John Gilleard is Professor of Parasitology and Associate Dean, Research at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM). A veterinary graduate from the University of Liverpool, he undertook a PhD in Parasitology at the University of Glasgow after three years in general veterinary practice in the UK. Following a post-doctoral position at the Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology, University of Glasgow and a Wellcome Trust Prize Travelling Fellowship at the University of Calgary, he was appointed to a Faculty position at the University of Glasgow in 2000. He was appointed Professor of Veterinary and Molecular Parasitology at Glasgow in 2007 before his move to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary in 2008. His research predominantly focuses on understanding the molecular genetics of anthelmintic resistance in livestock parasites and improving its diagnosis and management.
Anthelmintic resistant parasites are an increasingly serious problem for animal health and production and an emerging threat to global human health. In spite of some progress, our understanding of the genetic basis of anthelmintic resistance is far from complete. For example, we still have a poor understanding of how many different mechanisms of resistance occur, how these mechanisms differ between parasite species and geographical regions, how resistance mutations emerge and spread in parasite populations, how different resistance mutations impact parasite fitness and how different management strategies affect the emergence of resistance. However, the genomic resources and tools needed to address many of these questions are increasingly available and affordable. Consequently the next few years promises significant progress in filling many of these current knowledge gaps. In this talk, I will review our current "state of understanding" of the molecular genetics of anthelmintic resistance for the small ruminant gastro-intestinal strongylid parasite Haemonchus contortus; the parasite species for which we know the most. I will provide an update on the recent progress being made in genomic and genetic studies and discuss how, although significant challenges remain, we are entering a new and exciting phase of discovery.