Texas A&M Researcher Recognized By American Veterinary Medical Association For Work On Canine Spinal Cord Injuries

Story by Courtney Price, VMBS Communications

Dr. Jeffery feeling a dog's wrist joint
Dr. Nicholas Jeffery

Dr. Nicholas Jeffery, a professor at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (VMBS), received the 2023 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Clinical Research Award for his work developing treatments for spinal cord injuries in dogs.

The Clinical Research Award, given annually by the AVMA Council on Research, recognizes one veterinarian who forges new paths in patient-oriented research through notable achievements in the diagnosis, prevention or treatment of diseases in animals. These achievements can include the study of mechanisms of disease, therapeutic interventions, clinical trials, development of new technologies and epidemiological studies.

“Dr. Jeffery’s dedication to clinical research and his significant contributions to veterinary medicine and neurology are truly inspiring,” said Dr. Lori Teller, outgoing AVMA president. “His innovative approach and rigorous scientific inquiry have brought about game-changing developments in the treatment and understanding of spinal cord injuries and other neurological conditions. We are incredibly proud to honor his accomplishments with this award.”

“Dr. Jeffery is an internationally recognized leader in veterinary clinical trial development,” said Dr. Jonathan Levine, head of Texas A&M’s Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. “He’s an innovator who is always exploring new ways to treat difficult diseases, and he’s relentless in challenging conventional thought. His perspective is vital to our educational, research and service missions and more broadly toward our new Next-Generation Small Animal Teaching and Research Hospital project.”

Jeffery, who joined the Texas A&M University faculty in 2016, studies spinal cord and nervous system injuries in dogs. Jeffery’s key achievements include foundational research on spinal cord injury in dogs, the development of novel diagnostic tools and therapeutic strategies, and the direction of impactful clinical trials.

“I try to work on problems that come up in the clinic and devise research projects to find out how to get better treatments and also try to help other people to design and analyze their research projects,” Jeffery said.

Jeffery also was instrumental in defining MRI-based features of injury, which are still used to aid in the diagnosis and delivery of therapies. His most recent research has centered on data analysis, particularly quantifying the variability and individuality in functional testing outcomes in animals with spinal cord injury to optimally replicate laboratory studies and to use this information to ensure rigorous translation of intervention effects between species.

His work has resulted in more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, many of which have significantly influenced veterinary and biomedical practices worldwide. His textbook, “Handbook of Small Animal Spinal Surgery,” has become a critical resource for students and practitioners alike.

In addition to his research, Jeffery has shown a commitment to education and mentorship. He has mentored 18 doctoral students and numerous neurology residents, many of whom have gone on to establish careers in academia and industry.

His contributions as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Small Animal Practice have provided invaluable guidance to aspiring researchers and clinicians in the field. He is also a founding member of the Canine Spinal Cord Injury Consortium, a group of veterinarians who have agreed to work together to investigate how to improve therapy for spinal cord injuries in dogs and how they can be used as a model for human medicine.

Jeffery, a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons and Neurology and a Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, began his career in London with the opening of the city’s first private small animal specialty practice. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, a postdoctoral fellowship from the University College London, and a master’s degree in clinical trials design from the University of London. Jeffery joined the Texas A&M faculty after serving at the University of Cambridge and the University of Iowa.

“Because research — especially clinical research — is dependent on coordinated team effort, this award also honors my collaborators, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has worked with me over the decades for their contributions in time and effort to our shared research projects,” Jeffery said. “Although often frustrating to carry out, clinical research is central to improving the care we provide for our animal patients.”


For more information about the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of VMBS Communications, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu, 979-862-4216

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