Home > Research > Researchers > Roderick Dillon

Dr Roderick Dillon

Formerly at Lancaster University

Research overview

Leishmania - sand fly interactions; functional genomics of insect vectors of medically important diseases; sand fly genome sequencing project; digestive physiology of bloodsucking insects; insect microbiology; microbial symbiosis; microbial ecology; insects and emerging infectious disease; natural antimicrobial systems and insects.  Bio-art research. Bioscience research and art interface; development of the bioscience lab as artist studio. Perceptions of the scientist and artist collaboration. Role of design in biomedical research. 

PhD supervision

Microbiology, immunology and parasitology of insects; Phlebotomine sand flies and transmission of Leishmania. Microbial ecology of insects.

Current Research

Recent and current projects in my laboratory include:

  • Current project: Cracking eggs for sandfly dispersal, a gnatwork GCRF project with Luigi Sedda CHICAS, Chris Sandrs Pirbright Institute and Fernando Genta with Raquel Souza at Fiocruz Rio Brazil.
  • Lutzomyia longipalpis genome sequencing and annotation. Ongoing collaborative project including partners at Vectorbase and the University of Notre Dame, USA.
  • I had a number of Brazil government CNPq funded postdoctoral fellowships for visiting Brazilian scientists including: Behaviour and thermal preference in sand flies, Dr Kel Aguair Martins CNPq funded; Sand fly bloodmeal feeding and analysis Dr Caroline Moraes; Leishmania gene knock out studies and effect on sandfly infection, Dr Raquel Vionette do Amaral. Dr Beto Da Silva worked on reactive oxygen species in the sandfly gut. 

Research Interests

Leading a research group studying the role of Phlebotomine sand flies as transmitters of the medically important parasite Leishmania.  Leishmaniasis is a neglected disease found in 88 countries worldwide with over 12 million cases and 2 million new cases every year. We are using DNA technologies including gene silencing to research the interactions between the Leishmania parasite and its  blood sucking sand fly host. Research spans all aspects from lab to field work. Research includes Brazilian funded collaborative work with labs in Brazil. Our strain of Lutzomyia longipalpis  was used to sequence the sand fly genome with scientists in Baylor College Texas. Main aim of my work is to discover new ways of disrupting transmission of this insect–borne disease.

Current Teaching


I teach on the following modules.

  • BIOL122 Impact of Microbes. Lectures on prokaryotes and protists; bacteriology and protist practical sessions.
  • BIOL322 Tropical Diseases. Module Organiser. Lectures on insect vector biology, arboviruses, haemorrhagic fevers, HIV/tuberculosis, filariasis, ectoparasites.
  • BIOL274 Methods in Microbiology. The art of microbiology.
  • BIOL387/BIOL386 Bioscience Research Project: student projects on Leishmania-bacterial interactions, osmotaxis.
  • BIOL381 Ghana summer school on public health with Boston University
  • BIOL390 Bioscience Literature Review: liverature reviews on entomology, parasitology and microbiology.
  • BIOL469 Masters in Science Research Project: sand fly biology

Implementation, management and teaching the Global Health Summer School programme at Lancaster University Ghana in collaboration with Boston University. Includes internships for students from BLS and Boston University with NGOs. A unique course spanning public health and tropical medicine. 


Additional Information

I have been working on art/science collaborations for the past seven years; see my personal blog and twitter @sandflyman


Current project called para-site-seeing, a digital artwork in collaboration with Jen Southern LICA with NEoN and Life Space in University of Dundee.  Travels from the perspective of a Leishmania parasite. Exhibition commissioned at LifeSpace Gallery in summer 2019. Moved to Dundee Science Center November 2019 - March 2020. 

Working with a number of artists including Wellcome Trust funded artist Gina Czarnecki to develop new art work based on biomedical research and exploring the ethics of using human tissue for art. Collaborated with Abandon Normal Devices  to provide workshops on biological themes for artists. Workshops include Night of the Living Deadwood and Microbes as Material , co-organised with Dr Jackie Parry. Creating a cross disciplinary network of artists, scientists and health practitioners dedicated to combining creative research and learning in life sciences and the arts. 

I managed an interdisciplinary EPSRC Catalyst research project called Patchworks.  The project explored how homeless people might co-design a prototype tool using cheap, open source technology that improve health and wellbeing.

View all (77) »