Equine surgeon earns prestigious orthopaedic award

Dr Wayne McIlwraith at work at the CSU Orthopaedic Research Center.
Dr Wayne McIlwraith at work at the CSU Orthopaedic Research Center.

Renowned equine surgeon Dr Wayne McIlwraith has become the first veterinarian to be honored with a prestigious career award from the Orthopaedic Research Society.

McIlwraith, University Distinguished Professor and founding director of the Colorado State University Orthopaedic Research Center, received the Marshall R. Urist MD Award last weekend.

It is given for “excellent and sustained contributions to tissue regeneration research as it relates to the musculoskeletal system”. He earned the award for a career of outstanding achievements in cartilage repair and regeneration, and for his role in educating and training the next generation of orthopaedic researchers.

The New Zealand-born veterinarian received the award and a $5000 honorarium at the 2014 Orthopaedic Research Society annual meeting in New Orleans, and delivered a lecture to meeting attendees.

McIlwraith is world-renowned for pioneering arthroscopic surgery in the horse and for research in translational medicine that provides insights for horse and human health.

McIlwraith, a Massey University graduate in 1970, estimates he has operated on about 14,000 horses since the early 1980s, including some of the world’s most prized horses. He was a consultant to the New Zealand equestrian team for four years, attending Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000.

Born in Oamaru, he graduated with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science with distinction and is now an Adjunct Professor at Massey University. He promotes research partnerships with industry through the University’s Equine Partnership for Excellence.

The Orthopaedic Research Society Awards and Recognition Committee wrote: “Your research has had a profound and lasting impact on our understanding of joint pathology and repair, the development and validation of animal models of joint diseases, surgical technologies, intra-articular therapies, cartilage resurfacing, gene therapy for osteoarthritis, and the use of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine strategies.”

McIlwraith’s research program is “the epitome of strong translational research,” the committee said.

In October 2013, McIlwraith received the Jacob Markowitz Award, another distinguished career-achievement award, from the Academy of Surgical Research. The Markowitz Award recognizes outstanding contributions to medicine through the art, science, and technology of experimental surgery.

Massey Professor of Equine Clinical Studies Chris Riley says Professor McIlwraith has had an unparalleled career in equine orthopaedic research.

“The impact of his work and leadership in the profession, and the equine industry in general, will continue to influence the veterinary profession well into the foreseeable future,” Professor Riley said.


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