Work at the RVC under the Comparative Genomics Endocrinology and Reproduction theme ranges from clinical trials to functional molecular biology to whole genome sequencing.

Upskilling researchers in genome data-analysis is an important institutional strategy impacting both research programmes. To make full use of veterinary patients as human disease models, we have established systematic phenotype data capture processes coupled with DNA archives, enabling phenotype to genotype matching. Whilst there are some well characterised veterinary monogenic disorders, the real challenge is to understand genomic influences in complex diseases, to inform prognosis and provide individualised treatment.

Within the group, data analysis and processing expertise has been established, including the development of a pipeline for prioritising important disease-associated variants within whole genome sequences as applied to canine diabetes. This pipeline is being adapted for other diseases and species and will become a foundation for future clinical research within CPCS. Endocrine diseases are the immediate focus for the pipelines developed for canine diabetes, extending to feline diabetes, hyperthyroidism and hypersomatotropism, however work is expanding to include other complex diseases and traits.

Genomic approaches are also being applied to reproduction, a long-standing RVC research strength where genomic approaches are being used to understand dairy cattle infertility and early pregnancy losses in the thoroughbred breeding industry. Additional conditions currently under investigation include equine laminitis and the genetic basis of susceptibility to a range of infectious diseases.

RVC researchers are also part of a wide range of wider collaborative and data sharing networks, both internally and externally. Researchers in the Comparative Genomics, Endocrinology and Reproduction theme work closely with other themes in the RVC, particularly Quantitative Biology, and also collaboratively with colleagues in other Departments and Universities.

Key areas under this research theme are outlined below:


  • Laminitis Research: The overall aim of this research group is to further understand the pathophysiology of equine insulin dysregulation and to investigate the relative strength of different risk factors for endocrinopathic laminitis. Identification of animals at an increased risk would allow targeted implementation of management changes that may reduce this risk and thus reduce the frequency of occurrence of this painful disease. 


  • Equine Pregnancy Laboratory: The overarching goals of this lab are to further our understanding of the mechanisms that regulate the growth and survival of the equine embryo and fetus through studies of normal and failing pregnancies, ultimately improving equine reproductive health, efficiency and welfare.

Genomics / Endocrinology

Led by Professor Lucy Davison

Professor of Veterinary Clinical Genetics and MRC Clinician Scientist Fellow

In December 2017, Lucy 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.

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