Department: Pathobiology and Population Sciences

Campus: Hawkshead

Research Groups: Pathogen Flow in Ecosystems, Sustainable Food Systems

Research Centres: Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health

Dirk graduated from Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany in 1984 with a Degree in Veterinary Medicine. He went on to complete a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at the same university in 1986. Following this Dirk went on to do a Postgraduate Diploma in Tropical Veterinary Medicine at the Free University of Berlin, which involved fieldwork in Kenya, Somalia, Malaysia and Thailand.

In 1987, Dirk moved to Massey University, New Zealand to complete a PhD in veterinary epidemiology and remained there for 11 years, where he became a Lecturer in Production Medicine and Epidemiology in 1992 and was appointed as Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Epidemiology in 1996. Dirk joined the Royal Veterinary College in 1999 as a Professor in Veterinary Epidemiology. Dirk was an Honorary Professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine from 2000 to 2016, and has been an Adjunct Professor at the China Animal Health & Epidemiology Centre, Qingdao, China, since 2016. Dirk had the part-time role of Chief Epidemiologist of the UK Government's Animal & Plant Health Agency from 2015 to 2017. He joined City University of Hong Kong's newly established Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine & Life Sciences on November 1, 2016 as Chair Professor for One Health, but will maintain a 20% appointment at the Royal Veterinary College. In his new position at CityU, he is Director of the Centre of Applied One Health Research and Policy Advice, and from 2017 until 2019 he also was Associate Dean (Research) in the Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine & Life Sciences. In recognition of outstanding academic and research achievements, Dirk was bestowed the Chow Tak Fung endowed Chair Professorship in May 2019.

Membership of Advisory Committees and Expert Panels: Dirk has worked in many countries around the world as an advisor to international and national organisations. Examples are permanent membership in the OIE ad hoc Group on COVID-19 and the human-animal interface (since 2020); technical advisor to the Standing Group of Experts on African Swine Fever for Asia, FAO OIE GF-TADs (Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases) (since 2019); membership of Scientific Advisory Board of Federal Research Institute for Animal Health (Friedrich Loeffler Institut), Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Germany (2019-23); chairing the Applied Epidemiology Working Group of OIE and FAO’s OFFLU Organisation (2017 - 2019); chairing the Animal Health Surveillance Governance Board for England and Wales (2015-16); involvement in science reviews of the two largest German government research organisations (FLI in 2014 and BfR in 2015); having been a member of the International Advisory Committee for Review of Food Safety and Biosecurity Programmes of Singapore's Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (2002-2019); membership of the Scientific Panel for Animal Health and Welfare of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) from 2003 until 2009; membership of the International Scientific Peer Review Panel of Japan’s National Institute of Animal Health in 2011; membership of UK’s Pirbright Institute’s Scientific Advisory Board (in 2016).

Dirk’s research has been widespread and varied, but with a special emphasis on translation of science into policy, evidence-based veterinary medicine, analytical epidemiology, advanced multivariate techniques, spatial and temporal analysis of epidemiological data, development of animal health information systems, computer modelling of animal disease, and field ecological research methods.

Dirk has co-authored 360 peer-reviewed publications associated with an ISI WoS h-index of 48 (as of September 2020).

Current funding as principal investigator: Grants to a total value of over HK$ 47Mill. As principal investigator, he leads two research projects targeted at setting up health and production programmes for local pig and poultry farms in Hong Kong funded with HK$30Mill, and various smaller research projects and consultancies totalling in value about HK$5 Mill. He is also the Deputy Director of the One Health Poultry Hub funded with GBP 19 Mill by UK Government's Global Challenges Research Fund.

Past funding as principal investigator: Grants to a total value of approximately £14Mill for projects on diverse topics such as avian influenza control in Bangladesh (BALZAC), development of risk-based surveillance frameworks (RISKSUR), the epidemiology of African swine fever virus or PPR in Africa, the epidemiology of bovine pancytopenia, research into avian influenza in Africa and Asia, use of biomarkers to predict horse fractures, antibiotic usage in pig production, development of a global animal and production atlas, risk factors for MRSA in dogs and cats in UK, development of predictive spatial risk models for Rift Valley fever in Africa, control of tick-borne diseases in redline zone of Kruger National Park, role of wildlife in the epidemiology of paratuberculosis, spatial patterns of avian influenza in Asia and cattle and wildlife tuberculosis in New Zealand.


Dirk's publications and associated citation metrics are available through, and

Publications in 2020:

Dixon,L.K., Stahl,K., Jori,F., Vial,L. and Pfeiffer,D.U. (2020): African swine fever epidemiology and control. Annual Review of Animal Biosciences 8: 221-246.

