ILRIvol02/2011-Press Room

Scientists Identify Livestock Genes to Unlock Protection against One of Africa’s Oldest Animal Plagues

Press Release: English

Scientific Paper: Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences


Author Profiles:

Steve Kemp
Steve Kemp, Acting Operating Project Leader, BiotechnologySteve Kemp is a molecular geneticist particularly interested in the mechanisms of innate resistance to disease in livestock and mouse models. He is a visiting scientist at ILRI and Professor of molecular genetics at the University of Liverpool, UK. Steve’s current research covers host genome diversity and adaptations to biotic and abiotic factors. This involves interest in livestock diversity in its own right as a potential resource for future needs as well as study of functional variants associated with disease resistance traits. He is particularly interested in the opportunities presented by modern informatics, geospatial and molecular tools to explore genome function using large and diverse data sets derived from livestock populations


Carol Goble
Carole GobleCarole Goble is a Full Professor in the School of Computer Science.  She is co-leader of the Information Management Group of some 60 researchers including 13 academic staff, 27 research staff, 3 Visiting / Honorary Researchers, and 29 research students. She has a leading role in the Semantic Web, e-Science and the Semantic Grid. She applies technical advances in knowledge technologies and workflow systems to solve information management problems for Life Scientists and other scientific disciplines.  She is the director of the large UK e-Science myGrid/Taverna programme of work for workflow based middleware for Life Scientists ( myGrid uses semantic technologies for service and workflow discover and metadata management of workflow-based experiments. myGrid became part of the Open Middleware Infrastructure Institute UK ( Taverna is now used in over 340 organisations world-wide. Carole was the founding chair of this Institute (of 40+ software developers) which has been funded to harden and support developments from the UK’s e-Science programme. She is the co-Director of the myExperiment initiative, bringing social networking and social computing approaches to Virtual Research Environments for Scientists (, for worldwide sharing scientific workflows. She leads the development BioCatalogue project (, jointly with the EBI, which is building a socially curated catalogue of bio-web services for the community. Carole is the technical director of the SysMO-DB initiative to build a data exchange and sharing infrastructure for the European SysMO (systems biology for microorganisms) consortium and several others (
Carole has over 300 publications in Semantics and e-Science, and is a popular keynote speaker, giving keynotes in the major conferences in Grid Computing, Web, Semantics, Digital Libraries and Bioinformatics. She sits on over 15 national and international oversight committees concerning e-Science, Bioinformatics, Semantic technologies and Grid Computing, including membership of the BBSRC Strategic Advisory Board.

In 2010 she chaired the UK Research Councils review of e-Infrastructure for Science and Innovation. In 2008 Carole was awarded the inaugural Microsoft Jim Gray award for outstanding contributions to e-Science and in 2010 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering for her contributions to e-Science.

Andy Brass
Andy Brass is a professor of Bioinformatics at the University of Manchester, joint between the School of Computer Science and the Faculty of Life Sciences. He started his career as a mathematical physicist, interested in problems of high temperature superconductivity and any on theory, working at McMaster and Edinburgh Universities. In 1997 he moved to Manchester to become an inaugural member of the bioinformatics group, where he set up the World’s first masters course in Bioinformatics.

The research work being undertaken within his laboratory sits at the interface between computer science, biology and medicine and follows directly from the close collaboration between disciplines. The main biological area of interest is understanding inflammatory processes and the disease phenotypes that can be driven by low level chronic inflammation. Computationally, we are interested in developing tools and methodologies that allow us to undertake large scale post-genomic science. We have noted in many projects that the scale of the analysis task was overwhelming both bioinformaticians and biologists – leading to the use of inappropriate heuristics – and hence to a failure to elicit useful biological knowledge from large, complex datasets. By automating this process we can look at the whole search space, and examine it in a much more agnostic fashion. This allows us – as bioinformaticians/computer scientists – to develop hypotheses based on evidence rather than bias. These hypotheses can then be placed in front of the biologists for judgement/ experimentation.

Morris Agaba

Morris Agaba is a scientist at ILRI, where he is investigating the innate biological processes of mammals that affect survivability of infectious disease. He graduated from Makerere University (Uganda), received his PhD in molecular genetics from Brunel University (United Kingdom) and subsequently studied as a research fellow at the Japan Livestock Technology Association and the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling (United Kingdom). He actively involves the rising generation of African scientists in his research, encouraging and challenging them to become productive and engaging members of the global scientific community.

Morris is interested in developing a research program in genetics of Wild relatives of crops and livestock as a resource to understand domestication, host pathogen interaction, and enrichment of livestock/crop genetic diversity.

Isaiah Obara

Isaiah ObaraPhD candidate currently looking at the interface between genetic polymorphisms in the economically important protozoan parasite Theileria parva and the cattle host. During his MSc programme, Isaiah established a relationship between genotypes at polymorphisms in the trypanotolerance candidate gene, ARHGAP15 and the pathopysiology of T. congolense induced anaemia. Trypanosomiasis associated anaemia is a well-established infection-associated immunopathological feature and a reliable indicator of the severity of infection.

Short online interviews of  relevant project researchers:

Steve Kemp
Scientist – International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI and Professor University of Liverpool institute of Integrative Biology

Title: Why Trypanosomiasis is a problem For Farmers and Researchers
Title: The complexities of Trypanosmiasis Demanded the formation of a Unique team

Andy Brass
– Professor, Manchester University Computer Science Department

Title: Data Management and the Genome Revolution
Title: New Computing Approaches Allowed Free Information Flow Amongst Project Partners

Alan Archibald
– Professor, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh

Title: Studying Gene Expression Helps to Home in On the Genes That Matter

Paul Dark
– Senior lecturer in medicine, University of Manchester

Title: Humans, Cows and Their Immune Responses

Harry Noyes
Scientist, Liverpool University Institute of Integrative Biology

Title:  Differences In Responses to Trypanosomiasis Infections by resistant and Susceptible Animals
Title: The Implications for Farmers of the Research Into Cattle Resistance to Trypanosomiasis

Paul Fisher
Computer Scientist, Manchester University Computer Science department

Title: Designing Computer-Based Systems that Generate Testable Biological Ideas

Morris Agaba
Scientist- International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI))

Title: Learning about Cattle Responses to Disease by Studying Mice

Related Documents

Related Publication:
A systematic strategy for large-scale analysis of genotype–phenotype correlations: identification of candidate genes involved in African trypanosomiasis

Website: Trypanosomiasis project

Images: Flickr


1. Exploring the rich livestock Diversity of Africa

2. Endangered African Livestock


1. Agriculture-Associated diseases: Adapting Agriculture to improve Human Health

For more information, please contact:

Jeff Haskins


Michelle Geis

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  1. Pingback: Scientists identify livestock genes to unlock protection against one of Africa’s oldest animal plagues « ILRI news

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