Department: Pathobiology and Population Sciences

Campus: Hawkshead

Research Groups: Host-Pathogen Interactions and Vaccinology, Safe and Sustainable Food

Damer is Professor of parasite genetics. His research interests are focused on protozoan parasites and pathogens of poultry using genetics and molecular biology.

Damer graduated with a degree in Animal Science from Wye College (University of London) in 1997. Following an MSc in Pig Production, he completed a PhD in bacterial genetics, both at the University of Aberdeen. After the completion of his PhD in 2001 he took up a post at the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) working on avian coccidiosis caused by the protozoan Eimeria species. During his time at IAH he carried out fundamental and applied genetics-led research, contributing to the Eimeria genome sequencing consortium, developing reverse-genetics strategies for use with Eimeria, designing a series of new molecular diagnostic tools and using genetic mapping as a step towards development of a new generation of cost-effective anticoccidial vaccines. In 2010 Damer joined the Royal Veterinary College, where he was appointed professor in 2016.

Since joining the RVC Damer has extended his research interests in Eimeria - protozoan parasites with cause the disease coccidiosis in all livestock species, most notably poultry. These parasites can cause a severe enteritis and have been estimated to cost the global poultry production industry in excess of £2 billion per annum. Current research strands include continuing studies to map genetic loci that encode genuinely immunoprotective antigens as vaccine candidates and the development of Eimeria as a novel vaccine delivery vehicle (in collaboration with Prof. Fiona Tomley). More recently, Damer has developed research interests in Eimeria population genetics and genetic diversity, interactions of Eimeria with bacterial pathogens of poultry, parasite diagnostics and studies on parasite evolution in domestic and wild animals.

Damer also works with Leishmania infantum, exploring immune responses of the dog during early infection, as well as Toxoplasma gondii and Cryptosporidium occurrence and diversity.

Current projects include:

SAPHIR consortium
Strengthening Animal Production and Health Through the Immune Response (SAPHIR).
European Commission Horizon 2020. 2015-2018. £595K

Blake DP and Rushton J
Determining and explaining poultry slaughterhouse condemnations - a holistic approach.
BBSRC iCASE PhD studentship with Faccenda Foods Ltd. 2014 - 2018.

Blake DP, Tomley FM, Guitian J, Hulme D and Kaiser P
Controlling enteric pathogens of poultry: Host/microbiota interactions, risk assessment and effective management interventions.
BBSRC Farmed Animal Diseases and Health (FADH). 2014-2017. £789K

Wastling J, Randle N, Xia D, Blake DP and Tomley FM
An integrated model of host-parasite interactions in Coccidian parasites.
BBSRC responsive mode. 2014 - 2017. £392K.

Blake DP and Stabler R
Impact of Eimeria infection on Campylobacter colonisation of the chicken and microbiome diversity.
BBSRC DTP/Bloomsbury College PhD studentship. 2013 - 2017.


Selected and recent peer reviewed papers (from more than 70)

Blake DP, Clark EL, Macdonald SE, Thenmozhi V, Kundu K, Garg R, Jatau ID, Ayoade S, Kawahara F, Moftah A, Reid AJ, Adebambo AO, Álvarez-Zapata R, Srinivasa Rao ASR, Thangaraj K, Banerjee PS, Raj GD, Raman M, Tomley FM (2015) Population, genetic and antigenic diversity of the apicomplexan Eimeria tenella and their relevance to vaccine development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 112:E5343–E5350. doi/10.1073/pnas.1506468112, E5343–E5350

Nolan MJ, Tomley FM, Kaiser P and Blake DP (2015) Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) for Eimeria tenella replication – implications for experimental refinement and animal welfare. Parasitology International 64:464-470

Choudhary V, Garg S, Chourasia R, Hasnani JJ, Patel PV, Shah TM, Bhatt VD, Mohapatra A, Blake DP, Joshi CG (2015) Transcriptome analysis of the adult rumen fluke Paramphistomum cervi following next generation sequencing. Gene 570:64-70

Blake DP (2015) Eimeria genomics: where are we now and where are we going? Veterinary Parasitology 212:68-74.

Leopardi S, Blake D and Puechmaille SJ (2015) White-Nose Syndrome fungus introduced from Europe into North America. Current Biology 25:R217-R219.

