International Canine Health Awards

A vet with a Corgi

The International Canine Health Awards celebrate some of the world’s finest researchers and scientists whose work positively impacts on the health and wellbeing of dogs.

The awards have returned for the ninth year and are administrated by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust and include substantial cash prizes donated by Vernon and Shirley Hill founders of Metro Bank to go towards new or continued research.

Due to the current Covid-19 situation we are not able at present to confirm a date and venue for the 2021 award ceremony. 2021 prizes will be distributed by post in the event we are not able to proceed with a ceremony.

The four categories for the International Canine Health Awards are:

International Prize in Canine Health for Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Canine Health and Welfare, with a prize fund of £40,000 for future projects

The award will be presented to someone who is currently involved in world-class innovation but with much still to contribute.

Lifetime Achievement Award, with a £10,000 prize fund

A veterinarian or scientist working in a related discipline who has dedicated much of their career to advancing the health of dogs. The award will be presented to someone who has made a significant impact on the world stage of canine health.

Student Inspiration Awards (both undergraduate and postgraduate, with a prize fund of £10,000 for the postgraduate and £5,000 for the undergraduate winner

This prize will aid further education costs, the development of their careers, or will pay to create or continue a project. The awards will be presented to extraordinary students studying at a British veterinary school, who demonstrate the potential to significantly advance the frontiers of veterinary medicine and research in the field of dogs.

Breed Health Co-ordinator Award, with a £5,000 prize fund

Judges will be looking for individuals from breed clubs or councils who have demonstrated a dedication to supporting health and welfare within their breed over the previous year. Some of the aspects that will be considered include the starting or coordinating of a new project or resource for the breed, such as a health website or health survey, and good communication with The Kennel Club.

Our sponsor

The International Canine Health Awards are underwritten by a major gift from Vernon and Shirley Hill, founders of Metro Bank, and administrated by The Kennel Club.

Read more about Vernon and Shirley Hill

Underwritten by a major gift from Vernon and Shirley Hill, Founders of Metro Bank and administrated by The Kennel Club, a significant prize fund is on offer for the winners of each award, making them an opportunity not to be missed by anyone working for the betterment of dog health.

Vernon Hill is the founder and Chairman Emeritus of Metro Bank, the UK’s first new High Street bank in more than 100 years. The revolutionary bank currently has 70 stores across London, the Home Counties, the Midlands and Manchester. Metro Bank is publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange, symbol: MTRO.

Vernon and Shirley Hill, and Sir Duffield, their Yorkshire Terrier, have a deep commitment to the veterinary community including:

  • Sponsorship of The University of Pennsylvania World Veterinary Award
  • Sponsorship of The Hill Pavilion at The University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School
  • Creation and funding of the International Canine Health Awards
  • Funding of a recent project with The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine to train and deploy working dogs to detect Covid-19

How to apply for 2021

The application process for 2021 is not yet open.

2020 winners

Professor Tosso Leeb, winner of the International award

Professor Tosso Leeb has won the International award as part of one of the largest and most distinguished veterinary awards in the world, the International Canine Health Awards. The accolade was awarded to Professor Leeb in recognition of his expertise in Veterinary Molecular Genetics which has led to the formation of a world-class canine genetics research program in Bern, Switzerland.

Professor Leeb, who is Director of the Institute of Genetics of the Vetsuisse Faculty, also leads his own research group who are working tirelessly to identify the causative genetic variants for inherited diseases, the results of which have led to a large number of publications that are highly cited by veterinary clinicians and scientists alike. Furthermore, he has also developed many genetic tests that now allow the eradication of many hereditary diseases in dogs. 

Professor Leeb’s research is focused on the analysis of inherited traits and diseases in domestic animals. As well as dogs, he works on other mammalian species including cats, cattle, goats, horse and sheep. He has been a pioneer of molecular veterinary genetics over many years, contributing to the identification of more than 50 causative genetic variants for inherited diseases in dogs. In turn, the genetic tests developed have greatly helped to eradicate many devastating hereditary diseases in dogs, including hereditary nasal parakeratosis in Labrador Retrievers and Greyhounds.

Professor Urs Giger, winner of the Lifetime Achievement award

Professor Urs Giger, an Endowed Professor of Medicine for the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has won the Lifetime Achievement award as part of one of the largest and most distinguished veterinary awards in the world, the International Canine Health Awards.

