We’re very pleased to have appointed a new research assistant within our canine genetics research team. Hattie Wright, from Cambridge, has joined us in a newly-created position, following funding by Vets4Pets, who agreed to support the lifesaving research.

Hattie has a degree in Zoology from the University of Reading and a Master’s in Veterinary Science from the University of Cambridge, where she spent a year researching candidate genes for brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) in Pugs, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs, as well as the facial morphology of these breeds.


Hattie Wright, Vets4Pets research assistant, in the lab

Hattie said: “I’m very excited to join the AHT’s research group and start working on a wider range of diseases affecting dogs. I previously worked at the AHT in another department, and am thrilled to be able to come back and contribute to the world renowned canine genetics research, where I am sure I will learn a great deal from this amazing team.

“I’m passionate about animal welfare and veterinary science, and research which aims to improve the health of dogs, so this role is a fantastic opportunity.”

Hattie’s role will support all of our canine genetics research, with a primary focus on lens luxation in various breeds of dog, and intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) in Dachshunds, which are known to suffer from painful and debilitating slipped discs.

With Hattie’s help, it is hoped we will be able to speed up our canine genetic investigations, resulting in more DNA health tests which breeders can use to select the best mate for their dog, in order to breed healthy, happy puppies, free from known inherited diseases.

“We’re absolutely delighted to welcome Hattie to our research group, and increase the work we do in helping dogs,” said Dr Cathryn Mellersh, who heads up our Canine Genetics team.

“Thanks to the funding from Vets4Pets, Hattie will be able to have a significant impact on the volume of work we can do going forward, and therefore the number of dogs we can help through our research. We are very much a team, and every DNA test we successfully develop for a specific disease-causing genetic mutation in a breed of dog, relies upon the varied expertise of the whole team.

“The research assistants, who carry out the laboratory and bench-based research play a particularly important role, as they typically work on multiple projects at the same time and therefore help speed up the lab-based part of the research investigations.”

Our Canine Genetics research team, primarily funded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, has discovered more than 20 disease-causing mutations in the dog and used this research to develop DNA tests for nearly 50 different breeds of dog.

The team is currently involved in projects to study the genetics of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in several breeds, including the Gordon Setter and English Springer Spaniel, the genetics of idiopathic epilepsy in the Border Collie and Italian Spinone, and the genetics of glaucoma in multiple breeds of dog.

Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “The Animal Health Trust’s Canine Genetics research team does a fantastic job in helping us better understand, treat and prevent inherited diseases in dogs. As a group, pet welfare and responsible pet ownership are our primary concerns and it’s fantastic to be able to play a small part in this invaluable research.

“We’re delighted our funding has allowed someone with Hattie’s enthusiasm and experience to support the excellent work carried out by the AHT.”