Oliver Forman portrait

Credentials: Geneticist • Specialist in inherited diseases in companion animals • Product Manager, Wisdom Health

Homebase: Waltham Petcare Science Institute   

Where in the world: Lincolnshire, England

The one who investigates pet genomes

Dr. Oliver Forman, a member of our Puppy & Kitten Expert Board, is a geneticist specialising in companion animal genetics. Everything he does in his daily life is focused on improving the health and welfare of cats and dogs through the study of inherited diseases.

A scientist through and through, Dr. Forman uses his knowledge and experience in companion animal genetics and different genomic techniques to identify and help root out hereditary disorders in kittens and puppies. What does that mean? Using the power of evidence-based science to provide a healthier start in life. That’s Dr. Forman and his team’s mission, and one that will help ensure the pets of the world start off on the right foot, even years before they are born.

With his love of animals instilled at an early age thanks to Jenny, a Golden Retriever and his family’s first dog, Dr Forman can’t remember there ever not being a dog roaming the halls. So, after graduating with a degree in Biology, he went on to spend 12 years at the Animal Health Trust exploring canine inherited diseases. After gaining the aforementioned PhD, Dr Forman joined Wisdom Health, where he helps the company develop breed ancestry genetic health tests for breeders and vets. As some breeds can be prone to certain genetic conditions, these genetic health tests can identify carriers of certain diseases within the animal population and subsequently prevent their pairing. This helps ensure that kittens and puppies are born free of those genetic diseases.


“Everything we research is focused on improving the health and welfare of cats and dogs over the long-term.”

— Dr Forman, Geneticist


Asked why he joined the Puppy & Kitten Expert Board, Dr Forman had this to say, “Royal Canin has a great history of providing science-based nutritional solutions for pets, and is trusted by vets, breeders and owners worldwide.” He further explained, “With 18 years experience in the consumer genomics sector, I feel I can provide a unique perspective on the current landscape and opportunities that are available to contribute to their mission of a healthier start in life for cats and dogs.”

Given his specialty, we asked Dr Forman what guidance he would give someone who intends to adopt a kitten or puppy. His advice? “Always use a reputable breeder or shelter that knows the subject area, has done all the necessary health checks, and has gone the extra distance to ensure those first few days and weeks of the animal’s life are as good as they possibly can be.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Moments that matter

2009 - UFAW Companion Animal Welfare Award winner for “The development of a genetic test for spinocerebellar ataxia in the Italian Spinone”.

2012 - Publication recognised as a landmark article by omia: “Genome- wide mRNA sequencing of a single canine cerebellar cortical degeneration case leads to the identification of a disease associated SPTBN2 mutation.”

2013 - Awarded PhD in Veterinary Basic Science by the University of Glasgow

5 questions with Dr Forman

Are you a more of a dog or a cat person? 

More of a dog person, but only because I have more experience with them. We had a Golden Retriever when I was growing up, and then two Bichon Frise puppies, the complete opposite breed-wise! And even they were completely different from each other. One was a total lapdog and the other was very mischievous.

If you were a dog or cat, which breed would you be?

I would probably have to say a spaniel of some kind. A bit too energetic, got lots going on at once and ever so slightly crazy. And very loyal. It’s a funny question to ask someone working with and for companion animals! I almost feel like I can’t really choose just one breed.

Weirdest words of your everyday work life?

They aren’t strange words to us, but I can definitely offer up alleles, haplotypes and mutations as not your everyday vocabulary outside of genetics. They probably sound a bit Sci Fi to the outside world. If you want to know what they mean, I invite you to Google them!

One of your favourite parts of your job?

Unless you work in customer service, you don’t actually get to see the people who buy our tests, so I really enjoy Crufts* dog show each year. Many think it is what you see on TV, just the show dogs, but there are stands on four or five floors of the convention centre. At our stand, we see the public, dog breeders and lots of owners. It is the only time I get to meet such a varied bunch of people – and get instant feedback! There’s a 7:30 a.m. start, we finish at 6:00 p.m. and it runs over four days, so I have a sore throat at the end from talking so much, but I really, really enjoy being there. 

*Crufts is one of the greatest dog events in the world. It is held annually in the United Kingdom and hosted by the Kennel Club.

What would you be if you weren’t a scientist?

I do enjoy teaching a lot so maybe that. Science and Maths were always my thing growing up. I would NEVER have been an English teacher, even though doing a PhD means you have to write a lot. And I would have been a useless historian. I like looking forward and finding things that haven’t yet been discovered.

“Always use a reputable breeder or shelter that has done all the necessary health checks.”

— Dr Forman, Geneticist

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A Healthy Start in Life

Puppyhood is a time of massive physical and behavioural change, and a steep learning curve for new owners. Find out how you can provide your puppy with the best start to life so they develop into strong, healthy dogs.