Profile of Dr. Manouk Vrieling, WP leader of WP4 in the PIGSs project

 has been working at our institute for almost 2 years now: 'I study the interaction between bacteria and the host immune system in order to find new strategies to prevent diseases in livestock. For example, I’m working on vaccine development for Streptococcus suis. This bacterium is a common cause of serious illness such as meningitis in piglets. A vaccine would mean fewer infections, better animal welfare and less use of antibiotics.'

At home, conversations often revolve around work: 'I met my partner studying veterinary medicine. It’s nice to be able to complement each other, but sometimes you just need to clear your head. Then I get on my road or mountain bike, or put on my skates for short track. My life consists of work and sports,' she jokingly says.

Besides vaccine development, Manouk works on in vitro models as alternatives for animal experiments. 'We’ve set up assays with pig immune cells in which we can test the response to vaccines without having to infect animals. We are also developing mini-organs (organoids) from lung tissue of pigs, cows and chickens. Organoids can help reduce experiments in live animals. Furthermore, they are valuable tools for the rapid characterisation of new pathogens in the event of an outbreak of a new disease.'