Tag: leadership (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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Fall Faculty Reception: Celebrating our Past, Honoring Excellence, and Welcoming New Faculty

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

New faculty members Drs. Blythe Jurewicz and Ilana Halperin

During our Fall Faculty Reception, we welcome new faculty, honor current faculty achievements and recognize those that provide exception service to our school. In doing so, it is a good time for us to reflect upon how our school has obtained its international reputation as a leader in veterinary medical education and scientific discovery. While we recognize only a few deserving individuals during these events, we are reminded that the creativity and energy of our faculty and volunteers drives us to address societal issues, create new and fundamental knowledge, and educate the next generation of veterinarians and scientists.

Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe (left), Chief Executive Officer of the AAVMC, visits with Drs. John Pascoe and Isaac Pessah.

Dr. Helen Raybould is honored this year as the Zoetis Excellence in Research Awardee for her outstanding research clarifying the relationship between diet and the gut microbiome, interactions that have been shown to influence obesity and inflammatory responses. Her research has advanced the understanding of inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic disorders, as well as led to the identification of new targets to treat and prevent obesity.

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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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Innovation and Creativity Lead to Positive Change

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” – William Pollard

We all marvel at those among us that are creative in their approach to life and work. Through the vision of those who innovate, we see creativity put into action—in some cases changing the world. In our society, we celebrate pioneering changes that improve the health and well-being of animals, people, and our environment. Throughout our school’s history, we have always embraced new ideas, cutting-edge treatments, and novel discoveries that bring about positive changes in veterinary medicine and biomedical or agricultural sciences.

Our faculty, staff, and students are eager to explore new ways to educate themselves and those they teach, through educational initiatives that embrace unique technologies to expand our intellectual horizons. This thirst for implementation of new ideas is a founding principle that allows us to maintain our global leadership position in research, education, and service to our communities.

So how do you encourage or promote innovation and creativity? Forbes magazine suggests that the workplace needs to be “relaxed and flexible” to increase productivity and encourage new ideas. Certainly, most would agree that lowering the barriers to sharing concepts includes an atmosphere that encourages a free flow of new ideas. Idea generation supported by an inventive environment is a starting point of the process of positive change. 

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Education as a Tool for the Future

“Education is not a tool for development – individual, community and the nation. It is the foundation for our future. It is empowerment to make choices and emboldens the youth to chase their dreams.” – Nita Ambani

Members of the Class of 2017 came to us nearly four years ago to begin their journey of obtaining a DVM degree. Here they recite the veterinarian’s oath during their induction ceremony.

As our graduates start their journey into the world, we are inspired by their thirst for knowledge, energy, and new ideas. They come to us seeking to be enlightened and in turn shine their radiance on us, stimulating us by sharing their dreams. Throughout their time here, they have challenged us to be better mentors and create opportunities for them to change the world. Our graduate students have discovered insights into topics ranging from the protection of our environment to mechanisms of cancer. Our house officers will be bringing their special skills to grateful clients throughout the world, expanding treatments and setting new standards of care. Our veterinary students will now be called “doctor” for the first time and disperse into fields ranging from private practice to public health, each determined to make a difference in the lives of their animal patients and humankind.

Seems like yesterday that the Class of 2016 were celebrating their commencement.

As our students, residents, and graduate students leave us, they remind us of the power of youth and dreams. Their educational journey started with their desire to gain the knowledge and skills to advance animal, human, or environmental health. They are starting into the post-graduation realm during a time of great possibilities, and many challenges. Each new graduate joins an illustrious history of UC Davis. They have enhanced the school’s legacy of producing leaders who will make a positive impact in the world. For our faculty and staff, I would ask you to reach out to those leaving and discuss their plans for the future; ask them to take a moment to reflect on their time and their fond memories, and forgive us of our short comings. Ask them to believe in themselves, as you know they have worked through difficult years of study to arrive at the place they are now.

In a few short weeks, the members of the Class of 2017 will wear graduation robes in place of these white coats.

We have provided them the tools to change the world, but it is their drive and creativity that allow them to achieve their vision. They came to us to learn, and in the process, taught us many life lessons. Each one of them have expanded the school’s history with their own distinctive stories. Their challenge will be to extend their talents beyond the classroom, clinic, and laboratory to venture into communities across the globe and build the future. Our students come to us as strangers and leave as friends and colleagues that have formed enduring bonds that will last our lifetimes.

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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Welcome Class of 2020: Students Today, Colleagues Tomorrow

Ultimately, education in its real sense is the pursuit of truth. It is an endless journey through knowledge and enlightenment.” A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

29279341312_2e6f9f86ef_kAs we welcome a new class of veterinary students into our UC Davis family, I am struck by how fast summer progressed. Perhaps the fast and turbulent times we live in causes us to forget to pause and observe our place in time. The academic journey is one of constant renewal as each new class of students comes to us to learn the knowledge and skills that will launch them into the world. Our new class of veterinary students, like so many before them, comes to us with their own histories, talents, and dreams. Each of them has their own story to share with us. As we teach them, they will impact our lives, adding to our own tapestry of experiences.

29099653030_401abc3069_kIn the incoming class we have admitted an amazing group of students with a variety of life experiences. Some are experienced bikers, which will fit well with a community that houses the United States Bicycle Hall of Fame! One of the incoming students biked from Vancouver to San Diego. Many students have interest in wildlife. One student served in Ecuador in wildlife conservation; some have worked with non-human primates and bats. These students are drawn to us from our strong history in wildlife conservation, illustrated by the work done in the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center.

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Upholding Principles of Community

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” – Cesar Chavez

Christian Munevar, Class of 2019, at last year's welcoming ceremony.

Christian Munevar, Class of 2019, at last year’s welcoming ceremony.

While the summer is in full swing, we will soon be welcoming our new veterinary student class of 2020. Our Academic and Student Programs teams are busy developing the orientation of these new students as they prepare for the week-long introduction referred to as “Prologue.” From the very beginning, our new students will be welcomed into a diverse community of learners and will hear about our commitment to supporting an environment that supports diversity and inclusion. We strive from their first days with us to impress upon them our shared values and to set a tone for their education and their involvement in our UC Davis community.

Unfortunately, our community, like so many others across our nation, has been rocked by horrific acts of violence and social injustice. The actions of police shooting unarmed African American men and the resulting public outcry are painful reminders of how far our society still needs to go to fully realize social equality and mutual trust among our disenfranchised citizens and our law enforcement community. The hatred that resulted in the killing of police officers in Dallas and Louisiana illustrate again how fringe members of our society can be triggered into violence in the midst of social unrest. Worldwide terror events remind us how fragile life can be when hate, distrust and ignorance rule the actions of a few.

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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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