Tag: community service (Page 1 of 2)

Leading the Way to the Future of Veterinary Medicine

“Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality.”– Malala Yousafzai

Dr. Claudia Sonder leads a mini horse to safety in the aftermath of recent fires near Napa.

As a community, I know we all grieve the loss and devastation associated with the multitude of fires in northern California that our regional neighbors are experiencing. In times of natural disaster, we stand ready to assist the animal victims and their owners caught in the path of these fires. We have a number of activities already underway and resources available to respond to official county and state requests. We provide our assistance to address regional needs as we have always done in times of necessity.

A rendering of the exterior of the future Equine Performance Center.

This week we launch a new beginning for our school as we “lead the way” toward the future of veterinary medicine. Our plans and dreams for a new Veterinary Medical Center build upon the legacy of our past and the vision of our future. The need for these improvements has been amplified with this week’s fire disasters, as our facilities harbor those animals in need of our care and offer relief for our neighbors through our outreach programs. We seek to create the future, by building on the accomplishments and dreams of those that have come before us, building new trails in research discoveries that advance the health of animals, people, and our environment.

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Addressing Societal Needs by Combating Antimicrobial Resistance

“Infectious disease exists at this intersection between real science, medicine, public health, social policy, and human conflict.” – Andrea Barrett

As part of our school’s vision, we seek to address societal needs. In challenging ourselves to this daunting task of working to solve the most vexing problems our world faces, we find our people and programs drawn toward the interface of science, public health, and policy. In opening remarks at the recent G20 Conference, Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, praised Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel for recognizing that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major threat to the health of the world’s populations and the future of economies of the many countries.

He indicated that as many as 700,000 people worldwide are already dying each year because of drug-resistant infections and that the cumulative economic cost of AMR will reach 100 trillion dollars by 2050, a cost primarily borne by low and middle income countries. The Secretary-General went on to suggest that “by implementing existing international commitments and recommendations of the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Organization for Animal Health, countries can promote a more appropriate use of antimicrobials in a true ‘One Health’ framework.”

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Celebrate the Act of Giving

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” -Napoleon Hill

Students at the 2016 Evening of Gratitude.

We celebrate the act of giving to others and creating dreams during our annual “Evening of Gratitude.” This is a special night and one that I look forward to each year. Our school’s 2017 scholarship and grant program provided $6.7 million in total support for our students this year! We are deeply grateful for the generous support of our individual, association and corporate scholarship donors who make these new and continuing awards possible.

Dr. Anjolie Daryani with her service dog, Ebony, who accompanied her to classes and events, including commencement.

An example of new investments in our students included the “Ebony Compassionate Care Scholarship Fund” created by Dr. Dustin Noack (DVM, 2014), our first Evening of Gratitude speaker, and Dr. Anjolie Daryani (DVM, 2015) for a student who demonstrates exceptional compassionate care for animals. Their compassion will pay forward to benefit the next generation of veterinarians from UC Davis.

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Passion is the Secret to Success

“Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” – Swami Sivananda

Our school’s recent #1 rating in the QS World University Rankings for the third year in a row is a reason to celebrate. This honor is a form of validation that brings us praise from around the world and a much-deserved chance to highlight our excellence. We must remind ourselves also that rankings have little to do with our daily motivation or our work habits. These rankings do offer us the chance to shine a light on our achievements and lend us an opportunity to acknowledge those that set the stage for this lofty honor.

So how are these rankings determined and how did we obtain such recognition? Certainly, these types of rankings are based on both subjective and objective data. The scholarly output by our people documents the impact that our discoveries have in the world of veterinary sciences, as well as agricultural and biomedical sciences. Our faculty are driven to produce new knowledge, change paradigms, and challenge dogma. The result of their work opens new doors to basic mechanisms of life’s processes, produces new standards of care for our animal patients, and creates novel findings that build on the foundation of scientific knowledge to advance the health of our world. 

