I graduated in Applied Biology from Bath University in 1975 and stayed in Bath to pursue a PhD in the immunology of human rheumatoid arthritis, supervised by Paul Bacon. Following this, I received postdoctoral training in immunology and rheumatology in a series of MRC and ARC Fellowships at Nottingham and Bristol medical schools, the latter working under Chris Elson and Paul Dieppe.
In 1985, I took the “New Blood” immunology lectureship at the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Liverpool. Initially my research focussed on rheumatoid arthritis in dogs and then developed into studies of osteoarthritis in cats, dogs and horses; this work was primarily in association with Dr David Bennett and together we formed the Arthritis Research Group which eventually expanded to become a University wide initiative to include studies of human arthropathies. This work was primarily related to autoimmunity and inflammatory/destructive pathways in joints.
In the late 1990’s, I was approached to help with identifying the pathology underlying a fatal foal immunodeficiency. This work lasted 16 years and led to the identification of both the immunological defects and the responsible gene mutation, enabling development of a carrier test which led to the virtual eradication of this disease in equine breeds. This work won the University of Liverpool Research Impact Award in 2015 and was prominent in the vet school submission to REF 2014.
A major collaboration with Bill Ollier (University of Manchester) led to the formation of a veterinary genetics group which has fostered developments in understanding susceptibility to a number of diseases of dogs. We also established a UK Companion Animal DNA Archive between our 2 centres.
Most recently, I have concentrated my research into causes of infectious lameness in livestock species and particularly digital dermatitis. This has led to many discoveries and development of resources to understand the nature of the bacterial infections causing foot lameness and the possibilities for intervention such as antimicrobials, biosecurity and vaccines. Most of this work has been with my bacteriology colleague, Nick Evans and a well known farm animal vet, Roger Blowey.
My research work has involved supervision of over 50 PhD students who have contributed enormously to the success of the projects and been a source of tremendous encouragement and satisfaction. Largely due to their efforts, I was variously promoted and gained a personal chair in 2002. I also have a Visiting Professorship at the Veterinary Faculty at Iasi, Romania.
Over the years at Liverpool, I have increased my teaching commitment and teach all of the immunology elements on the BVSc course and on the Bioveterinary BSc course as well as contributing to various other BSc/MSc modules. I thoroughly enjoy the teaching and enthusing students about pathology in general and especially immunology.
Prizes or Honours
- Research Impact Award (University of Liverpool, 2015)
- Visiting Professor (University of Iasi, Romania, 2011)
- Amoroso Award (BSAVA, 2005)
- George Fleming Prize (The Veterinary Journal,, 2005)
- Vice-Chair, European Veterinary Immunology Group (European Immunology Federation, 2002)
- Fellowship (Royal College of Pathologists, 2002)