Infectious diseases continue to threaten the sustainability, productivity and growth of the poultry industry worldwide and some present a risk to public health. Many are also present in wild bird populations, with the potential to spill over into domestic birds. This meeting capitalises on the success of the previous Microbiology Society Focused Meeting entitled ‘Pathogenesis and Molecular Biology of Avian Viruses’ and expands the remit to include bacteria and parasites. In addition, while the meeting will continue to incorporate reports of molecular and cell biology, pathogenesis and host response, it will be expanded to include molecular epidemiology, host genetics, host range, and control. This will bring together the scientific community to help find solutions to the biggest challenges in avian infectious diseases and provide a forum for discussion not only on individual pathogens, but also on cross-cutting areas of relevance to multiple infections, for example the effect of immunosuppression on secondary infections, microbiota-pathogen interactions, and multivalent vaccines against several infections.

Avian Infectious Diseases 2021 – joining instructions

Key topics
  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Pathogenesis and host response
  • Host Genetics
  • Host Range
  • Control
Organising committee:
  • Holly Shelton (The Pirbright Institute, UK)
  • Andrew Broadbent (The Pirbright Institute, UK & University of Maryland, USA)
  • Roberto La Ragione (University of Surrey, UK)
  • Fiona Tomley (Royal Veterinary College, UK)
Further information will be announced in the build up to the meeting on our social media channels and you can follow us on Twitter @MicrobioSoc using the hashtag #Avian21.

Image credit: iStock/Sonja Filitz



Session View

Wednesday 15 September, Afternoon

Pathogenesis and host response

Thursday 16 September, Afternoon

Friday 17 September, Afternoon

Control - Part 2

Lecture View

Wednesday 15 September

Thursday 16 September

Friday 17 September


Below you will find more information about our invited speakers, who will present their work and research at Avian Infectious Diseases 2021: Finding solutions to the biggest challenges in viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases of domestic and wild birds.

  • Erica Bickerton, The Pirbright Institute, UK
  • Damer Blake, Royal Veterinary College, UK
  • Helena Maier, The Pirbright Institute, UK
  • Mike McGrew, The Roslin Institute, UK
  • Alasdair Nisbet, Moredun Research Institute, UK
  • Androniki Psifidi, Royal Veterinary College, UK
  • Oliver Pybus, Oxford University, UK
  • Paul Wigley, University of Liverpool, UK

Erica Bickerton headshot
© Erica Bickerton
Erica Bickerton

Erica Bickerton is Group Leader of the Coronavirus Group at The Pirbright Institute and has expertise in the study of coronavirus replication, evolution and pathogenicity. The avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus has been the main focus of Erica’s work since starting her PhD at the Institute for Animal Health (IAH; now the Pirbright Institute) in 2006. The group now researches several other coronaviruses that cause respiratory disease in their respective hosts. Erica’s current research utilises molecular virology, next generation sequencing and reverse genetics to characterise the pathogenicity determinants of coronaviruses for rational vaccine design. Other projects include the analysis of coronavirus genomic variation, gene expression and mechanisms of transcription.

Damer Blake

Following a PhD focused on bacterial genetics from the University of Aberdeen, Damer began working with Eimeria species parasites in 2001 at the Institute for Animal Health (IAH, UK). During his time at IAH he carried out fundamental and applied genetics-led research, contributing to the Eimeria genome sequencing consortium and working towards new, cost-effective anticoccidial vaccines. Damer joined the Royal Veterinary College in 2010, becoming Professor of Parasite Genetics in 2016. Current research strands include population genetic analyses of recognised and cryptic Eimeria species, development of novel vaccine delivery strategies, understanding the genetic basis of host resistance to coccidiosis and interactions of Eimeria with bacterial microbiota of poultry. In 2017 Damer became Editor-in-Chief of the journal Avian Pathology.

Helena Maier
© Helena Maier
Helena Maier

Helena completed a DPhil at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford studying the function of the Influenza A virus polymerase complex. After this she moved to the Institute for Animal Health/The Pirbright Institute to study modulation of cellular autophagy by avian coronavirus, Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) and formation of virus replication sites. She progressed to senior post-doctoral researcher and Independent Fellow at The Pirbright Institute focussing on coronavirus-host cell interactions using IBV vas a model virus. Helena now leads the Coronavirus-cell interactions group. Her group focusses on understanding how coronaviruses change the cellular environment to benefit replication and where there is conservation across the coronavirus family. This understanding will inform future development of vaccines, antivirals, and viral surveillance. A major area of research is the function and formation of virus induced membranous replication organelles. Other interests include viral regulation of translation and stress responses, viral budding and exit and coronavirus cross-species transmission. Her group now works on a wide range of coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-2 and other human viruses.

Mike McGrew headshot
© Mike McGrew
Mike McGrew

Dr Mike McGrew is a senior lecturer at the Roslin Institute, part of the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, UK. He received his PhD from Boston University School of Medicine (USA). He carried out postdoctoral research on chicken embryogenesis at the IBDM Marseille France and on chicken transgenesis at the Roslin Institute.

His research group is interested in using stem cells for the conservation of avian species. They study a particular avian stem cell – the primordial germ cell – which produces sperm and eggs in the adult bird. These cells can be efficiently propagated for chickens and can used to produce gene-edited chickens, chickens which contain precise genetic changes in their genome. They can also be transdifferentiated into all somatic cell lineages to investigate gene function.