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Enhancing Global Food Security

You must look within for value, but must look beyond for perspective.”- Denis Waitley

The Health for Animals and Livelihood Improvement (HALI) Project is a collaborative research and capacity building program investigating health at human-animal-environment interfaces in Tanzania.

Recently, I was privileged to be an invited speaker at the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Global Food Security Summit: Understanding the Role of Animal Health and Well Being in Washington D.C. The summit participants included a diverse group of organizations discussing the positive benefits of public and private stakeholder partnerships and the veterinary community to promote and enhance global food security. Among other goals, the summit defined the role of animal source foods in enhancing global food security and described ways to improve animal health to create a more secure, sustainable, safe, and nutritious food supply in areas of global food insecurity.

Participants of the summit were made aware of the stark reality that approximately 75 percent of the world’s poorest people get their food and income by farming small plots of land, and the critical role of animal-sourced proteins in the first 1000 days of life to prevent malnutrition and childhood stunting. It is relatively easy to lose perspective for the plight of the world’s poor in the developed world where food sources are taken for granted. In our daily lives, it is assumed we will have access to multiple sources of nutritious food, even though we may make poor choices in the foods we choose to eat.

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Entering a Brave New Phase

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” – George Bernard Shaw

A nearly completed student services and administration building

 As the year 2017 begins, our school is entering a brave new phase of development. Our vision to lead veterinary medicine and address societal needs requires us to never rest to seek novel ways to expand the horizons of our profession, seek expanded knowledge to understand life’s processes, and educate the next generation of veterinarians and scientists. This upcoming year will mark the opening of a student services and administration building, bringing together for the first time, teams that include information technology, student and academic programs, human and financial resources, development and alumni relations, and the dean’s office under one roof. The building will allow a more cohesive and integrated approach of these support teams to directly interact and serve the school. We are deeply grateful to our clients and campus leadership who provided the funding for the project. In addition, a new Scrubs Cafeteria will open in March, providing an expanded menu and enhanced services for the Health Sciences District. This next phase of development will provide a fresh gateway to our campus from the Arboretum, reminding us of our responsibilities to safe guard the health of our environment.  

Surgeons and staff prepare a horse for arthroscopic surgery on it’s hock.

This year, we will further advance our plans for a comprehensive Veterinary Medical Center, focused on the initial phases that include an equine performance center, livestock and medicine facility improvements, and an all-species imaging center. The Veterinary Medical Center will transform the experiences of our animal patients and their human companions through innovative building designs, coordinated patient care, and unique technical advances. We have already begun the initial renovation of existing facilities to expand exam room space and test prototype designs for the future small animal hospital phases. The 10-year plan must be carefully choreographed to ensure that patient care operates smoothly throughout the coordinated phasing of the overall project. We have raised over $90 million dollars from university sources, foundations, and private donors to allow the initial designs of the project to remain on track. Our challenge will be to continue to seek funds from multiple sources to meet our ambitious goal to define the future of veterinary clinical and translational medicine. 

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Do What is Necessary to Achieve the Impossible

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Francis of Assisi

As a society, we face many challenges in our ever-changing world. The tumultuous events of this past year have changed many people’s perspective on the future. Our planet is threatened by climate change and human-made toxins that threaten us and the animals that share our environment. Closer to home, we are confronted with increasing pressures to provide high quality education for the next generation of scientists and veterinarians, while the state and federal resources for higher education are under siege. On a daily basis, our staff and faculty strive for excellence, but face challenges ranging from the intense competition for grant funding to crowded exam rooms. Our students struggle to find time for their own wellness, while under the stress of an intense curriculum and the cost of paying back their student loans. We all have our burdens to bear, which can seem impossible to overcome, especially during a holiday season that may inadvertently add the pressure to feel happy when we may not feel like rejoicing. 

