Dr. L Heath

Dr. Heath joined the Agriculture Research Council in 2006, shortly after obtaining a PhD degree from the University of Cape Town. His research has been focuses on transboundary animal disease, including African swine fever, foot and mouth disease, Classical swine fever, PPRS and PPR. He has more than 10 years of research experience in the area of infectious diseases, most of which have been spent working in BSL3 containment He has been responsible for managing the BSL3 and AgBSL3 facilities at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute since 2008. In addition to his research activities, he manages the Transboundary Animal Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory at the institute and was recently appointed as the Research Team Manager responsible for vaccine production. In 2017 he was appointed by the World Orginasation for Animals Health (OIE) as an international expert for African swine fever.

His primary research focuses are epidemiology, diagnostics, disease control and vaccine development. In addition to significant experience in the preclinical testing of candidate vaccines, he has developed several other research interests associated with vaccine development. Foremost of these is an interest in microbial evolution and selection. A sound understanding of the epidemiology and phylogenetic characteristics of a particular pathogen is of critical importance in the design of biologically relevant control strategies. Coupled with this is an understanding of the mechanisms used by microbes to evolve and adapt to their ever-changing environment.