PROFESSOR SHEILA CRISPIN MA Vet MB BSc PhD DVA DVOphthal DipECVO FRCVS
Professor Sheila Crispin is a Past-President and Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. She retired from a full time academic post as Professor of Comparative Ophthalmology at the University of Bristol in 2004 and is a Visiting Professorial Fellow in the University’s Department of Anatomy.
Sheila grew up in Coniston in the English Lake District and spent considerable amounts of time on mountains and water – climbing, walking, canoeing and sailing - she continued this theme at the University of Wales in Bangor whilst studying for an honours degree in zoology and applied zoology, she was then awarded an Agricultural Research Council Scholarship to study veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge, from which she qualified with distinction and was a graduate scholar. After qualifying she worked briefly in a predominantly large animal practice in Cumbria, followed by numerous locums with the Highlands and Islands Veterinary Service Scheme in Scotland. She returned to academia, initially at Cambridge University, where she was a Bye-Fellow of Girton College, Director of Studies in Veterinary Medicine and house surgeon (medicine and surgery across the species) to the Veterinary School. She was also the recipient of a PDSA Scholarship to conduct research in the Unit of Comparative Ophthalmology under the inspirational leadership of the late Dr Keith Barnett and it was Keith who suggested that investigating corneal lipid deposition might be “interesting” …. It was more than interesting and became a lifelong passion, not least because of the fundamental differences in lipids and lipoproteins across the species. Many scientists owe Keith a huge debt of gratitude for the success of their clinical and research careers in ophthalmology.
Sheila subsequently held academic posts at the Universities of Edinburgh and Bristol and obtained her PhD for research on canine lipid keratopathy, by part time study, whilst working as a full time member of staff at Edinburgh University where her remit included general surgery, ophthalmology, anaesthesia and intensive care, as well as painstakingly accumulating sufficient material for a PhD. After moving to Bristol she was able to specialise in veterinary ophthalmology and became head of a vibrant ophthalmology team there. She has an international reputation in the fields of comparative ophthalmology and disorders of lipids and lipoproteins and holds specialist clinical qualifications in veterinary anaesthesia and veterinary ophthalmology. Her scientific expertise, however, extends beyond these areas and encompasses other aspects of comparative medicine, including exotic disease, as well as animal welfare, ethical, educational, environmental and agricultural issues. She has worked and lectured throughout the world and published widely in scientific journals on a wide variety of science based and ethical issues, as well as editing, authoring and co-authoring several textbooks on veterinary ophthalmology.
Amongst the many organisations with which she is involved, Sheila is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, an Associate Member of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, a Member of the British Association of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (and proud recipient of its first Lifetime Achievement Award), an elected Member of the Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (and Vice-Chairman of its Disciplinary Committee), a Member of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, the Sheep Veterinary Society, a Life Member of the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) and an Honorary Member of the Kennel Club (KC). She is also a Member of the Companion Animal Welfare Council, the Kennel Club Dog Health Group and the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club/International Sheep Dog Society Eye Panel (she completed three terms of office as Chief Panellist of the Eye Scheme). Sheila was a member of the group advising Professor Sir Patrick Bateson when he conducted his independent inquiry into dog breeding, chaired the interim Dog Welfare Review Board that was formed following the three reports on dog breeding that followed the television programme ‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed’ and was subsequently appointed as founding Chairman of the Dog Advisory Council. She has also served as a member of Defra’s Science Advisory Council (SAC) and various SAC Sub-Committees and Defra Stakeholder Groups; as well as acting as Co-Chair of the Defra Laboratory Science Agencies Quinquennial Science Audit (2005-2007). She lives on a small farm in an area of outstanding natural beauty within the Lake District National Park. Her spare time is increasingly taken up with environmental and ethical issues, including the impact of human activities on health, biodiversity and habitat.