A research and diagnostic laboratory specialising in Vitamin D biology research in companion, production and wild animals


Professor Richard Mellanby

Richard is a small animal medicine specialist who leads the Vitamin D Animal Laboratory. Richard graduated from University of Glasgow in 1998 and after two years in small animal practice, Richard completed a 3 year residency in small animal medicine at the University of Cambridge.He was awarded the RCVS Certificate in Small Animal Medicine in 2001, the RCVS Diploma in Small Animal Medicine in 2003 and the ECVIM Diploma in Companion Animal medicine in 2004. He was then awarded a Wellcome Trust Clinical Training Fellowship to undertake studies into T cell activation and regulation in diabetes for which he was awarded a PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2007.

Richard moved to the University of Edinburgh in 2007 and worked as clinical fellow dividing my time between clinical work and research. He was awarded a second Wellcome Trust fellowship to continue his studies into T cell activation in 2008. He was appointed Head of Small Animal Medicine in 2011 and Head of Veterinary Clinical Research in 2012. In 2012 Richard was awarded a third Wellcome Trust fellowship to explore how antigen presentation cells activate a pathogenic T cell response. Richard was appointed Head of Small Animal Medicine in 2011 and Head of Veterinary Clinical Research in 2012. In 2012 he was awarded a third Wellcome Trust Fellowship to explore how antigen presentation cells activate a pathogenic T cell response which was further extended in 2016. He was promoted to Head of Companion Animal Sciences in 2016 and was awarded a Personal Chair in Comparative Medicine in 2017. He has published over 120 papers, many of which have been on the comparative biology of vitamin D. His vitamin D research has resulted in the award of Petplan Scientific Achievement Award in 2016 and his election as Fellow of Royal of College of Veterinary Surgeons for meritorious contributions to knowledge in 2016.

Iris Mair

Iris is a postdoctoral scientist whose programme of work focuses on exploring how vitamin D modulates the immune response. Iris is particularly interested in establishing how 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D modulates the function and phenotype of dendritic cells. She has developed a wide range of in-vitro and in-vivo assays to facilitate these studies, notably lentivirus based gene knockdown and overexpression approaches, which have been instrumental in allowing the lab to establish the functional relevancy of the phenotypic changes induced in dendritic cells following exposure to 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D.

Emma Hurst

Emma is a postdoctoral scientist based in the VitDAL who leads the lab’s diagnostic assay service. She has developed numerous vitamin D metabolite assays and is also developing a wide range of ex-vivo assays to allow the lab to explore the factors which control cutaneous production of vitamin D in production and wild animals.

Jenny Cartwright

Jenny is a senior clinical scholar in her final year of her small animal medicine residency at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. Jenny is also working towards her MSc which is based in the VitDAL. Her studies are focussed on vitamin D receptor biology in dogs.



Andy Gill

Andy has been instrumental in establishing the diagnostic assay service of the VitDAL. Andy is a group leader in the Roslin Institute and has developed a wide range of diverse biochemical and biophysical assays, as well as multiple molecular dynamic simulations, to understand a variety of biologically important questions. Andy’s research ranges from neurodegenerative, protein misfolding diseases through to structure and functions studies of proteins from viruses, bacteria, parasites and the mammalian and avian immune systems.

Adam Gow

Adam is Head of Small Animal Medicine at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. He works closely with VitDAL in studies which examine vitamin D homeostasis in clinical patients treated at the Hospital for Small Animals, University of Edinburgh.

Ian Handel

Ian is a senior lecturer in epidemiology at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. He has considerable expertise in statistics, modelling and experimental design and has collaborated on numerous VitDAL projects. He is particularly involved in epidemiology studies which explore the relationship between vitamin D metabolism and health outcomes in production and wild animals.

Dan Nussey

Dan, along with his colleagues Professor Josephine Pemberton and Dr Kathryn Watt, have collaborated with VitDAL for several years on projects which aim to understand the relationship between vitamin D and health outcomes in wild animals, notably the unmanaged Soay sheep population on St Kilda island. Dan is  an evolutionary ecologist based at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology the University of Edinburgh. His research aims to understand the causes and consequences of individual differences in the ageing process. The deterioration of physiological function with age (or senescence), although seemingly inevitable, is one of the most complex, variable and poorly understood of biological processes.

Jeff Schoenebeck

Jeff is a group leader in the Roslin Institute who runs a research programme which investigates the genetic basis of canine and feline morphology and diseases. He works closely with the VitDAL on studies which aim to establish the genetic causes of important calcium and vitamin D disorders in companion animals.



latest news

VitDAL present research at ACVIM Forum

Professor Mellanby visited Phoenix this week to present some of the latest research from the VitDAL at the ACVIM Forum. He presented some recent...

VitDAL awarded DEQAS accreditation

We are delighted to announce that the VitDAL has been awarded DEQAS accreditation this week. This demonstrates that the lab offers a 25(OH)D assay which...

VitDAL publishes new paper

VitDAL published a case report this week which describes how the lab helped diagnose a case of profound hypovitaminosis D in Cocker Spaniel who...