Pig HealthCheck Technical Working Group
Dr Finola Leonard – Lecturer - Lecturer in Veterinary Microbiology and Infectious Disease (Chairperson)
Dr Finola Leonard graduated in veterinary medicine from University College Dublin in 1983 and after a few years in private practice returned to UCD and completed her PhD in veterinary microbiology in 1991. She worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority) in dairy and pig health and welfare in Fermoy before returning to UCD as a lecturer in veterinary microbiology in 1997. Finola teaches veterinary microbiology and infectious disease in the veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing programmes and has supervised many research Masters and PhD students. Her research interests include antimicrobial use and resistance in all animal species, particularly pigs and poultry, MRSA in animals, infectious disease and related welfare issues in pigs and Staphylococcus aureus mastitis in cows. She has co-authored 2 textbooks in veterinary microbiology and more than 40 peer-reviewed publications in the last 10 years and reviews manuscripts for several journals. Finola chairs the UCD Veterinary Hospital Infection Control Committee and the Diagnostic Laboratory Management Committee.
Dr Carla Gomes - Pig HealthCheck Programme Manager.
Carla graduated as a veterinary practitioner from the University of Porto, Portugal in 2002. She worked for several years in small animal practice while studying for her MSc in Veterinary Public Health in Lisbon Technical University, focusing on Johne’s disease in dairy cattle. She lectured in epidemiology and public health for some years in the University of Porto and completed a PhD in Salmonella in pigs, specialising on risk characterisation and modelling of disease transmission within a herd. In 2012 Carla moved to Scotland and worked for the Epidemiology Research Unit (ERU) SRUC - Scotland’s Rural College for seven years. There she was involved in several projects related to the British pig sector and other livestock species, with the aim to provide relevant epidemiological science that meets the needs of policy-makers and industry. Several of the projects with the Scottish and English pig industries involved the application of quantitative methods to allow data from different sources (e.g. abattoir data) to be integrated and applied effectively. During her time in SRUC she was the ERU species-expert on pigs and contributed to the existing Scottish Centre of Expertise for Animal Disease Outbreaks, with the particular responsibility to work with other scientists in providing the evidence base to establish the best control strategies to match the pig industry’s needs.
William Byrne - Senior Research Officer
Dr William Byrne qualified from UCD Veterinary College in 1989. He worked in mixed practice in Bridgend and Aberystwyth, in Wales, for 5 years, and in Northumberland for 7 months prior to becoming a Research Officer in the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory in 1995. Since then William has worked in Bacteriology, Parasitology and Pathology/ Regional Veterinary Laboratory areas, working on veterinary laboratory diagnosis of production diseases and on delivery of laboratory diagnosis, surveillance and control programmes for notifiable or zoonotic diseases, such as for Salmonella and Campylobacter. William completed a PhD on clinical disease associated with Mycoplasma bovis in Irish cattle in 2005 and has maintained this specific interest, by working with Regional Veterinary Laboratories and practitioners on field investigations and the implementation of herd control programmes for Mycoplasma bovis. He is currently a Senior Research Officer with responsibility for the day to day running of the National Reference Laboratory for Salmonella (Food, Feed and Animal Health) located in Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Laboratories, Backweston Campus, Celbridge. This includes provision of a Salmonella serotyping service for all Salmonella isolates obtained from approved private laboratories or the Department’s own official sample testing in Backweston and support for any investigations arising from any significant Salmonella serotype detected. William is a member of the Campylobacter Stakeholders Implementation Group, the DAFM Food Safety and Authenticity Working group and is on the Programme Owners Committee, on behalf of DAFM, of the European Commission’s One Health European Joint Programme of co-ordinated research projects on areas of research that impinge on both human and animal health. He is also a frequent contributor to the Pig Industry Stakeholders Group activities.
Paul Spillane - Veterinary Practitioner
Paul Spillane graduated in Veterinary medicine from UCD in 1987. He worked in companion animal and mixed practice in the U.K. from 1987 to 1996. Since 1996, he has worked exclusively as a Pig Vet in Ireland. He gained the Certificate in Pig Medicine from the RCVS in 1999. In 2019, Paul joined Moss Veterinary, which provides veterinary services to the pig industry throughout Ireland. He has a keen interest in health monitoring, both on farm and in the abattoir. He is a firm believer in evidence based rational decision making. Paul believes the development of a strong one to one vet-farmer relationship, based on mutual trust, is essential to maximise the value of veterinary advice.
