Colorado State University Veterinarian Honored with First Kenneth W. Smith Professorship in Small Animal Medicine

Dr. Michael R. Lappin, professor, clinician and researcher with the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital who specializes in feline infectious diseases, is the first recipient of the Kenneth W. Smith Professorship.

Dr. Lance Perryman, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and members of the Smith family will present the award to Lappin this evening during the annual 50th Year Class Reunion dinner, part of the Homecoming celebrations for the college.

"First and foremost, it is wonderful that, in memory of Dr. Smith, an award of this type has been created," Lappin said. "I am extremely honored to have been chosen by a jury of my peers to receive this award. This professorship will allow us to further the science of small animal medicine."

The Kenneth W. Smith Professorship was created to honor the life and work of Dr. Kenneth Smith, a graduate of the Colorado State Veterinary Medicine program and a longtime professor and clinician with the university’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, who died in 2000. He was highly respected and much beloved by colleagues at the school and in the community and by clients, staff and students.

Selected by a committee of faculty, the professorship is awarded to a senior faculty member specializing in small animal care who is recognized for having clinical and teaching skills similar to those for which Smith was well known and respected.

Lappin has been with Colorado State since 1988. His area of specialization is in feline infectious diseases and feline medicine. He holds numerous honors as a researcher and as a teacher.

"I am interested in the health of cats and of people who have cats, especially those cat owners who are HIV positive or living with cancer," Lappin said. "In my research, I’ve examined ways of providing the safest possible environment for cats and for people and I’ve found no reason for these cat owners to surrender their pets because it has been suggested that they present a health risk-quite the contrary, the benefits of cat ownership outweigh the risks in most situations."

Lappin has been engaged in cooperative research with illustrious partners such as Bayer Animal Health, Pharmacia, Schering-Plough, Fort Dodge Animal Health, and Heska Corporation, and has patents pending for new diagnostic tests related to maintenance of feline health. Dr. Lappin has studied diseases such as toxoplasmosis and giardiasis, as well as health problems caused by blood parasites. In collaboration with the Heska Corporation, he is also researching the possibility of testing cats for vaccine needs with a simple annual blood test instead of annual revaccination, thereby reducing many vaccine-related health problems for animals.

"There are so many health-related safety issues facing our companion animals, and so much research to be done that can benefit people and animals," Lappin said. "This professorship is an honor that I plan to use as Dr. Smith would have, to enhance the lives of dogs and cats through research and graduate student training."