The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Head of School wins prestigious veterinary award

Professor David Argyle has been honoured with a major veterinary award.

David A news
From left to right - Professor David Argyle, James Swann, Vernon Hill, Professor Sheila Crispin and Dr Cathryn Mellersh.

The International Canine Health Awards, run by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, presented Professor Argyle with the award for his work identifying stem cells in cancer which are responsible for the devastating disease.

The Awards were presented on 25th June at the 8th International Conference on Advances in Canine and Feline Genomics.

In addition to Professor Argyle’s award, other awards were made to Dr Cathryn Mellersh, Head of Canine Genetics at the Animal Health Trust; Professor Sheila Crispin, who has devoted her life to comparative eye disease as a researcher and clinician and James Swann, Senior Clinical Training Scholar in Small Animal Internal Medicine at the Royal Veterinary College.

The winners were given prize money to further their work in the field of canine research, underwritten by a major gift from Vernon and Shirley Hill of Metro Bank. Professor Mellersh and David Argyle were each awarded £20,000 for their International Awards, Sheila Crispin was awarded £10,000 for the Lifetime Achievement Award and James Swann was granted £5,000 for the Student Postgraduate Award.

Launched at Crufts in 2012, the International Canine Health Awards were developed to recognise and reward innovative researchers, veterinary scientists and students who are significantly impacting the health and well-being of dogs. The awards are judged by a panel of influential representatives from the veterinary profession and the world of scientific research.

Award for oncology work

Professor Argyle won his International Award for the work that he has carried out identifying stem cells in cancer which are responsible for the devastating disease, which affects one in three dogs at some point in their lifetime. By isolating and studying cancer stem cells in dogs, he has transformed our understanding of how the cancer stem cells drive cancer progression, opening up the possibility of new treatments.

He has looked at how cancer stem cells survive in the body, often becoming immune to chemotherapy and radiation, and has identified an important protein that seems to be critical to understanding how cancer survives and spreads. Professor Argyle hopes that the insights into the dog population will also benefit people. He has dedicated his career to fostering excellence in others, developing the Edinburgh Clinical Academic Training Programme for Veterinarians, funded by the Wellcome Trust, which provides top class vets with funding to complete a PhD and post-doctorate or clinical training.

Cancer is a disease that has a devastating impact on both the dog and human populations and I am honoured that my work has enabled me to develop a greater understanding of how the disease develops and spreads. I am very proud that this work has been recognised and delighted that the money from the award will enable me to fund a postgraduate student to study the protein we have identified as causing the spread of cancer, enabling us to take this vital research to the next level. This will have huge implications not only for dogs, but potentially for humans as well, meaning that dogs really are a man’s best friend.

Professor David ArgyleHead of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

The winners of these awards have been behind some of the most important breakthroughs in our understanding of canine diseases in recent years. Their ongoing work in their respective fields will have huge implications for the health of dogs in the future and, in many cases, for the human population as well. These winners are also remarkable for the time and dedication they have shown to sharing their knowledge and expertise with others. We could not have hoped for more deserving winners and we thank them for helping us to transform dog health through science and genetics.

Mike TownsendChairman of Trustees at the Kennel Club Charitable Trust

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