RVC student wins international award for research into canine pain management

RVC student wins international award for research into canine pain management

Simone Ku, a fourth-year veterinary student at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), has been awarded the International Undergraduate Student Inspiration Award by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. This award recognises her pioneering work in understanding pain relief and behaviour management in dogs.

The International Canine Health Awards honour excellence in canine research, dog health, and welfare. Winners receive prize money to support new or ongoing research initiatives.

Simone Ku, a BVetMed undergraduate at RVC, received this year’s Inspiration Award for her research into the use of the drug gabapentin in canine pain and behaviour management. Her research was inspired by her experiences with her own dog, Smudge, who suffered from Fanconi Syndrome and arthritis.

“This recognition inspires and empowers me to continue striving towards bettering the lives of our canine companions.”

Simone chose to focus on the need for effective pain relief in dogs, aiming to provide veterinarians with evidence-based guidelines and clinical benchmarking for gabapentin use. Despite its common usage, gabapentin lacks large-scale population evidence on its effectiveness and dosage patterns. Simone’s research could significantly improve pain and behaviour management protocols, improving dogs’ quality of life.

“Winning this award is incredibly meaningful to me,” she said. “It not only reaffirms my commitment to advancing canine health but also serves as a powerful endorsement of the importance of research into canine pain management, a cornerstone of compassionate care. This recognition inspires and empowers me to continue striving towards bettering the lives of our canine companions.”

Simone conducted her research under the guidance of experienced faculty at the RVC and Dr Carrie Tooley as an external supervisor.

Dr Dan O’Neill, Associate Professor in Companion Animal Epidemiology and Simone’s supervisor at the RVC, said, “By winning this award, Simone has exemplified how VetCompass is rewriting the rule book on veterinary research and moving to a new era where practice-based data can be used by anyone with a core interest in welfare to contribute to new discoveries.”

Simone plans to use the prize money to publish her research findings in an open-access journal, attend the BSAVA conference to present her work, create educational materials for veterinarians and dog owners, and contribute to the further development of the VetCompass programme – as well as exploring the use of the drug pregabalin in canine pain and behaviour management.

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