On November 2, 1807, before a medical school class at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Benjamin Rush, prominent Philadelphia physician and the only signer of the Declaration of the Independence with a medical degree, delivered a visionary speech entitled “On the Duty and Advantages of Studying the Diseases of Domestic Animals, and the Remedies Proper to Remove Them.” Dr. Rush had studied abroad and lamented the lack of a proper veterinary institution in his home country. He eloquently made the case for why an aspiring American physician should “embrace in his studies and labors the means of lessening the miseries of domestic animals.”
Dr. Rush’s pivotal speech ultimately inspired the creation of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine in 1884. As we enter the School’s 130th year, I am constantly reminded of how relevant Dr. Rush’s words remain. Today, veterinarians and researchers at Penn Vet are at the forefront of translational medicine between animals and humans. And we are playing a critical role in protecting public health and food safety, as well as ensuring that animals produce plentiful, safe, and affordable food, using techniques that are sensitive to environmental and animal welfare concerns.
In this issue of Bellwether, you will learn how Penn Vet is playing a critical role in
aiding China’s dairy industry. In September, a group of New Bolton Center experts traveled to China, where they met with dairy farmers and corporations to improve cow nutrition, milk production, and environmental management. Read more about our global impact on page 8.
To encourage veterinarians to contribute to the maintenance and promotion of global public health for both animals and humans, Penn Vet created an innovative leadership development program in partnership with the Wharton School. The Penn Executive Veterinary Leadership Program will enter its fifth year in June (read more on page 12). Combining the knowledge and experience of our veterinary school with that of Penn’s world-class business school, this unique program helps veterinarians refine their leadership skills and get involved in the most pressing global issues that affect animals and humans: zoonotic diseases, food security, disaster preparedness, poverty, and others.
Penn Vet also continues to lead the way in providing the best in veterinary care. One of our many programs of distinction is the Transplantation Center of Excellence at Ryan Hospital (see page 16). As the only veterinary teaching hospital in the nation offering kidney transplantation and hemodialysis under one roof, Ryan Hospital has attracted clients from as far away as Texas, California, Canada, Brazil, and Kuwait.
We have established ourselves as experts in the field – and the media has noticed! In the summer, Dr. Perry Habecker was often called upon to comment on the dolphin deaths along the East Coast. Read more about the important role our pathologists played in uncovering this mystery on page 14.
I hope you will also enjoy our cover story (see page 4), which showcases our leadership role in equine veterinary medicine, as evidenced by the case of Layounne, a wonderfully resilient Thoroughbred mare who underwent successful colic surgery at New Bolton Center.
As friends, alumni, and supporters of Penn Vet, I know that finding out about our programs and accomplishments will inspire you and make you proud. From its earliest days, the School has set itself apart as a leader in research, education, and clinical practice. I look forward to seeing what the future brings as we carry on our legacy of dedication to animal and human health for the benefit of the world.