The Animal Health Trust (AHT) has appointed a new research assistant (RA), to support ongoing work by its Canine Genetics research team.
Hattie Wright, from Cambridge, has joined the AHT in a newly-created position, following funding by Vets4Pets, who agreed to support the lifesaving work carried out by the team.
The 26-year-old 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 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 the AHT’s 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 the AHT will be able to speed up its 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 the 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.”
The Animal Health Trust (AHT) 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.”
About Vets4Pets and Companion Care Vets
- Vets4Pets and Companion Care are part of the Pets At Home Vet Group, operated with their Joint Venture Vet Partners
- As at 4th January 2018, The Pets at Home Vet Group operated 449 Vet practices across the UK, including 153 standalone and 296 in-store practices under the Vets4Pets and Companion Care brands
- The Pets at Home Vet Group is committed to delivering first class service and high standards of care in their national network of small animal veterinary practices. It achieves this through joint venture partnerships with experienced and ambitious veterinary surgeons
- Each Vets4Pets and Companion Care practice offers a comprehensive range of treatments from vaccinations, neutering, general healthcare and advice to the more specialised services of intensive care medicine and surgical procedures
About the Animal Health Trust
- The Animal Health Trust (AHT) is the UK’s leading veterinary and scientific research charity, dedicated to the health and wellbeing of dogs, cats and horses. It aims to improve the health and welfare of horses, dogs and cats through research, but also provides specialist referral services and continuous education to vets. Visit the website www.aht.org.uk