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OVC professors honoured for research excellence

Two Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) researchers are among the inaugural recipients of new University of Guelph internal awards recognizing research excellence and innovation. 

The initial recipients of the U of G’s new Research Excellence Awards and Research Leadership Chairs were announced last week.

Dr. Shayan Sharif, in OVC’s Department of Pathobiology, has received a Research Leadership Chair, and Dr. Thomas Koch, in OVC’s Department of Biomedical Sciences, has received a Research Excellence Award. 

Created by the U of G's Office of Research and the Office of the Provost, the awards will be made annually.

“The awards recognize both researchers who are embarking on stellar careers and those whose research successes already set them apart from their colleagues in their disciplines globally,” said Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research) in University of Guelph news release. 

Dr. Shayan Sharif, Ontario Veterinary College, University of GuelphA professor of poultry immunology at OVC, Sharif studies how the chickens’ immune system responds to viral pathogens. In particular, Sharif has developed more effective vaccines for avian influenza virus. He leads the U of G’s Poultry Health Research Network, a network of over 60 poultry experts who study basic biology, environmental concerns, food safety, and poultry disease, nutrition and welfare. The network is a focus for research, as well as industry collaboration and outreach. Sharif also serves as Emergency Management Coordinator for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) partnership along with involvement in numerous research initiatives across the U of G campus. 

Dr. Thomas Koch, Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of GuelphKoch, who was recently recognized with a 2016 Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, focuses his research on stem cell biology, tissue engineering-based therapies and regenerative medicine. In particular he is studying the potential of stem cells to repair damage to joints and cartilage. His work on equine stem cells for cartilage repair includes finding better ways to treat horses, as well as using the horse as a model for testing new therapies for humans. Koch is also a founding member and current vice-chair of the North American Veterinary Regenerative Medicine Association.

“Drs. Sharif and Koch are among our best: they were nominated by their peers, not only because of their outstanding scholarly accomplishments, but also because they are exemplary citizens of the University of Guelph”, says OVC Dean Jeff Wichtel. “The Chair and the Award are well-deserved acknowledgements of their continued commitment to research excellence in their respective disciplines, and highlight once again OVC’s strengths in translational medicine, food animal production, food safety and security.”

Research Excellence awards are a one-time, $5,000 award. Early career faculty who are one to two years post-tenure are eligible. Research Leadership Chairs are for well-established faculty who have demonstrated research excellence. The $15,000 awards are for three years, with a possible extension to five years.

Read the entire news release on the University of Guelph website.

(First photo: Dr. Shayan Sharif; Second photo: Dr. Thomas Koch)