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2014 Alumni Achievement Awards

June 13, 2014

Four illustrious alumni from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine have been honored this week with the 2014 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, M.S., or Ph.D. programs, or veterinarians who have completed an internship or residency at the school. 

This year’s awardees are:  

Ralph Edward Barrett, DVM, DACVIM

Sharon Center, DVM, DACVIM

Yrjö Gröhn, LVM, MPVM, M.S., DMV, DECVPH

Mark Markel, DVM, Ph.D., DACVS


Developing a Sixth Sense for Saving Lives

Ralph Edward Barrett, DVM ’73, Dipl. American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM), Past-President of the North American Veterinary Conference

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Barrett is honored for his contributions to the advancement of veterinary education and the development of specialty practice. He co-founded the Sacramento Animal Medical Group (SAMG), a multi-disciplinary specialty practice, which at one time was the largest in the Western United States. 

Randall H. Scagliotti, a classmate at UC Davis and later business partner at SAMG, recalls that Barrett always had a 'sixth sense' for what was ailing his patients. This trait earned him the outstanding clinician award from the school in 1973 and saved many of his patient's lives when he later became a boarded veterinary medical internist.

In addition to a love for his patients, Barrett has exhibited a keen dedication to continuing education. During more than 20 years at SAMG, Barrett trained an average of seven interns a year, ophthalmology residents, and two internal medicine residents, and pioneered the sharing of residents between private practice and a university (half the training at SAMG and half at Louisiana State University).  Many interns became board certified in various disciplines.  One year at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) meeting, 18 papers were presented by previous SAMG interns.

Barrett has led the veterinary medicine community by example, serving in leadership and committee roles with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the ACVIM, and the California Veterinary Medical Association to name a few. He served for 10 years on the Board of Directors of the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC), the largest veterinary postgraduate conference in the world, and was president of the board in 2003-2004.  Dr. Barrett initiated establishment of conferences in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Importantly, Dr. Barrett initiated establishment of the leading clinical veterinary journal in the nation, NAVC’s Clinician’s Brief.

Barrett was elected the AAHA Far West Region Practitioner of the Year in 1995, authored numerous text book chapters and journal publications, and lectured nationally for over 30 years. He currently serves on the Board of Advisors for Vet-Vine, an online continuing education company.

Barrett lives in Sacramento, California.


Improving Liver Disease Management

Sharon Center, DVM ’75, Dipl. American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM), Professor of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Clinical Programs Center, Cornell University

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Center is honored for her dedication to providing the highest standard of care while advancing the field and practice of internal medicine. In her research and clinical service, Center has been motivated primarily by a passion for understanding the mechanisms of disease with the goal of improving the health and welfare of her patients. 

In nominating Center for this award, her colleagues note this example of her commitment to veterinary medicine. During a widespread aflatoxicosis outbreak in 2005-06 involving contaminated dog food, Center worked tirelessly throughout the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to assist her colleagues with the diagnosis and management of affected dogs presented to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals.  Her medical assistance was instrumental in decreasing the mortality rate, and her objective observations were later detailed so that others could benefit from the unfortunate incident. 

In addition to constantly improving the standards for patient care, Center is a leader in research on liver diseases in companion animals.  Her clinical and research studies have been documented in more than 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 50 scientific abstracts, and 50 chapters in books. Center has served as chair of multiple committees and in several different leadership roles in the ACVIM. She is also a dynamic teacher and is highly sought as a lecturer at veterinary conferences, both national and international, and has served as an expert on government and industry panels concerned with liver disease and nutrition. 

During Center’s tenure at Cornell, she has won both the Norden Distinguished Teaching Award and the Beecham Award for Research Excellence. Her instruction of hundreds of students, interns, and residents has inspired many to go on for additional post-doctoral training, and instilled all with invaluable knowledge and skill. Her teaching has extended to referring veterinarians requesting consultations, countless clients seeking advice, and pathology trainees eager to improve their histologic interpretation of liver biopsies. 

