Skip to content

RCVS Knowledge announces winner of the Plowright Prize

22 June 2022

Dr Herman Barkema, Professor in Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases from the University of Calgary, has been awarded the prestigious Plowright Prize for his research on Mastitis, Johne’s disease and antimicrobial resistance.

Antimicrobial resistance is a major global health concern in both animal and human health. Dr Barkema researches the pathogenesis, prevention, control, and treatment of infectious diseases, focusing on dairy cattle.

He uses epidemiology to study disease pathogenesis, improve management to prevent and control infectious diseases, promote health and wellbeing, ensure the integrity and safety of the food supply, and support animal agriculture and society. His research has many positive implications for both animal and human health.

Dr Barkema is a globally recognised leader in both these areas. His work involves developing, implementing, and evaluating farm-specific disease reduction strategies for cost-effective and sustainable disease control on dairy farms.

Executive Director of RCVS Knowledge Chris Gush said: “The Plowright Prize judging panel were incredibly impressed with Dr Barkema’s dedicated work in bovine mastitis, Johne’s disease, and antimicrobial resistance.”

“His holistic and multidisciplinary work will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the welfare of dairy cows, as well as antimicrobial resistance, which is a growing global issue for animals and humans worldwide.

“We are delighted to fund vital research in the area of infectious disease in memory of Walter Plowright, benefiting animals, the public and society worldwide.”

Dr Barkema said, “I am honoured to receive this prestigious award. It is not only recognition for myself, but for all of the dedicated people I work with. 

“I am fortunate to work with a large interdisciplinary and collaborative research team.

“Thank you very much to RCVS Knowledge for this award.”

Mastitis, an inflammation of the mammary gland, is the most common and economically significant disease in the dairy industry worldwide. The condition is the leading cause of antimicrobial use in dairy cows and affects impaired animal welfare. Dr Barkema is currently conducting leading-edge studies in reducing the use of antibiotics to treat mastitis in lactating cows.

Johne’s disease is an intestinal disease caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP). Dr Barkema has designed a novel MAP eradication program, which is currently being evaluated in a large on-farm field trial. The outcomes of controlling this disease are enormous, due to the devastating effects of Johne’s disease on dairy cows and the potential associations with Crohn’s disease in humans.

Dr Barkema leads the Alberta-wide AMR - One Health Consortium and One Health at the University of Calgary. Both organisations use a transdisciplinary, multisectoral One Health approach. The vision of the AMR – One Health Consortium is to preserve antimicrobial effectiveness by preventing AMR, and One Health at the University of Calgary brings together to address global challenges impacting the health of people, animals, and the environment.  

Dr Barkema’s future research plans include developing, implementing, and evaluating farm-specific disease reduction strategies for cost-effective and sustainable disease control on dairy farms. This includes a performance-based surveillance system which will provide disease control strategies to lower the burden of endemic infectious diseases that will benefit the dairy industry in many ways for years to come.

The next Plowright Prize will open in September 2023, and the recipient will receive £100,000 in recognition of 100 years since Walter Plowright’s birth.

Professor Barkema will officially be presented with the Plowright Prize at RCVS Day on Friday, 8 July 2022.

To learn more about the Plowright Prize, please visit:

Read more news