Department: Clinical Sciences and Services
Research Groups: Brain Health and Behaviour, Musculoskeletal Biology
Clinical Groups: Small Animal Neurology
Research Centres: Clinical Investigation Centre
Holger is Head of Department, Clinical Science and Services and Professor of Veterinary Neurology and Neurosurgery at the Royal Veterinary College. He is a recognised RCVS and European Specialist in Veterinary Neurology. His main research interests are canine and feline epilepsy and Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia.
Holger studied veterinary medicine at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Germany and at the Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Lyon, France, which was partly funded by the German National Academic Foundation. He graduated from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover in June 2001. Following this, he started a German National Academic Foundation funded 3-year PhD programme in veterinary science at the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Pharmacy, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover.
In July 2004, he finished his study about the underlying mechanisms of pharmacoresistant epilepsy and was awarded with a PhD, which was rewarded with the Domagk Prize of the pharmaceutical company Bayer. He then completed an internship and a residency in Neurology and Neurosurgery at The Royal Veterinary College in September 2007. In September 2008, he successfully passed the examination for the Diploma of the European College of Veterinary Neurology. He was Head of Neurology and Neurosurgery between 2007 and 2014 and lead the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals as Clinical Director from 2012 to 2016. He has been a recipient of the prestigious Bourgelat Award from BSAVA and the International Canine Health Award from the Kennel Club.
Holger is curently Head of Department, Clinical Science and Services and Professor of Veterinary Neurology and Neurosurgery at the Royal Veterinary College. He is also the Past-President of the European College of Veterinary Neurology (ECVN)
Holger collaborates with many colleagues at the Royal Veterinary College Rowena Packer, Imelda McGonnell, Richard Piercy, Dan Chan, Ludovig Pelligand, Siobhan Abeyesinghe, Charlotte Burn, Dan O'Neill and others at the Royal Veterinary College. Holger also collaborates with many national and international groups in the field of neurosciences and Veterinary Neurology.
To learn more about Holger’s research projects at the Clinical Investigation Centre please visit the QMH Clinical Trials. To listen to Holger’s podcasts click on the link (Podcast1; Podcast2, Epilepsy beyond seizures).
We have recently developed an Epilepsy App for Pets
Holger chaired and founded the International Veterinary Epilepsy Task Force, which produced seven consensus statements for canine and feline epilepsy and was co-chair of the ACVIM consensus statement for seizures management.
Sandra Sanchis-Mora (co-supervisors Ludovig Pelligand, Siobhan Abeyesinghe)
Danielle Whittacker (co-supervisors: Imelda McGonnell, Albert Basson)
Tsz Law (co-supervisors: Elizabeth Want, Jon Bowen)
Sofie van Mervenne (co-supervisor: Luc van Ham)
Holger published more than 180 papers in peer reviewed journals. Please click on the link for current publication list (google scholar).
Books or book chapters
Chapter about pharmacoresistant epilepsy in Canine and Feline Epilepsy
Holger currently teaches on various courses for the Senior Clinical Training Scholars and the Nervous System and Special Senses strand for the BVetMed undergraduate course, Advanced Veterinary Nursing Physiology module, and teaches final year students and Senior/Junior Clinical Training Scholars during their Neurology & Neurosurgery rotation. He has received the Jim Bee Educators Award in 2010 and 2012 for excellence in teaching.
The Neurology/Neurosurgery team provides many CPD courses. Examples of courses available include: Neurological emergencies, Feline Neurology, Epilepsy and Brain Disease/Spinal diseases in the Old and Young. Holger also runs a successfull eCPD course in Neurology.
Holger works in the RVC Small Animal Referral hospital on all aspects of neurology and neurosurgery but his particular interests are canine and feline epilepsy (Tour). For more information on epilepsy and the epilepsy clinic at the QMHA please visit our Small Animal Referral webpage.
A study to investigate the long-term influence of a medium chain fatty acid diet on canine idiopathic epilepsy - LifeTIME (Long Term remission Mct Epilepsy) study
Dietary management for epilepsy is commonly used in humans, and recent studies at RVC have demonstrated that a diet containing medium-chain-triglycerides (MCTs) can reduce seizure frequency, and improve behaviour in some dogs with epilepsy. The purpose of the present trial is to confirm the efficacy of an MCT enriched diet in the management of dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. We will use a parallel design, which means that your dog will either receive a standard high-quality diet or the same diet enriched with MCT.
Extreme body shapes can cause debilitating conditions, from breathing difficulties to agonising slipped discs, and from irritated wrinkly skin to eye ulcers. Our research highlights the need for breeding strategies that safeguard the welfare of these companion animals.
Interpreting any animal's emotion correctly is key to safeguarding its welfare - and sometimes even our own welfare. Dogs are renowned for their 'human-like' expressiveness, but science can reveal which of their behavioural signals reliably discriminate between emotions such as anxiety versus pleasure, and which ones may be misleading.
IDEAS (Idiopathic Epilepsy and Anxiety Study) - Investigating the relationship between epilepsy, drug-resistance and affective disorders in the domestic dog
IDEAS aims to investigate how environment, diet, genetics and other factors affect the development of epilepsy and anxiety, and how they may be linked in dogs with epilepsy. This study will improve our knowledge and ability to diagnose epilepsy and develop treatments for dogs with epilepsy. We aim to increase quality of life for both dogs with epilepsy and their owners. To do this we are specifically recruiting German Shepherd and Border Collies as both breeds are popular in the UK and have a breed predisposition for drug-resistant epilepsy.
PREDICT Study (Prodrome Recognition in Epileptic Dogs to Improve Control and Therapeutics) – Investigating the potential of non-invasive seizure forecasting in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy
PREDICT aims to investigate the potential of non-invasive seizure forecasting in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. This study will improve our knowledge and ability in prediction of seizures and management of canine epilepsy. We aim to increase quality of life for both dogs with epilepsy and their owners. To do this we are specifically recruiting any breed, age and sex of dogs from the United Kingdom.
The Big Brainy Border Collie Study: Investigating brain structure, function and behaviour In Border Collies with and without Idiopathic Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a complex brain disease seen in both humans and dogs. Subtle differences in brain anatomy, electrical activity in the brain, and day to day behaviour are found between people with epilepsy and people with normal brain development. We are interested in exploring these differences between Border Collies with and without epilepsy, and if they may mimic differences seen in human epilepsy cases.