Dr. Susan Stover, Professor in the Department of Anatomy, Physiology & Cell Biology at the University of California-Davis, received the 2016 AVMA Excellence in Research Award. Dr. Stover received enthusiastic endorsements from veterinary colleagues and prior protégés. She was described in her nomination package as a visible ambassador and a voice of reason, built on a solid foundation of evidence, who is charting new and sustained improvements in the welfare of performance horses and the practice of veterinary medicine. Her major research focuses are the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries in equine athletes and the biomechanical function of musculoskeletal structures and treatment of orthopedic disorders in domestic and non-domestic animals. Her key contributions to the safety and welfare of the horse include development of arthrocentesis (joint fluid sampling) techniques, discovery of lesions that predispose to catastrophic injuries in racehorses, and elucidation of factors that contribute to injury development in racehorses. Currently, her research efforts are focused on understanding how training and injury affect bone adaptation or propensity for bone fracture, the effects of performance surface materials and shoes on hoof and fetlock biomechanics and thus propensity for injury in athletes, and the development of osteoporosis in horses associated with inhalation of cytotoxic silicate-laden soil.
Dr. Stover was to have been presented with the award at the 2016 Merial NIH Veterinary Scholars Symposium, at which more than 470 veterinary students presented the results of their summer research projects. However, flight cancellations prevented her attendance in person. Dr. Stover said of receiving the award: 'I have been fortunate in having outstanding mentorship throughout my career and the support of wonderful collaborators. My scholarship reflects the efforts of many individuals, especially residents, and professional and graduate students in diverse disciplines, whom I have been privileged to guide and work alongside throughout my career at UC Davis. This award is clearly recognition of their energy and quest for new knowledge, and our collective efforts to improve the welfare of racing and performance horses and concurrently to contribute to improved understanding of bone biology and the pathogenesis of musculoskeletal disease. I also thank the AVMA, AVMF, the Merial-NIH Symposium, and those who took the time to compile this nomination. The recognition is humbling and truly appreciated.'