Recipients of prestigious worldwide veterinary awards announced

The winners of the 2023 International Canine Health Awards, the largest worldwide veterinary awards, have been announced today, Wednesday 12 July at 15:00 BST, via a virtual awards ceremony. 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 and excellence in canine research, health and welfare.

Running for over a decade, the 2023 awards saw the prize money more than double with eight financial grants being awarded to further the recipients' contributions to both canine medicine and welfare. Winners this year include: a Professor of Oncology from Colorado State University improving canine and human cancer care; a dedicated mentor and neurosurgeon from Switzerland who has created new treatment concepts and surgical approaches; a postgraduate student aiming to help marginalised communities control rabies; a student researching antimicrobial resistance in breeding dogs; a Breed Health Co-Ordinator working to improve the health of Irish Wolfhounds, and three veterinary clinics in war-torn Ukraine working to help pets despite devastating conditions.

Applications were judged by an eminent international panel and the awards aimed to make a global impact with an increased focus on the One Health concept and the advancement of canine medicine in developing nations.

Dr Douglas Thamm from Colorado State University was awarded $100,000 as recipient of the Alan Kelly International Achievement Award. As one of the world’s leading clinical oncologists and a dedicated teacher, Dr Thamm’s clinical trials, including his pioneering work into B-cell lymphoma, and the quality of his research over many years, are widely recognised and have proved to be hugely beneficial in canine and human medicine. 

From this year onwards, the International Achievement award has been renamed in tribute to Dr Alan Kelly, Dean Emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and Co-Founder of the University of Pennsylvania World Vet Awards. Dr Kelly was the first chair of the International Canine Health Awards judging panel when the awards began in 2012. The Trustees of The Kennel Club Charitable Trust are indebted to his leadership and integrity in getting the awards off the ground and evolving them into the prestigious International Canine Health Awards of today.  

On receiving his award Dr Thamm shared: “Thank you for this incredible honour. Conducting canine cancer research is not just a job for me – it’s a passion. I am grateful every day for the opportunity to pursue these studies as we strive to improve canine health and wellbeing. This award only strengthens my resolve to continue pushing the boundaries of knowledge and make a positive impact on canine health.”

Professor Franck Forterre of the University of Bern, Switzerland, was awarded $50,000 as recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. A popular international speaker, Professor Forterre is a renowned clinician, teacher and neurosurgeon. Outside the clinic he also founded a charitable project to provide veterinary treatment for dogs belonging to the vulnerable and homeless.

Dr Forterre shared on his achievement: “I am really overwhelmed with pleasure because the award will allow me to better carry out the social projects I have set up.  On behalf of all the people and animals I will be able to help in the future, I would like to thank the International Canine Health Awards wholeheartedly for this incredible support.”

Dr Maurice Karani from Kenya was awarded $20,000 as recipient of the Postgraduate Student Inspiration Award. Maurice, who grew up in a remote area of Mount Kenya exposed to poverty and disease, is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Liverpool and is a graduate fellow at the BMZ-funded One Health Centre in Africa led by the International Livestock Research Institute. He is passionate about increasing education and knowledge about rabies control for those living in marginalised communities and at the greatest risk of suffering from the fatal, but preventable, viral disease that affects canines and humans alike.

Dr Karani commented: “I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to have been selected as the recipient of this prestigious award! It is a true testament to my life’s passion to improve canine health while embracing the transformative One Health approach. Winning this award further motivates me to continue my efforts and make a meaningful difference in the field.”

Alice Diana was awarded $10,000 as recipient of the Undergraduate Student Inspiration Award. Alice is currently studying Veterinary Medicine at the University of Padua, Italy. The judges were impressed by her proven dedication, commitment and strong interest in One Health and how human health is intimately connected with the health of animals and the environment. Alice plans to use the prize money to study antimicrobial misuse in canine breeding and produce protocols to address factors contributing to growing antimicrobial resistance.

Speaking on her achievement, Alice said: “Winning this award means so much more than just the prize money, it is an award for me as a person and as a student. It means being seen and recognised as worthy by a panel of impartial judges that they are willing to invest in my future and help me reach my potential. It has given me all the confidence I need to keep working my hardest towards my goals.”

Dr Maura Lyons was awarded £5,000 as recipient of the Breed Health Co-ordinator Award for her vital role in the Irish Wolfhound Health Group. Dr Lyons has been dedicated to improving the health of Irish Wolfhounds through spearheading research, development and increased awareness of vital health schemes to scientists, vets, breeders, everyday owners and the wider public.

Dr Lyons shared: “I'm absolutely delighted to have been chosen as the winner of this prestigious award. This award will mean the Irish Wolfhound Health Group can continue to offer affordable heart screening sessions for all Irish Wolfhounds throughout the UK. This award also recognises our breed community for their dedication to Irish Wolfhound health because, without the IWHG and the support of owners and breeders, I would not be able to fulfil my function as Breed Health Co-ordinator.”

Three veterinary clinics in Ukraine in the cities of Kherson, Mykolaiv and Zaporizhzhia, were awarded $20,000 each as recipients of a special award category in recognition of the lifesaving work many veterinarians are carrying out for the country’s much-loved dogs, despite the devastating conditions created by the war. The three clinics are representative of many veterinarians in the war-torn country that has fought to continue to provide services to domestic and many stray dogs arising from the war. The clinics were nominated by FOUR PAWS and the Ukraine Small Animal Veterinary Association.

Andrey Ponomarenko, director of Sviy Likar Clinic in Zaporizhzhia, said: “We express our sincere gratitude for this extraordinary support. Receiving this award is a beacon of hope for homeless animals who suffer daily due to the war.”

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 has been a very special year for the awards with increased prize money thanks to the incredible generosity of Vernon and Shirley Hill, and we are delighted to have made a special award this year to recognise the extraordinary work of the veterinary profession in Ukraine at this extremely difficult time.

“With a focus this year on rewarding excellence in the One Health concept, all the winners should feel justifiably proud of the positive changes they are each making to improve dog, and often human health across the globe. Each winner has demonstrated incredible dedication and passion to their research and we look forward to seeing more from them in the future."

Vernon Hill, founder of Metro Bank, and whose major gift from the Vernon and Shirley Hill Foundation underwrites the awards, said: “Congratulations to the winners of the awards this year. We were very pleased to announce the more than doubling of the prize funds and a new special award for the 2023 awards.

“We are looking forward to seeing the impact of these awards become even bigger and spread even further. Supporting these world-renowned awards for over a decade, we are incredibly proud to have been part of making a difference to all our canine companions across the globe.”

More information about the International Canine Health Awards is available over on The Kennel Club website.