Professor Lonneke Vervelde (FRSB)

Personal Chair of Veterinary Immunology &Infectious Diseases


Prof Vervelde obtained a BSc and MSc degree in Biology at the Wageningen University in The Netherlands specialising in Immunology, Parasitology and Ethology and a PhD from the Free University of Amsterdam in 1995. The PhD reserach was performed at the Central Veterinary Institute in Lelystad on immune responses in chicken to Eimeria . Between 1995-1998 she was employed at the Institute for Animal Health in Compton U.K. continuing her work on immune responses to avian diseases, in particular infectious bursal disease virus.

In 1998 she moved to The Netherlands to the Department Parasitology and Tropical Veterinary Medicine at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Utrecht to work on the mucosal immune responses of ruminants to helminth infections. In 2003 she started the Avian Immunology group in the Department of Infectious Diseases & Immunology investigating the immune responses to pathogens and vaccines in poultry with the ultimate goal to enhance immune-mediated resistance. In 2013 she joined the Roslin Institute and in 2018 she became chair in Veterinary Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the university of Edinburgh.

Her research group focuses on modulation of innate and adaptive immune responses to improve immune mediated resistance and to understand their contribution to pathogenesis. 


1995 Doctor of Science, Cent Vet Inst Wageningen UR, Wageningen University & Research Center Eimeria tenella infections in chickens - to recognize and to be recognized

1990 Master of Science, Wageningen University MSc in Biology Immunology/Parasitology/Ethology


Responsibilities & affiliations

Editorial Board Avian Pathology

Editorial Board Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology

Houghton Trust member travel fund committee


Roslin Institute:

Member Easter Bush Translation & Commercialisation Board

Chair Poultry Users Committee

Member NARF management team



Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Research summary

Host-pathogen interactions and immunomodulation in avian species.

In vitro/ex vivo organ cultures - organoids.

Current research interests

The research is focussed on the immune responses to pathogens and vaccines in poultry and with the aim to determine how the early innate responses modulate the adaptive responses and assess their role in the induction of protective immunity, particularly at musosal surfaces. The research focuses on economically important pathogens such as avian influenza virus, infectious bronchitis virus, Eimeria species, avian pathogenic E. coli and Campylobacter. For the past years, the fundamental immunological research is focussed on understanding the phenotype and function of antigen presenting cells in the chicken and their interaction with natural killer cells and T cells driving innate and adaptive responses. Ultimately, this knowledge will improve the immune responses leading to clearance of pathogens, strong memory responses and novel vaccine approaches through antigen targeting and development of novel adjuvants. More recently, she expanded into the field of avian in vitro and ex vivo organ cultures, and have made substantial progress in growing 3D and 2D intestinal organoids and precision cut lung slices. These systems are multifunctional and can be used to investigate the mode of action of feed additives, drug and toxicology screening, host-pathogen interaction, diagnostic tool, and many other purposes. Collaborations addressing similar research questions in other livestock species including cattle and fish are ongoing.

Current project grants

2021-2024 EU-ICRAD BBSRC, FluNuance Virulent non-notifiable avian influenza; Determinants of virulence of emerging viruses.
2021-2024 US-UK-China BBSRC Collaborative Grant, Predictive phylogenetics for evolutionary and transmission dynamics of newly emerging avian influenza viruses.
2021 BBSRC Impact Accelerator Award, Market research for the commercialisation of veterinary organoids.
2020-2024 EastBio Case studentship The chicken or the egg; unravelling immunological mechanisms of in ovo vaccination. Collaboration MSD
2020-2022 The key to unlocking cross-protective IBV vaccines. Collaboration Boehringer Ingelheim
2020-2021 Development of in vitro bovine enterocytes and organoid cultures for screening of enzymes and probiotics. Collaboration Novozymes A/S
2018-2022 Enlightenment studentship, University Edinburgh. The intestinal M cell as vaccine target and porte d'entree for pathogens: a double-edged sword.
2017-2021 Horizon2020. DELTA-FLU: Dynamics of avian influenza in a changing world.
2015-2020 BBSRC iCASE studentship. Chicken intestinal organoids: a novel system to study mucosal vaccine targeting.

Past project grants

Grants held since 2013 at The Roslin Institute
2018-2020 Development of in vitro chicken enterocyte and organoid cultures. Collaboration Novozymes A/S
2019 Medical Research Council/IVVN. Towards edible vaccines for chickens.
2018 BBSRC Impact Accelerator Award. Broad spectrum avian influenza vaccine based on epitopes of low variability.
2015-2018 BBSRC Responsive Mode. Elucidating the local site and cell types involved in antigen uptake, processing and presentation in the chicken.
2015-2018 BBSRC Animal Health Research Club. Towards control of Infectious bronchitis virus; understanding cross-protection and the genetic plasticity of IBV. Collaboration Prof P. Britton and Dr E. Bickerton (TPI)
2015-2018 BBSRC-NIFA. Host resistance to avian pathogenic E. coli. Collaboration with Prof S. Lamont (Iowa State University).
2015-2018 BBSRC-ANIHWA. Understanding mucosal immunology and co-infections in the chicken to drive vaccine strategies. Collaborative with Dr C Schouler (INRA) and Prof B. Kaspers (LMU)
2015-2018 Horizon2020. SAPHIR Strengthening Animal Production and Health through the Immune Response.
2013-2017 BBSRC iCASE studentship. Identification of novel biomarkers of resistance to Eimeria infection in the chicken. Collaboration Cobb Vantress.

As Co-Investigator
2021-2024. US-UK-China BBSRC Collaborative Grant, Predictive phylogenetics for evolutionary and transmission dynamics of newly emerging avian influenza viruses.
2019-2022. CTLGH Identification of selection targets and development of analytical tools to optimise breeding programmes in African chicken populations.
2019 BBSRC Flexible Talent Mobility Award. Evaluation of a novel adjuvant for mucosal immunisation of poultry.
2016-2021 BBSRC sLoLa. Glycoengineering of veterinary vaccines.
2016-2021. Horizon2020. VetBionet: Veterinary Biocontained facility Network for excellence in animal infectiology research and experimentation.
2016-2019 Scottish Government RESAS initiative. A systems-wide approach to the control of Campylobacter in the food chain: exploiting genetic variation.
2015-2018 BBSRC-NIFA. Evolution of the high pathogenicity phenotype in avian influenza virus.
2015-2018 BBSRC Animal Health Research Club. Macrophage Biology and Disease Susceptibility in Poultry.
2014-2017 Principal’s Career Development Scholarship. Role of virion shape in pathogenesis and transmission of avian influenza A virus.
2013-2016 BBSRC-FADH. Identification of the molecular basis of differential host responses to rapidly evolving Avian Influenza viruses in different avian species.

View all 121 publications on Research Explorer