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K-State Today

April 26, 2021

College of Veterinary Medicine presents research excellence award to Butch KuKanich

Submitted by Joe Montgomery

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Hans Coetzee, left, and Frank Blecha, right, present the 2021 Zoetis Animal Health Award for Research Excellence to Butch KuKanich.

The College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University presented its highest research award during its annual Phi Zeta Research Day activities on March 2: The 2021 Zoetis Animal Health Award for Research Excellence. Butch KuKanich was chosen as this year's recipient. He is a professor and assistant department head in the anatomy and physiology department. 

KuKanich's research focuses on methods to improve analgesia in dogs and determine drug metabolism and interactions in dogs. An important aspect of his research is to minimize the risk for veterinary drug diversion and misuse by people. His research includes preclinical and clinical research, and he enjoys the extensive research collaborations he has developed within K-State and with colleagues at other institutions. KuKanich also serves as a collaborator in pharmacology studies to improve animal welfare for many species of animals, both domestic and exotic. Among KuKanich's accomplishments is that students he has mentored have been awarded 11 times during the annual Phi Zeta Research Day. 

"The Zoetis Research Award is such an honor to receive," KuKanich said. "This award would not be possible without the contribution of the great research collaborators, students, veterinary nurses, interns and residents who are part of the research teams. In addition, the support of the Comparative Medicine Group, Department of Anatomy and Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Kansas State University has played a key role in my program. I feel that our teams' applied veterinary research findings are making a large impact on the veterinary profession." 

"Dr. KuKanich is an exceptionally creative and productive pharmacologist working at the forefront of pain management in companion animals," said Frank Blecha, associate dean for research. "His current multi-investigator clinical trial is aimed at determining safety and efficacy of oral long-acting analgesic formulations for dogs with naturally occurring osteoarthritis. In his 15 years of work at K-State, Dr. KuKanich has published nearly 10 research publications each year, a truly remarkable accomplishment." 

KuKanich earned his bachelor's and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from Virginia Tech. He then completed a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University and while there became a diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology. KuKanich practiced in small animal veterinary clinics for a combined time of eight years before joining the faculty at the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine. 

For his work in veterinary science, KuKanich was named in the top 2% of researchers in the world according to a recent Stanford University study. He received the Dechra Analgesia Prize in 2020 for the manuscript "The effect of fluconazole on oral methadone in dogs." KuKanich has 144 peer-reviewed manuscripts, mentored 72 student authors on peer-reviewed publications, 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts in support of interns and residents and 63 research abstracts. He has served on two graduate student committees as chair, 14 graduate student committees as committee member and as an external committee member for five doctoral students including four international students. He also has mentored 20 students in the Veterinary Research Scholars Program at K-State, one McNair Scholar and four students in the Developing Scholar Program, all at K-State.

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