Kathy's PhD as well as previous postdoc positions mainly concentrated on elucidating the epigenetic modification DNA methylation, for the identification of potential drug/vaccine targets as well as lifecycle intervention strategies, in the medically important parasite Schistosoma mansoni. Additionally, I was part of the Wellcome Trust funded FUGI (The Flatworm Functional Genomics Initiative), a project aiming to characterise and understand the stem cell systems in schistosomes in order to establish immortal cell lines, as well as to advance the schistosome genome editing field by the development of CRISPR/CAS9 in this parasite. More recently, my personal interest in the complex host-parasite relationship has driven my research away from the parasites themselves, towards the interaction they have with their molluscan intermediate host.
In addition to my passion for parasitology or infectious diseases in general, I have always been very interested in and keen to improve animal welfare, as animals, especially horses play a big part in my life. Therefore, after working around 10 years in the field of medical parasitology in Prof Karl Hoffmann’s lab in Aberystwyth, a Horse Trust project here at MRI allowed me to move into a field of research I always wanted to be in. Since 2018 I have been working on the development a diagnostic ELISA for the detection of cyathostomins in equines, aiming to contribute towards sustainable parasite control in equines and to improve welfare of horses in general.
In February 2021, I will be beginning my position on Equine Grass Sickness (EGS) Research Fellow. EGS is a devastating neurodegenerative disease which despite decades of research is still poorly understood. The actual cause of Equine Grass Sickness is still a mystery, but it appears that a multi-factorial approach is required to tackle such a highly complex disease and ultimately provide a better outcome for equine grass sickness cases. Together with the collaborative efforts from experts from different disciplines, as well as the establishment of a national database and sample archive (equine as well as environmental derived) as a valuable resource, we will hopefully get to the bottom of this elusive disease.