Professor Giger was awarded the accolade in recognition of his lifelong work, which spans across four decades and has been dedicated to the study of clinical haematology in dogs, hereditary diseases and genetic predispositions, and transfusion medicine, the results of which have helped impact Kennel Club testing among many breeds.

Many of Professor Giger’s investigations have involved the discovery of new disorders, the development of new specific diagnostics and the introduction of new and improved therapies in dogs. His studies have advanced clinical transfusion therapy and blood banking in dogs and helped make canine transfusion practical and safe. In addition, he has also been the lead investigator and PennGen Laboratory Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant on Animal Models of Human Disease for the past three decades.

Professor Giger has published more than 250 peer-reviewed original articles and more than 500 research abstracts. He was also the initiator and organiser of the International Canine and Feline Genetics and Hereditary Disease Congress which has been held every other year for the past two decades.

Dr Valeria Bergomi, winner of the Postgraduate Student Inspiration award

Dr. Valeria Bergomi, 26, from Italy and currently living in Saffron Walden, Essex, has won the Postgraduate Student Inspiration Award as part of one of the largest and most prestigious veterinary awards in the world, the International Canine Health Awards.

Valeria, who is currently an MPhil student at the University of Cambridge, with a research interest in canine diabetes and anatomic pathology, has been awarded a prize of £10,000 to help further expand her research and work, with the intention to carry out a PhD in this area, upon completion of her MPhil.

Diabetes mellitus affects a large number of dogs and Valeria’s current project is mainly focused on identifying the immune cell population surrounding and infiltrating pancreatic islets in dogs, in order to hopefully advance targeted treatments that will prevent islet destruction. Dr. Bergomi has already identified changes within the canine pancreas that will help to increase understanding in this area.

Following a PhD, Valeria plans to complete a residency in anatomic pathology in order to pursue a career as a pathologist.

Dr Sarah Helps, winner of the Breed Health Co-ordinator Award

Dr. Sarah Helps, from Amersham, Buckinghamshire, has been recognised at the International Canine Health Awards, one of the largest and most prestigious veterinary awards in the world, for her work in improving the health of man’s best friend.

Sarah, a retired doctor, was awarded Breed Health Coordinator of the Year Award for her dedication and commitment to improving the health of the Deerhound, a breed she has been involved with for over 25 years. Her passion for the breed has seen her support veterinary research into dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in order to improve understanding, early diagnosis and prevention, and she even initiated a prospective, longitudinal study into the prevalence of DCM in UK Deerhounds in 2015.   

As part of this study, over 100 Deerhounds were scanned and are being monitored throughout their lives, with the results of the study currently undergoing peer-review, in order to potentially form an official basis for future breed screening of Deerhounds. Early diagnosis means that treatment for heart disease can be started early, as well as enabling affected Deerhounds to be screened prior to breeding.

Previous winners

The International Canine Health Awards have seen some incredible winners over the years. 

2019 - International Prize in Canine Health - Dr. Danika Bannasch

Even as a teenager Danika Bannasch had a clear idea of where her destiny lay, writing in her high school year book of her ambition to become a dog geneticist. At that time in the early 1980s, such a role scarcely existed but with the emergence of powerful new gene analysis techniques, she had the talent, vision and energy to make an indelible mark on this fast-developing field.

Dr. Bannasch gained her first degree in genetics at UC Davis before going to Princeton University for a PhD working on gene function in laboratory mice. She then returned to California to study veterinary medicine and stayed on to combine her passion for genetics with her longstanding desire to help improve the health and welfare of the dog population.

Initially as a postgraduate researcher and later as head of the school’s veterinary genetics service, she has made significant contributions to our understanding of the genetic basis of many different genetic disorders. She is responsible for the development of genetic tests for seven different diseases in dogs, including the hormonal defect hyperadrenocorticism and the bone development condition chondrodystrophy. Identifying the specific mutation responsible for an inherited disorder helps guide both the development of novel treatments and allows informed decisions in future breeding programme. Dr. Bannasch has also been a strongly positive influence on the careers of younger researchers, having trained 15 graduate students and is currently mentoring a further four. This award will allow her to employ another graduate student who can help drive further developments in the clinical discipline that has been her lifelong passion.

