Published: 30/06/2015 11:01:26
AHT GENETICIST WINS PRESTIGIOUS AWARD
Dr Cathryn Mellersh, our Head of Canine Genetics, has won a prestigious award for her research which has significantly improved our understanding of inherited diseases in purebred dogs and has led to the development of numerous DNA tests to help dog breeders improve the lives of future generations of dogs.
Cathryn was recognised as this year’s joint recipient of the International Award at the coveted International Canine Health Awards run by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, funded by Metro Bank. She received the award at the International Conference on Advances in Canine and Feline Genomics and Inherited Disease, which was this year held in Cambridge and organised by the Animal Health Trust, spearheaded by Cathryn herself.
The awards highlight those individuals who go one step further to promote the health and wellbeing of dogs through their work in the world of veterinary science and include a fund to help support the individual’s future research projects. As joint winner of the International Award Cathryn receives a £20,000 fund to support future canine genetics research projects here at the AHT.
Speaking about the award, she said: “Receiving this award is a real honour and I am privileged to have been able to build a career that combines my love of dogs and genetics. My research has helped to prevent inherited disorders in purebred dogs, but it may also help us understand inherited diseases in all dogs, and maybe humans too, in the future.
“I’m very proud of my team and what they have achieved so far for the health of the dog and thanks to funding from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust we have been able to find close to 20 genetic mutations responsible for debilitating health conditions affecting about 35 breeds.
“By working with breeders to develop these tests we’re able to help prevent inherited disease in countless dogs, all over the world, and this award will have an invaluable impact on my lab and the work that we’re doing going forward. For that I am truly very grateful.
“The fund will be split between the three main areas of our work and will help us to make great strides in sequencing the whole genome of several breeds, as a resource to help streamline all of our research, as well as assisting our current investigations into idiopathic epilepsy and inherited eye disease in a number of breeds, helping us to make a huge difference to the health of several future generations of dogs.”
The DNA tests developed so far in the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the AHT are for several different inherited eye diseases, including progressive retinal atrophy, glaucoma and cataracts, and also a number of neurological disorders, including ataxia and sensory neuropathy.
Mike Townsend, Chairman of Trustees at the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which runs the awards, said: “Dr Mellersh represents everything that this award is about. She has completely transformed our understanding of dog diseases and our ability to test for life limiting conditions, dramatically improving the lives of dogs.
“She was amongst the first in the world to identify disease carrying genes in dogs that has enabled the huge advancements in testing and technology that we thankfully have today. Her work is truly transforming dogs’ lives and she is continually showing her passion and commitment by attending breeder seminars and conferences and has published multiple papers about her field of expertise.”
To find out more about the work of Cathryn and her team, please click here.
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