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Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Researcher Wins Prestigious Veterinary Medicine Award

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute reproductive biologist Dr. Janine Brown has been named this year's winner of the Morris Animal Foundation's Innovation in Veterinary Medicine Award. The tribute celebrates Brown's expansive career in developing pioneering reproductive techniques for wildlife—a body of research that has resulted in better management of animals under human care and the conservation of endangered species in the wild.

Janine's history with Morris Animal Foundation combines serving as the principal investigator on 10 Foundation studies, serving on the Foundation's Wildlife Scientific Advisory board for four years and as that board's chair in 2010, and committing her career to advancing the health of species from tigers to elephants to bears, said David Haworth, president and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation.

Brown joined the Smithsonian's National Zoo in 1991. She currently runs the world's largest and most productive endocrine laboratory, which specializes in the use of non-invasive measures to study the reproductive physiology of domesticated and wild animals. The lab services other zoological institutions in the United States and abroad. Considered a world authority on elephant reproductive biology, Brown helped coordinate one of the first successful artificial inseminations in Asian elephants, and she works with other institutions interested in understanding and overcoming infertility problems in elephant populations.

The Morris Animal Foundation, which will celebrate Brown's honor at a gala in New York Oct. 25, has awarded Brown various grants since 1997 for her projects involving a number of species. The grants have funded work to develop artificial insemination techniques for tigers, to study disease syndromes in black rhinos, to explore pregnancy diagnosis tests in giant pandas, to provide scientific evidence that black bears used for bile extraction on farms in China experience undue stress, to understand and treat elephant infertility problems, to improve pygmy rabbit husbandry for reintroduction and to develop cryopreservation techniques for Asian elephant sperm. Brown served as a member of the Morris Animal Foundation's Wildlife Scientific Advisory Board from 2007 until 2009 and served as the board's chair in 2010. The foundation also funded a number of Brown's graduates students who have gone on to establish successful laboratories and research projects around the world.

The Morris Animal Foundation has been key to so much of my work, Brown said. The Foundation focuses on humane research that is science-based and supports animal welfare, reproduction and health studies, which is what I've dedicated my career to. There's so little funding dedicated to studying and improving welfare and reproductive capacity of managed wildlife and zoo animals, and I'm so grateful to Morris for uniquely filling that niche.

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute plays a key role in the Smithsonian's global efforts to understand and conserve species and train future generations of conservationists. Headquartered in Front Royal, Va., SCBI facilitates and promotes research programs based at Front Royal, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide.