Category: Dean’s Perspectives (Page 1 of 5)

Love and Compassion–Essential to Humanity

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama

On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate our love for others through gifts, flowers, or other expressions of our feelings. Daily, we may observe acts of love and compassion, but not fully appreciate how important these traits are to our feelings of fulfillment and belonging. We are fortunate to work in an environment that celebrates the human-animal bond, which at its core is a mutually beneficial relationship between animals and people, reflected in emotional, psychological, and physical interactions. Scientific research has verified the physiologic effects on both pet parents and dogs who are bonded. Anyone who has been emotionally touched by their pets understands the depths of our love for animals.

Dean Lairmore surrounded by students at the Knights Landing One Health clinic.

We extend our compassion to our community in a variety of outreach programs such as our student-run Mercer and Knights Landing Clinics. These clinics provide healthcare for pets of those in need, but who lack adequate resources. I recently visited our Knights Landing One Health Clinic on a busy Sunday morning. The clinic was a hub of activity with more than thirty students, volunteers, and clients gathered in the local community center. The compassion and dedication of our students was on full display as they interviewed clients and examined anxious pets on make-shift exam tables. Our students’ desire to serve the underserved of our society is a clear expression of their humanity.

Another form of compassion is expressed for our co-workers in their times of need. We express sympathy towards our co-workers following the loss of a family member or in times of severe stress. In addition, while less obvious, we show we care in small acts of daily kindness. The affirmative effects of kindness are experienced in the giver and to those that witness the act of kindness, spreading good feelings and positively influencing the work environment. As we envision our future, we must acknowledge the importance of compassion in solidifying the bonds between us that bring satisfaction in our work and warmth to our souls.

Compassion and love do not always extend to others, but may be just as important when inwardly directed. We must also forgive ourselves and have sympathy for our faults. We need to be aware of our own feelings to be in touch with our thoughts and moods. Self-awareness and the ability to forgive ourselves promote positive feelings and improves our resilience to life’s demands. Taking the time to pause our lives for health and wellness serves to bring self-compassion into our daily routines. When love and compassion become incorporated into our habits, we view them not as isolated gestures, but vital components to our productivity, and critical to our work satisfaction.

Welcoming a New Year With a Focus on Wellness

“Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind, and spirit – the realization that everything we do, think, feel, and believe has an effect on our state of well-being.” —Greg Anderson

Dean Lairmore with his second granddaughter, Juliette, during the winter holidays.

The new year brings a sense of renewal, a chance to begin again, perhaps in a direction that sets our life toward a new course. Holiday breaks, often spent with family and friends, help refresh our bonds with those we love and remind us of who we are in spirit or how we started our life’s journey. As we focus on the future, it is also a time to reflect on the present and to consider what is important in our lives.

Our school has two major strategic planning efforts underway to help us plot our future course. We will soon launch a new strategic plan for our veterinary hospital to gain insight into how we lead the world in veterinary medicine, transforming the lives of animals and humans through compassionate, innovative care. We are also refreshing our current strategic plan to reflect and build on our accomplishments and lessons learned over the past five years.

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Training a Veterinary Workforce to Feed a Hungry World

“We know that a peaceful world cannot long exist, one-third rich and two-thirds hungry.” —Jimmy Carter

Earlier this year, fourth-year students Margaret Austin (left) and Hannah MacDonald received hands-on training at Tulare-area dairies under the guidance of Dr. Wagdy El-Ashmawy.

At UC Davis, we believe deeply in the interdependency of animals, people, and the planet we all share. It is with this core value that we look to the future. To feed a hungry world, we must train a veterinary workforce that is capable of addressing some daunting statistics. According to the 2017 report of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one of the greatest challenges the world faces is how to ensure that a growing global population – projected to rise to around 10 billion by 2050 – has enough food to meet their nutritional needs.

By 2050, food production needs are expected to increase by 50 percent. While global food security requires a complex series of approaches, it is clear that the production of healthy animal-sourced proteins will play a significant role in the solution.

An artist’s rendering of the future Livestock and Field Service Center.

We have come a long way since the inception of our school in the late 1940’s. Delivery of veterinary services and the education of veterinarians have significantly evolved over the past six decades. We are planning our Livestock and Field Services Center to meet these emerging needs of our regional clients and stakeholders, but also to train our students to be ready for the challenge of animal agriculture in all of its forms around the world.

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Supporting Equine Health

“A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, beautiful – and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.” –Pam Brown

Golden Gate Fields racetrack in Albany, California. Photo by Don Preisler/UCDavis
© 2013 UC Regents

Horses have played a key role in the history of California, as an early form of transportation and symbol of the West, to today’s equine athletes thrilling us with their power and grace. Horses touch the human soul with their spirit and beauty. Watching the recent Breeder’s Cup horse racing events held at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club racetrack in San Diego, I marveled at the power and strength of the horses as they thundered down the track. Jockeys in their bright colored jerseys, in rhythm with their rides, flashing by to the roar of the crowd.

Our school has an extensive history of supporting equine health, allowing people that love horses to project their dreams through these majestic animals. A state-of-the-art equine drug testing laboratory to protect the horse racing industry was the dream of the late Kenneth L. Maddy, a California legislator, avid horseman and supporter of veterinary education. He would be proud to know that the Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory, within the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, was recently recognized as one of only five labs by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) as an “IFHA Reference Laboratory.”

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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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Celebrating 50 Years of Global Impacts

“Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable.” – Bill Gates

This weekend we celebrate 50 years of the Masters in Preventive Veterinary Medicine (MPVM) Program. Over the years a legion of veterinarians have completed the MPVM curriculum learning state-of-the-art methods in epidemiology to investigate and evaluate disease and production problems in animal populations and to design, evaluate and implement disease controlprograms. This trans-disciplinary training program engages faculty from across the university including epidemiologists, microbiologists, public health experts, food safety specialists, wildlife disease researchers, and biostatisticians. Since its inception in 1967, more than 1,000 graduates have gone on to top-level governmental, private industry, academic and practice careers in various areas of preventive veterinary medicine throughout the United States and 87 other countries. A forerunner for a One Health approach to solving societal issues, the program has produced outstanding alumni who throughout the past five decades have contributed across a wide spectrum of veterinary and public health issues.

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Future Veterinarians – Welcome Class of 2021

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw

Pictured clockwise from top left: Katie G, Julie O'Neill, Nicole Chodora, Kelsey Woodson, Amanda Garrick, Peter Ellis, Hannah Skolnik

Pictured clockwise from top left: Katie G, Julie O’Neill, Nicole Chodora, Kelsey Woodson, Amanda Garrick, Peter Ellis, Hannah Skolnik

Current events remind us about the importance of values, character, and our personal responsibility in a diverse and democratic society. This week we honor those values as we welcome the school’s 70th class of veterinary students. To celebrate the occasion we provide each new student with a white laboratory coat during an induction ceremony in front of their classmates, faculty, staff, and loved ones.  The “white coat” is a reminder to the incoming class that they have entered a profession with time honored standards and obligations to their patients and society. Our veterinary clients and the public often view the white coat as a symbol of a compassionate healer with unique expertise acquired through the passionate pursuit of specialized knowledge and skills. Importantly, the white coat symbolizes a standard of professionalism and a reminder of the trust that must be earned from the clients, patients, and the public we serve.

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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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