Real Lives: Animal expert takes up seat in House of Lords

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A leading animal health expert is set to take up a seat in the House of Lords.

Professor Sandy Trees, the chairman of Moredun Research Institute near Penicuik, in Midlothian, has been appointed a life peer and will take a non-party role in the upper house at Westminster.

Born Alexander John Trees in 1946, he studied at Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, from which he graduated in 1969.

He then spent time on a research expedition to Kenya and a year in mixed general practice before completing a PhD on bovine babesiosis, a parasitic infection deadly in cattle.

After a spell at animal health products firm Elanco in Rome as veterinary adviser for Middle East/North African operations, Professor Trees was appointed lecturer in veterinary parasitology at Liverpool University.

He became head of the parasite and vector biology division at Liverpool’s School of Tropical Medicine in 1994 before going on to take up the role of Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, where he remained until 2008. Funded by more than £15 million of external grants at Liverpool, Professor Trees’ research generated more than 120 scientific papers and numerous presentations at conferences all over the world.

As well as his work at the university, his interest in education extended to his position as president of the Association of Veterinary Teachers and Research Workers, which he held between 1996 and 1997. He was also president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2009.

But while Professor Trees has spent most of his career in academia, he has retained a strong link with the big issues in practical farming and animal disease.

He took up his current position at Moredun – based at the Pentlands Science Park – in December last year.

Professor Trees said: “I am particularly grateful to have had the unequivocal support of the British Veterinary Association and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons throughout this process.

“I am hugely proud of what the veterinary profession does and I hope to further the recognition of its contribution to society.

“As an appointed cross-bencher I am expected – and will try – to contribute to the work of parliament across a range of areas.

“Apart from veterinary matters, I have experience of science and technology in general, agriculture, international health development and tropical medicine, education, regulation, commerce, management, conservation and the environment.”

Professor Trees confirmed that he would split his time between Moredun and the Lords.

He added: “As a working peer, it is important to maintain involvement with one’s professional activities.”