2009 BSAS Hammond Prize for Professor Bishop

by 5m Editor
16 April 2009, at 8:22am

UK - Professor Steve Bishop of the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh has won the 2009 BSAS Sir John Hammond Prize.

Professor Steve Bishop (right) receives the BSAS Hammond Prize from Professor Jamie Newbold

The award is in recognition of his extensive contribution to research in animal science especially his novel work on the genetics of host variation in resistance to parasites and disease. This work has had a major influence worldwide on how animal scientists and farmers approach breeding for nematode and infective disease resistance.

Recognising the limitations of drug control of helminth parasites particularly of sheep, Steve Bishop, in collaboration with University of Glasgow, initiated a programme to investigate the extent of variation in genetic resistance to such parasites. This revealed substantial amounts of variation, using faecal egg count as a marker, indicating that selection to increase resistance would be successful.

Professor Bishop then developed novel genetic/epidemiological models to predict potential rates of improvement and revealed the important positive feedback in the system such that genetic improvement would reduce worm burden and pasture larval contamination as well as increase resistance. This work also revealed some of the mechanisms used by the host which lead to the genetic differences in resistance.

The prize was presented at the BSAS Annual Meeting in Southport on 31st March 2009 where Professor Bishop commented, "I am delighted to receive the prize in recognition of the work that teams of animal scientists at Roslin, SAC and the Universities of Glasgow & Edinburgh have undertaken. Great strides have been made in understanding the need and methods of selection for disease resistance, particularly worm resistance in sheep. This opens the door to identifying and selecting animals that can cope better with diseases in their environment with a minimum of drug related interventions. This is especially important in circumstances where drug resistance is an issue."

Steve Bishop is a New Zealander who took his undergraduate degree in Agricultural Science at Lincoln College, and subsequently a PhD in Genetics at the University of Edinburgh which he completed in 1985. Following a period at the Technical University of Munich at Weihenstephan and as a Geneticist at the Livestock Improvement Corporation in New Zealand, he returned to the UK in 1988 as a project leader at what is now the Roslin Institute in the University of Edinburgh. There he has built up a major research group with an international reputation.