Cathryn awarded the ICHA Lifetime Achievement Award

The Canine Genetics Centre has had something very special to celebrate this month. Our group leader, Dr Cathryn Mellersh, has been selected as the winner of perhaps the most prestigious award given annually as an international prize in canine health, the International Canine Health Awards (ICHA) Lifetime Achievement Award. Prizes in this, and a number of other categories, are sponsored by Vernon and Lesley Hill, founders of Metro Bank, and awarded annually by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust , whose independent adjudicators are world-wide experts.

Cathryn is unique in having previously won a share of the ICHA “International Award” in 2015. This second award is a tribute to the importance of her contributions over 30 years to development of the canine genome map and subsequently to her lead in the discovery of more than thirty genetic mutations important to dog health, to the development of tests for these and other mutations, and to running a testing lab to identify carriers and affected animals with these and other mutations.

Cathryn was nominated for her latest prize by several group leaders in canine genetics from across the whole globe.  Although in many scientific sub-disciplines such nominees would see Cathryn as a rival, this is not the case in the dog research community. I have been lucky to work closely with Cathryn for many years and I am very aware that she has been absolutely central to making sure that all the canine genetics research groups in the world are happy to help each other, to share materials and to work together to do their best for dogs.

It is typical of Cathryn that her acceptance speech was all about the contributions of others…”but my biggest thank you goes to my incredible team both past and present…. behind [this award] is the hard work of over several decades of many very loyal and hardworking people, all with a passion to help improve the health of dogs”.

Finally, this award is particularly timely during Cathryn’s group’s current financial difficulties because it comes with a substantial sum ($50,000) that Cathryn has already told me she will put straight back into her team and the lab. But that is still only about 10% of the salaries and running costs of the whole team across a year. So if any reader would like to celebrate her contribution with a donation of their own to keep her team intact please donate.

David Sargan
Guest Researcher (Retired Associate Professor Comparative Genomics)