Reid AJ, Blake DP, Ansari HR, Billington K, Browne HP, Bryant J, Dunn M, Hung SS, Kawahara F, Miranda-Saavedra D, Malas TB, Mourier T, Naghra H, Nair M, Otto TD, Rawlings ND, Rivailler P, Sanchez-Flores A, Sanders M, Subramaniam C, Tay Y-L, Woo Y, Wu X, Barrell B, Dear PH, Doerig C, Gruber A, Ivens AC, Parkinson J, Rajandream M-A, Shirley MW, Wan K-L, Berriman M, Tomley FM and Pain A (2014) Genomic analysis of the causative agents of coccidiosis in domestic chickens. Genome Research 24:1676-1685.

RAO ASRS, Tomley F and Blake D (2015) Understanding Chicken Walks on n × n Grid: Hamiltonian Paths, Discrete Dynamics and Rectifiable Paths. Mathematical Methods in the Applied Sciences 38:3346-3358.

Blake DP and Tomley FM (2014) Securing poultry production from the ever-present Eimeria challenge. Trends in Parasitology 30:12-19.

Hassell JM, Blake DP, Cranfield MR, Ramer J, Hogan JN, Noheli JB, Waters M and Hermosilla C (2014) Occurrence and molecular analysis of Balantidium coli in Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla beringei) in the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 49:1063-1065).

Kumar S, Garg R, Moftah A, Clark EL, Macdonald SE, Chaudhry AS, Sparagano O, Banerjee PS, Kundu K, Tomley FM and Blake DP (2014) An optimised protocol for molecular identification of Eimeria from Chickens. Veterinary Parasitology 199:24-31.

Fornace KM, Clark EL, Macdonald SE, Namangala B, Karimuribo E, Awunie JA, Thieme O, Blake DP and Rushton J (2013) Occurrence of Eimeria species parasites on small-scale commercial chicken farms in Africa and indication of economic profitability. PLoS One 8:e84254.

Luu L, Bettridge J, Melese K, Blake D, Dessie T, Wigley P, Christley RM and Lynch SE (2013) Prevalence and molecular characterisation of Eimeria species in Ethiopian indigenous village chickens. BMC Veterinary Research 9:208.

Jeanes C, Vaughan-Higgins R, Green RE, Sainsbury AW, Marshall RN, Blake DP (2013) Two new Eimeria species parasitic in corncrakes (Crex crex) (Gruiformes: Rallidae) in the United Kingdom. Journal of Parasitology 99:634-638.

Chapman HD, Barta JR, Blake D, Gruber A, Jenkins M, Smith N, Suo X, Tomley FM (2013) Review of coccidiosis research. Advances in Parasitology 83:93-171.

Dhinakar Raj D, Aarthi S, Selvabharathi R, Raman M, Blake DP and Tomley FM (2013) Real time PCR based quantification of Eimeria genomes – a method to outweigh underestimation of genome numbers due to PCR inhibition. Avian Pathology 42:304-308.

Walker CA, Sheilds S, Blake DP, Brownlie J (2013) Complete Genome Sequence of Mycoplasma cynos Strain C142. Genome Announcements 1:e00196-12.

Oakes RD, Kurian D, Bromley E, Ward C, Lal K, Blake DP, Reid AJ, Pain A, Sinden RE, Wastling JM, Tomley FM (2013) The rhoptry proteome of Eimeria tenella sporozoites. International Journal for Parasitology 43: 181-188.

Clark E, Blake DP (2012) Genetic mapping and coccidial parasites: past achievements and future prospects. Journal of Biosciences 37:879-886.

Su H, Liu X, Yan W, Shi T, Zhao X, Blake DP, Tomley FM, Suo X (2012) piggyBac transposon-mediated transgenesis in the apicomplexan parasite Eimeria tenella. PLoS One 7:e40075.

Blake DP, Alias H, Billington KJ, Clark EL, Mat-Isa M-N, Mohamad A-F-H, Mohd-Amin M-R, Tay Y-L, Smith AL, Tomley FM, Wan K-L (2012) EmaxDB: Availability of a first draft genome sequence for the apicomplexan Eimeria maxima. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 184:48-51.

Amiruddin N, Lee X-W, Blake DP, Suzuki Y, Tay Y-L, Lim L-S, Tomley FM, Watanabe J, Sugimoto C, Wan K-L (2012) Characterisation of full-length cDNA sequences provides insights into the Eimeria tenella transcriptome. BMC Genomics 13:21.

Clark JD, Oakes RD, Redhead K, Crouch CF, Francis MJ, Tomley FM, Blake DP (2012) Eimeria species parasites as novel vaccine delivery vectors: anti-Campylobacter jejuni protective immunity induced by Eimeria tenella-delivered CjaA. Vaccine 30:2683-2688.

