Professor David Argyle, 47, from The University of Edinburgh, has won one of three awards available as part of the largest and most prestigious veterinary awards in Europe, for his pioneering work in transforming our understanding of the way cancer spreads in dogs, and opening up the possibility of revolutionary new treatments that could benefit both the canine and human populations.
Professor Argyle, Head of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, has won the coveted International Canine Health Awards in the category of International Award.
The awards, run by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and underwritten by a major gift from Vernon and Shirley Hill of Metro Bank, highlight those individuals who go one step further to promote the health and wellbeing of dogs through their work in the world of veterinary science.
Professor Argyle has won the award for the work that he has carried identifying stem cells in cancer which are responsible for the devastating disease, which affects 1 in 3 dogs at some point in their lifetime. By isolating and studying cancer stem cells in dogs, he has transformed our understanding of how the cancer stem drive cancer progression, opening up the possibility of new treatments. He has looked at how cancer stem cells survive in the body, often becoming immune to chemotherapy and radiation, and has identified an important protein that seems to be critical to understanding how cancer survives and spreads. He hopes that the insights into the dog population will also benefit people.
In addition to his research work he has developed a state of the art clinic at his veterinary school, which has provided medical treatment and radiotherapy to thousands of dogs.
Furthermore, Professor Argyle has dedicated his career to fostering excellence in others, developing the Edinburgh Clinical Academic Training Programme for Veterinarians, funded by the Wellcome Trust, which provides top class vets with funding to complete a PhD and post-doctorate or clinical training.
The winners of this year’s awards were presented by Mike Townsend, Chairman of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, on Thursday 25th June 2015 at the International Conference on Advances in Canine and Feline Genomics and Inherited Disease, this year organised by the Animal Health Trust. The awards were for the Postgraduate Student, International Award and Lifetime Achievement Award and include prize money of £5,000, £20,000 (for each of the two winners) and £10,000 respectively.
Speaking about the award, David said: “Cancer is a disease that has a devastating impact on both the dog and human populations and I am honoured that my work has enabled me to develop a greater understanding of how the disease develops and spreads. I am very proud that this work has been recognised and delighted that the money from the award will enable me to fund a postgraduate student to study the protein we have identified as causing the spread of cancer, enabling us to take this vital research to the next level. This will have huge implications not only for dogs, but potentially for humans as well, meaning that dogs really are a man’s best friend. A large part of my life is dedicated to teaching and bringing out the best in others, who will be the next generation responsible for helping us to understand and treat dog diseases.”
The awards are judged by a panel of influential representatives from the veterinary profession and the world of scientific research. These included Professor Peter Bedford, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Ophthalmology at London University; Nick Blayney, Veterinary Surgeon and veterinary advisor to the Kennel Club; Professor Robin Franklin, Professor of Stem Cell Medicine at Cambridge University; Professor Alan Kelly, Emeritus Dean, Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Professor Donald Kelly, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Pathology, University of Liverpool; Professor Bennie Osburn, Emeritus Dean, UC Davies School of Veterinary Medicine and Mike Townsend, Chairman of Trustees, the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.
Mike Townsend, Chairman of Trustees at the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which runs the awards, said: “Professor Argyle has been behind some of the most important breakthroughs in our understanding of canine cancer in recent years. His ongoing work in this area will have huge implications for the health and welfare of dogs in the future. He continually shows his passion and commitment by teaching and bringing out the best in others and is a worthy winner of this award.”
Vernon Hill, Founder and Chairman of Metro Bank, and Shirley Hill, whose foundation underwrites the Awards said: “As dog lovers ourselves, whose business is built around welcoming man’s best friend, we’re very proud to sponsor these prestigious awards and hope that the award money will help Professor Argyle to further his research into cancer, which is such a devastating disease. The award winners are at the forefront of work that is changing the lives of man’s best friend and we are honoured to be able to support and reward them.”