Dr Penny Watson


University Of CambridgePenny Watson graduated as a vet from the University of Cambridge in 1989 and spent 4 years in mixed practice in North Wales and East Anglia before returning to the Veterinary school at Cambridge where she has been ever since. She combines clinical work and teaching with clinical research and her interest areas are small animal medicine, particularly gastroenterology and nutrition. She had cavaliers as a child and has always loved the breed.

Penny’s research focuses on liver and pancreas disease in dogs and cats, particularly chronic disease and fibrosis. There is a strong focus on comparative pathology and identifying the relevance to humans as well as small animals. Her work on canine chronic pancreatitis, funded by BSAVA Petsavers, has already shown that pancreatitis lesions are very common at post mortem in dogs and also showed breed-related differences in pancreatic pathology which suggest differences in causes between breeds. Concurrent clinical studies funded by the Pet Plan Charitable Trust identified the same breed relationships and showed the importance of chronic pancreatitis in causing clinical disease in dogs including recurrent sickness and diarrhoea, pain, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) and diabetes mellitus. Cavalier King Charles spaniels have been identified in this research as having an increased risk of chronic pancreatitis and ongoing work in this breed is investigating potential mechanisms of multi-organ fibrosis and the role of platelet-derived mediators including serotonin. The initial part of this work is funded by BSAVA Petsavers together with the Cavalier Collection scheme.

Without the dedicated hard work of the collection scheme, we would not have the tissue samples we need to progress this work. The hope is that our findings will result in an effective treatment for some of these diseases in the breed and even, in the future, prevention.