Edinburgh Research Explorer

Elizabeth Glass

(Former employee or visitor)

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Education/Academic qualification

1981Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Edinburgh
“Studies on mononuclear phagocyte receptors”
1976Bachelor of Science, University of Edinburgh

Current Research Interests

Immunogenetics and functional genomics of disease resistance and immune responsiveness traits in livestock species.

My research in a nutshell

My research is focused on understanding how genetics impacts on the way cattle interact with major pathogens of cattle.  I am investigating the early events following infection with Mycobacterium bovis, the causal agent of bovine tuberculosis (bTB).  This bacterium enters and resides in specific immune cells, macrophages. Although these cells can kill M. bovis, it employs various strategies to grow and survive within these cells.  Understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in these interactions would aid in the development of improved vaccines to help control bTB.

Identifying genetic markers which influence the risk of an animal becoming infected with a pathogen such as M. bovis could lead to targeted selection of more resistant cattle.  This would be a sustainable and long-term approach to contributing to reducing bTB.

Research Interests

The main aim of the Liz Glass lab is to improve the ability of livestock to withstand infection with pathogens by breeding more disease resistant livestock and by improving vaccine efficacy.  The group is focusing on early host-pathogen interactions as these likely determine the outcome of exposure to pathogens and vaccines, leading to protection or pathology. Currently the research team is mainly focusing on bovine tuberculosis (bTB) caused by the bacterium, Mycobacterium bovis, which resides within host bovine macrophages. Approaches include transcriptomics and functional assays to uncover the cellular and molecular pathways induced by infection in vitro.  Understanding their relationship to variable outcomes in vivo, could identify novel innate immune correlates of protection and thus aid the design of more effective vaccines. The group is also exploring the genetic basis of variation in the host’s response to infection by locating the genes involved, through SNP based whole genome association studies.  Understanding how variation in genes controlling immunity impacts on infection could identify new ways to direct the immune response for more robust host defence.

By identifying genetic markers of resistance and susceptibility, this translational research has the potential to impact on livestock breeding decisions to reduce the risk of individual animals contracting infections.  The research may also provide new avenues to modulate and direct immunity and thus influence vaccine design.

The research is funded mainly by the BBSRC and various industry sponsors.


Professor Glass gained a BSc in Biochemistry, followed by a PhD on the biology of macrophage receptors from the University of Edinburgh. She was awarded a Research Fellowship from the British Diabetic Association to investigate the role of macrophage receptors in diabetes.  She then went to the BBSRC Roslin Institute to research the role of bovine MHC in variable immune responses to antigens and pathogens.  She joined the University of Edinburgh in 2007, where she now holds a chair in Veterinary Immunogenetics running a group focused on genetic variation across the genome and its impact on infectious diseases of livestock.

Professor Glass currently leads research projects on topics that include the role of host genetics on vaccine responsiveness and resistance to pathogens that invade macrophages.

Her research has highlighted how comparative genomic approaches can shed new light on the co-evolution of host and pathogen.

She has published more than 130 papers and has been successful in winning many grants from the BBSRC, EU, Wellcome Trust and industry.

Collaborative Activity

Jayne Hope
Jo Stevens

David Gally

Georgios Banos

John Woolliams


Gary Entrican, Moredun Research Institute

Mike Coffey, SRUC

Brian Shiels, University of Glasgow

John Hammond, Pirbright Institute

Adrian Allen and Robin Skuce, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Belfast




Research students

Current:Lukas Muhlbauer

Ben Moore, co-supervisor with Xavier Donadeu

Heather Mathie, co-supervisor with Jayne Hope

Raphaka Kethusegile, co-supervisor with Georgios Banos




Laura Doull, PhD. “Inflammasome activation in ruminant cells infected with Chlamydia abortus”. University of Edinburgh, 2016, Co-supervisor with Prof Gary Entrican, Moredun Research Institute

Richard Jonathan Leach, Ph.D. “The genetics of bovine vaccination”. University of Edinburgh, 2011.

Rebecca Jayne Baxter, Ph.D. “The role of the Major Histocompatibility Complex in immune responsiveness in a Holstein Charolais cattle cross population”. University of Edinburgh, 2011.

Anna Kaliszewska, Ph.D. “ How do macrophages and dendritic cells differ in response to Salmonella typhimurium? Royal Veterinary College, University of London, 2010, with Prof Dirk Werling, RVC.

Ronan O’Neill, Ph.D: “Linking phenotype to genotype: antibody responses to bovine respiratory virus vaccines in crossbred cattle”, University of Glasgow, 2006. Co-supervisor with Prof Julie Fitzpatrick.

Giles Makins, M.Phil. “Potential gene expression differences underlying host resistance to Theileria annulata”, University of Edinburgh, 2006.

David J. Brown, Ph.D. “The production and study of Theileria annulata macroschizont infected cells: relating to MHC class II expression, T cell stimulatory ability, cytokine mRNA production and their use as vaccines”.   University of Edinburgh, 1997.

John D. McA. Campbell, Ph.D. “T cell activation in Theileria annulata infection – implications for immunity and pathogenesis”.  University of Edinburgh, 1995.

Samer W.K. Al-Murrani, Ph.D. The biochemical characterisation of expressed bovine MHC class I molecules.  University of Edinburgh, 1993.

Administrative Roles

Editor in chief for Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology

Member of Advisory Board: Veterinary Research

Member of the Roslin Institute Career Development Committee


I am a tutor for the Undergraduate Course: Clinical Immunology & Haematology 3A (MSBM09005) in the Deanery of Biomedical Sciences: Medical Sciences (Biomedical Sciences).

In addition I have supervised M.Sc. and PhD students, and currently have two PhD students in my group.


Highlighted research outputs

  1. Genome-wide association study identifies novel loci associated with resistance to bovine tuberculosis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Comparative genomics of Toll-like receptor signalling in five species

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. The Genome Sequence of Taurine Cattle: A Window to Ruminant Biology and Evolution

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

View all (197) »

Research activities & awards

  1. 10th International Veterinary Immunology Symposium

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

  2. Student Placement

    Activity: Other activity typesTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Schools engagement

  3. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology (Journal)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity

View all (8) »

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