School of Veterinary Medicine and Science

Kevin Gough

Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Pathology, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences



Kevin Gough graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth (1992). He then obtained a PhD in Biochemistry from Aberystwyth, graduating in 1996. His post-doctoral employment includes three years as a research associate at The University of Leicester before becoming a Research Scientist with ADAS. Within 8 years at ADAS, his roles progressed through Senior Research Scientist to Principal Research Scientist and Leader of the ADAS Biotechnology Group. Kevin joined the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science as a Lecturer in Molecular Biochemistry in 2007 and became Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Pathology in 2012.

Expertise Summary

Kevin Gough is Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Pathology within the SVMS.

He has acted as an independent scientific expert on appraisal panels for the Defra TSE Review 2007, for the Food Standards Agency TSE Research Programme Review 2007 and for the MRC Prion Research Reviews 2009 and 2014. He is also an Editorial Board Member for the journal Scientific Reports.

He has extensive experience of research in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. Techniques include: prion diagnostics, recombinant antibody production, protein purification, monoclonal antibody production, diagnostic PCR and Q-PCR, enzyme kinetics and immunoassay development, next generation phage display, next generation sequencing, biomarker discovery. He also has extensive experience of project and staff management, contract management, bid preparation, results dissemination, business development and commercialisation.

Research Summary

My research is mainly focused on studying infections of livestock with a particular emphasis on developing novel diagnostics or therapeutics. The pathogens under investigation include prions (BSE and… read more

Selected Publications

Research Group Members:

Claire Baker (ADAS UK): Research areas: Understanding the environmental dissemination of prions and routes of disease transmission; Assessing on-farm prion decontamination methods.

Dr Jon Owen (ADAS UK): Research areas: Next generation phage display applied to the development of vaccines to liver fluke infection.

Keith Bishop (ADAS UK): Research areas: The application of environmental DNA detection to monitor for Great Crested Newt.

Matthew O'Connor: Research areas: In vitro prion replication assays; The replacement of animal bioassays that measure prion infectivity.

Robert Workman: Research areas: The discovery of therapeutic and diagnostic ligands for ruminant prion diseases.

Rose Reader: Research area: Next generation phage display; The isolation of immunoreagents for application within the animal feed industry.

Mary Angani: Research area: Next generation phage display; The isolation of ligands to develop diagnostic assays and vaccines for Eimeria infection of poultry

Dr Alison Gray (visitor): Research area: the application of next generation phage display technology to reduce animal use in antibody production

Associated group members:

Dr Jed Long (primary supervisor Prof M. Searle): Research area: isolation of ligands to distinct ubiquitin chain linkage types


Dr Ben Maddison (ADAS UK)

Dr Helen Rees (ADAS UK)

Dr Janet Daly (SVMS, University of Nottingham)

Dr Rachael Tarlinton (SVMS, University of Nottingham)

Professor Richard Emes (SVMS, University of Nottingham)

Professor Mark Searle (School of Chemistry, University of Nottingham)

Dr Robert Layfield (School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham)

Dr Ingrid Dreveny (School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham)

Professor Roberto La Ragione (University of Surrey)

Dr Robin Flynn (University of Liverpool)

Current Research

My research is mainly focused on studying infections of livestock with a particular emphasis on developing novel diagnostics or therapeutics. The pathogens under investigation include prions (BSE and scrapie), Schmallenberg virus, Fasciola hepatica and Salmonella enterica. Research is also carried out into the application of molecular diagnostic methods to monitor endangered wildlife species.

​Prion Diseases. Prion diseases or transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are fatal neurological disorders that are marked by long incubation periods. TSEs have been described in a number of mammalian species and include scrapie in sheep and goats, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, chronic wasting disease in deer and elk and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans. According to the protein only hypothesis, the infectious agent of these diseases is formed by the misfolding of a benign cellular prion protein (PrPC) into a protease-resistant conformation (PrPSc). These diseases are irreversible and invariably fatal; there is compelling evidence that the BSE agent has crossed the species barrier and is the causal agent of vCJD in humans; and the causal agent appears to be novel, an infectious misfolded version of a host protein which encodes transmissible strain characteristics in the absence of any detectable nucleic acid. Our research includes the elucidation of the routes of scrapie transmission and the environmental fate of the TSE agent, the strain typing of ruminant TSEs to study emerging strains, and the pre-mortem diagnosis of TSE diseases.

Schmallenberg virus (SBV) is a newly emerged virus affecting sheep, cattle and goats which is currently causing a large- scale outbreak of foetal deformities across Europe, and has become endemic within the UK ruminant population. Our research is leading to the development of pen-side tests for the detection of exposure to SBV and also to the development of assays to differentiate vaccinated from infected animals (so-called DIVA tests).

Fasciola hepatica is a major parasite of cattle and sheep which causes livestock mortality and reductions in productivity. Our research aims to produce a lateral flow device for simple, rapid diagnosis of fasciolosis at the pen-side and to provide evidence of the life-stage of F. hepatica. We are also developing novel multi-component vaccines against F. hepatica.

Salmonella infections place significant economic burdens on livestock industries and zoonotic serovars represent some of the most common foodborne pathogens affecting human health. There is an urgent requirement to further understand the pathobiology of these pathogens, as well as develop efficacious vaccines. Our research aims to map host antibody responses to Salmonella infections to identify Salmonella immunogens for diagnostic assay development and subunit vaccine design.

Ligand-display technology: Our design of novel diagnostics is centered around ligand display systems and particularly the display of recombinant antibody fragments and peptides on filamentous bacteriophage. Peptide phage-display libraries have proved useful for mapping epitopes of monoclonal antibodies, and the isolation of ligands that bind specifically to a range of target molecules. This technology also allows the isolation of peptides capable of disrupting specific protein-protein interactions. In the form of antibody phage-display libraries this technology is a powerful in vitro technique that allows the selection of antibodies with defined properties from vast libraries of binders. This allows the isolation of antibodies with exquisite selectivity between closely related molecules, and by removing the need for immunization it allows the production of antibodies against toxic or non-antigenic molecules. To date, we have applied phage-display methods to isolate ligands against a wide range of molecular targets including host cell surfaces, pathogen surface molecules, proteins, peptides and haptens. In recent years we have coupled the vast diversity of phage display libraries with the screening power of next generation sequencing, a process called next generation phage display (NGPD). This novel technique allows the highly efficient selection of a wide range of specific ligands. NGPD is being applied in our research to improve diagnostics and develop novel therapeutics against veterinary pathogens and zoonoses.

eDNA detection for surveillance of wildlife species: We are applying real time PCR and Next Generation Sequencing methods to detect environmental DNA (eDNA) of wildlife species in aquatic environments. The research is primarily aimed at the detection of the Great Crested Newt, a protected species.

School of Veterinary Medicine and Science

University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Leicestershire, LE12 5RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 6116
fax: +44 (0)115 951 6415