Dr Spiridoula Athanasiadou

Reader in Gastrointestinal Health
Disease Systems
Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Research interests 

As a veterinarian I have a special interest in managing animal health but I want this to be achieved with minimum input of chemical drugs and without compromising animal welfare.
To achieve this, my research focuses into:

i) understanding host-pathogen interactions, ii) characterizing the consequences of host’s environment on host-pathogen interactions and iii) designing strategies to improve the ability of the host to cope with a disease in any given environment. I am using parasitological, immunological and molecular methodologies, including genome-wide transcriptomic and proteomic approaches to address my research.

I focus on gastrointestinal tract health and have acquired expertise in production diseases of both ruminant and monogastric hosts. I have been using in vivo and in vitro models to study disease and host responses and have pioneered research on the investigation of the antiparasitic properties of plant secondary metabolites, which is widely cited around the world.

I have recently developed and validated an in situ duodenal loop model to investigate host-pathogen interactions in the intestine; this is a very useful tool, particularly in the absence of a poultry epithelial cell line. It is currently used to investigate disease pathogenesis and host responses following infusion with Clostridium perfringens, the main causative agent of necrotic enteritis, a production disease of broiler poultry

Selected research projects

  • Necrotic Enteritis control in broilers
    Devise management-based control strategies for necrotic enteritis control in broilers. The work is funded by the Scottish Government, BBSRC and industrial partners.
  • Interaction between Campylobacter and host species and the basis of persistence, pathogenesis and protection.
    Investigate bacterial and host factors that affect bacterial colonisation in the gastrointestinal tract of the host. The work is funded by the Scottish Government
  • Tackling the parasitological challenges in organic ruminant farming practices
    Generate novel information for the control of gastrointestinal parasitism in organic ruminant production systems in Europe. The work is funded by Defra and ERA-NET.
  • Nutritional approaches to parasite control.
    Evaluate anti-parasitic efficacy and identify detrimental side effects and mode of action of plants with antiparasitic activity for preventative parasite control in livestock. The work is funded by BBSRC, DFID and industrial partners
  • Green house gas (GHG) emissions reduction from livestock.
    Quantify the effects of livestock disease  and disease control measures on GHG emissions and animal productivity. The work is funded by the Scottish Government


I coordinate and teach on the Disease in Livestock Ecosystems: Dynamics and Control (DILE-DAC) MSc course and teach on the Applied Animal Behavior and Animal Welfare course both run jointly by the University of Edinburgh and SRUC. I teach a variety of livestock health topics to SRUC undergraduates in Agriculture and Applied Animal Science courses. I have supervised a number of undergraduate and MSc postgraduate research projects in diverse areas of livestock health, from measuring innate immunity in the gastrointestinal tract to how nutrition affects parasite survival. 

PhD students

  • Aya Masuda
    Nutritional regulation of resistance to nematodes in mammals. Investigate immune mechanisms of interaction between nutrition and parasite infection at molecular level in mammals (funded by SRUC and the Japan Student Services)
  • Ketema Tolossa Gutu (supervised with Dr Jos Houdijk)
    Anti-parasitic properties of selected indigenous Ethiopian plant(s) as alternative parasite control strategy in livestock (funded by SRUC/BBSRC/CIDLID)
  • Sokratis Ptochos
  • Environmental change impacts on sheep parasitism. Investigate the impact of climate change and global warming on traits of gastrointestinal nematodes of sheep; and the impact of environmental conditions on host response under the forecasted climatic scenarios (funded by SRUC)
  • Lindsay Fulton
    Impact of genetics and growth promoters on avian intestinal microbiota and health. (funded by BBSRC and Aviagen).
  • Kay Russell
    Genotype x environment interactions for the control of necrotic enteritis in broilers. Characterise responses in the intestine of broilers exposed to a variety of bacterial antigens present during necrotic enteritis.  (funded by BBSRC and Zoetis)

Selected publications

  • Athanasiadou S, Tolossa K, Debela E, Tolera A, Houdijk JG. (2015) Tolerance and resistance to a nematode challenge are not always mutually exclusive. Int J Parasitol. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2014
  • Athanasiadou S, Russell KM, Kaiser P, Kanellos T, Burgess STG, Mitchell M, Clutton E, Naylor SW, Low, CJ, Hutchings MR, Sparks N. (2015) Genome-wide transcriptomic analysis identifies pathways affected by the infusion of Clostridium perfringens culture supernatant in the duodenum of broilers in situ. J Anim Sci 93: 3152-3163.
  • Sakkas P, Jones LA, Houdijk JG, Athanasiadou S, Knox DP, Kyriazakis I (2013) Leucine and methionine deficiency impairs immunity to gastrointestinal parasites during lactation. Br J Nutr 109: 273-282.
  • Athanasiadou S (2012) Nutritional deficiencies and parasitic disease: lessons and advancements from rodent models. Vet Parasitol 189: 97-103.
  • Athanasiadou S, Jones LA, Burgess STG, Kyriazakis I, Pemberton AD, Houdijk JGM, Huntley JF (2011) Genome-wide transcriptomic analysis of intestinal tissue to assess the impact of nutrition and parasitism in lactating rats infected with Nippostrongylus brasiliensis. PLoS One, 6(6):e20771.

See all of Dr Spiridoula Athanasiadou's publications.

Dr Spiridoula Athanasiadou

Research Scientist

Address: Animal & Veterinary Sciences, SRUC, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG

Telephone: 0131 651 9355

Fax: 0131 535 3121

E-mail: spiridoula.athanasiadou@sruc.ac.uk