Published: 24 Jun 2021 | Last Updated: 01 Jul 2021 09:05:08

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is celebrating a kennel full of wins at this year’s prestigious International Canine Health Awards, known in the sector as the ‘Nobel Prizes of the Veterinary World’. RVC senior lecturer Dan O’Neill and RVC undergraduates Yan Hui Lee and Eleanor Wilson were awarded prizes in three out of the four categories, in recognition of their contributions to the welfare of dogs.

Dr Dan O’Neill
Dr Dan O'Neill

Dr Dan O’Neill, senior lecturer in companion animal epidemiology at the RVC was announced as the winner of the International Award for his ground-breaking work on exploring canine health from a quantitative perspective. This includes his work co-leading the RVC’s VetCompass™ programme that shares clinical data from veterinary clinics for research that will benefit the long-term health and welfare of animals. Dr O’Neill has built a programme of undergraduate and postgraduate research projects that includes over 20 projects annually and is working to introduce the VetCompass™ concept with collaborators in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Germany, Singapore and Canada. Dr O’Neill will use the £40,000 prize money from this award to encourage and inspire the next generation of canine epidemiologists and to make his research findings even more accessible to dog owners in many new formats.

Yan Hui Lee
Yan Hui Lee

Yan Hui Lee, a Year 5 BVetMed student, won the Undergraduate Student Inspiration award. The award was given to Yan in recognition of her VetCompass study exploring the epidemiology and clinical management of an important and distressing ear condition called aural haematoma in a population of over 900,000 dogs across the UK. Yan Hui aims to publish her study as a peer-reviewed publication and the funding from the award will enable the paper to be made freely available to dog owners everywhere. Yan also plans to establish VetCompass in Singapore when she returns to go into general practice there this summer.

Eleanor Wilson
Eleanor Wilson

Eleanor Wilson, a Year 3 BVetMed student also won the Undergraduate Student Inspiration award. Her research has helped to develop a new method of sequencing to investigate the activity of T-cell receptors in dogs and explore their influence on their immune status, particularly in dogs with lymphoma and septic shock. The award will allow Eleanor to delve deeper into the role of T-cells in cancer, potentially paving the way for new therapies as well as helping to assist in monitoring responses to treatment.

Dr Dan O’Neill, Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Epidemiology at the RVC, said:

I am so delighted that the VetCompass work at the RVC has been recognised with this fantastic and generous award. This will help hugely to further encourage and inspire the next generation of canine epidemiologists. My view is that everybody wins when we share ideas and data – this is the VetCompassethos which I hope will continue to benefit the health and wellbeing of thousands of dogs across the UK and, potentially, the world.”

Yan Hui Lee, 5th year BVetMed student, said:

“It is an honour to be chosen for this award, and it reminds me that even as a student, I can contribute to the improvement of animal welfare. I believe that big dreams are achieved by taking small steps, and the main goal of improving breed health and animal welfare requires the collective effort from various bodies and individuals, such as veterinarians, breeders, and clients. Introducing VetCompass into Singapore would provide a plethora of opportunities for the veterinary community in Singapore, and I am excited for the future that is to come.”

Eleanor Wilson, 3rd year BVetMed student, said:

“I’m so excited to have been selected for this award. This generous support from the Kennel Club and the International Canine Health Awards will allow me to return to Edinburgh and continue this work and potentially contribute to new therapeutic approaches. The support of The Kennel Club Charitable Trust and the International Canine Health Awards has allowed me to return to the Roslin Institute to do some further work on a next generation sequencing approach for studying canine T-cell receptor rearrangements.”

The prizes will be formally handed over at a virtual ceremony taking place on the 30th June. Prospective attendees can register for the event here.

Notes to Editors

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About the International Canine Health Awards

  • The International Canine Health Awards is organised by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and supported by Vernon and Shirley Hill, founders of Metro Bank. The event shines a light on those working in veterinary science who go the extra mile to promote the health and wellbeing of dogs. The four categories include the International Prize in Canine Health, the Lifetime Achievement Award, the UK Student Inspiration Awards and the UK Breed Health Coordinator Award.

About the RVC

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a Member Institution of the University of London. It was the first in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.
  • The RVC is ranked as the top veterinary school in the world in line with the QS World University Rankings by subject, 2021.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.
  • In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
  • A research led institution with 79% of its research rated as internationally excellent or world class in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  • The RVC provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals and first opinion practices in London and Hertfordshire.

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