Bryan Charleston is the Director of the Pirbright Institute. He obtained a BVetMed from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, UK in 1982. After a period of time in Large Animal Practice, studied for a Masters degree in Molecular Biology at University College London in 1988, then a PhD degree, as a Wellcome Trust Scholar, from the University of London, UK, in 1991. He then carried out postdoctoral research, as a Wellcome Trust Post-doctoral fellow, at the Royal Veterinary College and the Babraham Institute, Cambridge for three years. He joined the Pirbright Institute in 1994 and focused on studies on viral infections of cattle.
His research is focused on understanding how to control foot-and–mouth disease in cattle, including the development of novel vaccines.
He has recently conducted a large systematic study to quantify FMDV transmission and found that cattle are infectious for less than 50 hours, which challenges previous assumptions on incubation and latent periods. In conjunction with work to quantify the degree of protection afforded by vaccines, this knowledge will improve the accuracy of disease spread models that were a highly controversial source of policy and culling advice during the UK 2001 epidemic.
His group have also localised the sites of virus persistence in African buffalo and cattle that carry and potentially transmit FMD.
Substantial FMD vaccine development efforts focus on delivery of whole viral like particles (VLPs). Collaborating with Oxford structural biologists and baculovirus experts at Reading, he has developed an in vitro system to make empty VLPs stabilised by targeted mutagenesis to survive heat and pH changes. These have potential as vaccines with safer production, better shelf life, and greater potency.