Dr Alexander Corbishley

Lecturer in Farm Animal Practice


Alex studied veterinary medicine at The University of Cambridge. He intercalated in Natural Sciences (physiology) and after graduating in 2008, he returned to his home county of Northamptonshire to work as a farm animal veterinary surgeon in a rural mixed practice. Sitting at the crossroads between cattle country and East Anglia, he worked with a variety of mixed farming systems including large lowland flocks and beef units running alongside substantial arable enterprises.

Three years later, he moved to the Shropshire/Cheshire border to work in a specialist farm practice with a major focus on dairy, covering a large area from Telford in the south, to Lancaster in the north. During his time in private practice, he also developed a number of web based herd health reporting tools to monitor milk quality and composition.

In 2012, Alex undertook a PhD under the supervision of David Gally at the Roslin Institute and Tom McNeilly at the Moredun Research Institute. His project was sponsored by Bioniche Life Sciences (Canada) to characterise the cellular immune response of cattle during Escherichia coli O157:H7 colonisation. He undertook an industrial secondment with Bioniche in 2014, where he learnt about industrial vaccine development, Good Manufacturing Practice and the public health vaccine market.

He started working as a lecturer at the R(D)SVS in 2015 and now divides his time between clinical and teaching responsibilities in the Farm Animal Division and research in livestock immunology, vaccinology and antimicrobial resistance.

Collaborative Activity

Michael Hutchings (Scotland's Rural College)

Tom McNeilly (Moredun Research Institute)

Tom Preston (Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre)

Sophie Throup (RAFT Solutions Ltd)

Marie-Hélène Pinard (INRA)

Peers Davies (University of Nottingham)

Emoke Bendixen (University of Aarhus)


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Edinburgh Cellular immune responses of cattle to Escherichia coli O157:H7 Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (Cambridge), University of Cambridge An investigation into the relationship between early lactation milk composition and days from calving to first insemination and conception Bachelor of Arts, University of Cambridge Pharmacological investigation of ion channel function in the 9.5 day murine embryonic heart

Professional Qualifications

2016Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, FHEA2015Official Veterinarian, OV2012Member of the Royal Society of Biology, MRSB2008Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, MRCVS

Responsibilities & affiliations

Production Animal

Dairy Herd Health and Productivity Service


Farm Animal Teaching, Student Support (PT), Admissions (MMIs), Infection Control Committee (Chair), Impact Committee, Veterinary Ethics Research Committee, Public and Community Engagement sub-group, Curriculum Innovation Group, Edinburgh Teaching Award Mentor

Postgraduate teaching

Year 1

Animal Husbandry

Year 3

Professional & Clinical Skills 3

Year 4

Farm Animal (Course Organiser), Professional & Clinical Skills 4

Year 5

Final Year Preparation, Final Year Rotations, Student Selected Component 2

All Years

Professional Development

SRC Projects

Biomedical Sciences

Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Infectious Diseases Honours Elective

MVetSci (online taught masters)

Recent Advances in Production Animal Practice


Research summary

  • Clinical farm animal veterinary medicine
  • Veterinary vaccine development and performance
  • Antimicrobial resistance in farm animals  

Current research interests

Our role as farm animal veterinary surgeons is to support the farming community to profitably produce food that is safe, in a manner that contributes positively to the environment and is respectful of animal welfare. Infectious diseases in farm animals have a substantial impact on productivity and welfare, whilst also acting as a source of infection for humans. In addition, the use of antibiotics to treat infectious diseases in farm animals is under intense scrutiny as a selector of antibiotic resistance genes in both veterinary and human pathogens. My research aims to contribute to our ability to better control infectious diseases in farm animals. I am interested in the quantitative assessment of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes in commercial production systems and how this information can inform best practice and policy. I am also interested in better understanding the immune system of farm animals, in order to reduce disease and the use of antimicrobials by improving immune function, enhancing the performance of existing vaccines and developing new vaccines. My PhD concentrated on understanding the immune response of cattle to the food poisoning bacteria E. coli O157:H7. I am now interested in understanding how this bacteria is able to avoid recognition and killing by the bovine immune system and what implications this has for vaccine development. Vaccines can be extremely cost effective as they are able to prevent economic loss before it occurs, whilst also reducing the use of antibiotics, suffering of farm animals and wastage that contributes to the carbon footprint of farming. There are a number of challenges facing the development of the next generation of livestock vaccines, namely the short duration of immunity of many experimental vaccines, the ability of viruses, bacteria and parasites to evade the animal’s immune response and compromised immune function, especially in highly productive animals. I am therefore also interested in understanding the performance of vaccines currently used in the field and how nutrition and management impact on this and in exploring new technologies that could improve the performance of livestock vaccines, particularly those against bacterial diseases. Research Groups David Gally Tim Connelley Jayne Hope

Research activities

View all 70 activities on Research Explorer

View all 25 publications on Research Explorer