Penn Vet’s Gustavo Aguirre Receives the Kennel Club’s International Canine Health Award

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Media Contact:Katherine Unger Baillie | kbaillie@upenn.edu | 215-898-9194March 11, 2013

Gustavo Aguirre of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine has received the International Canine Health Award from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and Metro Bank at Crufts, the club’s dog show held in Birmingham, England.

Aguirre is a professor of medical genetics and ophthalmology in Penn Vet’s Department of Clinical Studies-Philadelphia. Aguirre, who earned his undergraduate, veterinary and doctoral degrees from Penn, has played a lead role in first identifying many of the genes and defects that cause inherited blindness and then developing gene therapy to treat these conditions. Modeling the visual disorders in dogs, he and colleagues have reversed retinal degeneration in the animals, breakthroughs that have laid the groundwork for human clinical trials.

This is the first year the International Canine Health Award has been presented. It was judged by a panel of veterinary professionals and scientific researchers, chaired by Alan Kelly, Gilbert S. Kahn Dean Emeritus at Penn Vet. The honor includes £40,000, underwritten by the foundation of Vernon and Shirley Hill, for whom Penn Vet’s Hill Pavilion is named. Vernon Hill is founder and chairman of Metro Bank. Aguirre intends to use the prize money to support continuing research on studies of inherited blindness.

Aguirre is a member of the Institute of Medicine, a Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and has received numerous other honors and awards, including an honorary doctor of philosophy degree from the University of Göteborg, Sweden, the WSAVA/Waltham International Award for Scientific Achievement, the Foundation Fighting Blindness Trustee Award and Scientist of the Year Award, the O.N.C.E. International Prize for R&D in Biomedicine and New Technologies for the Blind and the Paul Kayser International Award in Retina Research.

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