2019 - Lifetime Achievement Award - Associate Professor Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson is proof that it isn’t necessary for a veterinary surgeon to wield a scalpel or dispense a medicine to make a massive difference to animal health. His work on canine genetic diseases is reckoned to have saved the lives of many more dogs than most practising vets will manage during their careers.

Associate Professor Johnson trained as a veterinarian at the University of Minnesota and became an independent researcher at the University of Missouri in 1980, working on improved diagnostic methods for bleeding disorders in dogs. He was responsible for establishing the canine buccal mucosa bleeding time test as the standard procedure for detecting these conditions in dogs. His subsequent work has focussed on investigating the genetic mutations associated with heritable disease in dogs and other domestic species. His laboratory was one of the first in the world to adopt whole genome sequencing as the primary strategy for identifying those changes. This work has generated 153 whole genome sequences in dogs of various breeds and diagnosed 83 different heritable diseases.

Throughout his lengthy and productive career, Associate Professor Johnson has worked closely with breed associations and individual breeders. His laboratory offers around 40 different genetic tests for diseases such as Fanconi’s anaemia in Basenjis, a service that has enabled breeders to eliminate this lethal condition from the breed.

2019 - Student Inspiration Award (Postgraduate) - Adrian Baez Ortega

Adrian Baez-Ortega is a computer science graduate from Spain whose postgraduate work reflects the increasing value of bioinformatics – a combination of biology and information technology – in the diagnosis and treatment of canine disease.

After taking his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of La Laguna he enrolled at the University of Cambridge to conduct a PhD in biological sciences, which he is due to complete later this year.

Working as part of the Transmissible Cancer Group with Dr. Elizabeth Murchison, Adrian has been studying the evolution of canine transmissible venereal tumours, a condition that has infected domestic dogs for the past 8,000 years and is found in around 100 countries worldwide.

On completing his doctorate, Adrian hopes to continue this research into areas which will have a direct influence on the health of future generations of dogs. He plans to explore the ways that the virus which causes these tumours interacts with its host and how it avoids being destroyed by the canine immune system.

He has developed a computational approach which identifies exactly which genes are active in biopsy samples taken from tumours submitted by vet practices in more than 40 different countries. Understanding which genes contribute to the survival of the virus is certain to have fundamental importance in developing new methods for treating this disease.

2019 - Student Inspiration Award (Undergraduate) - Nivan Mamak

Nivan Mamak is a fourth-year veterinary student from India whose sights are firmly set on a research career when she completes her undergraduate training next year.

As part of her undergraduate studies, Nivan carried out a summer vacation project in 2018 investigating a genetic disorder in a family of golden retrievers known as paroxysmal dyskinesia. The disease, which is also found in a wide range of other pedigree breeds, causes abnormal spasmodic movements of the hind limbs that may be mistaken for epileptic seizures.

As part of this project, Nivan learned advanced computer programming methods as well as the techniques involved in the extraction, purification and analysis of canine DNA samples. Her supervisor Dr. Jeff Schoenebeck was hugely impressed with the speed with which she developed these skills and says that in her confidence, inquisitiveness and problem-solving abilities she is more like fourth year PhD student than a fourth year undergraduate.

Since completing that vacation project, Nivan has continued to work voluntarily in Dr. Schoenebeck’s lab at the Roslin Institute, whenever she can spare time away from her undergraduate studies. He says that over the past few months, she has become a valued member of the research team.

Her award will assist her efforts to complete her veterinary education and go on to use these precociously acquired skills to achieve her goal of improving the health and welfare of many different dog breeds.

2019 - Breed Health Co-ordinator Award - Liz Branscombe

Liz Branscombe is a registered veterinary nurse who also spends a considerable part of her free time working to improve the health of her own breed and helping to train representatives of other breed societies.

She was appointed breed health coordinator by the FCR breed society in 2015 and is also chair of the organisation’s health committee. She has also worked closely with the Kennel Club health team and a group of other breed health coordinators in establishing a mentorship scheme that allows experienced breed health advisors to pass on their understanding of dog health and genetics to a new generation.