Margaret Wilson - Senior Research Officer
Margaret qualified as a veterinary surgeon in 2004. She holds a veterinary degree from UCD, a BSc in veterinary pathology from the RVC, London and is a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists. She worked for a number of years in veterinary practice in Ireland and Australia. Following her pathology residency training in UCD, Margaret worked as a veterinary research officer at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Belfast, before joining DAFM. Currently Margaret is the senior research officer in pathology division Backweston where she and her team are responsible for pig disease surveillance and diagnostic post mortems and she chairs the DAFM laboratories pig group. Margaret lives with her husband and children on their family farm in Kilkenny.
Keelin O’Driscoll - Senior Research Officer
Keelin O’Driscoll is originally from Dungarvan in Co. Waterford. Since 2013 she has been employed as a research officer in the Teagasc Pig Development Department, at the Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork. Keelin graduated with a degree in Biological Sciences from Oxford University in 2000, followed by a PhD in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare from University of Edinburgh in 2004, and a PhD in Dairy Cow welfare in 2008. She also carried out research at University of British Columbia (Canada), Purdue University (US) and Cambridge University (UK), prior to commencing her position at Teagasc, and focusing on pigs. Her research focuses on the effects of management and nutrition on pig welfare and performance. For the past 5 years one of her main areas of research has been on provision of environmental enrichment to pigs in fully slatted systems, and of investigating strategies to rear pigs without docking their tails.
Jimmy O’Connor - Technical Manager
Jimmy is a graduate of Meat Science and Food Business from University College, Cork. He has worked in various positions in the beef and pork industries for 37 years, including positions in slaughter process, production of consumer cooked and uncooked meats. Jimmy held a number of positions in Research and Development before taking up the role as Group Technical Manager in Rosderra Irish Meats Group. In his current role Jimmy has a wide range of responsibilities which include site QA functions, environmental departments as well as compliance with national and international regulatory requirements.
Edgar Garcia Manzanilla - Head of Pig Development Department
Originally from Barcelona, Edgar graduated as a veterinary practitioner from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB) in 2000 and he obtained his PhD on alternatives to antibiotic growth promoters in 2005. After finishing his PhD he was the first Technical Director of the Monogastric Animal Nutrition Service at UAB where he developed several public-private funded projects. In 2006 he moved to the University of California - Davis (USA) working as a researcher on poultry nutrition and immunology for 3 years where he obtained a Masters in Preventive Veterinary Medicine (MPVM) in 2009. He went back to UAB in 2010 doing research on farm data management and became a Diplomate of the European College of Porcine Health Management (ECPHM). Edgar in 2014 moved to Ireland to work as a researcher in the Pig Development Department of Teagasc where he is currently Head of Department working in close contact with all stakeholders in the Irish Pig Industry. He is a member of the EU-EIPAGRI Focus Groups on ‘Reduction of the antibiotic use in the pig sector’, ‘Benchmarking of farm data’, ‘New feeds for pigs and Poultry’ and ‘Reducing antimicrobial use in poultry farming’. Edgar is an advisor in the H2020 Thematic Network DISARM and he is participating in several different projects on monogastric nutrition and reduction in the use of antimicrobials on farms with an epidemiological approach.
Bernadette Doyle - Veterinary Inspector
Bernadette Doyle is a 2004 Veterinary Medicine graduate. After graduation, she worked in companion animal medicine in Dublin City and remained there for 11 years. She then worked as a Research Officer with Teagasc’s Pig Development Department on the PIGWELFIND project, followed by a number of years in the pharmaceutical sector, focusing on veterinary pharmacovigilance. Bernadette joined DAFM in 2018, and is a Veterinary Inspector in the Special Project Unit of Veterinary Public Health, Pig and Poultry Health Policy Division, working closely with industry stakeholders on the public health aspects of the intensive farming sectors.
Abigail Armstrong - Veterinary Officer
Abigail graduated from Glasgow University Veterinary School in 1996 and after initially working in a mixed practice joined the government veterinary service in NI where she developed a special interest in pigs. Since joining the veterinary service Abigail has held a range of roles within DAERA relating to pig welfare, pig health and disease control and had the opportunity to work on the eradication of AD working closely with veterinary colleagues both in DAFM and private practice. In addition, she has experience of disease contingency planning, delivering training courses, developing disease preparedness exercises and trade facilitation.