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Cambridge Global Food Security

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

Studying at Cambridge

 

Thomas Wileman

Thomas Wileman

PhD Candidate


Office Phone: 012 23 766 245

Departments and Institutes

Department of Veterinary Medicine:

Research Interests

Thomas is at Pembroke College and studying for his PhD under the guidance of Dr. A W. (Dan) Tucker in the department of Veterinary Medicine.  Thomas is interested in global food security and his research focuses on Streptococcus suis, one of the most important zoonotic bacterial pathogens of pigs causing significant economic losses to the global swine industry.  At present there is no comprehensive effective vaccine-based prophylaxis for S. suis and disease prevention through widescale use of antibiotics at group-level is increasingly difficult to justify because of concerns over antibiotic resistance.  Surveillance for disease-associated strains of S. suis, done on tonsil scrapes from healthy pigs prior to mixing with exclusion of carriers of disease-associated strains, is one approach to setting up populations with reduced susceptibility to disease.

Thomas's research uses a combination of bioinformatics approaches and wet bench techniques to identify and evaluate novel genetic markers to pathotype S. suis – differentiate invasive disease-associated strains from strains carried asymptomatically on the palatine tonsils of pigs.  Having identified a number of novel genetic markers to differentiate strains of S. suis into phenotypic groups based on observed clinical phenotype his research is currently investigating the role in S. suis pathogenicity of these genetic markers. The observations Thomas has made during his PhD studies could in the future result in significant changes in the approach to surveillance of S. suis and contribute to increased awareness and better control of this important pathogen in the global swine food chain.

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