Group leader

Dr Mark van der Giezen
Professor of Biological Chemistry (mark.vandergiezen{at} 

My research mainly focusses on intestinal microbiology and adaptations to the environmental conditions in the animal gut. The topic of my PhD at the University of Groningen and subsequent postdoc at the Natural History Museum focussed on rumen microbes that play an important role in animal nutrition. The topic shifted partly to human intestinal parasites during my postdoc at Royal Holloway, University of London. During my lectureship (~Assistant Professor) at Queen Mary, University of London, research focussed on adaptations to life without oxygen as found in the intestine. I moved to the University of Exeter in 2007 as Senior Lecturer in Evolutionary Biochemistry and got promoted to Associate Professor of Evolutionary Biochemistry in January 2019. In Exeter, my work partly shifted back to how microbes play important roles in livestock and the role of microbial flora on animal health. I became Theme Lead for Aquatic Diseases for the new Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Futures in 2017. Since Summer 2019, I am Professor of Biological Chemistry at the Centre for Organelle Research at the University of Stavanger in Norway.

CV Mark van der Giezen

Postdoctoral scientists

Corey Holt, Molecular Parasitology. SAF Fellow (ch499{at}
The provision of enough food to the growing world population is extremely important. An important role in the production of healthy and safe food comes from the aquaculture sector. Over the last 10 years or so, increases in fish production have not come from catching wild fish in the seas but from fish farms who play an increasingly more important role in the fishing industry. However, disease limits future growth and sustainability. Pathogens such as the ciliate Ichthyophthirius multifiliis are very significant factors that limit food security in this sector. Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, or Ich for short, causes white spot disease in fish, a disease that manifests itself in the form of tiny, visible, white specks on the outside of fish. White spot disease is extremely contagious and has caused large-scale mortalities in wild fish populations. In the UK aquaculture sector, it is one of the top-10 diseases that affect salmon and trout aquaculture. Due to its high virulence, it can cause 100% mortalities in disease outbreaks. Unfortunately, there is no suitable medicine to prevent or treat white spot disease in fish.
This project is funded by the BBSRC and NERC under the Aquaculture Research Hub - UK together with Dr Ronny van Aerle, Dr Irene Cano Cejas and Dr Nick Taylor at Cefas.


Maulood Turfah, PhD student in Molecular Parasitology (mmst201{at}
In 1997, I graduated from the University of Baghdad, College of Veterinary Medicine (BVM&S). After that, I obtained an MSc in Veterinary Parasitology (2000) and worked on avian malaria (caused by Plasmodium juxtanuclear). Since 2002, I have been working as a lecturer at the College of Veterinary Medicine (University of Baghdad). I have 4 published papers in different Iraqi journals. I had a private veterinary clinic for 7 years. In 2013, I got a sponsorship from the Iraqi government to start my PhD in molecular parasitology and am currently working on Entamoeba invadens encystation.

Shatha Raof, PhD student in Parasitology (sawr201{at}
Understanding how intestinal parasites such as Entamoeba histolytica produce infectious particles known as cysts is crucial if we want to disrupt the lifecycle and spread of this deadly human pathogen. Using biophysical techniques, I aim to get a handle on the physical changes the lead to cyst production. This project is jointly supervised by Prof. Peter Winlove and Dr. Peter Petrov in Physics.

Georgios Kontellas, PhD student Biochemical Parasitology (gk281{at}
Liverfluke causes massive economic damage to the cattle and sheep industry due to poor animal health and production. In addition, in some settings it caused disease in humans as well. Understanding how current commercial drugs actually work and interact with the flukes metabolism is important for the development of new drugs. Drug resistance is currently a problem and I hope to be able to provide novel drug targets to control and eradicate this serious threat to food security. This project is jointly supervised with Dr. David Studholme and Dr. Misha Isupov.

Skye Marshall, PhD student Biophysical Parasitology (sm781{at}
The biophysical changes happening at the membrane of encysting Entamoeba is completely unknown. How a rigid cell wall is deposited on a fluid membrane is an amazing problem. In addition to this, if we want to disrupt cyst formation as a possible intervention strategy against this deadly human pathogen that kills some 100,000 people each year, then we need exactly this kind of information to make informed decisions regarding potential drug targets. 
This EPSRC funded project is jointly supervised by Prof. Peter Winlove and Dr. Peter Petrov in Physics.

Joanna L'Heureux, PhD student Human Health and Nutrition (jl507{at}
Human health is tightly linked with the food people consume. However, how are nutrients in food taken up and made available to human cells? It has beeen discovered that microbes on the tongue play crucial roles in nitrate and nitrite metabolism and human health. Understanding this interaction by combing next generation sequencing with human physiology and health we aim to help in our quest for healthy ageing. This Wellcome Trust funded studentship is jointly supervised with Prof. Andy Jones and Dr. Anni Vanhatalo (Sport and Health Sciences) and Prof. Paul Winyard (Medical School).

Annabel Rice, PhD student Fish Virology (ar605{at}
Viruses cause serious disease in fish but are often detected at a very late stage during infection. We aim to develop better diagnostic methods to be able to detect viruses before large outbreaks occur. We also hope to be able to boost the immune system of fish so they are better able to defend themselves against incoming viruses. The aim of this project is to protect fish as aquaculture will become a more important source of food for humanity in the future. This a University of Exeter and Cefas Strategic Alliance funded PhD studentship and jointly supervised with Dr David Stone at Cefas and Dr Tetsu Kudoh in Biosciences.


Dr Jamie McFadzean. Former PhD-student (2014-2019), now Senior Policy Advisor at Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Dr Diana Minardi. Former PhD-student (2013-2017), now research scientist at Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas).

Dr Sheera Abdulla. Former PhD-student (2011-2016), now laboratory manager at the University of Exeter.

Dr Michael Bottery. Former
MRes-student Bioinformatics (2013), now postdoctoral research associate at University of York.
Dr Maria Siegesmund.
Former PhD-student (2007-2011) & post-doc (2011), now working at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Department of Experimental Phycology and Culture Collection of Algae, Germany and retrained as secondary school science teacher.
Dr Kerem Terali.
Former PhD-student (2006-2010), now Associate Professor at the Near East University in Cyprus
Dr Kailash Chand.
Former Post-doc (2009-2010), now Assistant Professor at the National Institute for Research in Environmental Health in India.
Dr Joseph Harvey.
Former Wellcome Trust Vacation Scholar (Summer 2010). Now at Appleton Woods Ltd.
Ifeanyi Nwachukwu.
Former MSc Biocatalysis student (2009), now Vanier Scholar at the University of Manitoba.
Nebibe Mutlu.
Former Erasmus placement student (Summer 2009), now PhD-student at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, USA.
Dr Karleigh Hamblin. Former PhD-student (2005-2008), now at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down.
Dr Matthew Rogers.
Former Post-doc (2007-2008), now Assistant Professor at the Medical School at the University of Pittsburgh, USA.