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Penn Vet Alumni: Leading the Way Around the World

By: Kristen McMullen Published: Feb 24, 2017

Christine Adreani, V’01, PhD, completed a large animal surgical residency at New Bolton Center in 2005 and passed the surgical boards in 2006. After working in private practice for three years, she took a position in the pharmaceutical industry, first at Merck and then with her current employer, Sanofi, in Boston. She currently serves as a Director in the Translational In Vivo Models Global Research Platform, supporting Sanofi’s early-stage drug pipeline.

At Merck, she worked with a dedicated and talented veterinary technician from Haiti, Cesaire Gai, who was interested in helping his native country recover after the 2010
earthquake. Gai inspired Dr. Adreani to bring her professional expertise to the country. For the past two years, they have joined a group of health care workers traveling to a village outside of Léogâne, Haiti, for a week in August. The group has helped the village address their nutritional and economic needs by establishing a goat farming cooperative.

The meat goats, which have superior genetics to the native Haitian goats, were brought in to Haiti by the non-governmental organization Global Health Action. These goats help to provide more food and financial security to the residents than traditional subsistence farming methods. The health care workers treated the herd for minor medical conditions, such as parasitism and skin infections, and trained the owners in breeding methods, preventative care, nutrition, and care of neonatal animals.

Unfortunately, the village lost a number of animals, including one valuable breeding buck, in Hurricane Matthew. Adreani and Gai have resolved to help them build the herd back to its previous level and continue expanding the breeding program; they are aiming to increase their travel to two trips per year to accomplish this goal. Adreani noted that it is challenging to leave her family and job behind to travel to Haiti, but both have been very supportive of the endeavor.

After a postdoctoral fellowship in marine biology at the University of Miami, John F. Allen, C’65, V’68, began his marine mammal career with the Naval Undersea Center in Hawaii. He then was Manager of Marineland of New Zealand and Curator of the Jaya Ancol Oceanarium in Jakarta, Indonesia. He has published several scientific articles dealing with marine mammal medicine. After practicing marine mammal medicine for many years in Hawaii, New Zealand, and Indonesia, Dr. Allen is currently retired and living in Vancouver.

Angela Frimberger, V’90, is a biologist, veterinary oncologist, small business owner, and volunteer climate advocate and educator. In 2003, she co-founded Veterinary Oncology Consultants in New South Wales, Australia. Dr. Frimberger has published extensively in the veterinary, human oncology, and basic science literature on the subjects of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and photodynamic therapy, as well as bone marrow transplantation and hematopoietic stem cell biology. She has given presentations at veterinary and human oncology and basic science meetings in Australia, the United States, Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Frimberger is also interested in environmental concerns and, in 2014, she was trained
as a Climate Leader by the Climate Reality Project and the Australian Conservation
Foundation. She recently initiated the Climate Vets project (

After earning his American Board of Veterinary Practitioners Diplomate in Canine and
Feline Practice, Zeev Gans, V’97, returned to Israel in 2005. He worked in private practice for three years while also serving as a VIN Endocrinology consultant from 2005 until 2015. In 2008, Dr. Gans co-founded the first private small animal specialty practice in the country, Knowledge Farm, where he serves as the hospital’s Medical Director of the Medicine/Emergency Service. He served as the President of the Israel Companion Animal
Veterinary Association (ICAVA) from 2013 to 2015 and recently started an executive MBA
program at a local university.

Walter Hylton, V’70, notes that his strength as a volunteer has always been the ability to demonstrate and teach helpful procedures through hands-on sessions in the field. As a volunteer consultant working through USAID’s Farmer-to-Farmer Program, he has completed 40 assignments in Armenia, Russia, Vietnam, Lebanon, India, and Liberia.

He has collaborated with farm workers, herdsmen, and veterinarians on individual farms.
After getting a tour and an overall picture of the farm operation, he asks about the types of
health problems they have, such as lame or infertile cows. He has performed surgeries such as correction of displaced abomasum, a caesarian section, dehorning, castration, prolapses, and enucleation with anesthesia protocols. These procedures give him the credibility to give advice on milking procedure, cow comfort, herd health, breeding programs, dairy management, and nutrition. He composes a final report for each assignment that is translated and delivered to the host farm or practice.

