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Department of Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge Veterinary School

Mammary Gland Biology, Mastitis and Tumourigenesis, Veterinary Anatomic Pathology

I study the mammary gland in health, and during mastitis and tumourigenesis. My particular field of interest encompasses the interactions between different cell types within the mammary gland during the postnatal mammary developmental cycle and how these interactions may contribute to disease susceptibility, or protect against disease.

I am a Specialist in Veterinary Anatomic Pathology, and in parallel with my research, I spend a proportion of my time working as part of the diagnostic veterinary anatomic pathology team, providing diagnostic pathology support to the Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital and receiving cases from external practices. In this context I work with, and supervise, the residents in veterinary anatomic pathology. I have a particular interest in neoplasia arising in veterinary species, and in mastitis in ruminants. I also work with other research groups, providing specialist histopathology support and therefore contributing to diverse projects allied to my interests in the fields of oncology and immunity.



Kate undertook her veterinary training at the University of Liverpool. During her veterinary degree she intercalated in Anatomy and Human Biology and was awarded a first class BSc (Hons). She was a fellow of the Cornell Leadership Program for Veterinary Students in 2001. She graduated as a veterinary surgeon with a BVSc awarded with distinction. Following graduation, Kate worked as a clinical veterinarian prior to undertaking a Senior Clinical Training Scholarship (residency) in Veterinary Anatomic Pathology at the University of Cambridge. After her postgraduate Veterinary Anatomic Pathology training, she secured a Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship to study for a PhD in the laboratory of Christine Watson in the Department of Pathology, Cambridge. Following her PhD, she remained in the Watson Laboratory to pursue post-doctoral studies. She has now returned to the Veterinary School and holds a University Lectureship in Veterinary Pathology and an Official Fellowship at Girton College. Kate is a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists and a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.


Prizes, honours and awards:

2012 Royal College of Pathologists Gold Medal for Trainees in Research.

2015 Zoetis Clinical Research Award.


Key publications: 

Google Scholar - link to all publications

Developing ovine mammary terminal duct lobular units have a dynamic mucosal and stromal immune microenvironment Nagy D et al. Commun Biol. 2021; 4, 993.  

Comparative mammary gland postnatal development and tumourigenesis in the sheep, cow, cat and rabbit: Exploring the menagerie. Hughes K. Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2020;

Development and pathology of the equine mammary gland. Hughes K. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2020;

Size of supernumerary teats in sheep correlates with complexity of the anatomy and microenvironment. Hardwick LJA et al. J Anat. 2020; 236: 954-962.

The Mammary Microenvironment in Mastitis in Humans, Dairy Ruminants, Rabbits and Rodents: A One Health Focus. Hughes K and Watson CJ. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2018; 23 (1-2): 27-41.

Sinus-like dilatations of the mammary milk ducts, Ki67 expression, and CD3-positive T lymphocyte infiltration, in the mammary gland of wild European rabbits during pregnancy and lactation. Hughes K and Watson CJ. J Anat. 2018; 233: 266-273.

Stat3 modulates chloride channel accessory protein expression in normal and neoplastic mammary tissue. Hughes K et al. Cell Death & Disease. 2016; 7, e2398; doi:10.1038/cddis.2016.302

Estrogen receptor and Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 expression in equine mammary tumors. Hughes K et al. Vet Path. 2015; 52 (4): 631-634.

Conditional deletion of Stat3 in mammary epithelium impairs the acute phase response and modulates immune cell numbers during post-lactational regression. Hughes K et al.  J Pathol. 2012; 227 (1): 106–117. doi: 10.1002/path.3961

Prognostic histopathological and molecular markers in feline mammary neoplasia. Hughes K and Dobson J. The Veterinary Journal. 2012; 194 (1):19-26. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2012.05.008.

Associate Professor in Veterinary Anatomic Pathology

Contact Details

Takes PhD students
Available for consultancy


Person keywords: 
Molecular Biology
Mammary involution
Veterinary pathology
Mammary glands