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Cornell veterinarians Smith, Riis receive prestigious awards from New York State Veterinary Medical Society

Two veterinarians in Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine, Donald F. Smith and Ronald Riis, were honored by the New York State Veterinary Medical Society (NYSVMS), Sept. 29, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Smith, who served as dean of the Cornell veterinary school from 1997-2007, was named the New York State Veterinarian of the Year. He is credited with setting the course for Cornell's pioneering efforts in biomedical research by establishing infectious disease, cancer biology and oncology, and mammalian genomics as emerging academic priorities his first year.

Dr. Smith receives the award With help from the NYSVMS, Smith played a role in securing funding from the state to build the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell. "The supportive relationship between NYSVMS and Cornell has done much to advance veterinary medicine in New York State," said Smith. "The state's funding of a new Animal Health Diagnostic Center at the College of Veterinary Medicine is just one example of the benefits derived from this strong relationship," he said. Now that he has stepped down as dean, Smith plans to stay at Cornell to teach and also explore special opportunities concerning the veterinary profession, in particular the relationship of companion animals to the family structure in America.

Smith earned his D.V.M. degree from the University of Guelph in 1974. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Riis, an associate professor of ophthalmology, was recognized with this year's Outstanding Service to Veterinary Medicine award.

He earned his D.V.M. degree from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1971, and his master's degree in veterinary ophthalmology in 1975; in 1976 he earned diplomate status in the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists.

"I am proud of many things in my career especially my work on cataract and retinal degenerative diseases and surgery," said Riis. The New York State Veterinary Medical Society, headquartered in Albany, represents the more than 3,500 licensed veterinarians in New York state.

by Krishna Ramanujan