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2013 Alumni Achievement Awards

June 12, 2013

Five illustrious alumni from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine will be honored this week with the 2013 Alumni Achievement Award. 

The Alumni Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have made personal and professional contributions to veterinary science, veterinary practice or advanced human welfare. The awards are officially presented at the school’s commencement ceremony in June. Honorees may be graduates of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine, MS, or PhD programs, or veterinarians who have completed an internship or residency at the school. 

This year’s awardees are:  

Stephen DiBartola, DVM, DACVIM

Robert Millikan, DVM, MPH, PHD

Roy Pool, DVM, PhD

Susan Stover, DVM, PhD, DACVS

Jack Walther, DVM

Pioneering renal disease research and treatment

Stephen DiBartolaStephen DiBartola, D.V.M. ‘76, Dipl. ACVIM, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University

DiBartola is recognized for his outstanding contributions to veterinary internal medicine as a clinician, educator and researcher. As a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, DiBartola has dedicated his career to investigating and treating animals with renal and urinary tract disease. He has co-mentored and trained 41 residents in internal medicine, of whom 39 have become ACVIM Diplomates as well. He continues to provide education for veterinarians both nationally and internationally.

DiBartola is a noted authority on renal disease in cats and has helped characterize familial renal amyloidosis in Abyssinian cats and polycystic kidney disease in Persian cats. Due to DiBartola’s early groundwork, molecular geneticists at UC Davis were able to identify the abnormal gene in Persian cats and develop a test that allows veterinarians to routinely screen at-risk cats for this genetic abnormality prior to breeding.

DiBartola has published four editions of Fluids, Electrolytes, and Acid-Base Disorders in Small Animal Practice—the leading veterinary textbook on this subject and an educational reference book used by virtually all veterinary schools. He also serves as the co-Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Much of the journal’s growth in quality, impact and prestige has been thanks to DiBartola’s efforts over the past 13 years. 

DiBartola served as the section head of Small Animal Medicine at The Ohio State University (OSU) from 1996 to 2006 and has made substantial contributions to the curriculum at the school. He served as team leader and major lecturer for the Urinary System Core Course for many years and developed and teaches a Clinical Endocrinology Elective course that has been very popular with veterinary students. He also developed a Feline Medicine Elective course. In recognition of his dedicated teaching, DiBartola received the Norden Distinguished Teaching Award from OSU in 1988. 

DiBartola is a resident of Columbus, Ohio.

Bringing hope through genetic epidemiology

Robert Craft Millikan

Robert Craft Millikan, D.V.M. ‘84, M.P.H. ‘91, Ph.D. ’93, Barbara Sorenson Hulka Distinguished Professor of Cancer Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina and Director of the Molecular Epidemiology Facility Core at the Carolina Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility (until his passing in 2012)

Millikan is honored posthumously for his groundbreaking work as a genetic epidemiologist in discovering the causes of breast cancer and for determining the populations of women at greatest risk. His discoveries aided in the understanding of why certain chemotherapeutic drugs were effective only in certain subgroups of women.

Millikan had a particular interest in studying breast cancer and health disparities in African-American women, a population with diminished access to health care and who historically have poorer medical outcomes than other ethnic groups. His seminal findings, published in over 100 papers, and his work through the Carolina Breast Cancer Study have changed the face of breast cancer disparities research.

In 2011, Millikan was awarded a $19.3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute of the NIH for an ambitious study of breast cancer in young African-American women. He was also a lead investigator on the University of North Carolina Specialized Program of Research Excellence in Breast Cancer, which was just renewed by the NCI for $10 million over the next five years. 

Millikan was a much-loved and well-respected teacher at UNC and the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine and influenced a generation of students studying molecular and genetic epidemiology. He co-authored a chapter on genetic epidemiology in Rothman, Greenland and Lash’s Modern Epidemiology—the definitive textbook available today on the topic. According to his colleagues, “there is scarcely an aspect of molecular breast cancer research today that does not have his indelible mark on it.”

Millikan spent a year at University College Dublin as a Fulbright Scholar and was listed by MAMM magazine (devoted to serving the needs of women with breast and reproductive tract cancer) as one of the “Fifty Who Made a Difference in Breast Cancer Research.”

Improving the understanding and treatment of musculoskeletal disease

Roy Pool

Roy Pool, D.V.M. ‘64, Ph.D. ’67, Clinical Professor of Pathology, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine

Pool is recognized as an orthopedic pathologist with a unique desire to improve clinical veterinary medicine through teaching, service and research. He has over 40 years’ experience in diagnostic pathology and specializes in musculoskeletal disease in small animals and athletic horses.

For 25 years, Pool taught courses at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine related to the musculoskeletal system and served as the musculoskeletal pathologist for the teaching hospital. His most notable research endeavors include the investigation of radiation-induced bone neoplasia and dental disease in dogs as well as the pathogenesis of elbow dysplasia, osteochondrosis, and other orthopedic diseases. His evaluation and classification of more than 2,000 bone and joint tumors of dogs and cats formed the basis for the World Health Organization’s “Histological Classification of Bone and Joint Tumors of Domestic Animals” 2nd series, for which he is a co-author.