Last year she played a key role in the development and promotion of the Kennel Club’s breed health and conservation plan, working with different breed organisations to complete the resulting action plan. Liz is keenly aware of the importance of sound evidence on which to base decisions that will affect the health of pedigree dogs. She has been involved in various initiatives such as the cause of death register which aims to establish an online source of information on the major health issues affecting her favoured breed. She is also an important conduit for sharing information between the dog breeding community and the veterinary profession, as an author of articles in the veterinary and canine press and a regular speaker at public and professional meetings.

2018 - International Prize in Canine Health - Dr Yasuko Rikihisa

Dr. Rikihisa has devoted her career to creating a better understanding of rickettsial conditions, a group of related diseases transmitted by ticks which affect humans and domestic animals, including dogs. Her work led directly to the development of the diagnostic tests used in veterinary practices around the world to identify dogs infected with one particular rickettsial, disease, Ehrlichiosis (also known as canine typhus). This is a debilitating and often fatal condition caused by a parasite that infects and survives within the white blood cells of its host.

In the 1980s Dr. Rikihisa developed a method for growing the Ehrlichia organism in laboratory culture, a pre-requisite for carrying out research into how the parasite interacts with its host.  This development underpinned her later research into diagnostic methods which have allowed fast and accurate diagnosis at an earlier stage of the disease, improving the prospects for effective treatment and reducing the risk of the infection being passed on to other dogs.

Dr. Rikihisa is a prolific author, responsible for 277 peer-reviewed papers in the scientific literature and 26 chapters in books and conference proceedings.  She has also been granted 18 patents in the US and abroad on the laboratory technologies developed through her work. In 2012 she was elected a member of the prestigious US National Academy of Science for her contributions in this area.

While much of her research is focussed on developing methods for controlling human diseases, canine health remains an important concern. The funding she will receive through this award will be used in studies which it is hoped will eventually lead to the introduction of the first vaccine treatment for canine ehrlichiosis.

2018 - Lifetime Achievement Award - Dr Danny Scott

Dr. Scott has been described as one of the best known and most respected veterinary dermatologists in the world. He has made a massive contribution to improving the health wellbeing of dogs and other veterinary species through both his original research on skin diseases and his teaching of successive generations of young veterinarians.

Born in California, Dr. Scott underwent his initial training in his home state before crossing the USA in 1971 to take up an internship in small animal medicine at Cornell where he has been based throughout an illustrious career. He developed new methods for analysing skin lesions which have revolutionised the diagnosis of many different diseases by making the results of skin biopsies easier to interpret.

Dr. Scott was responsible for improving the recognition and treatment of generalised demodecosis in dogs, a distressing condition which previously would often have resulted in euthanasia. He also carried out crucial studies on the various autoimmune dermatoses of dogs, such as pemphigus erythematosus. His vast output of published research includes descriptions of 38 novel treatment regimens for various skin conditions and work on clinical trials of 26 different drug treatments.

His easy-going nature and passion for his subject have made Dr. Scott a popular teacher and lecturer. He has guided the early professional careers of 26 veterinary residents and around 100 postgraduate students. He is also in demand as a speaker at meetings for fellow veterinarians, dog breeders and others. At the last count he had delivered more than 400 presentations at events across the globe.

2018 - Student Inspiration Award (Postgraduate) - Alice Denyer

Alice Denyer is young veterinary surgeon who relishes the challenge of finding out about the complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors as a cause of clinical disease in dogs. She graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2015 and spent two years in practice in her home county of Kent where she developed a particular interest in the management of endocrine diseases in her canine patients, notably diabetes.

Alice successfully applied for a prestigious London Interdisciplinary Doctorate programme and in September 2017, she began studying for PhD at the Royal Veterinary College, under the supervision of RVC professors Brian Catchpole and Lucy Davison. Her project will investigate the genetic basis for differences in susceptibility to pancreatic disease between the Samoyed breed (which has a high prevalence of diabetes mellitus) and in Boxers (which are resistant to diabetes but are prone to developing insulinoma, a malignant tumour affecting the same type of pancreatic cells).

Funding from the International Canine Health Awards will allow Alice to carry out a detailed analysis of the whole genome in these two particular breeds. She also hopes to be able to extend the study to look at the genes that determine the risk of developing pancreatic disease in two other common breeds, Tibetan and Cairn terriers. Understanding the genetic causes of different forms of diabetes and insulinoma will have a profound impact on dog welfare by speeding up the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic methods.

