Former University of Edinburgh student plans to return to continue research following prestigious veterinary award win

Eleanor Wilson, 22, from Islington, London has won the Undergraduate Student Inspiration Award as part of one of the largest and most prestigious veterinary awards in the world, the International Canine Health Awards.

Eleanor, known as Ellie, is an undergraduate who recently completed an intercalated BSc in Immunology during her veterinary medicine course at the Royal Veterinary College. Her principal research interest lies in the study of the immune system, in particular the role of T-cells in canine immunity. Working under the guidance of Dr Tim Connelley and Dr Maciej Parys at the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Ellie helped to develop a new method of sequencing to investigate the activity of T-cell receptors in dogs and explore their influence on their immune status, particularly in dogs with lymphoma and septic shock.

The awards, which are organised by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust and underwritten by a major gift from Vernon and Shirley Hill, founders 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. The winners are chosen by an independent international panel of eminent veterinarians and scientists. The ceremony will take place virtually on Wednesday 30 June at 14.00 BST, and details on how to view will be provided to those who register their interest. 

Upon hearing of her award, Ellie commented: “It is an honour to have been selected for this award and to be amongst this amazing group of scientists and previous winners of this prize.

“This recognition has given me confidence and made me excited to move forward onto the next stages of my career. The support of The Kennel Club Charitable Trust and the International Canine Health Awards has allowed me to return to the Roslin Institute to do some further work on a next generation sequencing approach for studying canine T-cell receptor rearrangements. The award will allow me to study more about the role of T-cells in cancer that will hopefully help lead us towards new therapies and assist in monitoring responses to treatment.

This year there were six International Canine Health Awards, two of which are open global awards: the International Award, with a prize of £40,000 and the Lifetime Achievement Award, with a prize of £10,000. There are two Undergraduate Student Inspiration Awards for students studying at UK veterinary schools, with a prize of £5,000 each, and the Breed Health Coordinator Award, with a prize of £5,000. This year there was also a Special Award with a prize of £5,000.

Outside of her studies, Ellie spent two months in 2020 volunteering at the Koh Mak Animal Clinic in Trat Province, Thailand, where she assisted clinicians on the small island of Koh Mak with island-wide canine population management and disease control.

Dr Andrew Higgins, Chairman of the International Canine Health Awards panel and trustee of The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which runs the awards, said: “Congratulations to Eleanor for this extraordinary achievement. She is a very deserving winner and we believe she has the potential to be an exceptional veterinary scientist.”

Vernon Hill, founder and chairman emeritus of Metro Bank, and whose major gift underwrites the International Canine Health Awards, said: “Many congratulations to Eleanor. Her hard work and commitment is very inspiring and we want to wish her the best of luck with all of her future endeavours.”

For more information on the International Canine Health Awards.