Recipients of prestigious worldwide veterinary awards announced

During a highly anticipated virtual awards ceremony held today, on Wednesday 28 September, 15.00 BST, the winners of the tenth International Canine Health Awards, one of the largest veterinary awards in the world, have been announced. Organised by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust and underwritten by a major gift from the Vernon and Shirley Hill Foundation, the awards celebrate and foster the latest scientific innovation to improve the health and welfare of dogs.

With five financial grants being awarded in total, winners this year include: an eminent veterinary clinician and researcher from North Carolina University whose work focuses on pain recognition and control in canine patients; a distinguished professor from Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine specialising in canine bladder cancer; two students from the Royal Veterinary College, London, working under the VetCompass programme, and a Breed Health Co-ordinator dedicated to improving the health of French Bulldogs.

Nominations forms were judged by an international panel made up of individuals renowned for their experience and success in the veterinary and science world. This year, five impressive winners were selected to receive the generous award grants to further their contributions to canine medicine.

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has announced nominations for the 2023 International Canine Health awards open today, and individuals now have the opportunity to nominate themselves or colleagues for one of the five distinguished award categories.

Since launching in 2012 at Crufts, the widely esteemed International Canine Health Awards have led a decade of innovation and advancements for transforming the health and wellbeing of dogs around the world. Categories of the awards open to applications include: the International Award with a prize of £40,000; the Lifetime Achievement Award with a prize of £10,000; two Student Inspiration Awards, undergraduate and postgraduate with prizes of £10,000 for the postgraduate and £5,000 for the undergraduate winners; and The Kennel Club’s Breed Health Co-ordinator Prize - the winner of which receives £5,000.

Dr Duncan Lascelles was awarded £40,000 as recipient of the prestigious 2022 International Achievement Award. Described by his colleagues as a gifted veterinary surgeon, mentor and researcher, Dr Lascelles is well-known for his dedication to improving the medical care of canine patients. He has over 25 years’ experience of research focused on pain recognition, control and management in dogs, and has so enabled owners of their beloved dogs to have happier, healthier pets with an improved quality of life.

On news of receiving his award, Dr Duncan Lascelles shared: “I was really taken aback when I heard I was the recipient of this award and absolutely delighted that the importance of pain recognition and management has been recognised by such a prestigious organisation, The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, through this incredible award. It is wonderful to have my lifetime passion acknowledged in this way.

“The research we have been doing has been a collaborative team effort, and always focused on actually making a difference to clinical practice, and I plan to continue the work we do! This generous award, made possible by the Vernon and Shirley Hill Foundation, will allow us to kick start some highly innovative and impactful work that will lead us toward breed-specific and individualised pain management. Stay tuned!”

Dr Deborah Knapp was awarded £10,000 as recipient of the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award. An eminent professor working in the Purdue University Veterinary Faculty, Indiana, since 1990, Dr Knapp is a specialist in the epidemiology, pathogenesis and treatment of dogs with invasive urinary bladder cancer. By her meticulous study of the molecular characteristics, genetic and environmental risk factors Dr Knapp has greatly improved early detection and intervention of bladder cancers. Her groundbreaking findings have also been used to improve the outlook for humans in the treatment of bladder cancer.

Dr Knapp commented on hearing of her achievement: “Wow! This is an incredible honour. I am extremely humbled and grateful to The Kennel Club Charitable Trust.

“It is extra special to receive the award from the organisation that has been committed to improving the health and well-being of dogs for almost 150 years. Thank you!”

Michelle Farrow was awarded £10,000 as recipient of the 2022 Postgraduate Student Inspiration Award. Michelle is a qualified Veterinary Nurse with a strong passion for research. Michelle is undertaking a Master by Research degree at the Royal Veterinary College, London, and has designed an interactive survey to explore how online information sourcing potentially influences the decision making of dogs owners seeking veterinary care. Michelle is passionate to continue improving the health of dogs through the veterinary research field. With the generous award funding, Michelle aspires to achieve a PhD on a dog welfare topic and become a qualified teacher to inspire a future generation of veterinary professionals.

