Virginie Gaillard and Franck Peron portraits

Credentials: 

V.G.: Doctor of Pharmacy and Pharmacology • R&D Program Manager

F.P.: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, DVM, PhD • Animal behavioural specialist  Board-certified in Animal Welfare

Homebase:

V.G.: Royal Canin Discover, Birth and Growth Team

F.P.: Royal Canin Develop, Global Scientific Support Team

Where in the world: Montpellier, France

 

The ones who brought the idea to life

 

At Royal Canin, there are three main phases in R&D and Innovation: Discover, Develop and Deploy. Involved at the beginning of a project, the Discover team is hands-on and tends to stay that way over the long-term. The Develop team is the second stop, and they pretty much do what the name implies, developing both projects and products the Discover team has deemed ready to go to the next phase. When both of these departments have taken a project as far as they can, it gets moved along to the Deploy team.


Doctor Virginie Gaillard, Pharm D, PhD, is leading the Birth & Growth Territory in the Discover team at Royal Canin. Doctor Franck Peron, DVM, PhD, is part of Develop, the Global Scientific Support Team.
Working together on many projects, they realised they shared a dream: to tap into the wealth of knowledge possessed by those breaking new ground in the world of newborn and puppy health for pets. This shared quest inspired Doctors Gaillard and Peron to envision and bring the Royal Canin Puppy & Kitten Expert Board to fruition. And with it, a way for leaders in the field of newborn and paediatric pet health to support and collaborate with their departments in order to promote long-term well-being for cats and dogs in conjunction with Veterinary practitioners.

Both a pharmacist and a pharmacologist, Dr. Gaillard worked in the pharmaceutical industry, first as lead pharmacologist and lab head in a cutting-edge biotech -- then as an independent expert before bringing her vast knowledge to the veterinary world. Dr. Gaillard has extensive training in statistics and project management as well as in clinical trial experience. It is the synergy of all these areas of expertise that she feels enables her to drive research projects for pets in a safe and efficient way. The goal, always: to answer the unmet needs of pets, pet owners and pet professionals.

It is a goal that Dr. Peron shares. As a vet on the Global Scientific Support Team, Dr. Peron’s job is to provide the scientific substantiation behind the claims made by Royal Canin. Put simply: his role is to be the guardian of the science behind the products. And he is a scientist through and through. Dr. Peron always wanted to be a veterinarian - but also an ethologist, one who studies animal, or human, behaviour, especially as it occurs in their natural habitat. This area of expertise definitely swayed Dr. Peron as he recommended veterinary leaders to take part in the project.

 

“The goal: to answer the unmet needs of pets, pet owners, breeders and veterinarians.”
— Dr. Gaillard, Doctor of Pharmacy & Pharmacology

 

Both see themselves as the happy parents of the Puppy & Kitten Expert Board. It was a huge challenge and an example of true collaboration. In creating the board, they brainstormed and selected the board experts together – both agree that they found this exciting and difficult at the same time due to the level of scientific talent from which they had to choose - conducted the interviews and organised the meetings in addition to recruiting a technical writer to support the project. The opportunity to have experts at the top of their fields exchanging and debating on topics of interest for the future well-being of the pets of the world was and is exciting and infinitely informative. The overarching topic, called DOHaD (Developmental Origins of Health and Diseases), or Programming, is quite a young science – it has only been around since the 1980’s. And while very dynamic when it comes to humans and a lot of other species, up till now there has been comparatively little study of pets.

Their hope is that by gathering together experts from very different perspectives (reproduction, neonatology, nutrition, microbiota, growth, genetics...) but all related to Programming and having them meet up and brainstorm together periodically could only benefit our feline and canine friends going forward.

2 questions with Dr. Franck Peron


What do the initials behind your title stand for?

A lot of time studying! Here is the breakdown: DVM, I think this one is clean, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. MSc is for my Master’s degree in Compared Psychology. This one is a bit long: Dip ECAWBM(AWSEL). It says simply that I am a Diplomat of the European College for Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine with a sub-specialty in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Laws.

What would you be if you weren’t a scientist?

I would have been a dancer. I took ballet classes when I was young, and even not so young – but then I had to decide between dance academy and ‘classic’ school. As you can see, I made a choice. But dance still moves me and I do it every chance I get, so it is still a part of my life.

 

2 questions with Dr. Virginie Gaillard

What would you tell to someone who intends to adopt a kitten or puppy?

One of my pharmacist friends was consulted by a grandmother. The woman’s 4-month old grandson was suffering with really bad regurgitation and GI discomfort. Speaking with the woman, the pharmacist discovered that the baby had never been given baby formula - since birth, he had only had sweetened flavoured milks (more fun!). What’s more, the little one had been given bits of finely chopped steak for the past few days, quite challenging without teeth. And far too early. Listening to this, I guess you’re as horrified as my friend and I were. But giving adult food to your just adopted puppy or kitten is exactly the same. They have specific needs, in nutrients, in texture, and pet owners should really make sure they get food adapted to their early life stage.

What would you be if you weren’t a scientist?

I think that what I do is the only path for me. However, dreaming a bit, I would love to be either a singer or a florist. Both allow one to express a creative side. But, as I sing like a Spanish cow and I’m not manual at all... I’m a scientist! If I had to go back again and choose, I wouldn’t change anything. My career has been exceptionally satisfying and it feels good to know we are making a difference for cats and dogs all over the world.


“I wish I could give cats and dogs the ability to express their needs and emotions verbally. ”

— Dr. Peron, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Meet other members of the team

Alex German portrait

The one who knows prevention is the best sure

Alex German

Royal Canin Professor of Small Animal Medicine - Specialist in Small Animal Internal Medicine

Learn More
Sylvie Chastant portrait

The one looking after mothers & their offsprings

Sylvie Chastant

Veterinarian -
Specialist in Reproductive and Developmental Biology

Learn More
Pascale Chavatte-Palmer portrait

The one who helped give birth to a new science

Pascale Chavatte-Palmer

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine - Director of BREED research unit

Learn More

A Healthy Start in Life

Puppyhood is a time of massive physical and behavioural change, and a steep learning curve for new owners. Find out how you can provide your puppy with the best start to life so they develop into strong, healthy dogs.

Puppy and kitten playing with red ball