PhD theses

Roslin / University or Edinburgh internal:

  • Currently Acting Head of Genetics & Genomics Division, The Roslin Institute
  • Member of the Roslin Science Management Group
  • Leader of the mathematical modelling and disease genetics group, Genetics &Genomics division, The Roslin Institute
  • Affiliate member of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security
  • Executive group member University of Edinburgh Centre for Statistics
  • 2019: Organiser of the BBSRC Cross-Institute workshop on “The future role of livestock in food production”
  • Chair and scientific advisor in 15 PhD thesis committees

Postgraduate teaching

2018-now:       Lecturer in “Mathematical modelling and genetic analysis of infectious disease in livestock” as part of the BBSRC Global Challenges Research Fund Strategic Training Awards for Research Skills, Addis Abeba, Ethopia, September 2018; Nairobi, Kenya 2019; Tanzania 2020

2017-18:            Online Lectures for module Impact of genetic selection on disease epidemiology and pathogen evolution. Genetic selection: from concepts to application to genetic improvement of health. Online course: Principles and Applications of Genetics and Genomics to Improve Animal Health: University of Minnesota.

2015-now:         Lecturer of the Disease Genetics module of the Quantitative Genetics and Genome analysis MSc course, University of Edinburgh

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

  • Lucy Oldham (co-supervisor): The role of cognitive and affective state during agonistic encounters: Implications for social interactions and animal welfare
  • Zulfa Insani  Hubi (co-supervisor): Understanding the relationship between host tolerance-resistance and nutrition to multiple pathogen challenge

Past PhD students supervised

  • Simone Foister (PhD completed 2020) Balancing short and long term aggression to maximise welfare and productivity
  • Christopher Orrett (PhD completed 2019) Genetics of host response to infection with Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus. BBSRC Industrial CASE PhD studentship
  • Raphaka Kethusegile (PhD completed 2019) Genome-wide association study for bovine tuberculosis resistance in Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle.
  • Graham Lough (PhD completed 2018) Should we aim for genetic improvement of host resistance or tolerance to infectious disease? BBSRC Industrial CASE PhD studentship
  • Zeenath Islam (PhD completed 2017) Statistical modelling and analysis of the infection dynamics of PRRSV in vivo infections
  • Debby Lipschutz-Powell  (PhD completed 2015) Estimating the host genetic contribution to the epidemiology of infectious diseases
  • Suzanne Desire  (PhD completed 2015) Genomic and environmental dissection of social aggressiveness and feeding behaviour in pigs
  • Mahmoud Shirali (PhD completed 2013) Reduction in energy usage and environmental footprint using biological growth models
  • Laszlo Trefan (PhD completed in 2010): Meta-analysis of meat quality traits in pigs
  • Carol-Anne Duthie (PhD completed 2009). Individual and epistatic genetic effects of quantitative trait loci affecting growth, feed intake, body composition and meat quality in pigs

Research summary

The Doeschl-Wilson group investigates how the genetics of individuals affects the spread of infectious disease, both within an animal and between animals. We are an interdisciplinary group of scientists aiming to effectively combine field and laboratory experiments with mathematical modelling and quantitative genetics theory, with the ultimate aim to improve livestock health and resilience.  

Current research interests

Research in the Doeschl-Wilson group focuses on the development of mathematical models and computational tools that enhance our understanding how the genetics of individuals and diverse non-genetic factors together influence the dynamics of infectious diseases and their impact on the health and performance of individuals and of entire livestock populations. We use these tools to -DESIGN infection experiments and sampling strategies that let us detect the genetic signal from disease and performance data. -IDENTIFY individuals or genomic regions associated with high genetic resistance or tolerance to infections, or high genetic risk for transmitting infections (infectivity). -PREDICT the impact of genetic and non-genetic control strategies on future disease prevalence and pathogen evolution. We use a wide range of modelling techniques that combine methods from mathematical dynamical systems theory, Bayesian statistics, and quantitative genetics.Applications include virus infections in pigs (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome, PRRS) and chicken (Marek’s disease), gastro-intestinal parasite infections in sheep, bacterial infections in cattle (bovine Tuberculosis), to virus and protozoa infections in fish. We also apply mathematical tools to study genetic effects and group dynamics underlying aggressive behaviour in pigs. Questions we are particularly interested in: Should we aim for genetic improvement in host resistance or tolerance to infectious disease? Are there disease superspreaders in the population and to what extent is superspreading genetically determined? Can we identify individuals with high genetic risk for becoming infected or spreading infections a priori, based on their genetic make-up? To what extent does vaccination with partially protective vaccines reduce disease transmission and pathogen evolution? How can selective breeding help to control infectious disease and minimise its impact on livestock production? We collaborate with researchers and industry partners in the UK, across Europe, USA and Canada, Australia and Africa.

Current project grants

- AHDB PhD studentship: Breeding cattle for reduced bTB transmission.
- US-UK Collab: Drivers of diversity and transmission of co-circulating viral lineages in host meta-populations. UKRI-BBSRC, USDA-NSF-NIH-BBSRC-BSF-NNSFC Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases program. Co-I. PI: Dr. Kim Van der Waal (University of Minnesota, US).
- Integration of biological models in genomic evaluations: pig-growth-model whole genome prediction (PGM-WGP). USDA-NIFA. Co-I. PI: Prof. Jack Dekkers (Iowa State University, USA).
- Investigating infectiousness of pigs selected for multi-factorial resilience or increased resistance to PRRS. Alberta Applied Agricultural Genomics Program (A3GP). Co-PI with Prof. G. Plastow, University of Alberta.
- Catalysing disease eradication in farm animals through gene editing: a feasibility study. ISCF Transforming Food Production Seeding Award.
- ROBUST-SMOLT: Impact of early life history in freshwater recirculation aquaculture systems on Atlantic salmon robustness and susceptibility to disease at sea. Co-I and WP leader. PI: H. Mignaud (University of Stirling). BBSRC-NERC aquaculture call.
-Increasing research skills and capacity to support the implementation of national livestock development plans in sub-Saharan Africa. BBSRC Global Challenges Research Fund Strategic Training Awards for Research Skills (GCRF-STARS). Co-I. PI: Prof. A. Djikeng.
-SMARTER: SMAll RuminanTs breeding for Efficiency and Resilience. EU Horizon 2020 collaborative project (Grant agreement ID 772787). Workpackage Deputy Leader. PI: C. Moreno, INRA (France).
-ISA resistance in Atlantic salmon: Defining new phenotypes for accurate breeding. Co-I. PI: B. Hillestad (SalmoBreed). Norwegian research council, Innovation project for the industrial sector.
-Inferring genetic and individual variation in population and dynamic models. Scottish Government Programmes of Research 2015-21, Strategic Research Programme RD 3 2 2 –Disease mechanisms. Co-I (Roslin PI). PI: D. Griffith, Moredun Research Institute.
-The role of host genetic resistance and vaccination on transmission of Marek’s disease virus in poultry. AFRI Animal Health and Disease project SF424. Project Leader: Dr. John Dunn (USDA Department of Agriculture and Fisheries).
-SAPHIR: Strengthening Animal Production and Health Through the Immune Response. EU Horizon 2020 collaborative project. Project PI: Isabelle Schwartz (INRA, France).
-Balancing short and long term aggression to maximise welfare and productivity. Walsh PhD Fellowship Programme. Co-I. PI: Dr. Simon Turner (SRUC)