Michelle shared her feelings towards winning the award saying: “I am humbled and honoured to be the first Veterinary Nurse to win the International Canine Health Awards Post-graduate Student Inspiration Award. My clinical experience as a Veterinary Nurse has really enhanced and informed my current research work, which is why I believe that veterinary nurses can be a real asset to research, bringing new and challenging perspectives.

“My current research project involves a novel, interactive survey with responses from over 2,800 UK dog owners. Its findings will aid understanding of caregivers’ decision-making around their dog’s health and the internet’s potential influence.”

Sierra Latshaw was awarded £5,000 as recipient of the 2022 Undergraduate Student Inspiration Award. Since graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Health and Society with an emphasis on pre-veterinary studies, Sierra has been conducting epidemiological research at the Royal Veterinary College, London. Working in the research team under the VetCompass Programme, Sierra has been directly involved in evidence-based research to improve the health and welfare of dogs. Combining her passion for statistics, epidemiology and oncology, Sierra, using the VetCompass clinical data, is working on the incidence, risk factors and clinical management of testicular neoplasia in dogs to discover common types, treatment options and mortality of the disease.

Overjoyed on hearing of the award, Sierra commented: “I am humbled and overjoyed to be recognised as this year's International Canine Health Awards Student Inspiration Award winner. This award will help me to improve canine welfare through enhanced understanding of testicular cancer. 

“My undergraduate VetCompass research aims to promote greater veterinary understanding of testicular cancer to better manage cases and educate owners. I believe that evidence-based medicine is the future of veterinary medicine, and this award also acknowledges the critical role of VetCompass in promoting greater global understanding of primary veterinary care for dogs.”

Dr Laura Hamilton was awarded £5,000 as recipient of the 2022 Breed Health Co-ordinator Award. Dr Hamilton, a full-time veterinary surgeon and clinical director of her practice, took on an additional role as Breed Health Co-ordinator for the French Bulldog in 2020. Since then, she has reviewed survey feedback to inform updates to the breed standards, collaborated with the Brachycephalic Working Group and spent her weekends travelling to promote the Respiratory Function Grading Scheme. With the award funding, Dr Hamilton will review and score spinal X-rays of French Bulldogs to create a database of spinal scores, and through analysing the data, Dr Hamilton aims to identify a correlation of clinical signs of spinal issues and monitor outcomes of French Bulldogs throughout their lives.

On hearing of her success in winning the Breed Health Co-ordinator Award Dr Hamilton said: “I am truly honoured and thankful to The Kennel Club Charitable Trust on being selected as the winner of this award, and to those who nominated me for this prestigious award.  I love my role as Breed Health Co-ordinator where I work with the breed clubs and The Kennel Club to improve the health and welfare of our wonderful breed.

“I am looking forward to continuing our work using the generous prize to further research key issues in the French Bulldog, such as spinal issues, and BOAS. We plan to make health testing more accessible by providing owners funded health testing with the French Bulldog Club of England health scheme and the University of Cambridge/Kennel Club Respiratory Function Grading Scheme. We also plan to fund spinal radiographs to evaluate and monitor these dogs and further research spinal conditions in the breed.”

Dr Andrew Higgins, Chairman of the International Canine Health Awards panel and trustee of The Kennel Club Charitable Trust which runs the awards, said: “This year feels particularly special as it is the tenth anniversary of these major awards. Every year we are overjoyed with the enthusiasm and motivation shown by the exceptional candidates and reading about their work and aspirations is truly inspiring.

“It is never easy to choose from such high-quality nominations, from all over the globe, exemplifying the variety of key issues facing canine welfare. The winners selected this year really epitomise all that the International Canine Health Awards represent and the passion for improving canine health just shines through.”

Vernon Hill, whose major gift from the Vernon and Shirley Hill Foundation underwrites the awards, said: “It continues to be our pleasure to support these awards and the improvement of the health and wellbeing of our canine companions. Winners over the last ten years have left a true legacy in canine health and set high standards for all future recipients of the awards. A huge congratulations to those successfully selected as winners for the 2022 awards, this is an inspirational achievement that will change the lives of many future generations of dogs!”

Find out more about the International Canine Health Awards, nomination forms and details on the 2023 awards.