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Tobias Kaeser, PhD

Assistant Professor in Swine Immunology


Dr. Kaeser studied biology at the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen (Germany) with a focus on molecular biology, virology and microbiology. He became interested in immunology; so he decided to pursue his Diploma thesis and subsequent PhD thesis at an immunological institute.

In 2004, Dr. Kaeser joined one of the best swine immunology laboratories worldwide – the Institute of Immunology of Prof. Armin Saalmüller at the Vetmeduni Vienna. His research emphasis was the analysis of the porcine cellular immune response with a focus on CD4+ cells – T-helper and regulatory T cells. He also strongly promoted flow cytometry by his active participation in the Austrian Society for Cytometry and his work on the production of fluorescence-conjugated antibodies for pigs. This work facilitated multi-color flow cytometry for swine: for the first time, a comprehensive phenotypical and functional analysis of the porcine cellular immune response became available.

In 2013, Dr. Kaeser joined the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) in Saskatoon, Canada, to use this technology for biomedical research. Under the supervision of Dr. François Meurens and Volker Gerdts, he successfully established the pig as a model to study genital genital chlamydia infections – both, the porcine pathogen Chlamydia suis (Cs) and the human pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct).

In 2016, Dr. Kaeser joined NC State as an Assistant Professor in Swine Immunology at the College of Veterinary Medicine and the department of Population Health and Pathobiology. Dr. Kaeser uses his expertise in studying the adaptive immune response and the development of immunological memory in pigs not only to promote animal health but also to use swine as a biomedical animal model for food allergy (eosinophilic esophagitis, EoE) and Ct.

The animal health component of Dr. Kaeser's research is focused on studying heterologous immunity to various strains of the most important transmittable pig disease – the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV). Dr. Kaeser collaborates with a strong group of swine researchers to limit the impact of PRRSV on the NC, US, and world-wide swine industry – Drs. Glen Almond and Juliana Bonin-Ferreira (swine health and production), Elisa Crisci (swine virology), Gustavo Machado (epidemiology), Tatiane Watanabe (pathology), and Monique Pairis-Garcia (animal welfare).

Dr. Kaeser is also well-integrated into the research community of the Research Triangle including the University of North Carolina (UNC): he uses this network of renown experts in the field to drive interdisciplinary research for both biomedical projects – EoE and Ct. Together with EoE experts (e.g. Evan Dellon, UNC), swine gastrointestinal experts (Anthony Blikslager and Liara Gonzalez), nutrition experts (Jack Odle) and other immunologists (Scott Laster), he uses the pig for studying EoE including the development of pre- and intervention strategies. For the Ct project, Dr. Kaeser collaborates with international Ct experts like Toni Darville (UNC) and Kenneth Beagley (Queensland University of Technology, Australia) and vaccine development experts like Volker Gerdts (VIDO-InterVac, Canada). This collaborations aims to use a unique model of Cs-pre-exposed outbred pigs to develop vaccines against Ct.

The main biomedical research goal of Dr. Kaeser is to promote the swine model for biomedical research and to use collaborations for the development and testing of pre- and intervention strategies against transmittable and non-transmittable human diseases.


View online at NCBI My Bibliography
- American Association of Veterinary Immunologists (AAVI)
- Edward Jenner Vaccine Society
- German Society of Immunology (DGfI)
- Austrian Society for Cytometry (ÖGfZ)
- Chlamydia Basic Research Society
- Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases (CRWAD)
In addition, am a member of the “Young Investigator Program class of 2015” from the journal “Vaccine” ( and acted as a guest editor for their special issue on the World Vaccine Congress 2016.
PhD Immunology
Immunology, Infectious Diseases
Research emphasis:
The overall goal of my lab is to study memory immune responses in pigs to facilitate the development of vaccines and intervention strategies for porcine and human diseases. My lab currently consists of one lab manager and two PhD students, representing the three research foci of my lab: i) We study the porcine adaptive immune response to heterologous PRRSV strains to evaluate the capacity of vaccines to provide cross-protection. ii) and iii), we use the pig as a model to study human food allergy and Chlamydia trachomatis infections.
We use in vivo trials in combination with in vitro re-stimulation assays to study pathogen load, the production of neutralizing antibodies, and the induction and function of memory immune cells using qPCR, fluorescent microscopy, and up to 9-color flow cytometry.
2021: Selected as one of the Inaugural Goodnight Early Career Innovators “The Goodnight Early Career Innovators Award, supports early career faculty excellence and promotes retention of tenure-track assistant professors whose scholarship is in STEM or STEM education.”

2019: Invitation to hold the keynote “2019 Michael P. Murtaugh Memorial Lecture in Immunology” lecture at the NA PRRS Symposium (Chicago, IL): “The adaptive immune response to PRRSV”

2015: Successful application for the three year “Vaccine and Edward Jenner Vaccine Society (EJVC) Young Investigator Program (YIP)”

2010: Successful application for participation at the “60th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting”, Lindau (GER)

2010: Successful application for the Post-Doc program sponsored by the Vetmeduni Vienna on the project “Role of Tregs in PRRSV infected swine”

2009: “Most-cited junior scientist 2008” award of the Vetmeduni Vienna
The Kaeser lab studies the adaptive immune response in pigs not only to promote animal health but also to use swine as a biomedical animal model. We combine i) in vivo vaccination and challenge trials with ii) antigen-specific in vitro restimulations and iii) multiple advanced analysis technologies such as fluorescent immunohistochemistry, multi-color flow cytometry, qPCR and NanoString. While the immunological toolbox has previously been limited for swine, we thereby overcome this limitation and provide the biologically highly relevant swine model a state-of-the-art analysis platform. This combination makes swine an excellent animal model for biomedical research. Hence, in addition to promoting swine health by driving vaccine research for the major pig pathogen porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), we use swine as a biomedical animal model to not only study the food allergy eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) but also the sexually transmitted disease (STD) Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct). Long-term goals for the EoE project are to develop both pre- and intervention strategies for EoE; for the Ct project, our major goal is to develop vaccines against this most prevalent bacterial STD.