Stewart graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with a degree in Biomedical Science and received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh, supervised by Drs Nora Hunter and Wilfred Goldmann of the Institute for Animal Health, Neuropathogenesis Unit and Dr Jim Allan of the University of Edinburgh. Stewart’s PhD focused on describing the transcriptional regulation of the PrP (Prion) gene in sheep and its role in Scrapie pathogenesis.
Stewart then went on to work at the University of Edinburgh, Division of Pathway Medicine with Professor Peter Ghazal, where he further developed his interest in global gene transcription and pathway network analysis and honed his skills in microarray and next generation sequencing data analysis.
Stewart is the current president of the Easter Bush Research Consortium (EBRC) Postdoctoral Society.
The main area of research in the sheep scab group at Moredun is the development of novel methods of disease control and diagnosis for the ectoparasitic mite Psoroptes ovis .
Infestation of sheep skin with Psoroptes ovis results in the development of a rapid cutaneous immune response, leading to the crusted skin lesions characteristic of sheep scab. Little is known regarding the mechanisms by which the mites instigate such a profound inflammatory response and in order to identify novel vaccine and drug targets a better understanding of the host-parasite relationship is essential.
- Current research, funded by DEFRA, involves mapping the host response to infestation with P. ovis elucidating the signalling pathways involved with a view to identifying novel methods of intervention and discovering potential vaccine candidates for disease control.
- In addition, the research team at Moredun are developing a diagnostic assay with the aim of identifying the presence of disease in sheep prior to the emergence of clinical signs of disease.
- Additional work, funded through a PhD project by EBLEX, HCC, BPEX and Quality Meat Scotland is identifying biomarkers of sheep scab infestation that are able to track the course of disease with a view to developing a more accurate method of disease diagnosis.