BSAVA PetSavers launches its alumni group

3 October 2022

The BSAVA has three main strategic pillars, Education, Science and Community. At BSAVA PetSavers, we sit at the heart of the science pillar and help push scientific boundaries through our mission to fund clinical research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of pets. The output of our funding contributes to evidence-based veterinary medicine, which helps you improve your diagnosis, management, treatment and control of your patients’ problems and enables clinicians and veterinary scientists understand more about those problems.

A recent example of our impactful research was a study undertaken by Camilla Pegram and colleagues at the Royal Veterinary College, which looked at associations between neutering and urinary incontinence in UK bitches under primary veterinary care. This identified neutering itself and early-age incontinence. The findings were published in two papers in the Journal of Small Animal Practice,1,2 and can assist veterinary professionals when making evidence-based recommendations on neutering and its timing.

Professor Nick Bacon

We have been funding clinical veterinary research for nearly 50 years now, and during this time have helped launch the veterinary research careers of some, now eminent, veterinary researchers, clinicians and leaders. In 1999, Professor Nick Bacon was the PetSavers’ resident in soft tissue surgery and oncology at Cambridge. Now Clinical Director of Oncologic and Soft Tissue Surgery at Fitzpatrick Referrals, and Professor of Surgical Oncology at the University of Surrey, he reflects on his early career in our recently published impact report:3 “I was the lucky recipient of a PetSavers’ grant to fund my residency in small animal surgery. I have done my best to pay that back to the profession, predominantly through trying to contribute to the field of cancer surgery in cats and dogs. PetSavers put me on that path, and it changed my career. I hope together we have advanced the field of cancer care, if even a little.”

Why have an Alumni Group?

PetSavers is a small wing of BSAVA, with ring-fenced funds that come solely from charitable donations, fundraising and legacies. None of the BSAVA membership fee goes to PetSavers. Though we are small we have big ambitions to fund more much-needed small animal clinical research and feel that we can better achieve this with a community of invested BSAVA PetSavers’ ambassadors. We are also keen to encourage and support more practitioners, both first opinion and referral, to undertake research. However, we recognize that practitioners and early-career researchers face challenges in carrying out research and would benefit from guidance and mentoring through the research process.

Therefore, we are delighted to announce the launch of our BSAVA PetSavers Alumni Group to bring together experienced researchers with our younger, newer researchers, dedicated BSAVA PetSavers volunteers and supporters. As part of the Alumni Group, we will pair more inexperienced researchers who wish to have research guidance with volunteer mentors. If you have previously been awarded a BSAVA PetSavers’ grant and would like to offer your help as a research mentor or have previously volunteered for PetSavers and would like to join the Alumni Group, please email us at petsaversadmin@bsava.com.

Professor Clare Rusbridge

Professor Clare Rusbridge, one of the first BSAVA PetSavers’ Residents and recipient of several BSAVA PetSavers’ student grants was one of the first to join the Alumni Group. She said: “PetSavers funds clinical research that will translate into a tangible benefit to general veterinary practice. In doing so they also provide opportunities and inspiration to the young researchers who may become leaders of their field in the future. The veterinary student doing a PetSavers-funded summer project may be the professor of the future. The postgraduate embarking on a PetSavers-funded master’s may end up running a research team.”

Our team of alumni ambassadors will promote and celebrate the impact of BSAVA PetSavers, raising awareness of our work in the veterinary community to potential donors and prospective grant recipients. They will also be a resource of veterinary research expertise, which is crucial for the work of our committees, and together we hope to increase the status of veterinary research within the profession. An excellent example of BSAVA PetSavers-funded first opinion practice-based research is a study conducted by Vicky Ironside and colleagues which investigated risk indicators in cats with preclinical hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Increased left atrial sizes and higher baseline NTproBNP concentrations were found to help identify cats with preclinical HCM which go on to develop cardiac-related events. The findings were published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery,4 and won Vicky the BSAVA PetSavers Veterinary Achievement Award in 2021 for their relevance to practice.

Who is eligible to join the Alumni Group?

The group is free to join and is open to:

  • Any past BSAVA PetSavers (or Clinical Studies Trust Fund) grant holders / coapplicants / researchers who made a major contribution to the project
  • Past BSAVA PetSavers Committee members (from both the PetSavers Management Committee and Grant Awarding Committee)
  • BSAVA Trustees / Board members

The benefits of membership

Alumni group members will receive biannual newsletters which they are welcome to contribute to, with details of recent successes and calls to action, as well as a copy of our annual impact report. They will also be granted access to an alumni discussion forum, allowing networking, collaboration and the celebration of veterinary research, and can volunteer to be part of our mentoring programme providing academic and research guidance to a paired researcher. We plan to hold an annual gathering, likely a lunch at BSAVA Congress, to which alumni will be invited.

How can you get more involved with BSAVA PetSavers?

Dr Rosie Godfrey

You can join one of our committees: the BSAVA PetSavers Management Committee oversees the running of BSAVA PetSavers and helps develop its strategic direction, while the Grant Awarding Committee assesses grant applications and awards research funding.

We aim to have a BSAVA PetSavers representative on each BSAVA regional committee and a Student Representative with responsibility for BSAVA PetSavers at each veterinary school to raise awareness and organize fundraising for us. We are always looking for people to help fundraise for BSAVA PetSavers in an individual capacity or as a group, on a one-off basis or more regularly. Being a BSAVA PetSavers alumni, donor, fundraiser, volunteer and/or legatee is a great opportunity to help the small animal veterinary professions move forward into a stronger evidence-based future.

Please join us.
Rosie Godfrey
BSAVA Chair PetSavers Management Committee

 If you would like to join the alumni group or find out more about any aspect of BSAVA PetSavers, please email:  petsaversadmin@bsava.com.

Even if you are really busy, stay connected with what we are doing by following us on Facebook or Twitter.

Further information on the impact of BSAVA PetSavers and the type of research we fund can be found at  https://new.bsava.com/petsavers/our-impact/.