Julia Klaus and Yasmin Parr win the 2021 Young Scientist Award

The 2021 ABCD Young Scien­ti­st Award, fun­ded by Boeh­rin­ger Inge­lheim Ani­mal Health goes to Dr Julia Klaus (30), of the Zurich Uni­ver­si­ty VetSuis­se Facul­ty, and to Dr Yasmin Parr (28), of the MRC-Uni­ver­si­ty of Gla­sgow, Cen­tre for Virus Research. The award win­ners will deli­ver short pre­sen­ta­tions during the con­gress of the Inter­na­tio­nal Socie­ty of Feli­ne Medi­ci­ne, held vir­tual­ly from 25 to 27 June 2021. Their posters will also be avai­la­ble for viewing.


SARS-CoV‑2 infec­tion in dome­stic cats – Julia Klaus

Cats have been sho­wn to be highly suscep­ti­ble to infec­tion with the seve­re acu­te respi­ra­to­ry syn­dro­me coronavirus‑2 (SARS-CoV‑2), and cases of infec­ted pet cats have been repor­ted world­wi­de. ‘As this virus easi­ly cros­ses spe­cies bar­riers, the risk of poten­tial anth­ro­po­ge­nic and zoo­no­tic tran­smis­sion needs to be inve­sti­ga­ted,’ Julia Klaus explains, adding she also inten­ded to look at the role of pet cats in the cur­rent pan­de­mic and at the poten­tial risk of cats beco­ming a reservoir.

Dr Karin Moe­stl, vice pre­si­dent of the Euro­pean Advi­so­ry Board on Cat Disea­ses (ABCD) com­men­ted: ‘This topic is not only impor­tant to cat popu­la­tions but also exa­mi­nes the poten­tial epi­de­mio­lo­gi­cal role of cats, which is of great impor­tan­ce from a One Health perspective.’


Distin­gui­shing FeLV regres­si­ve­ly and pro­gres­si­ve­ly infec­ted cats – Yasmin Parr

The out­co­me of FeLV infec­tion is influen­ced by the host immu­ne respon­se, with pro­gres­si­ve­ly infec­ted cats having wea­ker immu­ne respon­ses. ‘In our stu­dy, we mea­su­red the humo­ral respon­se in natu­ral­ly expo­sed cats using a novel ELISA to mea­su­re anti­bo­dies reco­gni­zing the sur­fa­ce unit (SU) gly­co­pro­teins in pla­sma, says Yasmin Parr. ‘We found that cats with regres­si­ve FeLV infec­tion had signi­fi­can­tly higher levels of anti­bo­dies again­st SU gly­co­pro­teins, which cor­re­la­ted well with neu­tra­li­sing antibodies.’

Dr Karin Moe­stl added, ‘This new sero­lo­gi­cal assay pro­vi­des the foun­da­tions for deve­lo­ping an anti­bo­dy-based dia­gno­stic test that will allow dif­fe­ren­tia­tion bet­ween regres­si­ve­ly and pro­gres­si­ve­ly infec­ted cats.’ This could allow cli­ni­cians to rapid­ly iden­ti­fy regres­si­ve­ly infec­ted cats that are unli­ke­ly to deve­lop FeLV-rela­ted disease.


ABCD & Boeh­rin­ger Inge­lheim Young Scien­ti­st Awards

‘Our com­pa­ny is stron­gly com­mit­ted to sup­por­ting inde­pen­dent research in the field of feli­ne infec­tious disea­ses, and the Young Scien­ti­st Award repre­sen­ts a won­der­ful col­la­bo­ra­tion bet­ween Boeh­rin­ger Inge­lheim and the ABCD, said Dr Jean-Phi­lip­pe Tro­nel, direc­tor of the glo­bal tech­ni­cal ser­vi­ces for pet vac­ci­nes at Boeh­rin­ger Inge­lheim. ‘We warm­ly con­gra­tu­la­te this year’s win­ners and encou­ra­ge eve­ryo­ne to check out the pre­vious win­ners, most of whom are still very acti­ve resear­chers and con­tri­bu­ting to the health of our belo­ved cats.’

The awards will be offi­cial­ly pre­sen­ted to Julia Klaus and Yasmin Parr during the ISFM Inter­na­tio­nal con­gress, held vir­tual­ly from 25 to 27 June 2021. The 2020 reci­pient of the award was Conor O’Halloran (Uni­ver­si­ty of Edinburgh).

The Young Scien­ti­st Award, crea­ted in 2008, is pre­sen­ted annual­ly to young scien­tists in vete­ri­na­ry or bio­me­di­cal scien­ces, who have made an ori­gi­nal con­tri­bu­tion in the field of feli­ne infec­tious disea­ses and/​or immunology.


Pho­to captions:
Julia Klaus and Yasmin Parr, reci­pien­ts of the 2021 ABCD and Boeh­rin­ger Inge­lheim Young Scien­ti­st Awards.


Julia Klaus and Yasmin Parr win the 2021 Young Scien­ti­st Award