Prof. Xavier Donadeu (LicVet MS PhD FRSB)

Personal Chair


Xavier Donadeu obtained a degree in Veterinary Medicine from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in 1993 followed by a brief period of clinical practice in Spain.

He then did an internship in The School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, from where he also got a Master in Science degree in Animal Science in 1997. He completed PhD studies under the supervision of Prof. Oliver Ginther at the University of Wisconsin in 2002 followed by post-doctoral work at the Dept of Pharmacology of the Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa.

In 2005 he moved to Edinburgh to take up a Lecturer position in the R(D)SVS of the University of Edinburgh and since 2007 he has also been a Group Leader at the Roslin Institute.

Area of Expertise

Research expertise: Animal Science, Reproductive Biology, Stem Cell Biology




2002 - PhD - University of Wisconsin-Madison

1997 - Master in Science - Louisiana State University

Professional Qualifications

1993 - Licentiate in Veterinary Medicine - Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain

Responsibilities & affiliations

Editor-in-chief, Domestic Animal Endocrinology

Academic Editor, PLoS One

Associate Editor, Frontiers in Veterinary Medicine

Scientific Advisory Board, Vetsina Animal Health Ltd.

The Euan MacDonald Centre


Undergraduate teaching

Veterinary curriculum teaching (present and past):

  • Course organiser,  Animal Body 3
  • Section organiser:  AB3 Reproduction,  Graduate Entry Programme Reproduction, AB3 Cardiovascular System,  AB3 Respiratory System
  • Animal Body 3 -  Animal Reproduction
  • Animal Body 3 (Graduate Entry Program)-   Animal Reproduction
  • Animal Body 4 
  • Clinical foundation course - Reproductive pharmacology
  • Final year clinical rotations  - Dairy cattle reproduction
  • Five-week Anatomy course for Graduate Entry Program students  

Postgraduate teaching

  • Animal Bioscience MSc (Roslin Institute)
  • Equine Science MSc (RDSVS)
  • Reproductive Biology Honours (Biological Sciences)
  • Literature awareness course (Roslin Institute)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised


  • Alex Moxom
  • Amira Aburza
  • Julia Falk
  • Tom Thrower
  • Madison Macleay

Past PhD students supervised


  • Susan Dan-Jumbo, 01/2018 to 12/2022
  • Yennifer Cortes Araya, 01/2018 to 12/2021
  • Tom Watson,  01/2018 to 12/2021
  • Ben Moore, 09/2015 to 08/2018
  • Elisabeth Rink, 03/2014 to 06/1018
  • Jason Ioannidis, 11/2012 to 09/2016
  • Bushra Mohammed, 07/2012 to 09/2016
  • Sadanand Sontakke, 10/2010 to 02/2014
  • Ruchi Sharma, 09/2010 to 09/2013
  • Stephanie Schauer, 09/2008 to 09/2012
  • Lynsey Doyle, 10/2005 to 08/2008
  • Claire Stenhouse, 09/2014 to 06/2018
  • Rebeca Martinez (Spanish visiting student), 07/2013 to 09/2013
  • Diego Cravero (Italian visiting student), 01/2012 to 07/2012 
  • Rosanna Marino (Italian visiting student), 04/2011 to 09/2011
  • Somy Nadaf (French visiting student), 12/2008 to 03/2010
  • Fernanda Goncalves (Brazilian visiting student), 05/2008 to 04/2009
  • Salina Saddick, 02/2006 to 11/2007
  • Sharron Oggle, 09/2005 to 10/2009
  • Charlotta Oddsdottir, 08/2005 to 08/2008

Research summary

I lead a research group working in the areas of Stem Cell biology and Reproductive Biology in large animal species. We are interested in these species both from a veterinary perspective and as disease models.  Work in my laboratory spans from hypothesis-led studies to understand basic cell, organ and whole animal biology and physiology, all the way through to translational studies with industry to develop novel molecular diagnostics and cell-based tools to address specific key challenges faced by the livestock (cattle and pigs) industry and companion animal sectors, in addition to applications for cellular agriculture. My laboratory is best known for pioneering work on 1) the use of miRNAs as novel diagnostic biomarkers for cattle, and 2) the characterization and application of stem cells (iPSCs and MSCs) in farm species (horse, cattle, pigs). 

Current research interests

-Skeletal muscle and adipose stem cell biology and applications in cellular agriculture -Developmental programming of skeletal muscle and adipose development in livestock species -Application of iPSCs from large animal species (equine, bovine) in Animal Health and Production, and cellular agriculture - Development of stem cell based anti-infectives for combatting AMR in the context of mastitis and other infectious diseases in livestock   

Knowledge exchange

Selected research contributions from my laboratory are;

- Discovery of early pregnancy biomarkers (miRNAs) in cattle (Donadeu and Ioannidis, BMC, 2016; PLoS One, 2018)

 - First comprehensive description of genome-wide profiles of small RNAs in bio-fluids in a farm animal species (Ioannidis and Donadeu, BMC, 2016), together with the first reference protocols for isolation, sequencing and validation of such RNAs (Ioannidis et al, Methods Mol Biol, 2018). 

