Edinburgh Research Explorer

John Hopkins

UoE Retired Staff

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Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Science, University of Edinburgh
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of London
The migratory properties of lymphocytes with particular reference to the gut
Bachelor of Science, University of Liverpool

Professional Qualifications

Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, FRSB

Research students

Louise NicolBSc MScPhD Student
Hazel WilkieBSc MScPhD Student
Siyang YuDVMMSc Student

Other postgraduate students:

Gareth Hardisty, BSc (with Dr B.M. Dutia)
Katie Nightingale, BSc (with Dr R.G. Dalziel)
Abigail Bremner BSc (with Dr Lonneke Verveldt)


The courses I teach are:

  • BVM&S (veterinary undergraduate) I am responsible for delivery of the Immunology topic in the Animal Body 2 courses for BVM&S 1 And BVM&S Graduate Entry programme.
  • MSc Animal Biosciences (Diagnostic methods, immunology)

The group hosts several students each year for research projects for BSc and MSc courses as well as veterinary undergraduate summer projects.

My research in a nutshell

Infection of sheep with the endemic gastrointestinal pathogens Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis and Teladorsagia circumcincta can have several distinct clinical outcomes, ranging from pathogen expulsion and disease control to death. In each case the genetics of the host innate and adaptive immune response is the major factor that determines the consequences of infection. The long-term aim is to identify the molecular mechanisms by which animals respond to infection in relation to clinical outcome and to determine the variations in the genes associated with different responses.

Current Research Interests

The molecular pathology and genetics of gastrointestinal diseases of livestock.

Research Interests

The research interest of the Hopkins Group is the molecular immunology and genetics of endemic gastrointestinal diseases of livestock. Of particular interest are:

  • Teladorsagia circumcincta, a major cause of sheep parasitic gastroenteritis.
  • Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (Map), the causative agent of paratuberculosis or Johne’s disease.  
  • Salmonella enterica, common cause of zoonotic bacterial enteritis.

For both T circumcincta and Map there is an immunogenetic basis of disease. Resistance and susceptibility to parasitic gastroenteritis is determined by the ability of the sheep to develop the ‘correct’ type of immune response. This is genetically determined. Animals that develop aTh2 T cell response produce high levels of anti-parasite antibody and control infection. Sheep that develop an inflammatory Th1/Th17 response do not generate protective antibody and are susceptible.

Sheep also show differential responses to mycobacteria. Animals that produce a Th2 response and antibody develop multibacillary paratuberculosis and fail to control infection. Sheep that produce a Th1 inflammatory response develop paucibacillary paratuberculosis and control infection.

The fundamental aim of the group is to identify physiological pathways, genes and gene variants that are associated with responses that lead to different disease outcomes.


Dr Robert Dalziel, Professor Bernadette Dutia & Dr Lonneke Verveldt, The Roslin Institute.

Mr David Disney, Sheep Improved Genetics Ltd.

Professor Josephine Pemberton, Wild Evolution Group, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh

Dr Craig Watkins, Moredun Research Institute

Highlighted research outputs

  1. Differential expression of pattern recognition receptors during the development of foetal sheep

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Development and validation of an oligonucleotide microarray for immuno-inflammatory genes of ruminants

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Phenotypic analysis of host-parasite interactions in lambs infected with Teladorsagia circumcincta

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Expressed gene sequences of two variants of sheep interleukin-25

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Digital gene expression analysis of gastrointestinal helminth resistance in Scottish blackface lambs

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  6. Novel virus-encoded microRNA molecules expressed by ovine herpesvirus 2 immortalized bovine T cells

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

View all (112) »

Research activities & awards

  1. BMC Veterinary Research (Journal)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity

  2. BMC Veterinary Research (Journal)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity

View all (2) »

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