Center’s nominees state that her enthusiasm for discovery, and her commitment to advancing our knowledge of veterinary medicine, has been uninterrupted for 30 years. Her current studies of the genetic basis for hepatic vascular anomalies of dogs are destined to acquire landmark status.  


Keeping our Food Safe and Animals Healthy

Yrjö Gröhn, LVM ’77, MPVM ’82, M.S. ’83, DMV ’85, Dipl. European College of Veterinary Public Health (ECVPH), Professor of Epidemiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University

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Gröhn is recognized for his leadership and impact, both nationally and internationally, in the field of veterinary epidemiology. As an epidemiologist in the areas of food safety and public health, Gröhn’s work merges disciplines from molecular biology to social sciences. Through his service on expert panels and large scale research projects, Gröhn is well connected to both the dairy and beef industries in matters related to health and food safety. He has received continuous competitive U.S. Department of Agriculture funding over the last 20 years, while at the same time holding a major National Institutes of Health grant that supports the Cornell Zoonotic Research Unit. He has published over 200 peer reviewed, scientific articles.

In addition to his research, Gröhn is highly regarded as an educator.  He has earned recognition for a series of workshops on modern epidemiological methods that he teaches worldwide. In addition, he has served on over 30 Ph.D. committees and supervised 26 postdoctoral and research fellows. He was recently honored with an invitation to present the Gareth Davies Lecture at the meeting of the foremost European organization in his field, the Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine.  

He feels that his responsibility as an educator goes beyond his students’academic successes and he takes an interest in their development in both a personal and professional manner. He shares his time with students during lunch hour runs and holiday dinners, creating lifelong bonds in the process. Gröhn has had a number of graduate students who knew when they arrived in Ithaca that if they were able to run 12 miles in August, he would help them to train to finish their first marathon before they left. The current count is 22 marathons. 

In addition to his pursuit of physical fitness, one of Gröhn’s intellectual interests has been to understand the influence of culture on his personal faith and the relationship between science and faith. In this context, he serves as a faculty advisor for two Christian student organizations. He also serves as a faculty contact for the university ministry of his church, with the goal of providing opportunities for students and faculty to join the life of the church and the community.

Gröhn was awarded a visiting professorship (F.C. Donders Chair) at the University of Utrecht and is a founding Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Public Health.  


Enriching Orthopedic Research and Elevating Colleagues

Mark Markel, DVM ’83, Ph.D. ’90, Dipl. American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), Dean, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Markel is honored for exemplary achievements in academic veterinary medicine and numerous contributions to the fields of comparative orthopedics and veterinary surgery. After completing his B.S., DVM and residency at UC Davis, Markel joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin in 1990. After serving as a department chair, Director of the Comparative Orthopaedic Research Laboratory and Associate Dean of Advancement, Markel was recently announced as their new Dean.

During his ten years as Associate Dean of Advancement, Markel increased gift funding to the school four-fold, to a total of $41 million and grew the school’s endowment fund from $5.8 million to more than $23.5 million. Those efforts also led to funding the Frank and Evelyn Fryer Radiation Therapy and Physical Rehabilitation Clinic, the advancement of the Morrie Waud Equine Center, numerous hospital remodeling projects, and purchase of several pieces of major equipment. 

Markel has made many impactful research contributions to the field of orthopedic surgery. He is an inventor on 8 patents and has published over 200 peer reviewed manuscripts, 59 book chapters and edited one book as well as published 233 scientific abstracts. His laboratory has provided critical information for the founding or venture capital funding of several biotechnology companies. 

Markel was the first veterinarian to be invited to serve as a member of the research commission of the AO Foundation, the world’s largest nonprofit organization specialized in the treatment of trauma and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. In addition to mentoring residents and graduate students, Markel has been integrally involved with the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), was elected President and has subsequently served as Chair and on a series of executive level committees. He has also served on the ACVS Foundation and currently is Chair of the Board of Trustees. 

Among many professional honors, Markel has received the Lodwick Award from Harvard University, the William Harris Award from the Orthopedic Research Society, and Bayer Excellence Research Award from the American Veterinary Research Foundation.