Graduated in 1983 as doctor in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Gent. After being assistant in animal physiology at the University of Antwerp between and assistant in veterinary virology and in immunology, he became appointed assistant-professor at the Laboratory of Immunology in 1993 and full professor in 2004. Since 2008 he is head of the lab and since 2014 of the Department of Virology, parasitology, immunology.
His main research topic is the intestinal mucosal immune system of animals and how to activate this using different vaccination strategies. Hereto the role or the epithelium, dendritic cells and mucosal lymphocytes is studied in vivo, in situ and in cell culture systems. A unique oral F4 immunisation model is used to evaluate the immune mechanisms, to analyse the effect of potential oral delivery systems and of mucosal adjuvants and let to do the development of oral vaccination strategy in which antigen is targeted to the brush border enzyme aminopeptidase N. A group of potential oral adjuvants, extensively studied by the lab are ß 1,3-1,6 glucans. These molecules are potent activators of the innate immunity. His research group uses the knowledge on mucosal immunity to study the host-pathogen interaction at the intestinal mucosa of F4 enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), F18 shigatoxin-producing E. coli, Toxoplasma gondii and Chlamydia species in pigs, and Toxoplasma gondii, enterohemorrhagic E. coli in sheep and calves, which resulted among others in the discovery of the intestinal receptors for F4 and F18 ETEC.
More recently, similar techniques are used to study food allergy in dogs and desensibilization for food allergy using sublingual immunisations.
Eric Cox is author or co-author of more than 215 publications in refereed journals and 6 book chapters. He has given more than 110 oral presentations on national and international conferences.