University oncology professor awarded Alan Kelly international veterinary award for research in canine cancer

Dr Douglas Thamm, Professor of Oncology at Colorado State University, has won the Alan Kelly International Award category of the 2023 International Canine Health Awards, in recognition of his work improving the standard of care for canine patients suffering from cancer and applying many of his findings to benefit human patients.

As one of the world’s leading clinical oncologists, Dr Thamm is Director of Clinical Research for the Flint Animal Cancer Center and works on numerous clinical trials to further advance life-changing therapies for dogs with cancer. As principal investigator, Dr Thamm recently led a pivotal trial investigating the effect of a Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor in dogs with spontaneously occurring B-cell lymphoma, which occurred prior to the first-in-human clinical trial and the results of which provided critical proof of the concept that inhibition of BTK would have meaningful anti-tumour effects in human patients also with B-cell cancer. The drug is now approved for the treatment of human B-cell lymphoma and leukaemia.

Continuing to bridge the gap between canine and human health, and as part of his passion for disseminating information to advance veterinary care and the broader medical profession, Dr Thamm is the Principal Investigator for a training grant known as Team Oriented Training across the Translational Spectrum, or TOTTS, which aims to provide advanced scientific training opportunities for veterinarians interested in translational medical research.

Dr Thamm is praised by his colleagues for maintaining his strong clinical presence – putting his canine patients first alongside his team to provide compassionate, comprehensive and cutting-edge treatments of cancer. Beyond the clinic, Dr Thamm is also a dedicated teacher – furthering his impact on canine health through fostering the next generation of veterinary enthusiasts with educational lectures and mentorship of students.

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 these world class awards off the ground and evolving them into the prestigious International Canine Health Awards of today.  

On hearing of his success as winner of the Alan Kelly International Achievement Award in this year’s International Canine Health Awards, Dr Douglas Thamm said: “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.”

Running for over ten years, the International Canine Health Awards are the largest awards in the veterinary field worldwide, inspiring scientific innovation and recognising excellence in canine research, health and welfare. Organised and run by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, and with a major financial gift from Vernon Hill, founder of Metro Bank and the Vernon and Shirley Hill Foundation, the 2023 awards aim to make a truly global impact – with prize money more than doubled from 2022 and an increased focus on funding projects focussed on the One Health concept and those committed to advancing canine medicine in developing nations. 

Applications for the awards are judged by a panel of independent and eminent international veterinarians and scientists. The awards will be presented via a virtual ceremony on Wednesday 12 July, 15:00 BST, with further details available to those who register their interest here.

This year, the International Canine Health Awards created a Special Award category to recognise the work of three extraordinary veterinary clinics in war-torn Ukraine, and each will receive a $20,000 prize fund to support their work. In addition, five individual winners have been selected in the following categories: the Alan Kelly International Award with a prize of $100,000; the Lifetime Achievement Award with a prize of $50,000; the two Student Inspiration Awards, undergraduate and postgraduate with a prize of $20,000 for the postgraduate and $10,000 for the undergraduate winners; and The Kennel Club’s Breed Health Co-ordinator Prize – the winner of which receives £5,000.

Dr Andrew Higgins, Chairman of the International Canine Health Awards panel and trustee of The Kennel Club Charitable Trust which organises the awards said: “The work of Dr Douglas Thamm really highlights the 2023 Awards’ focus on One Health in demonstrating how beneficial canine research can be for humans too. We would like to congratulate him on his exceptional research successes, his commitment to training the next generation of veterinarians and researchers, and his passion for translational medicine, all of which makes him thoroughly deserving of this year’s Alan Kelly International Achievement Award.”

Vernon Hill, founder of Metro Bank, and whose major gift from the Vernon and Shirley Hill Foundation underwrites the awards, said: “Dr Thamm should be proud of the advancements he has made in bettering the world’s understanding of treatment of cancer, in the lives of both our dogs and humans. I look forward to seeing how winning this prestigious award can lead to further progress in his clinical trials.”

Find out about the International Canine Health Awards.