About us

About Us

Established in 1989 as a non-profit trust of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), and governed by a board of Honorary Directors, the ACAHF works to improve pet health through science.

Our purpose is to support and promote research into the causes, prevention, and cure of disease in dogs, cats, and other companion animal species.

Through donations from veterinarians, pet owners, companies associated with the pet industry, and animal lovers, we fund research projects which help to further our knowledge of the cause, treatment, and prevention of clinical diseases.

The types of research projects that are funded are selected on the basis of their direct benefits to companion animals. Some examples include investigations into arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Research typically focuses on gaining a better understanding of a basic disorder, with the aim of improved outcomes in prevention, treatment and animal wellbeing.

Funding for this type of research is typically not available from government or university funding bodies, and research is made possible by gifts and donations.

Anyone can make a gift or donate to the Foundation, and all gifts and donations are tax-deductible. A record of donations is maintained by the Foundation and published in our Annual Report.

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Our Team

The ACAHF team comprises industry leaders, academics, and eminent veterinarians. A Board of Directors oversees the operations, and funds raised and donated are distributed after careful assessment by our national Research Committee which consists of eminent veterinarians from around Australia.

Directors acknowledge and thank the Australian Small Animal Veterinarians (ASAV), a Special Interest Group of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) which generously supports the Foundation. This helps ACAHF to keep administrative costs to a minimum and enables the Foundation to more effectively fund research, to improve pet health through science.

Liz Walker

Liz Walker

Director ACAHF

Liz graduated in 1989 from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Hons).

Liz spent six years in private practice (small animal) and conducted research in veterinary parasitology at Melbourne University before working in the veterinary industry in sales, marketing and operational roles with MARS Petcare, Bayer Animal Health and Gribbles Veterinary Pathology. Along the way, she gained a Master in Management (Marketing) from Macquarie Graduate School of Management.

In 2010 Liz moved into the NFP sector spending four years as CEO at Lort Smith Animal Hospital, the largest companion animal hospital in Australia.

Liz has been CEO at RSPCA Victoria since 2014. Providing animal welfare expertise to multiple organisations, Liz is a member of the Victorian Government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Animal Welfare Committee, and forms part of Racing Victoria’s recently formed Equine Welfare Advisory Council.

"There is an abundance of evidence, as well as a lifetime of personal experience, that confirms that companion animals make our lives better in so many ways. The physical and psychological wellbeing that they bring to people is invaluable, and why so many people, myself included,  describe their companion animals as family members. Despite this, there are very few alternatives available to fund research into the diseases of companion animals, their causes and how to prevent or cure them. I don’t think this meets our obligations to the animals in our lives, or community expectation of the care we must provide to them.  It is, therefore, a great privilege and honour to be a Director of ACAHF and to enable research that leads to significant improvements in the health and wellbeing of the wonderful animals who love us unconditionally and make our lives complete."

Graham and Monique

Graham Swinney

Director ACAHF

Graham graduated from the University of Sydney in 1987. He then moved to New Zealand where he was an Assistant Lecturer in Small Animal Medicine at Massey University from 1988-1990. From 1990-1991 he undertook a medical residency at the University of Queensland.

Graham returned to the University of Sydney in 1993 where he was a Registrar in Small Animal Medicine. During this time he achieved his Fellowship of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in Canine Medicine. From 1999 to 2005 Graham worked as a Clinical Track Assistant Professor at Washington State University.

He returned to Sydney in 2005 and spent the next four years at the Veterinary Specialist Centre before returning to the University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Sydney (UVTHS) in 2009 as a Specialist in Canine Medicine. Since 2011 Graham has been at IDEXX Laboratories, working as an Internal Medicine Consultant and Medical Affairs Veterinarian. He has interests in clinical pathology, endocrinology and gastroenterology.

Graham was a member of the AVA Sydney Metropolitan Practitioners Branch executive last century, and was on the ASAV Executive from 2006 for nine years, including a term as President.

The work of the ACAHF for me is important because it is looking to the future to try and make the health of companion animals better over time. Through the research ACAHF funds, we are trying to determine the causes of different disease, find better ways to manage those diseases, or even see if those disease can be eliminated. This will help Veterinarians in Companion Animal Practice in Australia provide the highest level of service to pets and their owners.

Maureen Revington

Dr Maureen Revington

Director ACAHF

Maureen graduated from the University of Sydney with a BSc (Vet) 1979 and BVSc in 1980. After some time in private small animal practice in Sydney and the UK she took a position as a tutor in physiology in the Faculty of Medicine at UNSW, where she stayed for 7 years, moving from teaching to research, and emerging in 1990 with a Master of Science and a PhD.

