Brian Dixon

Brian Dixon

Biology, Professor


Research in Professor Dixon's laboratory is directed towards characterizing fish immune systems at the molecular level.

His research provides detailed knowledge of the molecules used as signals and receptors in the mammalian immune system has allowed more effective control of disease through vaccines and drugs. However, only a handful of immunologically important molecules have been isolated from fish, despite the growing need for vaccines and drugs to control diseases in aquaculture. A deeper knowledge of the molecules involved in teleost immune systems also provides insight into the evolution and function of equivalent molecules in mammalian immune systems.

To date Professor Dixon's research program has focused on the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) receptors. These molecules are present on the surface of every cell in the body of vertebrates and are the key molecules which decide what belongs to the body and what is a pathogen.

Professor Dixon was the first researcher to isolate an expressed MHC gene from fish, and produced the antibodies that allowed the first demonstration that they are present on the surface of fish cells. MHC receptors are highly polymophic and Professor Dixon has performed experiments to measure the evolution of MHC polymorphism in a fish population. Dr. Dixon has also shown that fish immune systems shut down in cold temperatures making them more susceptible to disease.


Research Interests

  • Environment and Immunology
  • Comparative Immunology
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Diagnostic Assays
  • Viruses in Aquatic Ecosystems
  • Managing the Risk of Human Activity in Aquatic Ecosystem
  • Legacies of Agriculture Pollutants
  • Fish Immunology

Application Areas

  • Environmental Biology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Inflammatory Diseases
  • Pathogen Detection

Technology Areas

  • Biomarkers
  • Diagnostics 
  • Vaccines

Discipline Areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Bionanotechnology
  • Cell Niology
  • Immune Engineering
  • Physiology