Leading Lights in Dog Health Research Crowned Winners of the International Canine Health Awards at Crufts

Leading Lights in Dog Health Research Crowned Winners of the International Canine Health Awards at Crufts

For the second year, leading innovative researchers and veterinary scientists who are significantly impacting the health and well-being of dogs will be recognised at the Kennel Club Charitable Trust International Canine Health Awards at Crufts 2014.

The largest and most prestigious veterinary awards in Europe, the International Canine Health Awards will highlight those individuals who go that one step further to promote the health and wellbeing of dogs with their revolutionary work in the world of veterinary science.

The worthy winners of this year’s coveted awards will be announced on Saturday 8th March 2014 by Chairman of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, Mike Townsend. The awards to be presented are the International Award and Lifetime Achievement Award and include prize money of £40,000 and £10,000 respectively, generously funded by Vernon and Shirley Hill of the Hill Family Foundation and Metro Bank.

Metro Bank, the revolutionary high street bank which is about to open its 26th store in Epsom, prides itself on putting customers and their needs first, and this includes its innovative ‘Dogs Rule’ ethos. The bank welcomes customers and their pets into its stores, and supports regular canine friendly events including ‘adoptathons’ and microchipping. It also waives adoption fees for any customers looking to adopt a pet through Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

The awards are judged by a panel of influential representatives from the veterinary profession and the world of scientific research. By rewarding and encouraging learning and development, these awards place the Kennel Club on the international stage to recognise partners internationally and at home who are pioneers in improving the health and wellbeing of our four legged friends.
Last year’s winners included Dr Elaine Ostrander, Dr Gustavo Aguirre and student, Emily Milodowski, who were nominated by their peers and contemporaries for their innovative work in dog health and developments in veterinary science.

Dr Elaine Ostrander, among the most accomplished genomics researchers in the world, was chosen as the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award for her pioneering work in regards to developments in both canine health and human diseases. Dr Ostrander received £10,000 as part of her award to help towards future work.

Since winning the award, Dr Ostrander’s laboratory has focused on cancer in dogs, making advances in gastric and bladder and histiocytic carcinoma. As a disease that affects so many dogs across breeds, Dr Ostrander and her team have been partnering with collaborators, breed clubs and owners to obtain and analyse samples. This work has highlighted what parts of the genome have gone awry to cause these diseases.

Speaking about her award, Dr Ostrander said “Laboratories like mine across the world are trying to find the causes of genetic disease in dog breeds, so that breeders have the opportunity to improve the health of their breed. I am most grateful to the International Canine Health Awards and for the opportunity to draw attention to our work and invite more owners and breeders to participate.”

Dr Gustavo Aguirre was awarded the International Prize in Canine Health for his impressive work in the recognition and characterisation of eye diseases in dogs, applying both clinical and genetic solutions. Working alongside Dr Ostrander, he has undertaken ground-breaking research into canine eye diseases which has allowed him to identify the comparative human retinal disease genes and led to the development of treatment for human patients with eyesight defects.

Dr Aguirre received £40,000 as part of his award to help finance ongoing and future projects in relation to retinal disease genes in canines.

Emily Milodowski won the Student Inspiration Award at last year’s International Canine Health Awards for her research on the prevalence and distribution of a bacteria called Campylobacter in the canine intestine, which it is hoped will improve human health in the future. Emily was awarded £10,000 for a research project investigating wound healing in dogs.

Speaking about the International Canine Health Awards, Emily commented: “Winning the Student Inspiration Award was a huge achievement for me and so far it has proved a great opportunity for my own development both professionally, and within the research field. The £10,000 prize has also meant a lot for my own research. Since being presented with the award at Crufts last year, I have been able to carry out my research investigating the chronology of the recolonisation of surgical wounds by commensal bacteria in the post-operative period.”

Emily will be presenting her research findings, alongside her previous research into canine wound infections, as a part of a Clinical Research Abstract at BSAVA Congress 2014 in April. Emily’s address will accompany other presentation regarding recent advancements in the veterinary field and further highlights the importance of research in continuing to improve animal and human health.

The winners of this year’s awards, who will be unveiled on Saturday 8th March at 12 noon, have been pioneers of ground-breaking work that has the potential to eradicate specific hereditary eye problems as well as improve the treatment of and reduce the risk of damage to the central nervous system in animals and humans.