Personal profile

Current Research Interests

Development of genetically engineered livestock for biomedical and agricultural applications.

Research Interests

My group investigates the molecular events that accompany changes in the expression status of genes in mammals. We aim to develop and exploit gene transfer technology to investigate differentiation in mammals and exemplify the use of this technology through the generation of animal models of human disease, novel in vivo screening resources, and animals more able to combat infectious disease.

This work will advance our understanding of how cellular signals integrate to allow tissues to work normally in the whole animal, while identifying routes to intervene when normal development is perturbed through disease. We aim to exploit this knowledge to develop innovative biotechnological solutions to combat infectious disease in animals, evaluate new treatments of human disease through transgenic animal models, and establish efficient protein production systems in animals.


Bruce Whitelaw was awarded a BSc degree in Medical Microbiology (Virology elective) from the University of Edinburgh in 1982 and his PhD in 1987 from the University of Glasgow.

His thesis title “The regulation of the myc proto-oncogene” focussed on the molecular biology of gene activation; a theme he has maintained throughout his career through the development and application of gene expression systems in transgenic animals.

His first appointment was to the AFRC’s Animal Breeding Research Organisation working on the then novel idea of producing human pharmaceutical proteins in animal bioreactors. He subsequently held research position at the BBRSC’s Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics Research, and then Roslin Institute. Currently Bruce is Deputy Director and Director of Partnerships at The Roslin Institute and Professor of Animal Biotechnology at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. Having pioneered the use of lentivirus vectors for transgene delivery, he is currently establishing robust methodology for genome editing in livestock.

Bruce actively seeks to apply this technology in the field of animal biotechnology. Specifically, he aims to exploit this knowledge to develop innovative biotechnological solutions to combat infectious disease in animals, evaluate new treatments of human disease through transgenic animal models, and establish efficient protein production systems in animals.


Post-graduate, Honours projects and summer students.

PhD students:

1999 - Simon A. Boa "Nucleosome organisation over the ovine beta-lactoblobulin gene" (Edinburgh)

2002 - Margaret L. Opsahl "Variegated transgene expression in mice" (Edinburgh)

2004 - Chris Palgrave "African Swine Fever Virus pathogenesis: comparative analysis of immunoregulatory genes in domestic and wild pigs" (Edinburgh)

2005 - Gillian H. Little "Stat5 binding to chromatin" (Edinburgh)

2006 - Douglas B. Vasey "p21 expression in the mouse" (Dundee)

2006 - Ravikumar Manikam "Myostatin expression in the mouse mammary gland" (Edinburgh)

2007 - Rachel Young "Oxidative stress reporter genes" (Dundee)

2010 - Neil Mackenzie "Viral vector delivery of RNAi" (Edinburgh)

2012 - Chiara Sartori "Generation of iPS cells" (Edinburgh)

2012 - Reinhard Huber "Animal welfare and ethics of (transgenic and cloned) pigs used as biomedical research models" (Porto)

2013 - James Glover "The Role of the Prdm Proteins in Primordial Germ Cell Development" (Edinburgh)

Current - Rachel Huddard "Strategies to rescue null-phenotypes in chimeric mice"

Current - Thomas Tzelos "RNA interference (RNAi) - from genome to control" (Moredun/Edinburgh)

Current - Maeve Ballantyne "Functional consequence of genetic polymorphism in porcine RELA"

Current - Alex Brown "Interfering strategies against PRRSV"

Current - Luise Seeker "Telomere length and survival in farmed livestock" (SRUS/Edinburgh)

Administrative Roles

External Committees:

BBSRC Pool of Experts (Strategy) (Bruce Whitelaw)

Scientific Advisory Board Immunogenes Ag (Bruce Whitelaw)

Scientific Advisory Board Recombinetics Inc (Bruce Whitelaw)

Jury Member of BBVA Foundation Frontier of Knowledge Awards (Bruce Whitelaw)

Internal Committees:

Executive (Bruce Whitelaw)

Science Management Group (Bruce Whitelaw)

Search Committee (Bruce Whitelaw)

Animal Ethics Committee (Bruce Whitelaw)

Postgraduate Student Committee (Bruce Whitelaw)

Genetic Modification Safety Committee (Simon Lillico)

Store User Group (Claire Neil)


Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Analysis of the transcriptional control domains of thehuman c-myc proto-oncogene, University of Edinburgh

… → 1986

Award Date: 1 Jan 1986

Bachelor of Science, University of Edinburgh

… → 1982

Award Date: 1 Jan 1982

External positions

Co-ordinator Scottish Network of Excellence for the Development of Novel Technologies to fight Viral Disease in Farm Animals


Member OIE Ad hoc Group on Biotechnology


Member of Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body


UK Representative on Management Committee for EU COST B20 Action


Invited lecturer Genetics and Molecular Biology Honours, University of Edinburgh


Honorary Research Fellow of Hannah Research Institute (Ayr, UK)


Member of HSE's Advisory Committee of Genetic Modification (ACGM)



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