Tag: public 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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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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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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Scientific Questioning Shines Light in the Darkness

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” –– Albert Einstein

We are privileged to work in an academic environment that promotes questioning of dogma and promotes scientific investigations to create new knowledge to benefit society. We also find ourselves in a time in our nation’s history in which the scientific method may be in disrepute by some of our political leaders. Ideology and “alternative facts” have captured headlines and represent a direct challenge to the role of science as a driver of policy making. As a scientific community, we must now more than ever, focus our attention on how we can contribute evidence-based facts to guide our nation’s direction if we are to contribute to solving the problems in our world. We must lead by example and create new knowledge to serve society and advance the health of animals, people, and the planet we all share.

A good example was the recent UC Davis conference to discuss how academic institutions can help African nations meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of access to clean energy and water, sustainable food production, and healthy lives and well-being. The conference brought together speakers that included Madame Mathilde Mukantabana, ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States, and Ms. Genevieve Maricle, former senior policy advisor to the U.S. ambassador at the U.S. Mission to the U.N.  The conference featured our faculty throughout the day, including Dr. Woutrina Smith, who discussed “Linking Sustainable Development Goals Health Research and Livelihood Improvement: The HALI Project in Tanzania.”

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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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Celebrating Success and Envisioning the Future

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” – William Pollard

#1 rankingWith the announcement today that our school has been ranked for the second straight year as #1 in veterinary science in the latest QS World University Rankings, we celebrate our success and envision the future.

This latest ranking is a tribute to our people and programs and is a well-deserved recognition of their dedication to provide innovative and compassionate clinical care, make ground-breaking discoveries, and educate the next generation of leaders in veterinary medicine. This achievement would not be possible without the commitment of our supportive university collaborators and administrators, alumni, community volunteers, and philanthropic partners who have invested their time and resources into making us the best-in-class among veterinary institutions.

Dr. Xinbin Chen in one of his research laboratories in the Center for Companion Animal Health (CCAH) at theUniversity of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Chen is part of the The Comparative Cancer Center, within the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, brings together a team of veterinary clinicians and researchers working to end suffering caused by cancer and finding new treatments in the process.

Founded upon a principal that we will discover new knowledge to advance the health of animals, people, and the environment, this past year we continued to lead the nation in total research funding among veterinary colleges and schools. Our clinical programs treated more than 50,000 animal patients last year, while raising the standards of care for animals through an ever-expanding clinical trials program.

Educating the next generation of leaders in veterinary medicine, research, and public service, we annually train more than 550 DVM students with a curriculum built on modern adult-learning theory that is designed and delivered by acclaimed faculty and staff members. Our specialty training programs consistently produce leaders that set the standard in veterinary specialty practice. Our graduate students and postdoctoral scientists create new scientific knowledge that changes existing paradigms and challenges existing scientific thinking while opening new worlds of discovery. Our research and service programs extend throughout California and around the world. Our clinicians and scientists work collaboratively across disciplines to advance both human and animal health in subjects ranging from cancer to environmental toxicology.

22281894694_ed6f62710f_kWhile we rejoice, we must not become complacent. We have much left to achieve if we to accomplish our strategic goals and keep our preeminent position. Our many challenges are a reflection of those faced in higher education and in our society. We are confronted by the constant challenge of balancing our resources from the State of California, while seeking new partnerships that help us invest in our amazing programs. We must use novel ways to bridge across disciplines to expand career opportunities for our students and to build teams that create new ways to understand our world and gleam new discoveries from the massive amounts of data that surrounds us.

Our efforts to become a more diversified, dynamic, and inclusive community must not waiver if we are to grow stronger in facing the future. Our researchers’ work is to understand how life works, but they will need to constantly seek new ways to approach their science if they are to find solutions that address societal needs. We live during a time of human-made influences that have altered our planet in unprecedented ways, creating new paradigms for how we must restore our environment and learn how to be better stewards of our natural resources to improve the lives of animals and people.

Thus, while we take a moment to celebrate, we must embrace the same values and principles that brought us to this moment in time, as we prepare for the future and what lies ahead.

Supporting Each Other Leads to Success

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

CAPES surgeryIn doing our daily work we sometimes can feel overwhelmed by the pressures of our jobs, events in our lives, or the demands we place on ourselves. Our society, families, and our careers can seem to demand more from us than we are capable of delivering. For veterinarians this has been described in a variety of terms, including “compassion fatigue.” Whether you are a graduate or veterinary student, staff or faculty member, or even a dean, we all may feel overwhelmed at times.

Our ability to be resilient during times of stress may be drained by things beyond our control, leading us to feel we are alone and our tasks ahead of us impossible to complete. In our school and university, we have many resources to support the mental health and wellness of our people. New efforts have been created to bring that support in public view to be shared for the benefit of all, including the new campaign, “Each Aggie Matters.”

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