Faculty / Staff
Joshua Stern, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (Cardiology), Assistant Professor, PI: Stern Cardiac Genetics Laboratory, Resident Program Director - Chief of Service
Dr. Stern, originally from Bristolville, Ohio, obtained his BS (2003) and DVM (2008) from The Ohio State University. He stayed on at Ohio State to complete a small animal internship in 2009. Dr. Stern then began a residency in cardiology at Washington State University and completed it at North Carolina State University in 2012. Dr. Stern also completed a PhD at Washington State University focusing on the genetics of familial subvalvular aortic stenosis in dogs. Dr. Stern’s research is primarily focused on the study of inherited heart disease. Most recently, his research successfully identified a mutation responsible for the development of congenital heart disease (subaortic stenosis) in Newfoundland dogs and the discovery of a mutation responsible for sudden death and long QT syndrome in a family of English springer spaniels. His subaortic stenosis research continues in golden retrievers and Rottweilers. Additionally, Dr. Stern has participated in studies of inherited cardiomyopathies and helped develop tests for genetic heart disease that are available. Dr. Stern’s secondary interest is in pharmacogenomics (how genetics aids in medical therapy) and the interface between it and treatment of heart failure.
Leigh Griffiths, VetMB, RCVS, MRCVS, PhD, Diplomate of Small Animal Surgery (Soft Tissue), DACVIM (Cardiology), Assistant Professor
Dr. Griffiths graduated from Cambridge University in 1995, spent a year in small animal practice and then completed a residency in small animal soft tissue surgery at Glasgow University Veterinary School. In 2000, he earned the Royal College of Veterinary Surgery diploma of small animal soft tissue surgery. In 1999, he accepted a position as a lecturer in small animal surgery at University of Liverpool Veterinary School. Dr. Griffiths is the first veterinary surgeon in the United Kingdom to train as a microvascular surgeon at the world-renowned Canneisburn Hospital. He completed a fellowship in cardiac surgery at Colorado State University in 2003 followed by a PhD and residency in Cardiology. In 2007, he joined the faculty at UC Davis. He provides services for cardiac angiography and non-invasive tests such as echocardiography and electrocardiography. He is also interested in interventional cardiology, including pacemaker implementation, balloon valvuloplasty and patent ductus arteriosus occlusion.
Lance Visser, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Cardiology), Assistant Professor
Dr. Visser is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan and obtained a BS (2007) and combined DVM/MS (2010) from Michigan State University. Following veterinary school, he completed a small animal rotating internship at North Carolina State University in 2011. He then completed a combined residency/MS program in cardiology at The Ohio State University in 2014. Dr. Visser’s primary research interest is the study of noninvasive assessment of cardiac structure and function. Recently, he has studied several novel echocardiographic indices of right ventricular function in the dog. Dr. Visser’s clinical interests are broad and include, advanced electrocardiography, acute and chronic management of heart failure, noninvasive/advanced imaging (echo, CT, MRI), interventional cardiovascular medicine, congenital heart disease, and cardiovascular pathology.
Joao Orvalho, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology), Assistant Clinical Professor based at the UC Veterinary Medical Center - San Diego
Dr. Orvalho, a native of Portugal, is a graduate of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Lisbon. He completed a small animal internship at The Ohio State University and his residency in veterinary cardiology at UC Davis. After completing his residency in 2007, Dr. Orvalho became the School’s first veterinary cardiologist based at the UC Veterinary Medical Center - San Diego. Dr. Orvalho applies non-invasive techniques such as echocardiography, electrocardiography and cardiac angiography to diagnose diseases of the heart. He is also interested in interventional cardiology, including pacemaker implementation, balloon valvuloplasty and patent ductus arteriosus occlusion. Dr. Orvalho's research focuses on pulmonary hypertension as well as interventional and medical therapies for heart disease.
Timothy Hodge, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology), Clinical Cardiology Specialist based at the UC Veterinary Medical Center - San Diego
Dr. Hodge earned his DVM in 2007 from Purdue University. He then completed a rotating small animal medicine and surgery internship at the Animal Medical Center of New York, followed by a cardiovascular research fellowship in Columbus, Ohio. He continued his training with a residency at North Carolina State University and passed his specialty certification examination in 2013 to become a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Cardiology). Following his residency and board certification, Dr. Hodge relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, where he worked as a clinical cardiologist at a busy small animal specialty practice. His expertise lies in diagnosing and treating cardiomyopathy, valvular disease, arrhythmias, and repairing congenital defects in small and large animals. Dr. Hodge has particular interests in arrhythmia management, minimally invasive interventional procedures, and myocardial diseases.
Catherine Belanger, DVM - Resident II
Dr. Belanger was born and raised in Montreal, and received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Montreal, where she pursued a rotating internship in companion animals. Prior to coming to UC Davis, Dr. Belanger pursued a research fellowship on mitral valve disease in asymptomatic cardiac human patients at the Heart and Lung Institute in Quebec City.
Catherine Gunther-Harrington, DVM - Resident III
Catherine Gunther-Harrington was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Physiology and Neuroscience from UC San Diego. Following her undergraduate training, she worked as a marine biologist in Hawaii, Alaska, and New Zealand before attending veterinary school in 2008. In 2012, she received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the UC Davis. She pursued further clinical training during a Medicine and Surgery rotating internship at the North Carolina State University. Dr. Gunther-Harrington returned to UC Davis and joined the Cardiology Service in 2013 for her three-year residency.
Satoko Nishimura, DVM - Resident I
Denise Berger, RVT, Head Cardiology Technician
Denise is a native Californian, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. After attending Cosumnes River College and obtaining her degree in Animal Health Technology in 1992, she worked at two Bay Area private practices as a registered veterinary technician for six years. She came to the VMTH in 1997, working as a technician in Small Animal Patient Care and then as an emergency technician, before finding her niche in cardiology in 1998. Denise enjoys all aspects of veterinary cardiology, but has a passion for electrocardiography, Holter monitoring, and pacemaker implantation and management. In her personal time, Denise enjoys spending time with her family which includes her husband, two wonderful children, three beautiful granddaughters and, of course, several pets.
Judy Schettler, Technician
Judy Schettler began her career at the VMTH in 2005 after working as a veterinary technician in the San Francisco Bay Area for seven years. Before working in veterinary medicine, Judy managed a pet store in San Ramon. Her hobbies include hiking, raising goats, and showing and hunting her Basenji hounds. She and her bloodhound Kalli have retired from many years of search-and-rescue activities. She still trains handlers and their dogs in the techniques of trailing. Judy works with both Cardiology and Dermatology Services at the VMTH.