After a 5 year stint in upstate New York where her husband Brian Farrow was Chair of Clinical Sciences at Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, Maureen returned to work with former UNSW colleagues at the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute.

Since moving from Sydney to a farm in the Southern Highlands of NSW in 1997, she has been a sheep farmer, clinical editor of the Australian Veterinary Journal, and from 2005 to the end of 2009, was Manager of Continuing Education for the AVA.

In January 2010 Maureen joined Hill’s Pet Nutrition as a Technical Services Veterinarian. She was promoted to the position of Professional Veterinary Affairs Manager for Hill’s Australasia in December 2015. She is also a Category A (veterinarian) member of the UNSW Animal Care and Ethics Committee.

Many worthwhile research projects emerge from veterinary clinical work, but it remains extremely difficult to obtain funding for clinical research in dogs and cats. Human medical research bodies such as the NHMRC may consider proposals that have important applications to people, but even in these cases, veterinary researchers are at a disadvantage if they don't already have promising existing results. The ACAHF fills a gap by funding smaller projects which may be an end in themselves, but would otherwise be impossible to conduct without financial support. Alternatively, other projects supported by the ACAHF are a potential stepping stone to obtaining funding from larger bodies such as NHMRC and ARC.

Philip H Brain

Philip H Brain

Director ACAHF

Philip H Brain graduated from the University of Sydney in 1985 and after 13 years in general practice, completed a residency program in small animal medicine at the Veterinary Specialist Centre, North Ryde, NSW and gained his Fellowship in Small Animal Medicine from the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in 2007.

Phil has been a Director of the ACAHF since 2009.  He served on ASAVA executive for 19 years including a Presidential term, two terms as Honorary Secretary and ASAVA scientific convener for 10 years. Phil was also a scientific convener for FASAVA Congress in Beijing in 2014 and was the scientific convener for the 2017 congress on the Gold Coast.

He was recognized with an AVA Meritorious Service Award in 1999, the ASAVA Distinguished Service Award in 2005 and a special ASAVA outstanding service award in 2010. He became the first veterinarian to receive a Chartered Membership (CMAVA) of the AVA in 2004.

He was recognized with service to veterinary nursing award in 1997 and was the first veterinarian to be awarded honorary membership of the Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia in 2003. He was awarded a fellowship from the AVA in 2007 in recognition of his service to the profession.

In 2016, he received the ASAVA’s Small Animal Practitioner of the Year, a national award.  In 2017, he received the Federation of Asian Small Animal Veterinary Associations- Hills Small Animal Practitioner of the Year, an international award honouring veterinarians in the Asian Pacific region and was the first Australian to be given this award.

Phil is a registered specialist in small animal medicine and is currently practicing at the Small Animal Specialist Hospital (SASH) in North Ryde, Sydney and clinical interests include cardiology, endoscopy and interventional techniques. He also owns a small CE business Brainwaves offering speaking, writing, conference- organising and consultancy work.

The work of the ACAHF is important to me as a practising specialist veterinarian who, despite working at the ‘cutting edge’ of veterinary medicine, is all too aware of the many diseases about which we know little or for which treatment options are limited. The research of the ACAHF is crucial in finding that next breakthrough, that next treatment and, hopefully, that next cure. The ACAHF enables our talented researchers to keep finding more of the answers that veterinarians and our owners and their pets deserve to have.


Dr Alistair Webb

Director ACAHF

Alistair graduated from the University of Queensland with BVSc and first class honours in 1987. Apart from two years in England in the early 90’s, Alistair has worked in small animal and mixed private practice in Toowoomba, Queensland since graduation. He has been a practice owner and exclusively a small animal practitioner since 2004. Alistair completed his ANZCVS membership in Medicine of Cats in 1994.

Alistair has been a committed AVA member since before graduation and has held numerous committee positions and several presidential roles in the Association. He was an AVA Director in 2021-2023 and AVA National President in 2023. Alistair has also been the local branch president for a total of 11 years, Qld Division president in 2000 and ASAV president for 3 years from 2018 to 2021.

He has also been a Category A member and Deputy Chair of the University of Southern Queensland Animal Ethics Committee since 2011. Alistair is also a dedicated Rotarian and a cricket tragic still playing local grade cricket in the summer and Veterans Cricket in the winter season.

Alistair became a Director of the ACAHF in 2022.

