Published: 05 October 2018

Surrey vet students, researchers and partners named for prestigious awards

Our £45m School of Veterinary Medicine is transforming teaching and research in veterinary science and, since its founding in 2014, continues to build an excellent reputation. 

Cavalier king charles spaniel lying on grass

This year has seen the collaborative efforts of our students, researchers and partners at the University of Surrey receive several accolades for outstanding work, including pioneering research into syringomyelia in dogs, an accreditation of ‘Practice of the Year’ for one of our partners and more.

Our placement partners are leaders in the field

After a UK-wide search for the best veterinary practices in the country, Sandhole Veterinary Centre, a partner of Surrey, has been awarded PetPlan Practice of the Year award for 2018, selected out of 22,000 potential nominations. The team work with us to enhance our veterinary students’ training and experience, and we are delighted they have received the award. Ian Johnson, practice owner at Sandhole, had this to say:

"We are over the moon to have won the equivalent of the veterinary Oscars. The whole team work incredibly hard to deliver those little extras that add up to what we call "The Sandhole Difference" and we are delighted that this has been recognised".

Our vet students are performing significant research

Another highlight was the research conducted by Surrey student Zoë Nalborczyk, currently in her fourth year of study, into the development of phantom scratching (rhythmic scratching to the shoulder without making skin contact) in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with syringomyelia. Syringomyelia also occurs in humans – a complex neurological condition in which fluid-filled lesions form in the spinal cord, causing compression, damage and pain.

After taking over 5,000 measurements from MRIs of affected dogs, Zoë’s research identified a link between damage occurring to the mid-neck region of the spinal cord and the development of phantom scratching. She found the spinal cord injury actually extended to outer upper edge of the spinal cord, also known as the superficial dorsal horn. The superficial dorsal horn relays sensory information to the brain, and the study revealed that this type of injury may result in a hyperactive scratch reflex in turn causing what is known as phantom scratching.

Her study, conducted at Fitzpatrick Referrals, received a BSAVA PetSavers Grant award after publication in BMC Veterinary Research in November last year, and in April of this year Zoë was awarded the Petsavers Veterinary Achievement Award at the PetPlan Veterinary Awards 2018. This is the first time the award has been given to a veterinary student.  Zoë had this to say about her achievement:

“I am honoured and humbled to have received this award and for my neurology research, conducted while a second year veterinary student, to be recognised by the wider veterinary community. I am so grateful to Professor Clare Rusbridge for giving me the opportunity to conduct research at such an early stage in my career and for her constant support and encouragement, I couldn’t have asked for a better supervisor and inspirational role model. Thank you also to Petsavers for their continued support of my own research as well as veterinary student research projects across the country.”

The project was supervised by Professor Clare Rusbridge, Chief of Neurology at Fitzpatrick Referrals and reader in Veterinary Neurology at the University of Surrey.  Professor Rusbridge has co-edited a medical textbook on syringomyelia and worked on 90 other publications on the subject of veterinary science.

We’re working with exceptional partner organisations

Another success story is that of Clare’s collaboration with the Dog Breeding Reform Group. Nominated by the CAVA Animal Welfare Awards 2018 for ‘Charity Team of the Year’.

Our students, researchers and partners continue to keep their finger on the pulse of exciting research and innovation in veterinary science.

Our School of Veterinary Medicine offers great opportunities for different levels of study thanks to its excellent teaching, and forms a part of the forward-thinking research conducted at Surrey. The school encourages all students to fulfil their full potential, and we also have our pioneering Veterinary Pathology Centre. We look forward to some more exciting news in the near future.

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