Royal Veterinary College student from Singapore wins award for her research into aural haematomas in dogs

Yan Hui Lee, 24, from Singapore, 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.

Yan Hui has recently completed her studies in veterinary medicine at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and will graduate in July. In 2019 she joined the VetCompass programme as part of her research project investigating the epidemiology of aural haematomas (a collection of blood in the ear) in dogs. Her study found that breeds with pendulous ears, such as Beagles and Standard Poodles, had reduced odds of developing aural haematomas compared to breeds with other ear types. Dogs with v-shaped dropped ears, such as Labrador Retrievers and Rottweilers, were found to be at increased odds. Her research proposes a new understanding of how the condition develops and may assist owners of these and other predisposed breeds to detect cases earlier and seek veterinary treatment sooner.

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.

Yan Hui hopes that the funding from this award will enable to her to create an open access publication for her research, as well as developing a means to make her findings more accessible to dog owners using infographics.

Upon hearing of her award. Yan Hui commented: “It feels very surreal and it has yet to sink in! I am very honoured and thankful for the recognition from the International Canine Health Awards, and this will certainly encourage me to continue improving and devoting time and passion into my work. I am truly excited to use the award to contribute towards improving breed health and animal welfare as a new graduate veterinarian.”

Yan Hui’s supervisor, Dr Dan O’Neill from the RVC, was also the recipient of an International Canine Health Award, in the category of International Award, also for his pioneering work with VetCompass.

Speaking of her supportive mentor and the work they have collectively achieved, Yan Hui added: “I am grateful and aware of the fortunate position I am in, thanks to Dr O’Neill. I would not be able to achieve what I have without his encouragement and faith in my abilities.

“I have completed a research paper investigating the epidemiology of aural haematoma in dogs under first opinion UK practices. The award will be used for open access costs when the paper is published so that it is readily accessible to everyone.

“I will also be working with Dr O’Neill to set up a VetCompass Singapore, as I see the potential and benefits that VetCompass could bring outside of the UK. Thus, the award will be used to fund any costs required in setting this up.”

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 an additional Special Award with a prize of £5,000.

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 Miss Lee for this outstanding achievement. Her diligent work ethic has proved invaluable to the VetCompass programme and she is a true inspiration to her peers. I am confident that Yan Hui has a very bright future ahead of her and I look forward to seeing her progress further.”

Vernon Hill, founder and chairman emeritus of Metro Bank, and whose major gift underwrites the International Canine Health Awards, said: “Many congratulations to Yan Hui. She has already achieved so much in her career and we want to wish her the best of luck with all of her future endeavours.”

Find out more about the International Canine Health Awards.