Dr Cathryn Mellersh, head of the Canine Genetics team at the Animal Health Trust

Dr Cathryn Mellersh, head of the Canine Genetics team at the Animal Health Trust

The Animal Health Trust’s Canine Genetics research team has been given a boost after it received significant funding to support its work.

The funding, from Vets4Pets, will enable the team to recruit another research assistant (RA) to help increase the already lifesaving work they do for purebred dogs within the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust.

While the funding will initially be in place for 12 months, it’s hoped to become a longer-term partnership between the Animal Health Trust, the UK’s leading veterinary and scientific research charity, and Vets4Pets.

Vets4Pets agreed to support the work carried out by the team following a visit to the Animal Health Trust’s facilities, based near Newmarket, Suffolk, earlier this year.

“We’re absolutely delighted to receive this research funding from Vets4Pets and we are very excited to be able to add another member to our research group,” said Dr Cathryn Mellersh, who heads up the Canine Genetics team.

“This new position will 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 to speed up the lab-based part of the research investigations.

“This funding from Vets4Pets will help us drive even more projects to a successful conclusion, for the benefit of future generations of dogs.”

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.

“We don’t see this as a one-year relationship, but one that can be built on over time to support and improve the health and welfare of 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.”

Applications for the role are currently being accepted and anyone with experience of molecular biology techniques, who is also keen to work within this field of research, should go to www.aht.org.uk/jobs to apply.


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