Personal profile

Current Research Interests

  • Understanding mechanisms of neurodegeneration associated with Prion and Alzheimer's diseases.
  • The influence of the immune system on neurodegeneration
  • Interactions between glial and neuronal cells
  • Defining and interfering with pathways of neurodegeneration
  • Healthy ageing of the CNS



Professor Jean Manson is an internationally recognized scientist in TSE research. She is the Head of the Neurobiology Division of The Roslin Institute and holds the Chair of Neurodegenerative Disease at the University of Edinburgh.

Her research focuses on elucidating mechanisms of TSE disease transmission within and between individuals using unique transgenic mouse models.

She is a member of the WHO TSEs Working Group, the UK SEAC government advisory body and the Executive Committee of the NeuroPrion EU Network of Excellence. She was recently awarded an OBE in the 2008 New Year's honour list.

Research Interests

The transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are a group of fatal neurodegenerative diseases affecting humans and animals. TSEs present with characteristic pathology which can include neuronal loss, reactive astrogliosis, deposition of disease-associated prion protein (PrP) which may form amyloid plaques, and vacuolation giving a characteristic spongiform appearance to brain tissue. The aim of our group is to examine the role of host PrP in the outcome of natural TSEs like scrapie, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and Creutzfeldt-Jakobs disease (CJD) as well as a large range of experimental TSE models available in the Neurobiology Division. Basic research into neurodegenerative processes has also led into study of other diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

The group uses a variety of models from the molecular to whole animal level of study. In particular we have produced a battery of unique transgenic mouse models via gene-targeting including:

  • PrP knockout
  • PrP species gene replacement
  • Conditional (Cre/LoxP) PrP models
  • PrP N-glycosylation site deficient models

The gene targeting approach ensures that the altered PrP allele remains in the correct genomic location under control of the endogenous promoter thus avoiding PrP over-expression that may lead to altered phenotypes. These models allow the group to investigate the effects of PrP sequence and glycosylation and also expression in various cell-types or at specific time-points during disease.

The group also employs a sheep model for investigation into transfer of TSE infection via blood transfusion, particularly relevant to the current identification of secondary transmission of new variant CJD in humans by the same route.

Our research programme currently receives funding from a number of different sources including BBSRC, MRC, DEFRA, DoH and EU.


The Roslin Institute

The Centre for Dementia Prevention

The TSE Resource Centre


Scottish TSE Network


The National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit 

Medical research Council 

Department of Health 

Biotechnology and biological sciences research council 

The Chief Scientist Office (part of the Scottish Government Health Directorates) (CSO)

World Health Organization

National Institute for Biological Standards and Control 

Administrative Roles

Co-Director of The Centre for Dementia Prevention

Chair of the Scottish TSE Network

Member of the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP)

Member of the ACDP, TSE Risk assessment group

Member of the ACDP Risk management group

Member of the CJD Sample Oversight Committee

Member of the British Neuroscience Association Scientific Advisory Committee Member

Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Alberta Prion Research

Established and co-ordinate the Interdisciplinary Group of Dementia and Neurodegenerative Disease for the University of Edinburgh

My research in a nutshell

Jean Manson performs research that studies a group of diseases called the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies - also known as prion diseases. These diseases affect humans and animals and examples include BSE, variant CJD and scrapie. They cause cells in the nervous system to degenerate and they are fatal with no treatments or cures currently available.

To hear more about prions diseases, please watch the recording of a public lecture given by Jean as part of the Medical Detectives series organised by the University of Edinburgh's College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), “Biochemical and Immunological Investigation into Cystic Fibrosis”, University of Edinburgh


Master in Science, "The Cystic Fibrosis Factor", University of Edinburgh


Bachelor of Science, University of St Andrews


External positions

Principal Scientific Officer (Band 4), directing a research a group of 16 people, IAH, NPU


Senior Scientific Officer (Band 5), I established and directed a research programme aimed at understanding the role of PrP in TSEs, IAH, NPU


Research Fellow, supported by the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council for Research, Regulation of cytokine gene expression in arthritis, Department of Medicine, University of Edinburgh


Research Fellow, Supported by the Science and Engineering Research Council, Transposable DNA elements associated male sterile in maize, Dept. of Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh


Research Fellow, Funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Research Trust, Development of a diagnostic assay for cystic fibrosis, Department of Human Genetics, University of Edinburgh



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