I have admired the work of the ACAHF for many years and I am looking forward to contributing to the ongoing success of both the Foundation and the great research work that it enables.

Garth McGilvary (1)

Garth McGilvray AM, BVSc, FAICD

Director ACAHF

Graduating from Sydney University in 1967, Garth established a mixed practice in Coffs Harbour in 1973 where he still provides occasional small animal clinical services and is a member of the practice Governance Board. In the late 1980s he became a director of a veterinary wholesale company, Provet, which expanded to become the largest wholesaler in Australia and NZ. Eventually, as Chairman of Provet, he was instrumental in its listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2010.

He has been a Trustee of the Australian Companion Animal Health Foundation since 1997, was President of the Australian Veterinary Association in 2000, and served as Chairman on the Veterinary Practitioners Board of NSW during the 1990s and early 2000s.

The work of the ACAHF is important to me because it creates a means of supporting clinically related research into the diseases of companion animals. Each year our Research Committee of veterinarians ranks the applications and we then decide, depending on funds available, how many projects can be funded that year. Feedback from the research community has suggested that the Foundation should try to provide ongoing funding for a project that continues until a major problem is solved. It is very exciting to be part of the Foundation as it follows up on this new approach to supporting companion animal research in Australia.

Jacqui Norris.

Professor Jacqueline Norris

Director ACAHF

Jacqueline is the Dean and Head of the Sydney School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney. She is a Professor of Veterinary Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and a recognised specialist in veterinary microbiology from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. She is passionate about practical research projects and education programs for veterinary professionals, animal breeders and animal owners. For example, she is the one of the three designers and founding members of the AMR Veterinary www.amrvetcollective.com which centralizes resources and training related to antimicrobial resistance and stewardship in veterinary science.

Jacqueline is passionate about feline medicine and has been researching the deadly disease of Feline Infectious Peritonitis since 2005, now culminating in a series of clinical trials on the effectiveness of new antivirals for FIP treatment. Her main research areas include: 1) Development of diagnostics and treatments for companion animal viral diseases including feline coronaviruses; 2) Prevention of Q fever and role of companion animals and wildlife in the epidemiology; 3) Transmission and epidemiology of multidrug resistant (MDR) Staphylococcus species in all animals including humans; 4) Knowledge, attitudes and barriers to veterinary antimicrobial stewardship; and 5) Aetiology and diagnosis of chronic kidney disease in domestic and zoo Felids. https://sydney.edu.au/science/people/jacqui.norris.php

The ACAHF is a wonderful source of funding for research in small animals and has facilitated critical research by Australian researchers that has advanced our understanding and approaches to diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases of cats and dogs.

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ACAHF Research Committee

Professor Mark Krockenberger

BSc(vet) BVSc PhD GradCertEdStud FANZVS (Veterinary Anatomical Pathology)
Professor of Veterinary Pathology
Registered Specialist Veterinary Pathologist
Sydney School of Veterinary Science
The University of Sydney

Dr Martin Combs

BVSc HonsSyd MVS
Lecturer in Small Animal Medicine
Charles Sturt University

Dr Anne Peaston

BVSc, DipVetClinStud, PhD, DACVIM-Oncology, FANZCVS-Oncology
Associate Professor, Small Animal Medicine
Clinical Lead, Roseworthy Veterinary Hospital – Small Animal
School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences
The University of Adelaide

Dr Anthea Raisis

Associate Professor; Section Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia
School of Veterinary Medicine
Murdoch University

Dr Wendy Goodwin

Clinical Associate Professor
Director of Research
School of Veterinary Science
The University of Queensland

Dr Bruce Mackay

Founding Director - Veterinary Specialist Services - retired

Professor Nicholas Sangster

BSc (Vet) (Hons), BVSc (Hons), PhD, FASP, Dip. EVPC
Adjunct Professor
Charles Sturt University

Dr Karen Brenner

BVSc (Hons) Dip. ACVIM (Small Animal Internal Medicine)
Centre for Animal Referral and Emergency

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Governance and Annual Reports

The ACAHF is a non-profit trust of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA). Governed by a board of Honorary Directors, the ACAHF works to improve pet health through science.

The ACAHF is a registered Australian charity and operates nationwide. In accordance with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) regulations, the ACAHF reports annually.

Anyone can make a gift or donate to the Foundation, and all gifts and donations are tax-deductible. A record of donations is maintained by the Foundation and published each year in our Annual Report.

For more information on governance of the ACAHF and reporting please see the ACNC Australian Companion Health Foundation page or contact us.