Animals and allergy in historical perspective: test subjects, pets and patients, 1900-present

Year of award: 2019


  • Mary McGreechin

    University of Strathclyde

Project summary

I want to find out how animal models have influenced our knowledge of allergies. I will explore how and why people with allergies continue to own pets and whether rates of allergies from pets are increasing. 

I will explore how animals were used as test subjects in early allergy experiments, helping to define key terms in allergy research, such as anaphylaxis. I will look at companion animals and efforts to either desensitise allergic humans to pets or develop new breeds of hypoallergenic animals. I will also investigate pet allergies, which have spurred a booming industry in animal allergy treatments.  

Based on a variety of archival, published and oral history sources, my project will address the history of animals and allergy and inform our current understanding of allergy and our evolving relationship with companion animals.