Professor Christopher Secombes

Professor Christopher Secombes

Regius Professor of Natural History

Professor Christopher Secombes
Professor Christopher Secombes

Contact Details

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work +44 (0)1224 274429


1977, BSc Zoology, University of Leeds

1981, PhD Fish Immunology, University of Hull

1997, DSc, University of Aberdeen

1998, Elected Fellow of the Institute of Biology

2001-2002, Head of Department of Zoology at Aberdeen

2002-2011, Head of School of Biological Sciences at Aberdeen

2004, Appointed to Established Chair of Zoology at Aberdeen

2007, Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE)

2007, Awarded the RSE Alexander Ninian Bruce Prize for "his outstanding contribution to our understanding of the immune system of fish, particularly salmonids"

2013, Awarded life membership of the Int Society of Fish & Shellfish Immunology

2014, Appointed to Regius Chair of Natural History


Research Interests

I am a comparative immunologist with a research focus on the immune system of fish. From an evolutionary perspective fish are fascinating to study as a very diverse group of vertebrates, that inhibit many varied environments, and that possess a complex immune system composed of innate and adaptive (specific) responses. The fish immune system is also of practical importance. Fish farming has expanded enormously over the last few decades, paralleled by many disease problems. For successful control of disease in aquaculture a multifaceted approach is needed, whereby good husbandry, use of genetically selected fish stock, and use of chemotherapeutics, vaccines and immunostimulants combine to improve overall fish health.

Current research is centred on: 1) characterisation of cytokines of adaptive immunity in fish, to develop correlates of protective immunity, 2) characterisation of T cell subpopulations in fish, to aid vaccine development and give an insight into the evolution of immunoregulation in vertebrates, and 3) vaccine development against saprolegniosis and proliferative kidney disease, major disease problems for salmon and trout farming, respectively.




Research Grants

Current "live" research grants in my group include:

2013-2018, EC, Exploring the biological and soci-economic potential of new/emerging candidate fish species for the expansion of the European aquaculture industry (DIVERSIFY).

2015-2018, BBSRC, Development of novel oral vaccination strategies for Atlantic salmon.

2015-2020, EC, ParaFishControl: Advanced Tools and Research Strategies for Parasite Control in European farmed fish (with Prof Pieter van West).

2017-2019, NERC (Aquaculture Initiative). Development of an immersion vaccine for salmonids (Prof Pieter van West PI).

2017-2019, SAIC, Clinical nutrition and the treatment of Atlantic salmon gill diseases (Prof Sam Martin PI).

2017-2019, Royal Society Newton Int. Fellowship. How is vaccine induced immunity regulated in fish?

2017-2020, BBSRC-LINK. Risk factors for escalating saprolegniosis outbreaks in salmon farms (RIFE-SOS)(Prof Pieter van West PI).

2018-2020, BBSRC (IPA), Understanding the relationship between gill disease and immune status.







Further Info

External Responsibilities

Currently I am:

Head of the Scottish Fish Immunology Research Centre (

Executive Committee member of MASTS (

Editor of "Fish & Shellfish Immunology".

Editorial board member of "Molecular Immunology" and "Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology".

Previously I was:

Panel chair, Aquaculture grant round, Norwegian Research Council (2009-2011, 2013).

President of the "International Society of Developmental and Comparative Immunology" (2003-2006).

Editorial board member of "Developmental and Comparative Immunology" (1994-2008).

Member, Marine Sciences Peer Review Committee, NERC (2001-2003).

Chair of the "Genomics of Marine Organisms" Joint Research Theme within the Scotland wide Marine Pooling initiative (MASTS).

International review panel member for "Biology and related areas of Biochemistry" for Norway, January 2000.