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Remembering Dr. Peter Ihrke

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Dr. Peter Ihrke generously shared his knowledge and passion for veterinary dermatology.

(1944 -2014)

 It is with great pride and sadness that we pay tribute to Peter Ihrke.  He was an outstanding member of our faculty and the profession, an inspiring mentor and a wonderful colleague.  

Dr. Peter Ihrke, born in New Jersey, earned his VMD (1972) and completed his Dermatology Residency (1974) at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine. He joined the School’s faculty in 1977 and during his 34 years of service he taught thousands of veterinary students and dermatology residents. His research focused on infectious skin diseases, their epidemiology, and the pharmacology of agents used in their treatment.  His record and expertise in companion animal dermatology were highly regarded. He contributed to the advancement of his discipline through his published work: 80 peer reviewed publications, 43 book chapters, 44 abstracts, and 125 other publications.

Peter was an accomplished teacher, described by his fellow faculty colleagues as an “excellent and inspiring mentor,” his style was quiet, friendly and supportive. He held a 50% clinical appointment mentoring professional students and residents in the clinical setting and through didactic course offerings. Eighteen past UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine graduates who had Peter as an instructor went on to pursue dermatology residencies.  Six of these came back to train with him.  Over the years he mentored 34 residents, all but 2 of whom have passed the specialty college boards; 9 of these currently hold academic position around the world.  He kept in touch with all of his residents, keeping them apprised of their “dermatology lineage” and in it he would refer to them by number; assigned according to their consecutive place in the number of residents he trained.  It was an endearing communication ploy and one they proudly report in acknowledgement of their mentorship by Dr. Ihrke.

“As resident number 23 I will always be grateful to Peter for his guidance and friendship,” said Catherine Outerbridge, Associate Professor of Clinical Dermatology at UC Davis, “and for making me 23 forever.”

Peter generously shared his knowledge and passion for veterinary dermatology throughout the world via his extensive lecturing, his authored works, collaborations with others, and his personal connections with many colleagues. He gave more than 425 invited presentations at the local, national and international level. He organized and oversaw the George Muller Veterinary Dermatology Seminar, which now also bears his name, and continues into its 30th year. 

“Peter had an amazing ability to impart a great deal of knowledge in a short period of time, whether to an individual or a large audience, and to do so while being courteous, pleasant and humorous,” said Stephen white, Professor of Dermatology at UC Davis, and resident #2.

Dr. Ihrke was a leader at the local, national and international level. He served as Acting Department Chair for several years, Chair of the Department’s Small Animal Interest Group, and Service Chief for Dermatology at the VMTH in addition to serving on numerous school committees. He was a past president of the American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology, a past president of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology, a past president of the World Small Animal Veterinary Medical Association and was the President of the 4th World Congress of Veterinary Dermatology (San Francisco, 2000). 

His awards and invited state-of-the-art addresses are too numerous to list, but he was especially pleased to have received the 2009 World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Hill’s Excellence in Veterinary Healthcare Award and in 2013, he was the recipient of the American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology’s Frank Král Award in recognition of his outstanding achievements and dedicated service to the veterinary profession and specialty of veterinary dermatology. 

Dr. Ihrke retired in 2011 but in these multiple ways he helped guide and shape the specialty of veterinary dermatology to where it is today and his influence through the people he mentored will remain a part of his legacy.