Five quick questions with Dr Dan Horton
Dr Dan Horton is a Lecturer in Veterinary Virology within the University of Surrey's School of Veterinary Medicine. His research focuses on reducing the animal and human health burden caused by diseases that cross species barriers.
In this quick interview, we ask Dr Horton all about veterinary medicine, teaching masters students, and his research.
1. Why did you choose to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, and how did you come to work at the University of Surrey?
Becoming a vet seemed the ideal way to combine an interest in science, a fascination with the natural world, and a love of animals. I joined the University in 2014 just before the School of Veterinary Medicine took our first cohort of students. As a vet working in research, interested in advancing veterinary science, and preparing the next generation for the challenges ahead, it was an almost unique opportunity to contribute to a new vet school.
2. In your opinion, what is the most interesting thing about working in your area of expertise?
The simple satisfaction of scientific discovery, combined with doing research aimed at actually making a difference, will always be a strong motivators for me. Working in veterinary microbiology is an exciting and fast moving area, with new challenges arising almost continuously. We are researching and teaching students about outbreaks of emerging diseases, or global challenges such as antimicrobial resistance that threaten both animal and human health.
3. What is your favourite thing about lecturing at Surrey?
Since joining the University, the diversity of expertise we have across the different faculties has really opened my eyes to other disciplines. This diversity provides opportunities, for example applying new technology and digital innovation approaches to veterinary and medical challenges, which has now become a major focus in my research and teaching. It is also a great place to live for staff and students alike - good facilities, close enough to London but near enough to some beautiful countryside.
4. What is your favourite postgraduate module to teach and why?
My favourite modules include the first and last modules on the Veterinary Microbiology MSc course - the first is where we introduce many of the subjects, and it’s really exciting to see the students eyes opened to how they could contribute to some of the grand societal challenges using the training and experience provided in the course. The last is the research project module where they get an opportunity to be fully embedded in a real research group for three months. Seeing the students develop their research and professional skills during that time, and guiding them in their next career step, is very rewarding.
5. What research are you working on at the moment that excites you the most?
Research in my group is broadly aimed at addressing the challenges posed by emerging zoonotic diseases. We are investigating this through several avenues including PhD studentships with collaborators at partners the Pirbright Institute, Animal and Plant Health Agency and Public Health England. An award from the Academy of Medical Sciences has allowed us to investigate cross-species transmission of rabies virus which remains a global veterinary and public health challenge. Probably most exciting is our recent success in a large pan-European grant which will allow us to combine forces with partners across Europe to tackle challenges of emerging threats, antimicrobial resistance and food-borne diseases.
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