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Medical Detection Dogs co-founder tops Alternative Rich List

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Medical research pioneer Claire Guest has been honoured in The Sunday Times Alternative Rich List.

Claire Guest, a scientist and psychologist, used her expertise in animal behaviour to develop a potentially life-saving way to detect diseases such as cancer.

This year, the Sunday Times included a list of people whose wealth goes beyond the traditional definition in their annual Rich List. “The Alternative Rich List celebrates people who are not wealthy in terms of money, but in other ways that are impossible to put a price on,” the newspaper explains.

Also making this year’s Alternative Rich List were the TV presenter David Attenborough, street artist Banksy and human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy.

Medical Detection Dogs, the charity Claire Guest runs near Milton Keynes, trains dogs to detect the odour of disease in urine and sweat samples donated by volunteers in NHS hospitals.

Claire commented: “I’m proud to say we are saving lives. As well as our research arm working with dogs to detect cancer and other serious diseases, we have nearly 80 medical assistance dogs who are saving lives on a minute-by-minute basis.

“For many years, people saw me as ‘the mad dog woman,’ but now our work is being taken seriously.”

Claire owes her own life to her dog, Daisy. In 2009 Daisy, who was trained to detect bladder cancer, alerted Claire to a deep-seated tumour. Thanks to the early diagnosis that Daisy’s alert prompted, Claire successfully underwent treatment.

Born in Aylesbury, Claire studied at Aylesbury High School before going onto Swansea then Warwick University. She has spent over twenty years training dogs for tasks involving scent. In 2011, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the development of new approaches for the detection of life-threatening diseases.

In 2016, Claire Guest won the CBI National First Women award for science and technology.

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