Professor Brian Dixon carries out research in fish immunology and is a world expert on the environmental effects on fish immune systems. His research has been used to provide insights into mammalian immune systems as well as understand the role of climate change on fish populations and improve fish health in aquaculture environments.
In 2013 he was awarded an NSERC Synergy Award for his scientific collaboration with Yellow Island Aquaculture to improve Chinook Salmon aquaculture practices.
- Environment and Immunology
- Comparative Immunology
- Antigen Presentation
- Diagnostic Assays
Research in Professor Dixon's laboratory is directed towards characterizing fish immune systems at the molecular level.
A 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.
Professor Dixon teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. Course offerings have included
- BIOL 341 Immunology
- BIOL 441 Immunology
- BIOL 636 Advanced Immunology
- BIOL 690 Scientific Communication - Ethics Module
Recent publications include
- Gilbertson, M.K., Haffner, G.D., Drouillard, K. Albert, A., and Dixon, B. Immunosuppression in the Northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) induced by pesticide exposure. Envir. Tox. Chem 22(1): 101-110.
- Dixon, B., Shum, B.P.S. , Adams, E.J., Magor, K.E., Hedrick, R.P., Muir, D.G. and Parham, P. CK-1, a putative chemokine of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Immunological Reviews. 166: 345-352.
- Stet R.J.M., Kruiswijk, C.P. and Dixon, B. Major histocompatibility lineages and immune gene function in teleostean fishes: The road less taken. Invited Review. Critical Reviews in Immunology. 23(5&6): 441-471.
- Nath, S. Fujiki, K., Kales S.C. and Dixon B. Major Histocompatibility class II genes in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) exhibit temperature dependent downregulation Immunogenetics, 58 443-453.
- Sever, L., Vo, NTK, Lumsden, J. Bols NC and Dixon B Induction of rainbow trout MH class I and accessory proteins by viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus. Molecular Immunology 59: 154–162.
Please see Professor Brian Dixon's profile on ResearchGate for a current list of his peer-reviewed articles.
Awards and Distinctions
- 2015 Canadian Society of Zoologists Robert Arnold Wardle Medal
- 2014 Virtual Researchers on Call Participation Award
- 2014 Outstanding Performance Award
- 2013 NSERC Synergy Award
- 2011 Canada Research Chair in Fish and Environmental Immunology
- 2010 Jack Carlson Teaching Award
- 2005, 2009, 2014 Outstanding Performance Award
- 2003 Premier's Research Excellence Award
University of Waterloo Affiliations
- The Water Institute
- Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology
- Chair, University of Waterloo Animal Care Committee
- University Appointments Review Committee
Professional Associations and Service
- Journal Editorship
- Developmental and Comparative Immunology, Editorial Board
- Animal and Plant Immunology, Elsevier Reference Collection, Section Editor
- NSERC Committee 1502
- Ex Vivo Science Advisory Board
- Vitameter Science Advisory Board
- Canada Research Chair College of Reviewers
- Treasurer, Pan-American Marine Biotechnology Association
- Board member, International Society for Fish and Shellfish Immunology
The following news stories have featured Professor Dixon's research:
Brian Dixon honoured by Canadian Society of Zoologists. November 28, 2014.
True love produces healthier pacific salmon. February 14, 2014.
1993 PhD Biology, Dalhousie University
1988 MSc Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Guelph
1985 BSc Honours Biology, Wilfred Laurier University