My research focuses particularly on haemotropic mycoplasmas (haemoplasmas), a a newly defined group of pathogens that can induce haemolysis of red blood cells, and feline coronavirus infections, which can result in the fatal disease of feline infectious peritonitis.
I graduated as a vet from the University of Bristol in 1994 and worked for the PDSA before moving to the University of Edinburgh to complete a residency in Feline Medicine in 1999. I then moved back to the University of Bristol where I completed a PhD investigating feline haemoplasma infections in 2002. I am currently Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Medicine at the University of Bristol where I am involved with teaching and services associated with the Feline Centre and the Molecular Diagnostic Unit (MDU) (where I am academic lead for the Acarus Laboratory) of Langford Veterinary Services. I have active research interests in infectious diseases, notably haemoplasma and feline coronavirus infections. I am passionate about all things feline and I particularly enjoy teaching veterinary students, nurses and colleagues a holistic approach to feline cases to help ensure provision of the highest standards of cat care by understanding the specific needs of cats. I have recently finished editing the BSAVA Manual of Feline Practice: a Foundation Manual. I am a RCVS Specialist in Feline Medicine and a European Specialist in Small Animal Internal Medicine. I was awarded the BSAVA Woodrow Award in 2008, for outstanding contributions in the field of small animal veterinary medicine, and the Petplan Charitable Trust Research Award in 2013, for outstanding contributions in the field of veterinary research.
Haemotropic mycoplasma infections
I am involved in the investigation of haemotropic mycoplasmas (haemoplasmas), which are bacterial agents that can induce haemolytic anaemia in a range of host species. Most of our studies centre on the feline haemoplasmas but we have carried out research on a range of haemoplasma species including canine, rodent and human species. Our research has focused on: the development of novel polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays and serological tests to detect haemoplasma infection, the phylogeny of haemoplasmas, the pathogenesis of the haemoplasma-associated anaemia and induced immunity, and genomic studies that have resulted in the first complete haemoplasma genomic sequence (Mycoplasma haemofelis). We are also developing in vitro methods of haemoplasma cultivation.
Feline coronavirus (FCoV) infections
Feline coronavirus (FCoV) infection is very common in cats and can sometimes lead to the serious disease of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which is an important cause of death in cats. The Bristol Feline Coronavirus (BFC) Group is actively committed to further research in this field to ultimately help the diagnosis and prevention of this distressing disease. Current research involves the development of reliable diagnostic tests for the definitive diagnosis of FIP, deriving genome sequences of field coronavirus isolates and the development of a so-called “reverse genetic” system for feline coronaviruses. The reverse genetic systemic involves constructing a copy of the virus in a form that can be changed in a specific way. This is a complex process but it will be of immense value in our basic research and, in the longer term, can be used to produce vaccines against FIP.
I am involved in undergraduate lecture teaching and project supervision on the Veterinary Science (BVSc) and Veterinary Nursing and Bioveterinary Science (BSc) courses. I also teach clinical feline medicine to final year BVSc students during their feline clerking. I am the School of Veterinary Sciences' Disability Representative.
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