Foto Prof. Dr. Dirk Werling

Prof. Dr. Dirk Werling

The Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, Großbritannien

After graduating as a veterinarian from the Veterinary University Hannover, my Dr.Med. Vet. thesis at the ETH Zuerich examined the immunosuppressive impact of Bovine Leukaemia Virus infection on the the function of macrophages. This work was then followed by a stipend of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) to participate in the Post-Graduate course in Experimental Medicine, run by the University Hospital Zuerich. After a year, I returned to ETH Zuerich with a Postdoctoral Research Fellow Stipend of the German Research Foundation (DFG), further investigating the role of viral infection on bovine innate immune cell function. This was followed by a Marie Curie Research Fellowship of the EU to join the group of Chris Howard/Geraldine Taylor at the Institute for Animal Health (Compton Laboratories) to work on the development and characterisation of dendritic cells and their role in bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) infection. From here, I moved back to the ETH Zuerich as a Senior Scientist (Oberassistent). During this period, I expanded the scope of my work to encompass the development of the innate immune system in ruminants, and aspect of pathogen escape mechanisms in innate immune cells. In 2001, I accepted an Assistant Professorship (Tenure Track) at the Institute of Virology (University of Berne), in the group of Thomas Jungi. Since 2003, I am working at the Royal Veterinary College. The key motivation for this move was the unique opportunity to develop dendritic cell based vaccines for farm animals by targeting the then newly discovered class of innate immune receptors, such as the Toll-like receptors, mainly in the context of BRSV and BVDV. In this role, I have been responsible from the outset for the design, implementation and evaluation of new vaccine delivery platforms. These activities have attracted substantial funding and resulted of the submission of 3 different patent-applications. My research during this period has naturally been biased towards research administration, where close working relationships with industrial partners has been essential. More recently, I started working on developing new vaccine against porcine circovirus, porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus, and Eimeria infection in chicken.

My current main research interest is the ontogeny of the innate immune system in different species, the importance of single nucleotide polymorphisms in innate immune receptors for ligand binding, the activation of the innate immune response, esp the activation of the inflammasome, and how we can use our knowledge regarding the innate immune system to design new/ optimise existing vaccine strategies.