Ex-Spalding student leads medical research on liver virus
A former Spalding High School student is close to a medical breakthrough that could help patients with liver infections.
Professor Julia Beatty is leading a research team at the University of Sydney, Australia, who are investigating infectious diseases in animals.
However, it was the death from heart disease of her pet cat Jasper that led Professor Beatty and her team to discover a link between cat viruses and the hepatitis B virus often found in patients diagnosed with HIV/Aids.
Professor Beatty said: "This is a very exciting discovery because, until now, we didn't know that companion animals could get this type of infection.
"We obviously need to understand the impact of this infection on cat health.
"But apart from its relevance for felines, this discovery helps us understand how hepatitis viruses - which can be deadly - are evolving in all species."
Professor Beatty started her education at St Norbert's Primary School, Spalding, before moving on to Spalding High School where she studied biology, chemistry and maths at A-Level.
After leaving in 1983, Professor Beatty went to London's Royal Veterinary College where she graduated from in 1986, going on to become an expert in veterinary medicine.
She said: "I consider myself very fortunate to have had access to some wonderful educational opportunities whilst in Spalding.
"As a student at Spalding High School, I remember my time there fondly because we had some excellent teachers.
"In particular, I remember my chemistry teacher Mrs Kite biology teacher Mr Savage and Mr Jarvis who taught maths.
"Each of them knew how to get the best out of their students, as did many other teachers at the school."
While working as Research Fellow in London, Professor Beatty became the proud owner of Jasper.
She said: "He was a street rescue cat from London and I took him to Australia with me in 2001.
"Jasper was a great cat who helped me to balance my life as a specialist vet for cats with teaching veterinary students and leading research into cat viruses.
"The goal of our research team is to improve the lives of pets, and people, through clinical research.
"So if we find out that a new virus causes a disease in our pets, we have the possibility of designing a new treatment or even a vaccine to prevent the disease occurring."