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I have a veterinary degree from Warsaw Agricultural University (Poland). Following the PhD in veterinary virology (Massey University), I spent six years in the United States working as a postdoctoral fellow and Infection Control Officer for the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State University. My research projects focused on infectious agents of veterinary and public health importance and included investigation of causes of equine respiratory disease in New Zealand, determination of the genome sequence of a sheep-associated malignant catarrhal fever virus, investigation of the associations between hospitalisation and antibiotic resistance in commensal Escherichia coli, or microbiological surveys for detection of Salmonella in a veterinary hospital environment. The biosecurity platform of my research also included investigation of the efficacy of selected infection control measures on survival of various bacterial species, comparison of Salmonella genotypes from surveillance samples with those from the outbreaks, or investigation of the role of commensal bacteria in dissemination of the antibiotic resistance traits. Recognition of my research related to infection control and biosecurity resulted in an invitation to contribute to two books in this field. While in the USA I passed Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates qualifying examinations and completed a large animal internship. In 2006 I moved to Australia, where after a short time spent in a general practice, I took up a position of a virology section leader at the State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Melbourne. My role involved overseeing diagnostic virology services, as well as development, validation and implementation of new diagnostic tests. In January 2008 I returned to Massey University to take up a Senior Lectureship in veterinary virology.
My current research interests fall into two main categories:
Investigation of novel viral agents: The recent projects under this category include investigation of novel equine respiratory viruses using next generation sequencing platform, characterisation of novel animal papillomavirues, and identification of a novel nidovirus in archival tissues from possums affected by a neurological disease termed wobbly possum disease (WPD). The disease was first described in 1995 in a group of captive possums at a research facility in Invermay. It was subsequently observed in free-living possums, and reproduced under experimental conditions. The early stages of the disease are characterised by behavioural changes (loss of appetite, decreased interest in the environment, temperament changes), followed by progressive ataxia. Results of previous investigations suggested that WPD was caused by a transmissible and filterable agent, most likely a virus. However, all efforts to identify this putative etiological agent of WPD using traditional virological methods over the past 15 years had failed. Recently, we have identified novel viral sequences in archival tissues from WPD-affected possums using a combination of next generation sequencing and traditional molecular tools. We demonstrated that high levels of viral RNA were present in multiple tissue types of WPD-affected possums, consistent with the distribution of the histopathological lesions. We also developed methodology to grow the virus an in-vitro,and reproduced the disease experimentally using a purified viral isolate, thus fullfiling Koch’s postulates for causation.
WPD virus constitutes one of a very few viruses known to infect possums, and the only one so far that is associated with clinical disease. Based on its genomic sequence, the virus was provisionally classified as a nidovirus with closest relationships to the current members of the family Arteriviridae. Identification of a novel virus associated with a neurological disease of possums opens the possibility of its use in the biological control of this species. However, in order to entertain such an idea, a better understanding of the biology and epidemiology of this novel virus is needed. We are currently working on further characterisation of WPD virus.
Investigation of veterinary diseases endemic in New Zealand: These include several projects focused on viruses of different animal species. Examples include molecular characterization of canine parvoviruses and equine herpesviruses in New Zealand, elucidation of host-virus interactions between cats and the feline immunodeficiency virus, a survey of avian paramyxoviruses in New Zealand, investigation of the effects of injection site on development of immunity following vaccination of cats or determination of the in-vitro effects of different lysine/arginine concentrations on replication of feline herpesvirus 1. I also had a small involvement in the research related to pathogens of importance to aquaculture in New Zealand. This is an emerging problem worldwide and I will likely expand my involvement in this area in the future.
21st Century Citizenship, Health and Well-being
Field of research codes
Agricultural And Veterinary Sciences (070000):
Biological Sciences (060000): Evolutionary Biology (060300): Host-Parasite Interactions (060307): Microbiology (060500): Virology (060506)
All aspects of veterinary virology, including investigation of basic properties of viruses, as well as virus-host interations. Laboratory techniques that I am proficient in include traditional virology techniques (virus growth, purification, titration, electron microscopy, serology) and molecular virology techniques (end-point and quantitative PCR, nucleic acid extraction from a variaty of samples, enzymatic manipulation of DNA and RNA, cloning, blotting, preparation of DIG-labelled probes, immunohistochemistry, in-situ hybridisation and others).
Project Title: Aetological agent(s) of wobbly possum disease
Date Range: 2008 - 2009
Funding Body: Massey University
Veterinary Virology (227.302)
Veterinary Infectious and Parasitic Diseases 1 (227.216)