Barkway CP, Pocock RL, Vrba V, Blake DP (2011) Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assays for the species-specific detection of Eimeria that infect chickens. BMC Veterinary Research 7:67.

Lai L, Bumstead J, Liu Y, Garnett J, Campanero-Rhodes MA, Blake DP, Palma AS, Chai W, Ferguson DJP, Simpson P, Feizi T, Tomley FM, Matthews S (2011) The role of sialyl glycan recognition in host tissue tropism of the avian parasite Eimeria tenella. PLoS Pathogens 7:e1002296.

Chow Y-P, Wan K-L, Blake DP, Tomley F, Nathan S (2011) Immunogenic Eimeria tenella Glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored Surface Antigens (SAGs) Induce Inflammatory Responses in Avian Macrophages. PLoS One 6:e25233.

Lizundia R, Newman C, Buesching CD, Ngugi D, Blake D, Sin YW, Macdonald DW, Wilson A, McKeever D (2011) Evidence for a Role of the Host-Specific Flea (Paraceras melis) in the Transmission of Trypanosoma (Megatrypanum) pestanai to the European Badger. PLoS One 6:e16977.

Katzer F, Lizundia R, Ngugi D, Blake D, McKeever D (2011) Construction of a genetic map for Theileria parva: Identification of hotspots of recombination. International Journal for Parasitology 41: 669-675.

Blake DP, Billington KJ, Copestake SL, Oakes RD, Quail MA, Wan K-L, Shirley MW and Smith AL (2011) Genetic mapping identifies novel highly protective antigens for an apicomplexan parasite. PLoS Pathogens 7:e1001279.

Blake DP, Oakes R, Smith AL (2011) A genetic linkage map for the apicomplexan protozoan parasite Eimeria maxima and comparison with Eimeria tenella. International Journal for Parasitology 41:263-270.

Vrba V, Blake DP, Poplstein M (2010) Quantitative real-time PCR assays for detection and quantification of all seven Eimeria species that infect the chicken. Veterinary Parasitology. 174:183-190.

Velkers FC, Blake DP, Graat EAM, Vernooij JCM, Bouma A, de Jong MCM, Stegeman JA (2010) Quantification of Eimeria acervulina in faeces of broilers: comparison of McMaster oocyst counts from 24 hour faecal collections and single droppings to real-time PCR from cloacal swabs. Veterinary Parasitology 169:1-7.

Beck H-P, Blake D, Dardé M-L, Felger I, Pedraza-Díaz S, Regidor-Cerrillo J, Gómez-Bautista M, Ortega-Mora LM, Putignani L, Shiels B, Tait A, Weir W; (2009) Molecular approaches to diversity of populations of apicomplexan parasites. International Journal for Parasitology 39:175-189.

Clark JD, Billington K, Bumstead JM, Oakes RD, Soon PE, Sopp P, Tomley FM, Blake DP; (2008) A toolbox facilitating stable transfection of Eimeria species. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology 162:77-86.

Ling K-H, Rajandream M-A, Rivailler P, Ivens A, Yap S-J, Madeira AMBN, Mungall K, Billington K, Yee W-Y, Bankier AT, Carroll F, Durham AM, Peters N, Loo S-S, Mat-Isa MN, Novaes J, Quail M, Rosli R, Shamsudin MN, Sobreira TJP, Tivey AR, Wai S-F, White S, Wu X, Kerhornou A, Blake D, Mohamed R, Shirley M, Gruber A, Berriman M, Tomley F, Dear PH and Wan K-L; (2007) Sequencing and analysis of chromosome 1 of Eimeria tenella reveals a unique segmental organisation. Genome Research 17:311-319.


Blake DP, Smith AL and Shirley MW. Vaccine. PCT/GB2011/051456 (pending)

Damer teaches veterinary parasitology in various modules on the BVetMed, BVetMed Graduate Accelerated, BSc Bioveterinary Science and MSc One Health courses. He supervises PhD theses within the field of molecular parasitology and genetics, as well as research projects on several RVC courses, a number of which have resulted in student presentations at conferences and publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Damer is a module leader on the One Health Masters course (Infectious Disease Emergence).

Damer is a council member and meetings secretary for the British Society for Parasitology.

Damer is assistant editor in chief for the journal Avian Pathology, an associate editor for BMC Veterinary Reserach and Frontiers in Veterinary Science, and an editorial board member for Transboundary and Emerging Diseases.

Damer currently supports the Science Learning Centre, assisting school science teachers develop exciting and relevant resources for school children of all ages.

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