- Discovery of miR-96/miR-183/miR-182 as a conserved miRNA cluster involved in luteal maintenance and fertility in both cattle and humans (Mohammed et al., J Clin Endo Metab 2019).

- Generation of the first ever bona fide equine iPSCs, followed by demonstration that equine and bovine iPSCs can successfully generate several health and production-relevant tissues including functional neurons (Sharma et al., 2016), mammary gland (Cravero et al., 2015) and skeletal muscle (Amilon et al., 2019).  

- First Isolation and culture of native mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from a domestic species, the horse (Esteves et al., Stem Cells Res Ther 2017).

- Demonstration of the therapetic potential of endometrial MSCs in a veterinary species, the horse (Rink et al., Stem Cells Res Ther, 2018).

-Identification of the FGF21 co-receptor, KLB, as a key mediator of disrupted skeletal muscle development in intrauterine growth restriction (Cortes-Araya et al., J. Physiol 2022)


Project activity

  • Understanding skeletal muscle and adipose stem cell biology for cellular agriculture applications (industrial partnership)
  • Development of novel RNA-based diagnostics for early pregnancy in cattle  (industrial partnership) 
  • Novel iPSC-based therapies for horses (industrial partnership)
  • MSC-based anti-infective strategies for combatting AMR in companion animal species and cattle

Current project grants

• 2023-2026, HBLB, ‘Exploring novel stem cell tools to combat equine infection, towards the reduction of antibiotic usage and antimicrobial resistance, £279K , co-I
• 2022-2024, Innovate UK, Mind the (protein) gap: applying new knowledge to improve muscle and fat cell differentiation for cultivated meat, £790K, academic lead
• 2020-2023, BBSRC, Development of a high-throughput pipeline to identify causal variants and its demonstration in pig muscle’, £918K. Co-I
• 2019-2023, Industrial project, ‘Stem cells for off-the-shelf applications in veterinary regenerative medicine’, £320K. PI
• 2020-2023, Dogs Trust, ‘Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal cells (MSCs) as novel tools for combating antimicrobial resistance in dogs’ £100K. Co-PI

Past project grants

• 2019-2021, BBSRC Super Follow-on-Fund, ‘Translating miRNA biomarker discovery into novel veterinary diagnostics to increase the efficiency of milk production’, £500K. PI
• 2020-2021, BBSRC IAA award. ‘Novel tools for early diagnosis of mastitis in cattle’, £29,982, PI
• 2018-2020, Horse Betting Levy Board, ‘Axonal transport and survival in equine recurrent laryngeal neuropathy’, £230K. Co-I
• 2014-2017, Horse Betting Levy Board, ‘Exploring new sources of mesenchymal stem cells in horses’, £250K. PI
• 2012-2016, BBSRC/Zoetis, ‘miRNA biomarkers of reproductive function in cattle’, £145K. PI
• 2011-2012, Pet Plan Charitable Trust, ‘Reprogramming of keratinocytes to pluripotent stem cells for regenerative therapy in horses’, £100K. PI
• 2008-2011, Horse Betting Levy Board, ‘Derivation of pluripotent stem cells from equine fibroblasts’, £236K. PI
• 2016-2017, Scotland’s Rural College, ‘MicroRNAs as predictive biomarkers of survival and performance in dairy cattle’, £78,707. Co-PI
• 2018-2019, ISCF Transforming Food Production Seeding Award, £26,000. PI
• 2018-2019, BBSRC Pathfinder award– ‘Towards miRNA diagnostics for dairy cattle’, £12,000. PI
• 2018, Flexible Talent Mobility Award, ‘Establishing links towards implantation of miRNA-based diagnostic for livestock in Brazil’, £3,000. PI
• 2017-2018, Petplan Charitable Trust, ‘Characterising the responses of stem cells to inflammatory and infectious stimuli - towards cell-free regenerative therapies for horses’, £9,980. Co-I
• 2016-2017, Horse Betting Levy Board, ‘Exploring the potential of equine Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal Cells as antibacterial agents’, £9,931. Co-I
• 2015, Fiona and Ian Russell Seed Corn Grants, ‘Characterisation of in vivo- and in vitro-produced mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from horses’, £1,000. PI
• 2012-2014, CEU-Santander, ‘The luteinized unruptured follicle (LUF) in the mare: Etiopathogenic mechanisms and possible treatments to restore ovulation’, €10,000. Co-I
• 2010-2011, RCVS Trust, ‘Characterisation of horse bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells and induction of their differentiation into tenocytes’, £5,000. Co-I
• 2008-2010, Thoroughbred Breeding Association, ‘Ability of exogenous LH to promote the development of ovulation-competent follicles during the transitional period in mares’, £62,082. PI
• 2008-2010, RCVS Trust, ‘Towards the generation of equine iPS cells’, £19,500. PI