2018 - Student Inspiration Award (Undergraduate) - Jennifer Palfreyman

Jennifer Palfreyman is a third-year undergraduate on the veterinary medicine course at the University of Liverpool, whose talents extend beyond the realm of science – she previously had a successful career as a professional saxophone player.

In the second year of her course Jennifer carried out a research project on the oriental eye worm Thalazia callipaeda, a parasitic infection of the eyes of humans, dogs and horses which will cause blindness if left untreated. The parasite is spread by the fruit fly Phortica species and the first UK cases have recently been identified in dogs imported from Europe.

In her earlier project, Jennifer examined the distribution of the insect vector at six locations in the south of England. Funding from International Canine Health Awards will enable her to extend that work over a greater geographical area to assess the likely risk of the parasite becoming established in the UK.

Her grant also supported her in attending the British Society of Parasitology conference in Aberystwyth in April where she was able to meet Professor Domenico Otranto from the University of Bari in Italy, who is among the foremost European experts on the Thalazia parasite. She has also been able to expand her work in creating information sheets and other educational materials to alert vets in first opinion practices across Britain to the threat posed by this exotic new disease.

2018 - Breed Health Co-ordinator Award - Mrs Tina Watkins

Mrs Tina Watkins receives an award in the new category of Breed Health Co-ordinator of the Year for her unstinting efforts to improve the health and welfare of the Basset breed. After a career as a manager in the transport industry, Mrs Watkins has harnessed her formidable administrative talents to running health screening and training on behalf of her fellow Basset enthusiasts within the eight separate clubs serving the breed in the UK.

A life-long dog lover, Mrs Watkins kept a number of different breeds before settling on the Basset hound. She bred her first litter in 1990 and went on to a successful career breeding, showing and judging within the Basset world.

As a health coordinator her particular skill has been in encouraging others in the breed clubs to have their dogs tested for cherry eye, glaucoma and other eye diseases commonly inherited by Bassets. She has been recognised as a ‘true custodian’ of the Basset breed and her skills and energy have been acknowledged in the wider world of dog ownership through her membership of the Kennel Club and as a mentor for breed health coordinators across the UK.

2017 - International Prize in Canine Health - Professor Oliver Garden

Dr. Oliver Garden Henry and Corinne R Bower Professor of Medicine Chair, Department of Clinical Studies at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania (Penn Vet)

Undertaking extensive post graduate training in both the UK and the United States, Dr. Garden has gained an excellent international reputation as a small animal internist and immunologist. He is one of very few veterinarians of his generation that has successfully combined an outstanding clinical career with a strong basic research focus. Professor Garden’s research programmes into canine cancer immunology and autoimmune disease has advanced the field of canine gastrointestinal immunology and immunogenetics. He is wholly committed to turning clinical observation on canine immune mediated disease into pivotal research and his work has led to the development of novel diagnostic and prognostic testing in canine multicentric B cell lymphoma based on characterisation of regulatory T cells in the dog.

With a real passion for sharing knowledge of canine medicine, he has taught generations of veterinary students, mentored over 100 postgraduate students and has recently championed a world-wide initiative to develop Veterinary Clinical Immunology into a medical specialty, bringing together almost 200 specialists from around the world to form a new Clinical Immunology Special Interest Group.

Professor Garden’s work has significantly advanced canine research over the past two decades. He continues to inspire clinical staff into research projects and works tirelessly with a growing, vibrant research team dedicated to progressing the knowledge of canine health.

2017 - Lifetime Achievement Award - Professor Paul McGreevy

Professor Paul McGreevy Professor of Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare Science at the Faculty of Veterinary Science University of Sydney

University’s first Professor of Animal Welfare, Professor McGreevy, is not only the author of six books and more than 200 peer reviewed papers, he is also one of the few academic veterinarians working in canine behaviour. His sustained contributions to animal welfare are outstanding, and he is a leading advocate for improvement in dog care, through books, apps and media appearances.

An epidemiological approach to studying inherited disorders helped Professor McGreevy to establish a cutting-edge disorder-surveillance system now in place in both the UK and Australia. VetCompass has become the global benchmark tool for surveying such disorders, gathering data on 5.8 million animals and holding details of over 36 million episodes of veterinary care. Epidemiological analyses of this data has produced an impressive tally of peer-reviewed findings, including definitive studies of longevity and disease prevalence in dogs.

