What research facilities and resources are available?

Currently, the Ashworth Laboratories which host the Centre contains approximately 4000 m2 of office and laboratory space, of which the most modern (Ashworth 3) offers 1800 m2 including Category 2 and Category 3 laboratories for pathogen research. This infrastructure is currently undergoing major improvement supported by a generous award from the Wolfson Foundation to enhance the environment for the Centre.

The Ashworth Laboratories complex is equipped with state-of-the art facilities covering a wide range of bioscience applications relevant to immunity, Infection and Evolution readsearch. The Flow Cytometry facility, in addition to cell sorting and counting flow cytometers, includes a confocal microscope capable of multi-spectrum real-time image analysis.

The Ashworth Labs are home to Edinburgh Genomics, the University’s next generation sequencing, genotyping and bioinformatics facility, which offers Illumina sequencing on HiSeq2500 and MiSeq instruments, chip-based genotyping, microarrays, Sanger sequencing and bioinformatics analysis support. It is one of the four largest genome facilities in the UK outside the Sanger Institute. This is accelerating discoveries in genomic epidemiology, within-host transcriptome profiling and the analysis of pathogen virulence phenotypes.

The Pathogen Imaging Facility offers high-speed three-dimensional imaging. The system is enclosed in an incubation chamber, enabling the control of temperature, carbon dioxide and air humidity conditions for microscopic studies of live cell imaging.

The laboratories offer a full range of centrifugation, tissue culture, temperature-controlled incubation, protein chromatography, lyophilisation, 2-D gel electrophoresis equipment, and asociated instrumentation. In adjacent buildings, transgenesis and histology, protein production, crystallography, proteomics and MS and electron microscopy are available.

Many of the core activities within CIIE depend upon the ability to interrogate high throughput datasets generated through next-generation sequencing and proteomic approaches. To derive maximum value from these datasets we have appointed Al Ivens as Bioinformatics Director, assisting the analysis and interpretation of genome, transcriptome and proteome datasets, fulfilling a demand currently unmet within CIIE.

Study design and statistical support is provided by Margo Chase-Topping, a statistician with expertise in the analysis of large-scale data sets, such as from epidemiological and population studies. These staff also co-ordinate training programmes in quantitative biology and statistical packages, such as the Renvironment.

The proteomic service complements our resources, enabling progress in, for example, pathogen-pathogen and host-pathogen communication via the analysis of secreted products, immunological mimics as well as conventional protein complex analysis. This complements the School proteomics facility providing a flexible analytical resource for Centre members.

In addition to its operations within Edinburgh, the Centre also links with scientists in disease endemic countries (Zimbabwe, Kenya, Brazil and Tanzania, Cameroon) and nurtures those already in place, such as with the Busia field site in Western Kenya. This facility was developed by Woolhouse as part of the Wellcome Trust funded IDEAL (Infectious Diseases of East African livestock) project, and has been further developed, through a Wellcome Trust CDF award to Fèvre, establishing the PAZ (People, Animals and Zoonoses) laboratory. The principal aim of work ongoing at Busia is to understand the mechanisms that drive the transmission of zoonotic diseases between livestock reservoirs and humans, and to contribute to the design of interventions to improve human and animal health. These aims closely align with those of the Centre, but also add value through the potential to integrate field and laboratory study.

We also plan to develop the training potential of this field site. There are currently 3 full time postgraduate students at Busia with other student projects planned. Hence there is a strong demand to capitalise on the facilities available at this field station.