British Veterinary LGBT: Peter’s story

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Dr. Peter Jones Bvsc Mrcvs

Peter Jones

Telling our stories, making our own history
LGBT History Month

Name: Dr. Peter G. Harlech Jones BVSc. MRCVS

Qualified as: a veterinary surgeon from the University of Liverpool in 1971

Area of work: I spent several years in general practice in the UK and Canada before joining the pharmaceutical industry in the animal health sector. I've held a number of senior appointments in research and regulatory affairs in multinational companies, working across Europe and the United States. I was then appointed by the European Commission as the Head of the Veterinary Division at the European Medicines Agency (EMA). I currently run my own consultancy in medicines regulation and my clients have included GALVmed and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I have served as a member of the Defra Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance (DARC) and the Medicines Committee of the Federation of Veterinarians in Europe (FVE). I also became BVA President in 2012. In 2016 I became High Sheriff of Gwynedd (Uchel Siryf Gwynedd) in North Wales where I live with my civil partner Michael.

What inspired your path into the veterinary profession?

I had a respect for animals from the earliest times I can remember. I was also inspired by spending summer holidays with my cousins on a farm in North Wales and watching the vet going about his work, talking about how to become one.

What has been the most challenging part of your career?

The most challenging part of my career was taking on the presidency of BVA. Having not been in practice for the best part of 35 years, I had to learn about many aspects of veterinary medicine that I was not familiar with or had forgotten in order to try and do the job well; I'll leave others to judge whether I succeeded or not! I am nevertheless very proud that my profession would elect me as a gay man, as the head of its professional association.

What has been the best part of your career so far?

The best part of my career was being appointed as Head of the Veterinary Division of the European Commission's European Medicines Agency (EMA) in London when it first opened, and being responsible for building up a team of animal/veterinary scientists from throughout the EU to create what is now regarded as one of the world's leading medicines regulatory agencies. It was at the EMA, working with a wonderful multinational team of colleagues that just shy of my 50th birthday I finally found the courage to come out at work. I truly felt liberated.

What are your proudest achievements of your career?

I guess without sounding too pompous, there have been a few proud moments in my career:

  • Graduating!
  • During my career in the veterinary pharma industry - being part of a team that worked on developing some innovative and exciting new veterinary medicines
  • First Head of Veterinary Division at EMA in London
  • Invited to speak at the Global Summit on antimicrobial resistance at the World Veterinary Congress in South Africa
  • Appointed Executive Director of the International Federation of Animal Health (IFAH) in Brussels
  • Being elected president of BVA
  • Being invited by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Health for Animals to work on initiatives for advancing registration of veterinary medicines in Africa

What advice would you offer to someone experiencing difficulty with their sexuality or gender identity?

Be proud and never blame yourself. Identify friends and colleagues you can trust and talk to. Tell someone especially if you are experiencing bullying or prejudice and keep a record - always useful if you need to ask for help.

What advice would you give to your younger self and why?

I'd tell myself not to be scared of coming out because, with very few exceptions, all my family and friends stood by me.

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Dr. Peter Jones BVSc MRCVS

Written by Dr. Peter Jones BVSc MRCVS

High Sheriff of Gwynedd, BVA Past President 2012-13

Peter spent many years working in general practice in the UK and Canada before moving into the pharmaceutical industry. He has held senior roles at the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products (EMA) and the International Federation for Animal Health (IFAH- Global). In 2012 Peter served as President of BVA.