Lisa A. Fortier, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, assistant professor of large animal surgery at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, received this year’s “Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence,” which recognizes outstanding research effort, productivity, and the advancement of knowledge in areas relevant to veterinary medicine. The award is intended for an outstanding faculty member at an early stage of his or her career. The award was presented during the annual Pfizer lecture and reception held at the college in Ithaca, N.Y., on Nov. 29.

In addition to her role as an equine orthopedic surgeon, Fortier investigates the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms in connective tissue involved in the development of arthritis. For example, cartilage provides the protective covering on the ends of bones and allows for pain-free joint movement. When injured, it has a very limited intrinsic capacity for repair, so the end result frequently is arthritis. Fortier’s research focuses on ways to use special cells with known regenerative powers (embryonic equine stem cells), platelet-enriched plasma, and drug therapies to augment the body’s mechanisms for repair of cartilage and connective tissues

Robert Gilmour, PhD, associate dean for research and graduate education at the vet school, said, “In both the human and equine athlete, arthritis leads to joint pain, lameness, and loss of performance. It is believed that studying the disease process in horses will lead to advances in human treatment. I am pleased we are able to honor Dr. Fortier with this award. She has identified an area of research that will benefit the equine athlete, and perhaps one day the human athlete as well.”