Texas A&M Alumnus Receives First Mark L. Morris J. Investigator Award

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Dr. Kathryn Meurs, an alumnus of the Texas A&M; College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), was awarded the Morris Animal Foundation’s Mark L. Morris Jr. Investigator Award. Meurs received the award based on her work in the genetics of cardiac disease in companion animals. As a leader in the field, she has identified the genetic roots of a number of cardiac diseases in dogs and cats. The award is the first of its kind and focuses on the most common source of canine heart disease-canine mitral valve disease.

Dr. Kathryn Meurs

Meurs, who currently serves as professor and associate dean for research and graduate studies at North Carolina State University, said support from the award will help further her research team’s efforts in identifying genetic variations that lead to mitral valve disorder in dogs. Additionally, this research could be used to create genetically based treatments and preventions.

“I firmly believe that once you really understand a disease etiology, you can most effectively develop treatments for the primary disease and gradually remove, or at least reduce, the disease prevalence in the population,” Meurs said.

Meurs completed a Ph.D. in genetics and a cardiology residency at Texas A&M; University. Additionally, she holds a DVM from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also completed a small animal rotating internship at North Carolina State.

“I think that Mark would be both pleased and honored that Dr. Meurs will be the first recipient of this award,” said Dr. Bette Morris, Morris Animal Foundation board trustee, and wife of the late Dr. Mark Morris Jr. “Mark would recognize the importance of understanding the etiology of heart disease as a first step toward preventing the occurrence of the disease and improving treatment.”

“As a graduate student, Kathryn combined high energy with high integrity, being extremely productive without taking shortcuts,” said Dr. James Womack, distinguished professor at the CVM and Meurs’ Ph.D. advisor. “She was the perfect person to bridge the basic science of genetics in my lab with the clinical sciences of Dr. Matt Miller and other clinical advisors. It is obvious that she has continued to excel as a scholar and international leader in the study of cardiac diseases in companion animals. I feel extremely honored to have perhaps played a small role in the early stages of her distinguished career.”