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A Season of Gratitude

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” Henry Van Dyke

Students at the 2016 Evening of Gratitude to honor donors and recipients of our scholarship and fellowship awards. Photo by Don Preisler/UCDavis © 2016 UC Regents

Students at the 2016 Evening of Gratitude to honor donors and recipients of our scholarship and fellowship awards. Photo by Don Preisler/UCDavis
© 2016 UC Regents

I am very thankful in this season of gratitude for all the people who comprise our school and come to work each day bringing their talent and passion to advance the health of animals, people and our planet. Our students’ energy drives us to accomplish our educational mission, bringing light to our days as they inspire and challenge us. Our donors show their appreciation of our students through scholarships that help them reach their dreams of becoming veterinarians and scientists. I am proud of the many ways we have been able to increase financial aid and scholarship support, reducing our students’ financial burden. These efforts have allowed us to hold the line on tuition and fees since 2011, which have only increased slightly in the past six years to keep pace with inflation.

Hannah Laurence (on right) explains her research at the American Society of Clinical Investigators (ASCI) Joint Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Photo credit: Randy Belice for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Hannah Laurence (on right) explains her research at the American Society of Clinical Investigators (ASCI) Joint Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo credit: Randy Belice for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

This support for our students is rewarded back to us through their good deeds and accomplishments for our society. A recent example was Hannah Laurence, a third year veterinary student. Hannah was brave enough to take time out of her veterinary program to accept a prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellowship to perform research at the University of Colorado. Her research data revealed a new mechanism of how Zika virus modifies cells to accomplish replication and was recently published in Science magazine. Her example reveals how rewarding it is for us to attract such talented students to our program and for the support they receive to advance their career opportunities.

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A Vision for our Future

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” – William Shakespeare

Dean Michael Lairmore listens to a speaker at this year's commencement ceremony.

Dean Michael Lairmore listens to a speaker at this year’s commencement ceremony.

As I begin my second term as dean of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, I am humbled and honored to continue to lead an institution that is the global leader in veterinary medicine. Our vision over the next five years will undoubtedly continue to be guided by the desire to lead veterinary medicine and address societal needs. As we advance the health of animals, people, and the environment, we must continue to examine how we can refine our goals and tactics if we are to remain a world leader.

Blanca Camacho, a 2016 graduate, checks on a dog prepared for treatment with the linear accelerator.

Blanca Camacho, a 2016 graduate, checks on a dog prepared for treatment with the linear accelerator.

To continue to educate leaders in veterinary medicine in all its many facets, we will need to seek out ways to diversify our faculty, staff, and students to fully reflect our society. We must continue to expand our innovative programs to recruit students who are both academically strong, but also reflect the demographics of the society they seek to serve. They cannot all be focused on one career path, but be trained in and willing to serve in the vast array of careers offered to veterinarians and scientists with unique biomedical knowledge and skills. Our faculty must be leaders in their fields, to maintain our leadership position in research, education, and service, but also reflect the diversity of our society.

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Looking to the Future

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” – George Bernard Shaw

Time Magazine Video Unit videotapes Laboratory Technician Cheyenne Coxon in the One Health Institute Laboratory for an upcoming feature on the One Health program.

Time Magazine Video Unit videotapes Laboratory Technician Cheyenne Coxon in the One Health Institute Laboratory for an upcoming feature on the One Health program.

As I look toward the future of the School, I am struck by the incredible impact our people make in our society, advancing the health of animals, people, and the planet. This past year brought us many accolades as we relished the accomplishments of our students, staff, and faculty. The numerous stories that originated from our dedication ranged from cases of individual animals that were made healthy by the exceptional care provided by our talented clinicians and staff, to major discoveries that will set the stage for research into problems faced by our society.

Whitney Engler (who died in 2015 shortly before graduating) and her dog Rosie.

Whitney Engler (who died in 2015 shortly before graduating) and her dog Rosie.

We also had heartbreak in 2015 with the tragic death of one of our students, and we suffered along with the victims from the Valley and Butte fires. Most of these events could not have been predicted at the beginning of 2015, but we faced them with the courage and dedication that make us a global leader in veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences.

We have many ambitious goals for 2016, including the opening of two major facilities: the Veterinary Medicine Student Services and Administration building and the new South Valley California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory in Tulare.

South Valley California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory in Tulare

South Valley California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory in Tulare

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