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Dean's Message

By: Joan C. Hendricks Published: Aug 2, 2013

By the time you read this issue of Bellwether, 125 students from the School of Veterinary Medicine will have proudly accepted their diplomas as members of the Class of 2013. Amidst the pomp and circumstance, this annual procession always reminds me of the many ways that Penn Vet shapes the future of our profession. As our graduates become clinicians, researchers, industry leaders, and more, they represent the highest level of educational training, showcasing to the world how veterinarians uniquely understand medicine in a way that all species benefit.

In an op-ed for the Huffington Post this spring, I shared how veterinarians approach medicine with a global perspective, supporting public health, playing a critical role in food safety and production, and providing integral research to help prevent and control diseases.

As you know, veterinarians receive training as rigorous as doctors of human medicine, as necessary for the only clinical profession that treats many different species.

We have a unique perspective for helping both the animal and human population by providing findings around diseases that animals and humans share – both infectious and non-infectious – and by ensuring our food supply is both safe and plentiful.

Or, as I like to say, veterinary medicine is the profession that stands between all of humanity and plague and famine.

And yet, given all that, the veterinary profession is still largely misunderstood. While veterinarians will always be needed to treat our companion animals, it is our ability to link animal science to human well-being, to advance food production and safety, and to provide critical defense from global pandemics that mandates continued support of the highest level of veterinary education.

One of the best ways to illustrate the continually growing role of veterinarians, I believe, is to highlight Penn Vet’s ongoing dedication to progress and innovation. And it all boils down to three simple words:

PENN VET LEADS.

Throughout Penn Vet’s rich history, we have led the way in advancing veterinary medicine, all the while changing how our profession is viewed. 

In this issue, you will read some incredible examples of how Penn Vet leads in three distinct categories:

·         Collaboration

·         History of firsts

·         Global impact

Our expert clinicians and researchers collaborate with the best minds across the University and around the world to advance medical and scientific research. On page XX, you’ll read how we are breaking new ground in equine sports medicine through a variety of national and international collaborations. And on page XX, we focus on Dr. Charles Vite and his collaborative efforts with scientists from medical schools across the country to treat Niemann-Pick Type C disease in both animals and children.

Our history of firsts translates to unparalleled expertise. As you know, Penn Vet is the birthplace of many veterinary specialties such as cardiology, dermatology, and neurology. Our cover story perfectly illustrates this point by turning the spotlight on Dr. Colin Harvey, who is retiring from his position as Professor of Surgery and Dentistry after a remarkable 47 years at the University. The first Professor of Veterinary Dentistry in North America, Dr. Harvey pioneered many modern dentistry methods right here at Penn Vet.

Lastly, our research and training make a broad and deep global impact. One such example is our Swine Teaching and Research Center, which has influenced producers across the world. The article on page XX highlights the Unit’s ongoing interactions with Swiss Village Farm to create a diversified collection of rare breed animals available to both research scientists and the general public. 

It is my hope that you will join me in sharing these stories – and many more – as key proof points of how Penn Vet leads. We are equipped to be the best ambassadors for our field and for our School, and I look forward to seeing our efforts continue to make a lasting impact.