Published: 18 Apr 2016 | Last Updated: 10 Aug 2023 11:49:19

The Clinical Director of the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) small animal referral service (Queen Mother Hospital for Animals) has received two top awards in recognition of his ground-breaking work.

Professor Holger Volk received the International Award at the International Canine Health Awards and the Bourgelat Award by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA). These are among the most prestigious veterinary awards in Europe. The International Canine Health Awards, run by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, honours individuals who go the extra mile to promote the health and well-being of dogs. Professor Volk received £40,000 as part of this award towards his active research programme. He received the BSAVA’s Bourgelat Award in recognition of “primary international recognition for really outstanding contributions to the field of small animal practice”. 

Professor Volk, who was one of the youngest ever at the RVC to be made a Chair within his field, of neurology and neurosurgery, is also president of the European College of Veterinary Neurology. Notable for his work in canine epilepsy, Professor Volk has covered many topics within the field, including a study on diets to aid seizure control, an ongoing project on behavioural epilepsy co-morbidities and studies into quality of life issues. He has also played an active role in increasing the antiepileptic drug portfolio for canine epilepsy. In 2014 he initiated the formation of the International Veterinary Epilepsy Taskforce, which he also chairs.

This brought together more than 25 scientists and vets from around the world to establish unified and standardised guidelines for the research, diagnosis and treatment of canine and feline epilepsy. This included the creation of seven consensus statements, which were published in BMC Veterinary Research in 2015. This consensus was a first in veterinary neurology, with significant implications for research within the field. Holger has also been co-chair of the recently published ACVIM Small Animal Consensus Statement on Seizure Management in Dogs. Professor Volk has a track record of innovative research with impact and has published more than 150 peer reviewed publications and 200 research abstracts, written multiple books and book chapters within his field, and is a popular speaker for national and international conferences.

As well as being a leading researcher, Professor Volk is a practising veterinary surgeon, often performing complex neurological surgeries. He has supported multiple breed clubs in his ground-breaking work on syringomyelia and canine epilepsy, including the cavalier Kings Charles spaniel, German shepherd, English bulldog and dachshund clubs. He regularly engages with canine epilepsy support groups, such as the Phyllis Croft Foundation for Canine Epilepsy and Blu's Tale Foundation, and represents animal health and welfare in working groups for the International League Against Epilepsy, and the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research. In 2015, Professor Volk co-developed the first ever smartphone app to manage canine epilepsy. The RVC Epilepsy Tracker was launched to improve the owner’s management of their dog's epilepsy, provide colleagues in first opinion practice with reliable seizure diaries and to use the data gathered to advance our understanding of the disease.

Speaking about his awards and work at the RVC, Professor Volk said: "I feel very honoured to have received these awards. I am grateful to all the amazing colleagues, breeders and pet owners for their passion to help battle animals’ diseases and for making a difference on a daily basis. Without everyone’s support our work could never have been achieved or have an impact. The journey has just begun and we will continue our research work to improve animal welfare.”

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Notes to Editors

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a constituent College of the University of London. The RVC offers undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences, being ranked in the top 10 universities nationally for biosciences degrees.  It is currently the only veterinary school in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.

A research-led institution, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) the RVC maintained its position as the top HEFCE funded veterinary focused research institution.

The RVC also provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals; the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in central London, the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (Europe's largest small animal referral centre), the Equine Referral Hospital, and the Farm Animal Clinical Centre located at the Hertfordshire campus.

RVC Press Release 18 April 2016

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