Nominations Sought For Prestigious International Canine Health Awards 2018

The International Canine Health Awards are returning for the sixth year to celebrate some of the world’s finest researchers and scientists whose work has had a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of dogs.

Nominations are currently being sought for the awards, which are run 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.

With a prize fund totalling £66,000, the Kennel Club Charitable Trust is urging people to nominate themselves or their peers by 30th January 2018.  The awards will be judged by an eminent panel drawn from the veterinary profession and the world of scientific research, including experts in each of the short-listed nominees' selected fields.

New for this year is the Breed Health Coordinator of the Year award, where individuals within breed clubs and councils, who have shown a distinctive dedication to supporting health and welfare within their breed over the previous year, can be recognised for their hard work and devotion.

The four Canine Health Awards are:

  • International Prize in Canine Health for outstanding contributions in the field of canine health and welfare, with a prize fund of £40,000 (approximately $55,000 or €48,000) for future projects. The award will be presented to one or more individuals who are currently involved in world class innovation but with much still to contribute.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award - with a £10,000 prize fund, this award will go to a veterinarian or scientist working in a related discipline who has dedicated much of their career to advancing the health and welfare of dogs. The award will be presented to an individual who has made a significant impact on the world stage of canine health and welfare.
  • UK Student Inspiration Awards, which will be split into undergraduate and postgraduate awards, with a prize fund of £10,000 for the postgraduate and £5,000 for the undergraduate winner. These prizes will aid further education costs, the development of their careers, or 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 Coordinator Award - with a £1,000 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.

Last year’s winners included Professor Oliver Garden, recipient of the International Award, who was recognised for his tireless work as a small animal internist and immunologist. Professor Garden worked at the Royal Veterinary College in London for twelve years, and has now taken up a position as Chair of Department of Clinical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania School (Penn Vet) in Philadelphia, USA.

Speaking about the award and his career, Professor Garden said: “It was truly humbling to be honoured in this way by the Kennel Club. I felt a sense of immense pride in receiving this award, which is as much a recognition of the countless colleagues, postgraduate students, residents, and veterinary students with whom I have had the sincere pleasure of working over the past two decades, as it is a reflection of any of my own achievements. Clinical research is always a team effort and I have been blessed to work with many awesomely talented, resourceful, and insightful colleagues and students over the years. I very much look forward to continuing my work on canine malignancies and autoimmune diseases at Penn Vet, which wonderfully embraces the ethos of translational research and One Health. I offer my heartfelt thanks to Vernon and Shirley Hill for generously sponsoring this award and for their love of dogs.”

Professor Paul McGreevy won the Lifetime Achievement Award and is one of just three academic veterinarians recognised worldwide by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as a specialist in Veterinary Behavioural medicine. Originally from Newcastle-under-Lyme, North Staffordshire, Professor McGreevy moved to Australia for work in 1989 and he is currently the University of Sydney’s first Professor of Animal Welfare Science.

Having written over 200 peer-reviewed articles and six books, Professor McGreevy has made an outstanding contribution to the veterinary profession over 30 years. A career highlight for Paul includes collaborating with London’s Royal Veterinary College in 2009 to launch VetCompass in the UK, a cutting-edge disorder-surveillance system. VetCompass is a software platform which captures clinical records from veterinary practices. Data from VetCompass is put into a centralised resource, enabling researchers to access comprehensive and real-time data from conditions as diverse as epilepsy, cancer, skin disease and heart disease in dogs and other companion animals. Thus far it has become a benchmark tool for inherited disorders, gathering data on over 5.8 million animals in the UK and Australia.

Professor McGreevy said: “I was thrilled to bits to win this award that recognises the merits of my various research and educational projects, some of which have been running for decades. It was a great honour and a wonderful way of putting the spotlight on the importance of research into dog welfare and behaviour. With unwelcome behaviour being the main threat to young dogs’ lives, it is good to know that my team's work in advancing the understanding of dogs is being recognised.”

Last year’s other winners were Andrea Strakova, who won the Postgraduate Student Inspiration Award for the research she is doing into Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumour (CTVT), a contagious cancer that affects thousands of dogs all over the world.

Speaking about winning the award, Andrea said: “It was a tremendous honour to receive this award and it is a real encouragement to continue my current research work, which I am very passionate about. I see the award as the first step towards my long-term passion and goal – continuing the crucial research into understanding a contagious cancer that affects thousands of dogs all over the world, and ultimately forging a career that combines exciting canine cancer research with the potential to improve canine health.”

Harriet Davenport won the Undergraduate Student Inspiration Award for her proposed research into papillomaviruses (PV), a type of DNA virus also found in humans, and how they cause oral tumours in dogs, with a particular focus on canine throat cancer.

Speaking about her win, Harriet said: "As someone who has always aspired to work at the forefront of scientific research, I was deeply honoured to have been chosen for this prestigious award earlier in the year. I am now able to conduct costly genetic sequencing as part of my study, which would not have been possible without the generosity of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. The aim of this research is to better understand a disease that has severe health implications for those affected, and therefore I hope that any new information discovered will help towards improving canine welfare. This project will also provide me with valuable insight into new lab techniques and allow me to work alongside other professionals, preparing me well for all future research endeavours."

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, commented: "The International Canine Health Awards are a fantastic way of recognising those who work extremely hard and who go that extra mile for improving canine health.

“Thanks to generous funding from Vernon and Shirley Hill, as well as support from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, the awards celebrate those who work on projects that strive to give our dogs a healthier future. It’s excellent to be able to acknowledge veterinarians and scientific researchers across the world who dedicate their lives to the health of man’s best friend.

“We would encourage anyone to nominate a peer or colleague, or perhaps themselves, if they feel that they have made a valuable contribution to the health and welfare of dogs within their career. These people deserve to be recognised and honoured for their work.”

Vernon Hill, founder and Chairman of Metro Bank, and whose major gift underwrites the International Canine Health Awards, said: "We are very proud to support these important awards again. Canine and human health are subjects very close to our hearts at Metro Bank, and funding the research that can potentially help transform and change the lives of others is something that we feel very passionate about. It is amazing to see how many people from all over the world put their heart and soul into improving the health and welfare of dogs, and we can’t wait to meet more of these talented and passionate individuals at next year’s awards.”

All nominations should be made via the online application form on the Kennel Club website before 30th January 2018. Read more about the International Canine Health Awards. If you have any queries regarding the application process, please contact Andrea Harris at the Kennel Club.