Gordon had a distinguished professional life in veterinary research and teaching and he conducted pioneering research on Lawsonia intracellularis. Gordon sadly passed away in 2018 and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh consider it fitting that we commemorate his contribution by hosting this first international symposium on Lawsonia intracellularis covering the biology of this important, complex and fastidious pathogen.
The symposium will be held over two days at the Edinburgh University Veterinary School, mainly within The Roslin Institute at Easter Bush Campus. Leading international experts will give talks on the epidemiology, molecular basis of pathogenesis, diagnostics and interventions.
L. intracellularis is associated with enteric disease in different animal species but has the greatest economic impact in the pig industry. In 1931, enteric disease with weight loss, diarrhoea and in some cases sudden death, was described for the first time. The disease was called proliferative enteropathy (PE) to reflect the main macroscopic changes, hyperproliferation of enterocytes and loss of the normal intestinal structure in certain areas of the small intestine, mostly affecting the ileum. During the early 1970s, a previously unrecognized bacterium was associated with PE in pigs. However, due to difficulties culturing the newly identified bacterium in vitro, it was not until the early 1990s when it was properly characterised. The curved bacilli were demonstrated to be inside gut enterocytes, in particular the apical cytoplasm of crypt epithelial cells. It is an obligate intracellular Gram negative bacterium that is very difficult to culture in vitro The bacterium was eventually named Lawsonia intracellularis in recognition of G. H. K. Lawson, the discover of the bacterium.