Dirk Werling


Royal Veterinary College

After gaining a First class BSc.VetMed. (Veterinary University Hannover), my Dr.Med.Vet. thesis at the ETH Zuerich examined the impact of Bovine Leukaemia Virus infection on the ability of bovine macrophages to respond to LPS. This work was then followed by a stipend of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) to participate in the PostGraduate course in Experimental Medicine, run by the University Hospital Zuerich. After a year, I returned to ETH Zuerich with a Postdoctoral Research Fellow Stipend of the German Research Foundation (DFG). This was followed by a Marie Curie Research Fellowship of the EU to join the group of Chris Howard at the Institute for Animal Health (Compton Laboratories) to work on the development and characterisation of dendritic cells and their role in respiratory syncytial virus infection. From here, I moved back to the ETH Zuerich as a Senior Scientist (Oberassistent). During this period I expanded the scope of my work to encompass the development of the innate immune system in ruminants, and aspect of pathogen escape mechanisms in innate immune cells. In 2001, I accepted an Assistant Professorship (Tenure Track) at the Institute of Virology (University of Berne), in the group of Thomas Jungi. In 2003, I accepted a Senior Lectureship at the Royal Veterinary College, and was promoted to a personal tenured Chair and Professor in Molecular Immunology in 2007. The key motivation for this move was the unique opportunity to develop dendritic cell based vaccines for farm animals by targeting the then newly discovered class of innate immune receptors, such as the Toll-like receptors. In this role I have been responsible from the outset for the design, implementation and evaluation of new vaccine delivery platforms. These activities have attracted substantial funding and resulted of the submission of 3 different patent-applications. My research during this period has naturally been biased towards research administration, where close working relationships with industrial partners has been essential. Throughout, however, I have continued to make significant contributions to answering the function of the innate immune response in farm animals and evolutionary questions associated with identified differences between farm animals, human and mice. I have produced so far over 100 Peer Reviewed Publications in international journals across a broad range of empirical research topics such as that of the coevolution between host and pathogens, and the species-specific recognition of pathogens. My current research is funded through BBSRC, EU (FP7 and EMIDA) as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Research interests

innate immune response, innate immune memory, targeting vaccines to innate immune receptors, new adjuvant, innate immune gene polymorphisms