Co-Founder, Chief Executive and Director of Operations
I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology in 1986, followed by a MSc in Psychology by research. In 1992 became a full member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, and subsequently became Chair for three years. From 1987 I worked full time at the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, leaving my final post of Director of Operations and Research in May 2007.
I have been involved in the training of dogs for tasks involving scent for over twenty years; I have trained working gundogs and participated in both competitive working trials and national gundog tests and trials. Since 2002 I have been professionally involved in training dogs in the detection of human disease through scent. In 2003, I was training director of the first programme in the world to train dogs to identify cancer by odour. The findings of this study were published in the British Medical Journal in September 2004.
I have worked as a consultant for a number of programmes across the world including Samsung Assistance Dog Services and Hearing Dogs Japan. I have been an invited speaker on this topic for a number of agencies, scientific meetings, police conferences and training seminars around the world.
I am Chief Executive and Director of Operations for the charity Medical Detection Dogs an organisation that trains dogs to identify human disease by odour. We are currently working on a number of pioneering research projects involving canine olfaction, including the training of dogs to detect cancer, blood sugar changes, and Addison’s disease.
In 2011, I was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science in recognition of an outstanding contribution to development of new approaches for the detection of life threatening diseases.
In 2015, I was awarded the British Citizen Award for life-saving work in the management of long-term illnesses and the research into early cancer detection.
My dog Daisy, who is trained by charity Medical Detection Dogs to sniff out cancer, was awarded the Blue Cross Medal for her pioneering work in the field of cancer detection, where she has sniffed over 6,500 samples and detected over 550 cases of cancer.
In May 2015 I was awarded a fellowship from the Royal Society of Medicine.
I have been advising on a proof of principle study that has been completed by Maureen Maurer of Assistance dogs of Hawaii and Michael McCulloch of Pine Street Foundation California (previous author of papers on cancer detection) and others.
UTIs are a significant medical problem, particularly in people with physical disabilities such as spinal cord injuries (SCIs), hospitalized patients, and the elderly. Detection of UTIs is difficult in these patients, resulting in delayed diagnoses and more serious infections such as pyelonephritis and life-threatening sepsis. SCI patients have a higher risk of UTIs because of impaired bladder function, catheterization and a lack of symptoms due to spinal cord damage. UTIs are the leading cause of hospitalization for SCI patients, who are also substantially more likely to develop bladder cancer, due to frequent infections. Improved detection methods are needed. This canine detection is to be piloted operationally at a rehabilitation hospital In Honolulu. I have acted as consultant on the introduction of this program to the hospital and to establish the YES/NO one stand system to the handler and dogs.