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Yasuko Rikihisa, PhD, researcher at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, wins prestigious international veterinary award

[Provided courtesy of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust]

Yasuko Rikihisa, PhD, University Distinguished Professor, The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, won the coveted International Award category at the International Canine Health Awards, where she was awarded £40,000 (approximately $53,000) towards her future work. Rikihisa was recognized for her ground breaking work into a number of tick-borne diseases that infect dogs, other companion animals and humans. The international award is part of one of the largest and most distinguished veterinary awards in the world, the International Canine Health Awards.

The awards, which are run by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and underwritten by a major gift from Vernon and Shirley Hill of Metro Bank, highlight those individuals who go one step further to promote the health and wellbeing of dogs through their work in the world of veterinary science.

This year’s awards were presented to winners by Dr Andrew Higgins, Honorary Editor-in-Chief at the Veterinary Journal and judge for the awards, on Tuesday 22nd May at the Kennel Club in London, on behalf of the Vernon and Shirley Hill Foundation.

Rikihisa has been a pioneer and prolific contributor to our understanding of Rickettsial diseases, which affects dogs, other companion and wild animals and humans, transmitted by ticks. Ticks have been long known to be a source of infectious diseases in both animals and humans, and the results of Rikihisa’s decades of research into this area have directly lead to the development of the diagnostic tests used in veterinary practices around the world to identify dogs infected with one particular Rickettsial disease called Ehrlichiosis (also known as canine typhus). This is a debilitating and often fatal condition caused by a parasite that infects and survives within the white blood cells of its host.

During the 1980s, Rikihisa developed a method for growing Ehrlichia organisms in laboratory culture, a pre-requisite for carrying out research into how the parasite interacts with its host. This development supported her later research into diagnostic methods which have allowed fast and accurate diagnosis at an earlier stage of the disease, improving the prospects for effective treatment and reducing the risk of the infection being passed on to other dogs.

Rikihisa is a highly respected author, contributing 277 peer-reviewed papers in the scientific literature and 27 chapters in books and conference proceedings. In 2012 she was elected a member of the prestigious US National Academy of Sciences for her contributions in this area, where she became a sought-after expert and international contributor to the knowledge base in tick-borne diseases. She has also been granted 18 US and related international patents on the discoveries from her research portfolio.

With the £40,000 she was awarded at the International Canine Health Awards, Rikihisa hopes to continue to support a research project within her laboratories at the College of Veterinary Medicine at The Ohio State University, which it is hoped will eventually lead to the first vaccine treatment for canine Ehrlichiosis. Although much of her research is focussed on developing methods `for controlling human diseases, the funding she received for this award will be deployed to directly benefit canine health in the field of tick-borne infectious diseases.

After receiving her award, Yasuko said: “It’s a great honour to receive this award. We are currently working hard to develop a vaccine for canine Ehrlichiosis and the award money will really help towards this.”

Rustin Moore, DVM, PhD, dean of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, said: “Professor Rikihisa is a role model of research excellence and tenacity in understanding and solving unmet needs in canine health and research, as well as commercializing her research to benefit animals. The college is pleased and excited to see her recognized for her influential and impactful work and contributions.”

The International Canine Health Awards were awarded in five categories: the International Award, which was awarded a prize of £40,000; the Lifetime Achievement Award, which received a prize of £10,000; the Postgraduate Student Inspiration Award, which was awarded a prize of £10,000; the Undergraduate Student Inspiration Award, which received a prize of £5,000; and the Breed Health Coordinator Award, which received a prize of £1,000. Nominations for the awards were judged by a panel of influential representatives from the veterinary profession and the world of scientific research.

This year’s judges for the International and Lifetime Awards were Dr Andrew Higgins, Honorary Editor-in-Chief at the Veterinary Journal; Dr Siraya Chunekamrai, Vice President of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association; Professor David Argyle, Dean of Veterinary Medicine and Head of School, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh; Nick Blayney, veterinary surgeon and veterinary advisor to the Kennel Club; Professor Holger Volk, Professor of Veterinary Neurology

 and Neurosurgery and Head of Department of Clinical Science and Services, Royal Veterinary College (winner of the International Award in 2016); Professor Oliver Garden, Chair of Department of Clinical Studies-Philadelphia at Penn Vet (winner of the International Award in 2017); and Paul McGreevy, Professor of Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare Science at the Faculty of Veterinary Science University of Sydney (winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017).


