BVA scientific award recognises “untiring efforts” of Professor David Morton CBE

21 September 2017

Professor David Morton CBE has been awarded the British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) most prestigious scientific award at BVA Members’ Day in Belfast (21 September) for his many diverse contributions to veterinary science, medicine and comparative medicine, and to the ethical consequences of our use of animals.

The Dalrymple-Champneys Cup and Medal is presented each year to a member of BVA to mark and recognise work of outstanding merit which it is considered will encourage the advancement of veterinary science.
A graduate of the faculty of veterinary science at the University of Bristol (1961 – 1965), Professor Morton’s 1985 paper ‘Guidelines on the recognition of pain, distress and discomfort in experimental animals and an hypothesis for assessment’ was the first known attempt to promote a structured assessment system for pain and distress in animals. This hugely influential paper, which has received over 2,500 citations, has changed both policy and practice in the UK, the EU and elsewhere; with the hypotheses advanced still used to develop approaches to assessing welfare of animals used in research, as well as in companion, farm and competition animals.
Throughout Professor Morton’s career he has been a key advocate of veterinary engagement in the ethical issues of animal use by society. Almost three decades ago, Professor Morton led the way in highlighting the now widely accepted concept that good welfare for laboratory animals results in good science, and developed and extended these ideas on assessment of pain and distress to assist in providing humane endpoints for animals used in research. He was one of the first investigators to assess the adverse effects of euthanasia and anaesthetic agents in laboratory rodents. These results triggered a major debate on approaches to humane killing of laboratory rodents, and made a significant contribution to the data needed by regulators to make informed decisions on policy.
When the 1985 Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act came into force, it required all research establishments to have a nominated veterinary surgeon responsible for advising on animal care and welfare. However, those vets in the field had no proper training in this area, and those establishments unable to employ a full time veterinary surgeon could not find general practitioners willing to assist. Professor Morton worked with the Home Office to assist establishments in identifying practitioners willing to be involved and established a series of training courses for those working in this field. This evolved into a ‘new named veterinary surgeons course’, which continues today, and a series of courses to prepare colleagues for the relevant Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Certificate and European Diploma.
In response to being awarded the Dalrymple-Champneys Cup and Medal, Professor Morton said:

“It is a great privilege for me to receive this award. One hardly ever deserves such recognition solely because of one’s own actions, but rather those of others who have contributed to, or influenced one’s thoughts and actions. Animal welfare matters for our humanity, for our treatment of animals as well as humans, and the veterinary profession must be at the forefront of this debate.”

As Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Science and Ethics at the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham, BVA’s Dalrymple-Champneys Award adds to the several prestigious awards that Professor Morton has already received including the RCVS Livesey Medal, the Russell and Burch award from the Humane Society of the United States, the RSPCA’s Lord Erskine Silver medal, and a CBE.
Awarding the Dalrymple-Champneys Cup and Medal for 2017, BVA President Gudrun Ravetz said:

“Professor Morton is an exceptional candidate for this award, and it is a great honour to be making this year’s presentation to him. As his nominator said, Professor Morton has been ‘untiring in his efforts to translate his work, and that of others into practice and legislation’ thus not only supporting BVA’s work, and the Animal Welfare Foundation, but enhancing the reputation of the veterinary profession in so many fields.”

BVA Media Office