Professor McGreevy’s research has been significant and varied. It has looked into, amongst other things; how anatomic morphology affects health and welfare, canine dementia and a means to diagnose Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, predicting suitability of guide-dogs for training, ideal living conditions to give best results in farm dogs, limitations of communication with dogs, how canine head shape alters behaviour, and how optimism in dogs can be measured.

Professor McGreevy’s research is exciting and ground breaking and his output on training, behaviour and breeding is remarkable, but it is his passion for dogs and their welfare that truly distinguishes him.

2017 - Student Inspiration Award (Postgraduate) - Andrea Strakova

Andrea Strakova from the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge was awarded the Student Inspiration Award (Postgraduate).

Andrea has a strong interest in understanding the canine transmissible venereal tumour (CTVT), an extraordinary contagious cancer that affects thousands of dogs. Beginning as a tumour in one single dog that lived around 11,000 years ago, instead of dying with its host, CTVT took on a life of its own, spreading to other dogs during mating. Around one per cent of the global dog population suffer distressing genital tumours caused by the cancer. It is one of the most common cancers, surviving as a clonal cell lineage until today.

Andrea’s PhD aims to map the genetic and phenotypic diversity of CTVT worldwide. Collaborating with veterinarians around the world, collecting and validating almost 2,000 CTVT samples from 55 different countries, she has performed DNA sequencing to catalogue CTVT genetic diversity. From her findings she constructed a phylogenetic tree that traces the global spread of CTVT and how it was perhaps transported along ocean trade routes, helping us to understand the historical movement of dogs. Andrea’s inspiring work has revealed important insights to the long-term evolution of the disease, contributing to the understanding of cancer, both in humans and dogs.

Enthusiastic Andrea plans to undertake post-doctoral research to understand how CTVT evades the immune system despite being a foreign graft, and to further understand chemotherapy resistant strains by undertaking innovative research. Driven by an enormous commitment for her subject, Andrea has the potential to become a leader in canine cancer research and motivate the next generation of veterinary students to perform research that makes a difference for canine health.

2017 - Student Inspiration Award (Undergraduate) - Harriet Davenport

Harriet Davenport University of Liverpool was awarded the Student Inspiration Award (Undergraduate).

A strong student with an aptitude for practical work and research, Harriet is currently in her third year of studying Veterinary Science at the University of Liverpool. The hardworking undergraduate has applied for a summer studentship to further investigate whether canine papillomaviruses may be implicated in the development of canine oral tumours, in particular tonsillar squamous cell carcinoma.

Previous studies have not found papillomavirus, but they have only used techniques which are likely to have a low sensitivity. Funding from this award will support Harriet in her continued studies and add an innovative enhancement to her summer research project, which would help to advance our understanding of this disease for canine patients and, in the context of ‘One Health’, further investigate canine tonsillar squamous cell carcinoma as a model for human pharyngeal cancer.

A dedicated student, Harriet always wants to expand her horizons and seek answers to the questions she has discovered. She plans to study for an intercalated degree in immunity and infection at the Imperial College, London, to further broaden her knowledge and prepare her for a career in veterinary research focusing on either immunology or oncology.

2016 - Lifetime Achievement Award – Professor Mike Herrtage

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.”

2016 - International Award – Professor Holger Volk

Dr. Holger Volk, from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in Hertfordshire, has won an international award as part of one of the largest and most prestigious veterinary awards in the world, for his work within veterinary neurology, particularly his pioneering research and ground-breaking work into canine epilepsy.

Professor Volk, who was one of the youngest ever to be made a Chair within his field at the RVC, is currently Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery and Clinical Director of Small Animals at RVC as well as president of the European College of Veterinary Neurology. Professor Volk has won the coveted International Award category at the International Canine Health Awards, where he was awarded £40,000 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, for which Professor Volk was awarded a prize of £40,000; the Lifetime Achievement Award, which received a prize of £10,000; and Undergraduate and Postgraduate Student Inspiration Awards, with the winners of each awarded £5,000.

