Department: Clinical Science and Services
Research Groups: CPCS (Research Programme)
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)
Certain breeds of dog, including the Samoyed, Cairn and Tibetan terriers are predisposed to developing diabetes, whereas others, including the boxer and German shepherd dog, are less susceptible. Such breed differences suggest that there is a genetic component to disease susceptibility.
Diabetes mellitus and antibiotics – exploring the use of antibiotics as a risk factor for the disease (Complete)
Vet Compass Project Type: Dog
The project aims to report the incidence of canine diabetes mellitus cases diagnosed in primary care veterinary practices in the United Kingdom and to describe and explore systemic antibiotic usage prior to dogs developing diabetes mellitus.
This research trial (REGLUCAT) will assess the ability of a new feline prescription diabetic food to promote weight loss - and hopefully diabetic remission - in diabetic cats who are overweight to some degree.
This research aims to provide a new and effective form of treatment for overweight diabetic cats, using dietary change to promote diabetic remission.
Identifying treatments that can achieve diabetic remission will encourage many owners to pursue treatment and will greatly improve the quality of life for diabetic cats.
The RVC Diabetic Remission Clinic is recruiting for a 1-year trial examining the ability of a new prescription diet to promote weight loss and diabetic remission in overweight cats with diabetes mellitus. The trial period will last for 1 year; cats will only be fed the test diet for the first 12 weeks and will be then monitored up to 52 weeks. Patients will attend 7 consultations at the RVC Queen Mother Hospital for Animals at the RVC in Hertfordshire. The project will also investigate how achieving diabetic remission, and weight loss, affects the gut microbiome of diabetic cats.
Insulinomas in dogs are difficult to cure by surgery. We investigate which genes are crucial for survival of insulinoma cells, allowing us to design new treatments targeted at these genes. Insulinomas are the most common pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours in dogs and humans. Current treatment options are limited to surgery and palliative medical therapy. Survival is poor with a median of 4 [range 0-18] months and 14 [range 0-51] months for medically and surgically treated dogs, respectively. Hence, new, more precise treatments are needed to improve the clinical outcome for dogs and humans with malignant insulinomas.