Kim,Y., Leung,M.H.Y., Kwok,W., Fournié,G., Li,J., Lee,P.K.H. and Pfeiffer,D.U. (2020): Antibiotic resistance gene sharing networks and the effect of dietary nutritional content on the canine and feline gut resistome. Animal Microbiome 2, 4.

Guo,S, Lu,D, Pfeiffer,S and Pfeiffer,DU (2020): Non-ambulatory dogs with cervical intervertebral disc herniation: single versus multiple ventral slot decompression. Australian Veterinary Journal

Yuan,H.-Y., Liang,J., Lin,P.-S., Sucipto,K., Tsegaye,M.M., Wen,T.-H., Pfeiffer,S. and Pfeiffer,D. 2020: The effects of seasonal climate variability on dengue annual incidence in Hong Kong: A modelling study. Scientific reports 10, 4297.

Barnett,T., Pfeiffer,D.U., Ahasanul Hoque,M., Giasuddin,M., Flora,M.S., Biswas,P.K., Debnath,N. and Fournié, G. (2020): Practising co-production and interdisciplinarity: Challenges and implications for one health research. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 177, 104949.

Willgert,K., Meyer,A., Tung,D.X., Thu,N.V., Long,P.T., Newman,S., Thuy,N.T.T., Padungtod,P., Fournié,G., Pfeiffer,D.U. and Vergne,T. (2020): Transmission of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the nomadic free-grazing duck production system in Viet Nam. Scientific reports 10, 8432.

Hossain,M.P., Junus,A., Zhu,X., Jia,P., Wen,T.-H., Pfeiffer,D. and Yuan,H.-Y. (2020): The effects of border control and quarantine measures on the spread of COVID-19. Epidemics, 100397.

Salvador,R., Tanquilut,N., Macmac,R., Na Lampang,K., Chaisowwong,W., Pfeiffer,D. and Punyapornwithaya,V. (2020): Evaluation of strategies using simulation model to control a potential outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza among poultry farms in Central Luzon, Philippines. PLOS ONE 15, e0238815.

Salvador,R., Tanquilut,N., Na Lampang,K., Chaisowwong,W., Pfeiffer,D. and Punyapornwithaya,V. (2020): Identification of High-Risk Areas for the Spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Central Luzon, Philippines. Veterinary Sciences 7.


Dirk teaches Epidemiology mainly at postgraduate level, including teaching of specialist courses at advanced level.

He has produced the following teaching videos:

Pfeiffer,D.U. (2015): Predictive value of a diagnostic test result. VET Talks video lecture. 

Pfeiffer,D.U. (2015): Diagnostic sensitivity and specificity. VET Talks video lecture.

One Health: An introduction by Professor Dirk Pfeiffer 

Dirk has authored, edited or co-authored the following textbooks or textbook chapters:

Pfeiffer,D.U. (2010): Introduction to Veterinary Epidemiology. Wiley-Blackwell. 132pp. (out of print but copyright has been returned to the author and the text is therefore now available for free download here)

Pfeiffer,D.U. (2009): Analysis of spatial data. Chapter 26. In I.R. Dohoo, W. Martin and H. Stryhn (eds): Veterinary epidemiological research. 2nd ed. AVC Inc., Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Pfeiffer,D.U., Robinson,T.P., Stevenson,M., Stevens,K.B., Clements,A.C.A. and Rogers,D. (2008): Spatial analysis in epidemiology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 208pp.

Pfeiffer,D.U. (2008): Animal tuberculosis. In P.D.O.Davies, P.F. Barnes and S.B. Gordon (eds) Clinical tuberculosis. 4th ed. Hodder Arnold, London, UK, 519-528.

Kaneene,J.B. and Pfeiffer,D.U. (2006): Epidemiology of Mycobacterium bovis. In C.O. Thoen, J.H. Steele and M.J. Gilsford (eds): Mycobacterium bovis infection in animals and humans. 2nd ed. Blackwell Publishing, Ames, Iowa, USA, 34-48.


Dirk has also designed and taught international training courses in veterinary epidemiology, risk analysis and spatial analysis in Austria, Australia, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, Ethiopia, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, Malawi, Mongolia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Vietnam and United Kingdom. He has been one of the coordinators of a two year Field Epidemiology Training Programme for Veterinarians in China since 2011. 

  • Epidemiology of Tuberculosis in Meerkats of the Kalahari

    Research project by the Royal Veterinary College investigating the epidemiology of Tuberculosis in meerkats in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa.

    Meerkats (Suricata suricatta) are social mammals that live in groups. A potential disadvantage of being social is that infectious diseases are more likely to spread. Tuberculosis (TB: a bacterial infection) was first detected in wild meerkats in southern Africa in the late 1990s.

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