Four veterinary scientists recognized with AVMA research awards

The AVMA honored four veterinary scientists with 2023 AVMA Excellence Awards for contributions to research. The awards winners were recognized during AVMA Convention 2023, held July 14-18 in Denver.

AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award

Dr. Jim E. Riviere
Dr. Jim E. Riviere

Dr. Jim E. Riviere (Purdue '80), a distinguished professor emeritus at both Kansas State University and North Carolina State University, was awarded the AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award.

This award recognizes a veterinary researcher on the basis of lifetime achievement in basic, applied, or clinical research.

Among his lasting legacies is the creation of the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD) approximately 40 years ago. Along with other founding members, he formed FARAD to assist veterinarians involved in food animal practice and to protect public health.

Dr. Riviere is one of the pioneers in veterinary pharmacokinetics and drug delivery. He's had a strong influence on the use of modern pharmacokinetics for new drug development. His research on drug absorption, residue prediction, and population modeling have influenced the pharmaceutical industry and regulatory agencies.

AVMA Clinical Research Award

Dr. Nicholas (Nick) Jeffery
Dr. Nicholas (Nick) Jeffery

Dr. Nicholas (Nick) Jeffery, a professor of neurology and neurosurgery in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, is the recipient of the AVMA Clinical Research Award.

The award is given to an AVMA member who has made significant contributions to the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of diseases in animals, including the study of mechanisms of disease, therapeutic interventions, clinical trials, development of new technologies, and epidemiological studies.

Dr. Jeffery earned his veterinary degree in 1981 from the University of Bristol. He is an internationally recognized veterinary neurologist, surgeon, and scientist who has made foundational contributions to the understanding of spinal cord injury (SCI) in dogs. He has defined key pathologic features of acute and chronic injury, developed multiple metrics to monitor post-injury outcomes, and performed high impact clinical trials focused on regenerative and plasticity inducing strategies.

His work in SCI has important translational applications impacting outcomes for animals and people. His most notable trials include those establishing olfactory ensheathing cells and chondroitinase as viable therapies in the context of chronic, naturally occurring canine SCI.

AVMA Career Achievement in Canine Research Award

Dr. Natasha Olby
Dr. Natasha Olby

Dr. Natasha Olby, a professor of veterinary neurology and neurosurgery at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, is the recipient of the 2023 AVMA Career Achievement in Canine Research Award. The award honors an AVMA member's long-term contribution to the field of canine research.

She received her veterinary degree in 1991 from the University of Cambridge. Throughout her research career, Dr. Olby has focused on studying naturally occurring neurologic disease. She is recognized worldwide as an expert on canine spinal cord injury and intervertebral disc disease. Currently, she is focusing her research efforts on the aging of the nervous system in dogs.

Dr. Olby has also nurtured a research program aimed at mapping neurogenetic diseases and Chiari-like malformations and syringomyelia.

She is founding member of the Degenerative Myelopathy Project, which is a group of veterinary neurologists collaborating to perform clinical trials in degenerative myelopathy.

AVMF/EveryCat Health Foundation Research Award

Dr. Boaz Arzi
Dr. Boaz Arzi

Dr. Boaz Arzi, a professor of surgical and radiological sciences at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, is the recipient of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF)/EveryCat Health Foundation Research Award. The award recognizes contributions to advancing feline health through research.

Dr. Arzi earned his veterinary degree in 2002 from the University of Szent Istvan in Budapest, Hungary. He currently serves as chief of the dentistry and oral surgery service at UC-Davis's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and as director of its Veterinary Institute for Regenerative Cures.

His research efforts in the past 15 years contributed greatly to feline health and revolutionized concepts and management practices of feline chronic gingivostomatitis (FCGS), temporomandibular joint disorders, and trauma management. Dr. Arzi originated and then led a multicenter clinical trial effort to test the use of adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ASCs) to treat the debilitating oral disease in cats.

A version of this story appears in the August 2023 print issue of JAVMA.