Dr Jerold Bell, newly appointed Chair of the WSAVA Hereditary Disease Committee... Could you introduce yourself to WSAVA members?
I trained as a classical population geneticist prior to veterinary school and graduated in 1982 from the Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine in New York, USA. I have been a solo small animal practice owner for most of my career. For twenty-five years I taught the clinical veterinary genetics course to second year veterinary students at the Cummings Veterinary School at Tufts University in Massachusetts, USA. I’m a volunteer member of the Board of Directors of the not-for-profit animal health foundation – the OFA – the world’s largest genetic health screening database.
What is your ‘day job’?
I’ve been a general practitioner at the small animal clinic I own in Connecticut, USA, for the past 29 years.
When and how did you first get involved with the WSAVA?
I was invited to join the Hereditary Disease Committee in 2007 and haven’t looked back.
You’re the new Chair of the Hereditary Disease Committee. What attracted you to this role?
I plan to bring a general practitioner’s perspective on hereditary disease to our work. General practitioners are heavily involved in counselling breeders and the public on ways to minimize hereditary disease and I want to help our members to do this effectively.
Why is Hereditary Disease such an important issue?
We see preventable hereditary disease in practice every day. The more we know, the more we can improve the health of our patients through early diagnosis, intervention, and prevention in both breeding and non-breeding patients. We cannot expect healthy dogs and cats without selective health-conscious breeding.
What are the Hereditary Disease Committee’s current priorities?
Communication enables us to share important information concerning hereditary disease and understand local issues so we are engaging with national and local veterinary medical associations and small animal practitioners worldwide. If any members would like to be included on a HDC informational e-mail list please contact me: email@example.com.
Practitioners have not historically been educated about the advances and issues concerning genetic testing, test interpretation, and genetic counselling so we are also working to develop educational tools to raise levels of understanding.
Why is the WSAVA’s work important?
The WSAVA represents all small animal practitioners in the world and we are the professionals tasked with maintaining the health of companion animals. Through its national members, the WSAVA helps us provide better care for our patients, as well as offering guidance in our professional lives.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
When I’m not working, you’ll find me on a golf course.