Advancing the health and well-being of animals and people

Scholarship to Benefit Post-DVM Graduate Student


Sometimes a place just means so much. According to his daughter Dr. Christine Saunders, Dr. Leon Z. Saunders PhD ’51 simply had a passion for Ithaca and Cornell, saying, “It was always part of the wallpaper in our lives.”

A native of Winnipeg, Canada, Dr. Saunders was educated at Wesley College and the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, from which he graduated in 1943. In 1948 he arrived in Ithaca to pursue further studies in neuropathology with Peter Olafsen DVM ’26, receiving his PhD in pathology in 1951. Other names like Frank Bloom DVM ’30, Dr. Lennart Krook, emeritus dean George Poppensiek and Dr. John King are like family members to Christine, who has fond memories of traveling to Ithaca when she was a child.

“He always kept in touch with people in Ithaca and at Cornell,” said Christine“He deeply cared about people there.”

Wanting to ensure a lasting legacy for her father and his life-long dedication to the pursuit of academic knowledge, Christine (a researcher at the Center for Molecular Neuroscience at Vanderbilt University Medical Center) and her mother talked about establishing a scholarship here at the College to benefit post-DVM graduate students.

Leon Saunders became head of Pathology and Toxicology for Smith Kline & French Laboratories until his eventual retirement in 1990 from SmithKline Beecham. His scholarship extends well beyond interests of traditional academic pathology, as he was an historian and all-around scholar as well. He published more than 90 articles and six books. He nurtured a special interest in the history of veterinary pathology as well, and published two well-known books on this topic, leading to Saunders’ honorary election into the American Osler Society. He co-founded the international journal Veterinary Pathology, the premier journal in its field, for which he served as managing editor for 25 years. He served as President of the World Federation of Veterinary Pathologists and of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.

He spoke both English and German, but was multilingual in scientific reading and writing. He was well known for his eloquent speech and writing. An avid equestrian, Leon enjoyed horseback riding as well as polo. During his tenure at Cornell, he actively participated on the polo team. He also enjoyed snow skiing with his family, which he did all around the world, including such places as Canada and Switzerland.

Friends wishing to make memorial contributions to the Leon Z. Saunders PhD ’51 Memorial Scholarship may contact Amy Robinson in the Office of Alumni Affairs and Development at 607.253.3742 or