Going from farm to farm with local veterinarians as they make their rounds has allowed
Hylton to observe the health and productivity challenges they face, and to compare their
approach to U.S. practice standards. He said that the fact that he cut his teeth on small, tiestall dairies in New England in the 1970s has been very helpful in working on small farms
with limited technology.

Hilton Klein, V’80, took his first overseas trip to Sussex in the U.K. to do infectious disease research and diagnostic work in commercial chicken flocks using ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) technology, which was in its infancy at the time.

After joining Merck Research Labs in 1985, he was assigned to be the lead on construction of a new neuroscience lab and vivarium in Terlings Park, Harlow, England, and then took on the part-time role of Named Veterinary Surgeon for the site. He also served as the consulting laboratory animal veterinarian to the Merck Safety Assessment facility located
in Riom, France.

In his early years with Merck, Dr. Klein traveled to Cuba in 1993 as a special consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), to evaluate research infrastructure focusing on lab animals, laboratory diets, and facility management. While there, he had a two-hour dinner with the late Fidel Castro at the home of the Caribbean regional director of WHO and the Pan American Health Organization in Havana. As part of the trip and evaluation, he also traveled to several out islands by helicopter and boat in search of nonhuman primate
colonies (cynomolgus and African greens).

In the late 1990s and into the 2000s, he traveled to European sites part-time and took on
another vivarium, lab design, and construction project outside Rome, Italy.

As he closed out his career as a lab animal veterinarian, he co-chaired a large project for
Merck to evaluate outside labs in Asia. Klein spent time in China, India, Indonesia, the
Philippines, and Singapore, evaluating labs’ capacity to perform high-quality in vivo research studies in various species such as mice, rats, and nonhuman primates.

Dr. Klein commented, “Probably the best thing about international work, first and foremost, is the richness and diversity of thinking and approaches to veterinary medical and research issues from others around the world. Coming from Penn Vet, I always felt well-trained to contribute to whatever effort we were working on. And if I didn’t know, I could always adapt basic principles to the issue at hand—something we learned at Penn, again!”

Jack Leonard, V’79, has been working and teaching in Egypt since February of 1981. He started with clients in the Pittsburgh area who were importing Egyptian Arabian horses to the United States. His parents had Arabian horses, so he grew up around the industry and showed Arabians during his youth. In Egypt, he helped select the horses and did pre-purchase exams on them—pre-testing for a variety of foreign diseases such as African
horse sickness and piroplasmosis. After final selection, he gathered and loaded horses onto the aircraft and flew back to the U.S. with them. He has personally flown with 150 horses over the years.

“In Egypt, there are many breeders of not only Arabians but also racehorses, warmbloods,
polo horses, and endurance horses. Once I started to work, the word got around that there
was an American veterinarian in town,” Leonard said. He started doing more veterinary
consulting along with the import-export work.

“Veterinary services and technology were very limited in those days, unlike today. We
slowly began to improve things, but I realized that if veterinary medicine was to flourish
there, I had to affect a new generation of veterinarians. I began to take on young Egyptian
students and teach them the principles of equine medicine and surgery that I learned largely at Penn Vet,” Leonard continued.

During those years, he was also running Fox Run Equine Center in Pittsburgh—but juggling two practices on opposite sides of the world was not an easy feat. “I sold Fox Run
Equine Center to Dr. Brian Burks, who also helped me in Egypt for some years. I eventually
turned over most of the practice in Egypt to Dr. Karim Attaya, who is doing a great job,”
Leonard said.

These days, Leonard is mostly involved in teaching. “Egypt has certainly enriched my life,
and I have tried to give back as much as I can,” he said.

Jay C. Sweeney, V’71, is a world-renowned expert in marine mammal medicine. He began his veterinary career working with SeaWorld and the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program, and went on to provide veterinary support to countless marine mammal facilities around the world through his international consulting practice.

Dr. Sweeney is currently co-owner and President of Dolphin Quest, which includes Dolphin Quest Bermuda, offering inspirational interactive experiences, educational programs, and support of vital marine scientific studies. They have also contributed millions of dollars in financial and in-kind support of conservation efforts and university-level scientific studies,
generating hundreds of published scientific works that are helping researchers find solutions to the threats that dolphins and whales face in the wild all around the globe.