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CSU veterinary professor receives 2015 WSAVA Award

Veterinary sciences professor Dr. Michael Lappin can be described as innovative, intelligent, ethical and inspiring according to his students and coworkers. Now on top of all of these things Dr. Lappin has been recognized as an international award winning cat doctor. 

Dr. Lappin was recently awarded the 2015 World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s International Award for Scientific Achievement for his research and work with cats. 

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“The award is certainly a nice thing personally,” Lappin said. “My ultimate goal would be to highlight highlight all the great things CSU VTH does and  to use the award to  acknowledge of all the great scientific interactions, my 3 research associates, Melissa, Jennifer, and Arianne, research scientists, co-faculty members, residents, and graduate students and collaborators around the world. This would not have happened without them.”

(Photo courtesy of John Eisele)
(Photo courtesy of John Eisele)

According to his colleagues, Dr. Lappin won the award for his work with infectious diseases in cats. Primarily, Lappin’s work focuses on the prevention of these diseases through vaccinations and treatment through antibiotics.

Clinical sciences professor Wayne Jensen said Dr. Lappin’s research includes work with viruses, bacteria and even some parasites. Dr. Lappin’s work is also non-fatal, meaning the life of the cat is not sacrificed for the research, Jensen said. 

Dr. Lappin’s research also relates on an international level. Dr. Lappin has a current project in Mexico, and has even worked with Brazil, Russia and Spain, Jensen said.

 “Cats everywhere are in a better place today because of the good Dr. Lappin,” Jensen said. 

Dr. Lappin has also been recognized for his outstanding ability to raise funds for his studies with cats, Jensen said.

“There (are) not very many places you can go to get money to do research for the benefit of cats,” Jensen said. “So, he has been extremely successful over the course of his career seeking out sources of funding to support this research, and that’s critical.”

Dr. Lappin is also the first professor to receive the Kenneth W. Smith Professorship, which was created by the Smith family to honor the work of Dr. Kenneth Smith, a 1932 CSU graduate in the Professional Veterinary Medical Program.

The professorship is awarded to a professor who exhibits immense achievements in the field of study similar to Smith, according to the Center for Companion Animal Studies website. The professorship includes investment income from a $375,000 endowment for Dr. Lappin to fund his research with the infectious diseases of cats.

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Dr. Lappin is also receiving funding on a corporate level from companies wishing to test the efficiency and effectiveness of their vaccinations, said Melissa Brewer, Dr. Lappin’s research associate.

Brewer said many of these companies have vaccines that work on various animals and would like to test them to see if they work on cats. Or, the vaccines are tested to see if they actually do what they claim to.

“He has no problem saying something does not work,” Brewer said. “He is very ethical which is critical for being a researcher.”

With his studies for cats, Dr. Lappin also helps to coordinate the Saving Animals by Teaching  program. The program is funded by the Center for Companion Animal Studies, and works to help animals that have been relinquished to shelters. 

“If they are injured and they can be fixed, no one has the money to do the surgery,” Jensen said. “Dr. Lappin and his fundraising capability has helped to foster the program. Students and residents in training do the surgeries observed by faculty to fix the animal, and then the animal goes back to the humane society and is adopted out almost immediately.”

Collegian Reporter Megan Braa can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Megan_Braa.

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