Dr. Dickson Varner, professor and Pin Oak Stud Chair of Stallion Reproductive Studies in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) at Texas A&M University, has been named the recipient of the David E. Bartlett Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Theriogenology (SFT) and the American College of Theriogenologists (ACT).
Established in 1971 and named after the ACT’s first president, the award honors excellence in theriogenology, or animal reproduction, and is presented to one person annually. Varner will receive the award at the SFT/ACT annual conference this July in Asheville, North Carolina.
The award honors Varner’s work in equine theriogenology, which includes assisted reproduction, stallion fertility, and in-vitro preservation of stallion sperm. He played a pivotal role in starting the stallion reproductive studies program at the CVM, and his innovative research has helped position the CVM as one of the top research and clinical facilities for stallion reproduction in the world.
Varner was instrumental in developing the use of procedures and technologies used worldwide in the equine industry, including new methods for examining and preserving sperm.
“I feel very honored,” Varner said. “It's no different than when a football player gets an award. He never accepts it himself. It's a team effort. It's the same in academia. It's based on a team effort. The recognition is for our group, as opposed to me as an individual. It's definitely an honor — a humbling experience — to get a lifetime achievement award.”
As an avid horseman, Varner values working closely with those in the equine industry and considers it an integral aspect of his research. “We’ve had a lot of contacts with people in the industry, and that's one area that you have to really focus on to be successful. You have to know the industry. You have to immerse yourself in the industry,” he said.
“Dickson has been a friend and colleague for over 30 years,” said Dr. Katrin Hinrichs, professor and Patsy Link Chair of Mare Reproductive Studies at the CVM. “Throughout that time I have marveled at his ability to juggle the demands of clinical practice, academic leadership, and his varied personal interests, while still maintaining his enthusiasm and productivity in innovative research. He is so deserving of this recognition!”
“Dr. Varner’s pioneering work in theriogenology makes him particularly worthy of the David E. Bartlett Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, Carl B. King dean of veterinary medicine. “The passion and dedication Dr. Varner shows for his research is inspiring. We are proud of this outstanding achievement.”
Varner received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture at the University of Missouri in 1976. He then went on to earn his DVM from the University of Missouri in 1978 and a master’s from Texas A&M University in 1990. Varner is a diplomat of the ACT, an honor he earned in 1984.
“I thank the Society of Theriogenology immensely for bestowing upon me such an admired and respected award,” Varner said. “My most enduring friendships emanate from my interactions with the Society of Theriogenology and the American College of Theriogenologists. While I have many outside interests and affiliations, the discipline of theriogenology is my professional lifeblood, and the pulse of the society and college beats within me each and every day!”
Varner has been a faculty member at the CVM for over 30 years. He said his research and clinical group is like family.