Professor Steve Dean, chairman of trustees of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which runs the International Canine Health Awards, said: “Many congratulations to Professor Rikihisa for winning the International title. These awards were created to recognise talented individuals such as Yasuko, whose revolutionary research on vector-borne parasites is making a difference to the health of dogs all over the world. The contribution of ticks in the spread of parasitic illness is fully deserving of our attention and it is clear to see why Professor Rikihisa is so respected in the veterinary community. We are very much looking forward to seeing more ground breaking achievements from her in the future.”


Vernon Hill, founder and chairman of Metro Bank, and Shirley Hill, whose foundation underwrites the awards said: “Congratulations to Yasuko on her win – her work into tick-borne diseases is incredibly impressive, and we are pleased to recognise her many years of work with this award. We want to wish her the best of luck for the future – we are sure she will achieve further greatness within her field.”

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Notes to Editors

The International Canine Health Awards are run by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and funded by Metro Bank.

About the Kennel Club Charitable Trust

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust was established in 1987 and has provided grants of more than £10.5m to a range of organisations and charities.

The Trust awards grants to organisations to help them to achieve its objective of 'making a difference for dogs' and supports work with dogs across three distinct areas:

  • Science - funding research into health problems in dogs
  • Support - helping to train dogs to help human beings
  • Welfare - providing funds for dogs that need help or rescue

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has committed a total of £2.7m of funding for the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust, which is investigating a number of canine inherited diseases, having agreed £1.2m in funds over five years in 2009 and a further £1.5m over five years in 2013.

About Metro Bank

Vernon Hill is the Founder and Chairman of Metro Bank, the UK’s first new High Street bank in more than 100 years. The revolutionary bank currently has 56 stores across London and the Home Counties, with plans to expand to 100 by 2020. Metro Bank is publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange, symbol: MTRO.

Metro Bank PLC. Registered in England and Wales. Company number: 6419578. Registered office: One Southampton Row, London, WC1B 5HA. ‘Metrobank’ is the registered trade mark of Metro Bank PLC.

Metro Bank PLC is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in relation to our acceptance of deposits and provision of investment and insurance services. In relation to our consumer credit business, Metro Bank PLC is licensed and regulated by the Office of Fair Trading and not by the FSA. Most relevant deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. For further information about the Scheme refer to the FSCS website

Vernon and Shirley Hill, and Sir Duffield, their Yorkshire Terrier, have a deep commitment to the veterinary community including:

  • Sponsorship of The University of Pennsylvania World Veterinary Award
  • Sponsorship of The Hill Pavilion at The University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School
  • Sponsorship of the Kennel Club’s International Canine Health Awards


The Kennel Club

The Kennel Club is the largest organisation in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare and training. Its objective is to ensure that dogs live healthy, happy lives with responsible owners.

It runs the country’s largest registration database for both pedigree and crossbreed dogs and the Petlog database, which is the UK’s biggest reunification service for microchipped animals. The Kennel Club is accredited by UKAS to certify members of its Assured Breeder Scheme, which is the only scheme in the UK that monitors breeders in order to protect the welfare of puppies and breeding bitches. It also runs the UK’s largest dog training programme, the Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme and accredits dog trainers and behaviourists through the Kennel Club Accredited Instructors Scheme.

It licenses shows and clubs across a wide range of activities, which help dog owners to bond and enjoy life with their dogs. The Kennel Club runs the world’s greatest dog show, Crufts, and the Discover Dogs event at ExCeL London, which is a fun family day out that educates people about how to buy responsibly and care for their dog.

The Kennel Club invests in welfare campaigns, dog training and education programmes and the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which supports research into dog diseases and dog welfare charities, including Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisations that re-home dogs throughout the UK. The Kennel Club jointly runs health screening schemes with the British Veterinary Association and, through the Charitable Trust, funds the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust, which is at the forefront of pioneering research into dog health. The Kennel Club Cancer Centre at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) contributes to the AHT’s well-established cancer research programme, helping to further improve dog health.

About The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Founded in 1885, The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine is ranked fifth in the nation and includes more than 1,000 faculty, staff and students. Uniquely located in a heavily populated urban area surrounded by a strong rural and agricultural base, the college’s Veterinary Medical Center is among the largest of its kind.  Encompassing four hospitals and a large animal practice, the Veterinary Health System provides care for more than 72,000 canine, feline, equine and farm animal patients each year. Located on one of the few campuses in the country with seven health sciences colleges on one university campus, Veterinary Medicine students, researchers and faculty closely collaborate with partners in Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Optometry, Pharmacy and Public Health. The college admits up to 162 veterinary students per class, and offer a comprehensive graduate program in Veterinary and Comparative Medicine as well as a unique Master’s degree in Veterinary Public Health, in partnership with the College of Public Health. Learn more at   



Last updated: 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - 8:07am