Leading the Way – the Veterinary Medical Center

Chancellor Gary May and Dean Michael Lairmore proudly announced in October the launch of the long-term plan to transform the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Center (VMC). The campaign, called “Leading the Way,” marks the first phase and aims to raise $115 million to update and improve three critical areas: the Livestock and Field Service Center, the Equine Performance Center and the All Species Imaging Center.

At the launch event, Chief Veterinary Medical Officer Jane Sykes remarked that each patient will receive attentive and personalized care in the center of a leading biomedical research hub. The state-of-the-art VMC will amplify the ability of veterinarians and scientists to collaborate and create innovative solutions for patients, setting a new standard for veterinary medicine.

Thanks to the generosity of philanthropic partners, the school has raised $67 million so far from grateful clients, alumni, faculty, staff and friends. Second generation alumnus, Dr. Jon Klingborg (’92) and his classmates were the first to support this project with their 25-year reunion class gift. Other long-time partners include the Frank and Eva Buck Foundation, Glen and Peggy Jeckel, the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation, the Baileys Foundation and Dr. Alison Baileys (’16), and Dr. Morton LaPittus (’61) and his wife, Susan.


Equine Performance Center
The school will enhance clinical care and advance equine health studies through the most up-to-date performance center in veterinary medicine.

Equine clinicians and researchers learn from each other, but rarely work hand-in-hand on horses with lameness or other gait abnormalities. Researchers study movement, analyzing data from hundreds of past patients to determine injury patterns. Clinicians attempt to identify lameness issues through observation, local anesthetic nerve or joint blocks, and diagnostic imaging techniques.
This state-of-the-art Equine Performance Center will blend clinical services and data collection for research. The facility will include an arena with high-speed motion cameras (utilized by researchers) to help detect subtle gait abnormalities. The ability to observe a horse under saddle, performing the complex movements associated with its discipline, before and after diagnostic nerve blocks, can greatly improve the accuracy of an examination and subsequent treatment plan. The cameras capture 1,000 frames per second, which will help to uncover potential injuries at an early stage or find the optimal movement pattern for a horse to perform at its highest potential.

The Gait Analysis Diagnostic Unit—which provides sophisticated kinematic analyses of a horse’s gait and the efficacy of treatment of a musculoskeletal injury or disease— will be integrated into the arena and adjacent trotting lane. A force plate embedded in the trotting lane will help determine the distribution of weight throughout all four limbs.

The center will also include a new farrier station to perform and evaluate shoeing interventions.

Research Aids Clinical Treatment and Diagnosis
By bringing aspects of the J.D. Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory (VORL) directly into the clinic, equine veterinarians will be able to utilize proven research results and sophisticated analytical equipment. With VORL focusing much of its attention on racehorse injuries, the integration of the lab’s expertise into the diagnostic arena will bring added benefit to horses brought to the Equine Performance Center.

The majority of fatalities due to fracture of a long bone are caused by the transient weakening associated with attempted healing of a pre-existing stress fracture. Researchers have discovered that pre-existing injuries also play a role in fractures of the proximal sesamoid bone that result in fetlock breakdown, the most common cause of death in Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racehorses. Knowing that catastrophic injuries represent a more chronic process, clinicians are studying the injury development to determine strategies for treatment, and more importantly, to help guide owners and trainers on steps to prevent injuries.

As the VORL continues to lead the way, advancing knowledge of equine musculoskeletal problems, the use of its sophisticated equipment in the clinic will foster a creative environment for clinically-applied equine musculoskeletal research. This collaborative environment will continue to improve the understanding of equine musculoskeletal diseases and lay the foundation for the future of clinical care.

Livestock and Field Service Center
The Veterinary Medical Center will bring together a community of scholars, clinicians, veterinary students, clients, ranchers and animal patients in facilities designed to provide efficient patient care with immediate access to state-of-the-art technologies.

The Livestock and Field Service Center has been designed in consultation with Temple Grandin, Ph.D., well known for her groundbreaking work in engineering humane animal facilities. Grandin partnered with the planning team to refine preliminary designs to provide the best possible environment for livestock patient handling and care, and clinical teaching emphasizing animal welfare and student safety.

Basic technical skills and knowledge of livestock are an important part of the student educational experience. Students and residents working and learning in the Livestock and Field Service Center will participate in surgeries such as castrations, common abdominal surgeries, C-sections and leg fracture repairs. They will also gain experience with radiology, ultrasound, endoscopy, laparoscopy, CT and MRI.

A Career with Cows
Fourth-year DVM student Ethan McEnroe seems born to be a livestock veterinarian, following in the footsteps of his father, a food production vet from Bakersfield. As a boy, he often accompanied his father to work and would fall asleep to bedtime stories by veterinary author James Herriot. He decided early on to spend his life looking after the livestock of California’s farmers and ranchers.

“It’s important for California’s economy that we continue to lead the nation in dairy production. To do that, we need large animal veterinarians who can help ensure safe, affordable and nutritious animal-based proteins for decades to come,” McEnroe said. “I hope to take care of dairies that supply high quality products to people throughout the state, country and world. I want to make sure that the animals that supply us with meat and milk are cared for with the utmost respect and compassion.”

As a fourth-year student, McEnroe has participated in clinical rotations through the livestock services, gaining valuable hands-on expertise. Students pursuing a livestock career path pay field visits to local farms, ranches and production facilities. They learn the value of herd health, while clinic experiences such as surgery, imaging and diagnostic analysis hone their internal medicine skills.

As the school strives to give McEnroe and every student the best-rounded veterinary education possible, the new Livestock and Field Services Center will play a vital role in that process, enhancing the learning environment for the next generation of livestock veterinarians.

All Species Imaging Center
Advancements in medical technology are rapidly driving a new age of diagnostic imaging. The All Species Imaging Center (ASIC), staffed by the largest veterinary diagnostic team in the world, will be at the cutting edge of detecting, diagnosing and treating disease and trauma. Pivotal to more than 30 hospital services, the ASIC will bring together radiology, ultrasound, nuclear scintigraphy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET) under one roof to better serve all patients large and small.

The strategic placement of imaging equipment and expertise as a hub of the Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) will expedite diagnosis and patient care, reduce stress and wait time for patients, allow different imaging tests to be conducted at the same time, maximizing efficiencies, and promote integrated care and research of the highest quality.

Advanced imaging is fundamental to patient care and supports scientific discoveries across multiple disciplines including surgery, oncology, neurology, ophthalmology and many more. By utilizing information learned through research, radiologists and clinicians at the VMC will advance the care and rehabilitation of all animals.

An Inside Look
Corvus, a 10-year-old male Labrador retriever, is a typical lab. He likes to run and play…and he likes to chew up and eat things. Anything. One particular evening, Corvus’ owners came home to find a rug destroyed. Since Corvus has a 4-legged companion, his owners weren’t sure which dog did it, or if either of the dogs had ingested any of the rug. When Corvus started defecating pieces of rug two days later, however, it was obvious he was the guilty party. For the next three days, he continued to pass bits of the rug, until becoming lethargic, vomiting and not eating.

Radiographs and an ultrasound taken by the Diagnostic Imaging Service showed the rug was blocking his entire small intestine, a condition that would require immediate surgical intervention. Thanks to the clinician’s ability to quickly assess his condition through imaging, Corvus did eventually recover.

Corvus’ diagnosis was the result of just one of nearly 17,000 imaging procedures performed every year at the school’s veterinary hospital. The new comprehensive Imaging Center will further benefit animals like Corvus, saving them from their mischievous behavior.

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