Alasdair Nisbet
Alasdair Nisbet
Alasdair Nisbet is Head of the Vaccines and Diagnostics Department at Moredun Research Institute and has 31 years of research experience in veterinary and medical parasitology and in insect physiology. Throughout this time his research focus has been on novel methods of controlling invertebrate pests and parasites with an emphasis on understanding and exploiting the unique physiology of parasites of veterinary significance. He has national and international funding from Scottish Government, EU, UKRI and industry partners and has fruitful collaborations with academic, public sector and stakeholder groups worldwide (e.g. USDA, NFUS, Meat and Livestock Australia). His current work on avian pathogens encompasses the development of tools for understanding the poultry red mite’s biology, investigating gene function and host:parasite interactions and, ultimately, developing new ways of controlling the parasite, for example with vaccines. He recently led the international expert group delivering the DISCONTOOLS assessment for poultry red mite.

Twitter: @al_nisbet
LinkedIn profile

Androniki Psifidi
© Androniki Psifidi
Androniki Psifidi

Androniki Psifidi is a Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Clinical Genetics at the Royal Veterinary College and a visiting researcher at the Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh). Androniki is a member of the editorial board of Frontiers in Genetics and Frontiers in Veterinary Science, and a member of several consortia on poultry genomic resources.  Her work aims to dissect the genetic architecture and study the underlying molecular mechanisms of animal resistance to important diseases including zoonoses.  She is involved in multiple UKRI, EU, BMGF, charity and industry funded projects, where quantitative genetics, genomics, functional genomics and microbiome data is integrated in order to develop novel strategies to control disease. Translation of her research could lead to identification of disease biomarkers, novel drug-target discovery, and development of genomic tools with predictive capacity to underpin selective breeding, diagnostic testing and preventative disease management in both farm and companion animals. Visit her group’s website.

Oliver Pybus
Oliver Pybus

Oliver Pybus is Professor of Evolution & Infectious Disease at the University of Oxford and Professor of Infectious Diseases at the Royal Veterinary College London. He is co-Director of the Oxford Martin School Program for Pandemic Genomics and editor-in-chief of Virus Evolution. He investigates the evolution and genetics of viruses and helped to establish the field of phylodynamics. This year he has been working on the genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 and contributes to COG-UK (the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium).

Twitter: @evolvedotzoo

Paul Wigley headshot
© Paul Wigley
Paul Wigley

Paul Wigley is Professor of Avian Infection and Immunity at the University of Liverpool, UK. Paul has a BSc in Immunology and a PhD in Molecular Microbiology. He worked in Paul Barrow’s group at the Institute for Animal Health on the immunobiology of avian salmonellosis, before continuing this work on joining Liverpool in 2004, as well as establishing work on Campylobacter infection of the chicken. Since 2010, he has also worked on poultry health in developing countries including developing guides and a smartphone app for village producers in Africa and Asia. In recent years we have developed work on how the microbiome and microbial interventions can impact on the carriage of bacterial pathogens in the chicken along with their role in immunological development. Paul was awarded a personal chair in 2014.

Abstracts and posters

Abstract submission for the Avian Infectious Diseases 2021 meeting is now closed.

Journal of General Virology and Journal of Medical Microbiology are pleased to provide prizes for the best flash presentation and the best offered paper. Winners will be selected by members of the organising committee, Andrew Broadbent and Holly Shelton, and win a £150 prize and be featured on the Microbe Post.

Emails notifying submitters of the status of their submissions will be sent before 11 June 2021.

Grants and Professional Development


Society Conference Grants of up to £15 are available to support eligible members wishing to present at this Focused Meeting. Funding is also available for members requiring support for caring costs associated with conference attendance.

Applications for the Society Conference Grant to support registration at the Avian Infectious Diseases meeting are now closed.

Members of the Society who are ineligible for a Society Conference Grant may apply to the 1 June 2021 deadline for our Travel Grants. Applications to this scheme are now also closed.

Please contact [email protected] for further queries.


Registration is now open.

Registration fees

Members get heavily subsidised registration fees for Annual Conference, Focused Meetings and other Society events – both online and in-person. Join now to enjoy these discounts and many other opportunities that are designed for microbiologists at all stages of their career.



Full member


Concessionary member


Student member


Affiliate Member


To ensure the meeting remains of value for the scientific community, small charges apply to reflect some of the incurred costs associated to delivering the online meeting.

Registration confirmation

Upon registration, you should receive an automated confirmation email. Please contact [email protected] if after 24 hours this has not been received.

Payment information

All registration fees must be paid in full before the start of the event. Any outstanding registration fees must be paid before any joining instructions containing information on how to access the event are sent out.


Please inform the conferences team if you can no longer attend the event after registering by contacting [email protected]. Refunds are not provided; however, substitutions of attendees can be made at any time.



Avian Infectious Diseases 2021 will be accessible remotely and will use virtual event technology to provide a comprehensively curated scientific programme for the conference.

For the most stable and consistent experience, it is highly recommended that you use Google Chrome. Microsoft Edge is also compatible - depending on your browser’s security settings. Please note, the platform is not compatible with Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari.

Avian Infectious Diseases 2021 – joining instructions

Event app

Avian Infectious Diseases 2021 will include an event app.

This will be available as a free download for all registered delegates. It has primarily been designed to help you make personal connections with other attendees (subject to your permissions).

The software also offers live event notifications, personalised schedules across the whole of Annual Conference week and options to search all abstracts.


Sponsorship opportunities are available for this meeting.

Please download our sponsorship pack to view our exciting new digital options. Our options suit varying budgets and help create the opportunities you need to connect with new and existing customers. If you have any questions about the packages or the digital options available please email [email protected].

Avian 2021 Sponsorship Pack


Avian 2021 Technical Specifications and Guidelines


MS-logo.jpg JGV.jpg JMM.jpg
Humane Technologies Limited
© Humane Technologies Limited
blank.jpg blank.jpg