Known for his work in canine epilepsy, Professor Volk has covered many topics within the field, including a study on diets to aid seizure control; an ongoing project on behavioural epilepsy co-morbidities; studies into quality of life issues for dogs and owners; and he has helped to launch a new anti-epileptic drug.

In 2014, he initiated and chaired the formation of the International Veterinary Epilepsy Taskforce (IVETF), in which he organised the congregation of more than 25 international scientists and vets from across the world in order to set out unified and standardised guidelines for the research, diagnosis and treatment of canine and feline epilepsy, including creating seven consensus statements published in BMC Veterinary Research in 2015. This was a first in veterinary neurology, significantly impacting research within the field and giving Professor Volk further international recognition.

Professor Volk is also a practising veterinary surgeon, performing complex neurological surgeries in the evening whilst being on call over the weekends, all of which he does in between his academic and personal duties. He has supported multiple canine breed clubs in his ground-breaking work on syringomyelia and canine epilepsy, including the Cavalier Kings Charles Spaniel, German Shepherd Dog, English Bulldog and Dachshund clubs. He regularly engages with canine epilepsy support groups such as the Phyllis Croft Foundation and Blu's Tale Foundation, and represents canine health and welfare in working groups for the International League Against Epilepsy, and the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).

In 2015, Professor Volk co-developed the first ever smartphone app to manage canine epilepsy. The RVC Epilepsy Tracker was launched to improve the owner’s management of their dog's epilepsy, and to use the data from the app to advance our understanding of the disease.

He has a track record of innovative research with impact and has published more than 150 peer reviewed publications and 200 research abstracts, written multiple book chapters within his field, and is a popular speaker for national and international conferences.

Speaking about the award and his career, Professor Volk said: "I feel very honoured to have received the award. It caught me by surprise that the highly respected Kennel Club would endorse our work by giving me this award. I am grateful for all the amazing colleagues, breeders and pet owners for their passion to help battle animal diseases and for making a difference on a daily basis. Without everyone’s support, our work could never have been achieved or have an impact. The journey has just begun and we will continue our research work to improve animal welfare.”

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: “Dr. Volk’s contribution to veterinary neurology is outstanding, especially all the work he has put into canine epilepsy. Not only has he proved himself within the field to his peers but has significantly established his fantastic work to the veterinary world by initiating the International Veterinary Epilepsy Taskforce. He represents everything this award is about and we are excited to see what he will do next, as his work is truly transforming dogs’ lives.”

Vernon Hill, Founder and Chairman of Metro Bank, and Shirley Hill, whose foundation underwrites the Awards said: “Congratulations to Professor Volk – keep up the great work.”

2016 - Post Graduate Student Award - David Singleton

David Singleton, 25, from Neston, Cheshire, has won the Postgraduate Student Inspiration Award as part of one of the largest and most prestigious veterinary awards in the world, to help further his research in to antimicrobial resistance.

Some bacteria are able to evade antibiotics, making existing treatments ineffective, which is a health issue not only for dogs but many other animals, including humans.

David, who is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Liverpool and working with the Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET), has won the coveted Postgraduate Student Inspiration Award of the International Canine Health Awards for his work to tackle this issue. He has been awarded £5,000 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, which received a prize of £10,000; and Undergraduate and Postgraduate Student Inspiration Awards, with the winners of each awarded £5,000.

David Singleton won the award for the research he is doing into antimicrobial resistance, a health issue that affects animals and humans alike. He hopes his future work will lead to a world-first for canine health, by linking real-time electronic results via SAVSNET with state of the art laboratory analysis from his lab work in Liverpool.

His current PhD research is focusing on national surveillance of antimicrobial prescription and resistance in companion pet animals including dogs, and will help the veterinary industry have a greater understanding of the increasing threat of antimicrobial resistance to treatments such as antibiotics, and how best to prescribe these important medicines. 

Today’s award is David’s latest achievement following a string of professional successes. David has previously been awarded funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Wellcome Trust, completed an intercalated master’s degree in Veterinary Science, had his work published on the front page of veterinary trade publications, and has presented findings at highly-esteemed conferences including the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress.  

