Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Wilfred Goldmann

UoE Honorary staff

Profile photo

Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

Education/Academic qualification

1988Doctor rerum naturalium, University of Heidelberg, Germany
Das PrP gen eines natuerlichen Wirts der neurodegenerativen Erkrankung Scrapie
1985Master of Biological Science, Institute for Genetics, Cologne University
Charakterisierung des Lymphokins Interleukin-2

Current Research Interests

Genetics and molecular biology of prion family genes in health and TSE disease.

Research Interests

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), also known as prion diseases, such as scrapie in sheep and vCJD in man are fatal neurodegenerative disorders characterised by prion protein misfolding and aggregation in the brain. My group investigates the general and species-specific mechanisms that link susceptibility of classical and atypical forms of TSEs to genetic variation of the PRNP gene encoding the prion or PrP protein. This will enable us to perform better prediction of host disease response and to improve risk assessments and breeding strategies. While scrapie eradication through PRNP breeding has been successfully applied to sheep populations throughout the world, other livestock and free-ranging species with TSE disease outbreaks have not yet benefitted from similar genetic selection programs. We are currently exploring options of genetic control in goat scrapie and chronic wasting disease in American deer and study the susceptibility of scavengers and carnivores to prion agents.
Another aim of my group is to understand the molecular mechanisms that link the prion protein gene family, particularly PRNP (PrP) and SPRN (Shadoo) with TSEs. The expression level of the PrP protein is of crucial importance in TSE disease and appears also to have a significant role in neuronal survival. The role of shadoo protein may be similar to PrP but is as yet poorly understood. Both proteins are processed during maturation into various isoforms and fragments, which are likely to have distinct biological roles in normal health and in prion disease. Our research has recently shown that this protein processing is significantly modulated by PRNP genetics. Similarly, misfolding of the prion protein is modified and inhibited by PrP protein fragments. The search for genes controlling the expression and processing of prion protein in TSE susceptible and resistant species is therefore our current focus.  

My research in a nutshell

TSE diseases affect the brain, impairing the physical co-ordination and the mental ability of the host. Scrapie is a TSE disease that affects sheep. Wilfred Goldmann and his group are looking into why some animals are susceptible to Scrapie and why others are not. They have found, in certain sheep, a variation of a gene which makes them resistant to Scrapie. Their long term aim, through the National Scrapie Plan, is to breed animals which are all genetically resistant to Scrapie. 
In order to investigate the gene variation, blood samples are taken from animals. DNA is isolated from these samples then sequenced to look for mutations.

Administrative Roles


  • Management Group, EU STREP project “GoatBSE“
  • European Food Safety Aythority, Biohazards Working Group TSE Genetics
  • Editorial Board Member for the Journal of General Virology

Internal Committees:

  • IT Operations and Strategy Committee
  • Health & Safety Committee  


Course Coordinator "Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies" and lecture "TSEs in ruminants", Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, UoE



1. Goat BSE (I): Proposal for Improvement of Goat TSE Discriminative Diagnosis and Susceptibility based Assessment of BSE Infectivity in Goat Milk and Meat.
Funded by EU

2. Goat BSE (II):Proposal for Improvement of Goat BSE Diagnosis and Susceptibility based Assessment of BSE Infectivity 
Funded by DEFRA UK

3. Assessment of Pathology and Genetics of TSEs in Ruminants and Mouse Models. China Partnering Award
Funded by BBSRC

ID: 48077616