Celebrating the 2018 El Blanco Award Recipients

The School of Veterinary Medicine is pleased to announce that the 2018 El Blanco Award recipients are: Tom and Julie Atwood, and the DMARLOU Foundation in memory of Dorothy & Martell Kaliski. This award recognizes significant contributions that animal owners and other benefactors have made to clinical veterinary medicine by presenting afflicted animals for clinical studies, offering hypotheses and evaluations of therapy, and supporting clinicians at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) who pursue novel diagnostic or therapeutic methods.

Tom and Julie Atwood receive the El Blanco Award from Dean Lairmore.

Tom and Julie Atwood receive the El Blanco Award from Dean Lairmore.

Tom and Julie Atwood have been clients of the VMTH for 30 years, supporting the education of veterinary students and residents while entrusting the care of their animals to our team of experts. Their partnership has extended to supporting equine research, promoting disaster response preparedness, and hosting events to benefit the school and build philanthropic support for equine health.

They’ve generously supported research efforts to investigate the underlying genetic cause of equine neuroaxonal dystrophy (eNAD), an inherited neurological disease, and the development of a genetic test for eNAD. Their initial donation led to numerous awards that have directly impacted eNAD research and led to the successful grant proposal for a 5-year NIH-funded project to continue studying this disease.

Living in a rural area subject to natural disasters and experiencing a trapped horse and no assistance, the Atwoods created the Horse and Livestock Team Emergency Response program (HALTER) in 2015. The program provides training to veterinarians, community members and first responders in animal incidents—such as trailer accidents, as well as an education program for animal owners on disaster preparedness and response for fires, floods and earthquakes. 

Recognizing the lack of resources for large animal rescue in the six-county North Bay region of California, HALTER has filled a critical gap and successfully responded to and supported both the Valley Fires (2015) and the Napa/Sonoma Fires (2017). The Atwoods have also developed a valuable website repository of resources including training programs, planning guides and emergency resources. In 2016, the HALTER Project received the Awareness to Action award at the FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards Ceremony in Washington, DC.

The Atwoods received the El Blanco Award for their generosity which has led to advances in clinical veterinary medicine and emergency response training, furthered scientific knowledge and genetic testing, and promoted private support for the school. 

DMARLOU Foundation

Barry Joseph and Felipe Santiago accept the El Blanco Award for the DMARLOU Foundation.

The DMARLOU Foundation in memory of Dorothy and Martell Kaliski is recognized with the El Blanco Award for their strong support of the school and clinical veterinary care. The foundation’s longstanding commitment to animal health is demonstrated by their contributions to a number of animal service organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area including the Marine Mammal Center. Initial contact was made through a grateful client who knew of the foundation’s mission and work. Once they learned of the school’s cancer program and initiatives, the foundation stepped forward to provide significant funding to purchase the equipment needed to bring stereotactic radiosurgery to the clinic. This investment was a major achievement for the school, allowing the oncology faculty to advance this unique treatment option for our patients and catapult the service forward as a leader in the field. 

Stereotactic radiosurgery has transformed the treatment plans for many of the hospital’s patients and allowed the team to increase the caseload in this arena, which has contributed to the teaching program for veterinary students and residents, and generated substantial revenue to the hospital. Additionally, by supporting the school’s infrastructure, the foundation has further advanced the related research and scientific knowledge base in veterinary medicine, and launched some important collaborations and programs with the medical physics faculty at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

In 2012, the foundation once again allowed the school to lead the way by contributing to the purchase of a TrueBeam linear accelerator, arguably the most advanced available in the world. The TrueBeam linear accelerator has improved patient care and advanced treatment options in the fight against cancer. This visionary action on the part of the foundation demonstrates their commitment and dedication to animal health. During this time, Dr. Michael Kent had the honor of treating Vanek, a Labrador retriever, who was owned by two of the foundation’s board members—Barry Joseph and Felipe Santiago. Their kindness and commitment to the school is deeply appreciated and truly inspirational for the entire team. 

“I’m so honored to recognize Tom and Julie Atwood, and the DMARLOU Foundation for their steadfast support of animal health and their remarkable contributions to the school,” Dean Michael Lairmore said. “These visionary partners have helped our programs across the board, advancing teaching, patient care and the discovery of new knowledge.”