Department: Clinical Science and Services
Research Groups: Cardiovascular and Inflammation Biology and Metabolism, Comparative Physiology and Medicine
Clinical Groups: Small Animal Internal Medicine
Research Centres: Clinical Investigation Centre
MRC Clinician Scientist Fellow
Professor of Veterinary Clinical Genetics
RCVS and European Specialist in Small Animal Medicine
After graduating from Cambridge Veterinary School, where I completed an intercalated degree (Part II) in Pathology, I spent several years in small animal practice. On completion of my RCVS Certificate in Small Animal Medicine, I joined the RVC as a PhD student in 2001 and undertook a PhD in canine diabetes mellitus, supervised by Prof. Brian Catchpole. After this, I undertook residency training in Small Animal Medicine at the Queen's Veterinary School Hospital in Cambridge, where I passed my RCVS and European Specialist exams in 2006.
After a period of time as a Clinical Physician in Cambridge, I was awarded a 4-year Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellowship to join the Diabetes and Inflammation Laboratory in the Cambridge Institute of Medical Research, under the supervision of Prof. John Todd. This allowed me to combine veterinary clinical work with post-doctoral research in human type 1 diabetes genetics during the early post-GWAS era. Following this, I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Veterinary Postdoctoral Fellowship to undertake further post-doctoral training at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, under the supervision of Prof. Chris O'Callaghan. In 2014, I became University Lecturer in Genetics and Small Animal Medicine and a Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge and continued to combine genetics research in Oxford with veterinary clinical work in Cambridge.
In December 2017, I was awarded a 5-year MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowship and was appointed Professor of Veterinary Clinical Genetics at the Royal Veterinary College. This position is held in continued collaboration with the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford and Wolfson College, Oxford.
In my research, I am very keen to understand the relationship between genotype and phenotype in humans and veterinary species. By understanding the function of the genes affecting risk of type 1 diabetes, we have the potential to reveal novel pathways for preventative or therapeutic intervention. I am also interested in the role of environmental factors in diabetes risk, such as variation in the microbiome and its associated metabolites.
I am currently working on the 16p13.13 region in humans, which affects risk of many autoimmune conditions including type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and primary biliary sclerosis. I use a combination of techniques including global gene expression analyses, recombinant protein expression and purification, functional assessment of cells after overexpression and CRISPR-CAs9 knockout of genes in vitro and in vivo, flow cytometry, confocal microscopy and chromosome conformation capture. I also have a special interest in high throughput genomic technology and single cell RNA-sequencing techniques.
In my veterinary research, I have a particular interest in canine and feline endocrinology and a special focus on canine diabetes. I am a lead investigator in the Canine Diabetes Genetics Partnership (caninediabetesgenetics.org), which is a consortium of clinicians and scientists eomploying whole genome sequencing to understand breed-associated risks of canine diabetes. I am also involved in collaborative projects in feline diabetes, feline hyperthyroidism, canine non-suppurative meningitis, canine hyperlipidaemia and canine insulinoma. I am very keen to develop strategies for utilising high-throughput seqencing technologies to understand the pathogenesis of complex diseases, as well as to manage individual cases in a clinical with a 'personalised medicine' approach.
I am very grateful for current research support from:
The Medical Research Council
The JDRF/EASD/Lilly Programme in Type 1 Diabetes
The PetPlan Charitable Trust
The American Kennel Club
Dechra Veterinary Pharmaceuticals
I also gratefully acknowledge historic research support from:
The ECVIM-CA Clinical Studies Fund
Please see my publications list at : https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=sCc6vQMAAAAJ&hl=en
Small Animal Medicine Service
Vice-president of the European Society for Veterinary Endocrinology and member of organising committee for ESVE Summer School 2018 (https://www.esve-payments.org/summerschool2018/default.aspx)
Member of Examination Committee for ECVIM-CA (Internal Medicine Specialist exam)
Member of Research Committee (Veterinary Schools Council)
At The Royal Veterinary College we have established a national canine diabetes register. This includes a database of clinical information and an archive of residual samples. This diabetic register is used as part of ongoing research into the causes of this disease.
Burmese cats have been found to be at increased risk of diabetes mellitus in several geographic regions, including the UK, other European countries and Australia. The aim of our project is to investigate the genetic mutations responsible for the increased susceptibility of Burmese cats to diabetes and to identify any environmental risk factors.