Speaking about winning the award, David said: “I am thrilled to be the recipient of the Postgraduate Student Inspiration Award. This will enable me to pilot real-time epidemiological and advanced laboratory-based antimicrobial resistance surveillance in dogs and other companion animals in the UK.  Antimicrobial resistance is a significant issue of increasing importance to both human and animal health, which will need a truly collaborative approach to tackle.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to work with several veterinary diagnostic laboratories, and it is great to see organisations like the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, SAVSNET, BSAVA, the University of Liverpool, and now through this award, the Kennel Club, committing to support research in this crucial area.”

The awards were judged by a panel of influential representatives from the veterinary profession and the world of scientific research. These included 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; Dr. Andrew Higgins, Honorary Editor-in-Chief at the Veterinary Journal; Professor John Innes, UK Referral Director at CVS; and Steve Dean, Chairman of Trustees, the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.

Steve Dean, recently appointed Chairman of Trustees of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which runs the awards, said: “David represents everything that this award is about. He has shown passion and commitment to advancing dog health and has gone the extra mile to not only share his knowledge and expertise with the rest of the veterinary profession, but also by ensuring that his research helps to make a real difference clinically to dogs’ lives.”

Vernon Hill, Founder and Chairman of Metro Bank, and Shirley Hill, whose foundation underwrites the Awards commented: “Congratulations to David. We hope this award helps him become all he can be.”

2016 - Undergraduate Student Award - Natalie Gibbons

Natalie Gibbons, 20, from Wimbledon, London, has won the Undergraduate Student Inspiration Award as part of one of the largest and most prestigious veterinary awards in the world, as she embarks on a project to combat inflammatory and auto-immune diseases in dogs using ground-breaking research in a field that has yet to be explored by veterinary scientists.

Natalie, who is part way through her veterinary course and currently studying for an intercalated degree in Comparative Pathology at the Royal Veterinary College, has won the coveted Undergraduate Student Inspiration Award of the International Canine Health Awards, where she was awarded £5,000 towards her 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, which received a prize of £10,000; and Undergraduate and Postgraduate Student Inspiration Awards, with the winners of each awarded £5,000.

Natalie won the award for her proposed research into a type of canine blood cell in relation to inflammatory and auto-immune diseases. No research has yet been published on the specific canine monocyte subsets in relation to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, so Natalie and her supervisor Professor Oliver Garden believe this work could be of enormous consequence to the treatments for canine auto-immune and inflammatory diseases.

Once Natalie’s research starts to bear results, she hopes to present her findings at veterinary conferences around Europe and the award will help to cover any costs for attending such prestigious events. The award money will also go towards laboratory consumable costs including antibodies and access to flow cytometers.

This award marks Natalie’s first milestone in her chosen veterinary medicine path of canine research. As well as studying for her degree, Natalie is an Ambassador for the Royal Veterinary College, a member of its gymnastic and cheerleading teams, and works for start-up social networking app, Wistla.

After winning the award, Natalie said: “I am very grateful to have won this award which enables me to undertake exciting work on canine monocytes in Professor Oliver Garden's Immune Regulation Laboratory at the Royal Veterinary College's Camden Campus. In common with most bench-side immunological research, the investigation of canine monocytes is resource-intense. This award will enable us to continue this important research, which will contribute to our understanding of monocytes in health and disease. The opportunity to work in a vibrant, world-renowned research environment and to make a contribution towards improving the quality of life of a species we all love is very exciting.”

The awards were judged by a panel of influential representatives from the veterinary profession and the world of scientific research. These included 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; Dr. Andrew Higgins, Honorary Editor-in-Chief at the Veterinary Journal; Professor John Innes, UK Referral Director at CVS; and Steve Dean, Chairman of Trustees, the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.

After presenting Natalie with the award, Steve Dean, recently appointed Chairman of the Trustees at the Kennel Club Charitable Trust said: “Natalie represents everything that this award is about. She has shown real passion and enthusiasm towards making a career in the field of canine veterinary research, and the findings from her work could significantly improve canine health.”

Vernon Hill, Founder and Chairman of Metro Bank, and Shirley Hill, whose foundation underwrites the Awards said: “Congratulations to Natalie. Another tribute to the veterinary community.”

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust

Our charitable trust funds a wide variety of work, ranging from research into canine diseases, dog welfare organisations and the promotion of support dogs, all of which give dogs happier, healthier lives.

Find out more about The Kennel Club Charitable Trust.

Contact and press

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