Professor Mike Herrtage, who lives in Cambridge, has won a lifetime achievement award as part of one of the largest and most prestigious veterinary awards in the world for his incredible contribution to veterinary research in small animal medicine and diagnostic imaging.
Professor Herrtage, who is currently dean of Cambridge Veterinary School and is in charge of the Small Animal Medicine and diagnostic imaging services at Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital, has devoted his 40-year career to metabolic and endocrine diseases as both a researcher and clinician. Professor Herrtage has won the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Canine Health Awards, where he has been awarded £10,000 towards his future work.
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.
This year’s awards were presented to winners by Steve Dean, recently appointed Chairman of Trustees of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, on Friday 15th April 2016 at the Kennel Club in London, on behalf of the Vernon and Shirley Hill Foundation.
The awards were for the International Award, which was awarded a prize of £40,000; the Lifetime Achievement Award, for which Professor Herrtage received a prize of £10,000; and Undergraduate and Postgraduate Student Inspiration Awards, with the winners of each awarded £5,000.
Professor Herrtage’s innovative research has covered a number of topics over the years, including developing tests for a number of inherited diseases including copper toxicosis, which is a disease which can causes liver failure in Bedlington Terriers, and fucosidosis, a disease in English Springer Spaniels which is severe, progressive and ultimately fatal.
Professor Herrtage’s research in copper toxicosis showed that treatment could reduce the accumulation of copper in the liver and prevent liver failure. He was also involved in helping to identify the two genes that have been associated with this disease, so that informed breeding strategies could be developed to reduce the prevalence of the disease.
From the work his team did in the diagnosis and characterisation of fucosidosis, which resulted in a diagnostic test to identify affected and carrier dogs, a group in Australia was able to diagnose the condition early so that a treatment strategy could be tried in dogs before it was introduced in humans.
Professor Herrtage has made major advances in endocrine diseases particularly in the diagnosis and management of Cushing’s disease, as well as diabetes in both dogs and cats. Cushing’s disease causes increased thirst and urination, muscle wasting and weakness, lack of energy during exercise, loss of hair and thin easily traumatised skin. A number of treatments have been used to manage this condition and Professor Herrtage has been involved in improving effective monitoring of these treatments.
Professor Herrtage’s contributions to the veterinary profession are many and varied. Not only has he had a major impact in the research world, but he has also made a significant contribution to the veterinary profession. For 20 years, he has been a member of the Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and has held many positions in the College’s committee structure. He has been President of the British Veterinary Radiology Association, President of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, President of the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and President of the European Board of Veterinary Specialisation. He has also been a member of important working parties including those on veterinary specialisation, day one competences and the statutory examination, and is a member of both the Kennel Club’s Dog Health Group and its Breed Standards and Conformation sub-group.
Professor Herrtage has been instrumental in developing the residency programmes in Small Animal Medicine and in Diagnostic Imaging at Cambridge. These programmes have been immensely successful and have brought national and international recognition to the University. During his career he has successfully supervised 58 Diplomates, four doctoral and two master’s students and has examined seven PhD students and four master’s students. Three of his residents and two of his PhD students have been awarded seven international prizes for their clinical research.
He has been published widely and extensively across the globe, and has published more than 350 scientific papers, books, book chapters and scientific abstracts. He has been invited to contribute chapters to three leading international textbooks on small animal medicine: Ettinger and Feldman's Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine (three editions), Kirk's Current Veterinary Therapy (two editions) and Schear’s Clinical Medicine of the Dog and Cat (three editions).
Speaking about the award, he said: “I was surprised and overwhelmed to have been nominated for this auspicious award. It is a fantastic honour and one that I would dedicate to my colleagues, residents and students who have stimulated and supported me through my career, as well as my patients who have challenged and continue to challenge me.
“I am going to continue to supervise residents in internal medicine and diagnostic imaging and shall use the award so that my residents achieve their goal of veterinary specialisation so that they can continue my work.”
The awards were judged by a panel of influential representatives from the veterinary profession and the world of scientific research. These included Professor Steve Dean, Chairman of Trustees, the Kennel Club Charitable Trust; Dr Andrew Higgins, Honorary Editor-in-Chief at the Veterinary Journal; Nick Blayney, veterinary surgeon and veterinary advisor to the Kennel Club; Professor Donald Kelly, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Pathology, University of Liverpool; Professor John Innes, UK Referral Director at CVS; Professor David Argyle, Dean of Veterinary Medicine and Head of School at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh; Professor Robin Franklin, Professor of Stem Cell Medicine at Cambridge University; Professor Alan Kelly, Emeritus Dean, Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine; and Professor Bennie Osburn, Emeritus Dean, UC Davies School of Veterinary Medicine.
Steve Dean, recently appointed Chairman of Trustees of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which runs the awards, said: “Professor Herrtage’s contribution to the veterinary world has been incredibly impressive. He is an inspiration to those involved in veterinary research, continually searching for answers to the most difficult questions within the field of metabolic and endocrine diseases. He has shared his passion and knowledge with the profession, holding many posts of high importance and inspiring residents to achieve their goals. We want to extend our congratulations to Mike and wish him the best of luck with the future.”
Vernon Hill, Founder and Chairman of Metro Bank, and Shirley Hill, whose foundation underwrites the Awards said: “Congratulations to a great professional serving both animal and human health.”