BSAVA Bourgelat Award winner Nick Jeffery to discuss why veterinary medicine is a playground of uncertainty

7 March 2024

The 2024 Bourgelat Award winner, Nick Jeffery, will be taking to the stage at BSAVA Congress 2024 in his lecture, ‘Veterinary medicine is a playground of uncertainty’.

Celebrating the veterinary profession’s unsung heroes, the BSAVA Awards recognise outstanding contributions in small animal veterinary practice. Nick won this year’s highly regarded Bourgelat Award for his outstanding international contributions to the field of small animal practice.

Nick qualified from University of Bristol in the UK and has worked in primary care practice, private surgical/neurosurgical referral practice, basic science laboratories and university veterinary schools in the UK and USA. He specializes in neurology and neurosurgery with diplomas from ECVS and ECVN and PhD in neuroscience and recently has undergone specialist training in clinical trial design and analysis.

Nick Jeffery said: “I chose the title because the lecture will contain the type of material that will not be generally available at BSAVA congress but might be of general interest. The theme will be that there are a lot of things we don’t really know as vets about the diseases we treat and the effects of the treatments we give, but this isn’t something to be afraid of. Instead, it’s one of the things that makes medicine endlessly fascinating, because there is always more to learn.

“For instance, one aspect of the lecture will be to outline some of what we don’t know, and then follow with approaches that might allow us to overcome those problems. It will be focused on neurology since that is my specialty and the lecture appears in that module, but I would hope that the content would be relevant to other disciplines”.

At the time Nick qualified, neurology teaching was fairly minimal and so he came to the discipline in a roundabout way. Nick’s first job as a vet was in a charity clinic, and so he treated a lot of animals that had undergone major trauma. He quickly realised that he didn’t know or remember enough from vet school to feel useful, and so bought and read a lot of textbooks on neurology and tried to learn from there.

He then worked in a referral clinic with Tom Yarrow, treating many dogs with spinal cord injuries, and realised how much more he needed to know about neurology. He later studied for a PhD in neuroscience with Professor Bill Blakemore at Cambridge, and that environment opened his eyes to the possibilities for treatment of very severe CNS diseases.

Speaking about winning the award, Nick said: “I feel highly honoured – partly through receiving an award from the BSAVA, but also more specifically because of the association of this award with a world pioneer of veterinary medicine.

“I’ve also been immensely lucky with the people I’ve worked with – mentors, colleagues, and trainees, they’ve encouraged me to be open to new ways of thinking, always be inquisitive and to question everything, and I’d like to express my gratitude to all of them. I am really grateful to the BSAVA for this award.”

Past recipients of the Bourgelat Award include distinguished practitioners and researchers such as Dr Greg Lisciandro, Laurent Garosi and, BSAVA Past President, Ed Hall. You can find out more about the BSAVA Awards here:

The Bourgelat lecture will take place during the module on Neurology on 23rd March, 12:20pm – 12:50pm in Charter 1, at BSAVA Congress 2024.