Pool was also a founding member of the advisory board for what is now the Center for Equine Health and participated in the “Racetrack Breakdown Study,” which characterized catastrophic Thoroughbred racing injuries and helped establish diagnostic protocols for recognizing and preventing some of them. Along with Susan Stover, Pool established a world-class orthopedics research laboratory at UC Davis that further investigates the pathogenesis of racing injuries.

Since joining Texas A&M, Pool has established an Osteopathology Specialty Service that assists small animal and equine orthopedic surgeons and clinicians, radiologists and oncologists in academic and private practice in the U.S. and Europe. 

Pool co-authored more than 160 publications in peer-reviewed journals, textbook chapters and other literature. He has presented more than 250 invited lectures on his specialty at state, national and international veterinary and scientific meetings and has received national and international recognition for his research on the mechanisms responsible for lameness in athletic horses, including the international 1991 Pegasus Equine Research Award. Pool recently was presented the 2013 TAMU VMTH Clinical Service Award for clinical service and cooperation with peers, clients, referring veterinarians, students and staff.

Pool resides in Bryan, Texas. 

Advancing the welfare of racehorses

Susan Stover

Susan Stover, D.V.M. ‘76, Ph.D. ’87, Dipl. ACVS, Professor of Anatomy and Director, J. D. Wheat Orthopedic Research Laboratory, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Stover is honored for her contributions to veterinary orthopedic research, particularly toward understanding musculoskeletal injuries of racing horses and improving racetrack safety. She is internationally known for her work that systematically characterizes equine bone growth and development and its response to repetitive use. After the highly publicized injuries of Barbaro (the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner), and the death of Eight Belles in Triple Crown races, Stover was called upon to testify before a U.S. Senate Sub-committee on Catastrophic Racing Injuries.

While Stover’s individual research is focused on horses, her overall program is comparative in nature and reflects active collaboration with physicians and engineers, modeling microcrack fractures in bone with important implications for a variety of human orthopedic diseases including osteoporosis. One of her seminal studies demonstrated that pre-existing stress fractures preceded catastrophic breaks of the humerus in race horses. On that basis, she proceeded to systematically identify similar stress fractures underlying the pathogenesis of most performance related fractures in athletic horses.  

Using epidemiologic and biomedical engineering studies, Stover has identified risk factors for fracture development, resulting in better early detection, changes in training methods and overall improvements in racehorse welfare worldwide.  She has also directed studies to improve methods of fracture repair, developed new techniques to detect lameness and added substantially to early knowledge of pharmacokinetics of antimicrobial drugs used to prevent equine orthopedic infections. Stover is actively involved in understanding how environmental toxins could induce osteoporosis and in developing computer models of the interaction of horses with racing surfaces to allow further refinements in track safety and improved understanding of musculoskeletal injury. 

Stover is also a highly regarded teacher and role model, having trained more than 70 residents and graduate academic students, many of whom are now in faculty positions, in government, industry or specialty practice. Among many honors, she has received the Norden Distinguished Teaching Award and the Faculty Research Award from UC Davis.

Stover lives in Winters, California.

Blazing a trail in veterinary medicine

Jack Walther

Jack Walther, DVM ’63, Educational Commission for Veterinary Foreign Graduates, Past President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

Walther is recognized for his dedication and leadership to the profession and for his strong commitment to the mentorship of future veterinarians. In the 50 years since graduating from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Walther has led many professional organizations including the Nevada VMA, Nevada Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, Reno Rodeo Association and National Air Race Association.

In 2001, Walther was elected Vice President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).  His major responsibility was to work with veterinary students at all of the nation’s veterinary schools. Halfway through his term, he was encouraged to run for the AVMA Presidency; no Vice President has risen to President-elect in this way since 1917. As AVMA’s 140th President, Walther undertook several structural and organizational improvements such as the formation of a public relation’s branch to keep members of the profession and the public better informed, and to communicate on a national level about issues facing the profession.  

At the same time Walther was President of the AVMA, he was also President of the Western Veterinary Conference (WVC). Through his efforts, the two groups collaborated to establish testing protocols and a test for graduates of non-accredited colleges of veterinary medicine. The program was so successful that when the WVC built their new offices in Las Vegas, they built the Oquendo Center which is a specially designed facility for the testing and continuing education of the profession. 

One of the achievements that Walther is most proud of is a program that he championed in 2002—to bring one veterinary student from each veterinary school in the United States and Canada to Las Vegas each year for the WVC annual conference (the largest gathering of veterinarians in the world). Successful candidates are given a trip to Las Vegas and a thousand dollar honorarium. In recognition of the program, it has been permanently named the Dr. Jack Walther Leadership Award. In 2013, the WVC meeting was named after Walther.

Walther lives in Lamoille, Nevada. 

 Trina Wood, Communications