Dr Polly Taylor graduated from Cambridge, worked in general practice and then returned to academia, becoming Chief of Anaesthesia at the Animal Health Trust in the 1980s. She then returned to the Cambridge Vet School, becoming Reader in Anaesthesia in 2000. In 2008 she co-founded Topcat Metrology Ltd alongside her work as a freelance consultant, with work ranging from clinical aenasthesia and teaching to drug registration and research. She has published numerous papers, particularly relating to horses and cats, and is co-author of “The Little Red Book”, the Handbook of Equine Anaesthesia.
Dr Michael Dixon has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Metrology from the National Physical Laboratory (where he developed the first dynamic force standard in the world). He now has thirty years experience of measurement in unusual environments including the Polar icecap, the side of an oilrig and geo-stationary orbit.
In 1998 he developed, with Dr Polly Taylor, a thermal threshold testing device for cats. This business grew and in 2008 they founded Topcat Metrology Ltd, the only supplier in the world of wireless thermal and mechanical nociceptive testing systems for animal use. He is the prime author of numerous papers, of 8 published patents and of several current patent applications relating to the MouseMet transducer and testing environment. For more about him, please visit his LinkedIn page or read on down for some more about measurement techniques…
A little bit about measurement
Topcat Metrology was born out of our research interests, and a desire to make appropriate measurements, not ones with a lot of (in)significant figures. Twenty-five years ago, creating the world’s first artifact for the realisation of dynamic force at the National Physical Laboratory, I learnt how to evaluate and quantify every source of uncertainty in my measurement (the word “accuracy” was rarely used as it was too…inaccurate). Linearity, repeatability and reproduciblity were all evaluated in terms of their systematic and random components and only then was one allowed to make any claim for one’s measurement.
Now, all these years later, I am measuring dynamic force again. A different force and frequency range, but the principles are the same; the removal of unnecessary sources of error and the quantification of what is left. In this case, the solution was the design, from first principles, of a force transducer with an appropriate force range and which was insensitive to hand tremor, and the development of a cage system which minimised the distraction caused by the movement of the subject.
At the National Physical Laboratory, I thought in terms of 1 part in 1000 (0.1%) and sometimes less. MouseMet is more like 1 part in 100 (1%) but this is entirely appropriate: the greatest source of uncertainty is the behaviour of the mouse. We have therefore concentrated our efforts on producing a system which is easy to use and which allows the operator to focus on the subject rather than the equipment.
“A traceable dynamic force transducer”, M J Dixon, Experimental Mechanics, June 1990, Vol 30, Iss 2, pp 152-157
“Development of a load-cell compensation system”, M J Dixon, Experimental Mechanics, March 1991, Vol 31, Iss 1, pp 21-24
“Errors in dynamic force measurement” M J Dixon, Strain, November 1988, Vol 24, Iss 4, pp 139-142
“The results of comparisons between two different dynamic force measurement systems”, R Kumme and M J Dixon, Measurement 01/1992; 10(3):140-144. DOI: 10.1016/0263-2241(92)90010-2
Topcat Metrology’s Bibliography:
Click here to download our bibliography of published, peer reviewed papers and conference abstracts. These span the work of 15 years in the fields of thermal and mechanical nociceptive threshold testing, using the systems designed by Dr Polly Taylor and Dr Michael Dixon of Topcat Metrology Ltd. It includes their own research and the work of their clients round the world.