Surgery, Emergency and Critical Care


Ingrid Balsa, MEd, DVM, DACVS-SA


Dr. Balsa is an assistant clinical professor of soft tissue surgery. Research interests include minimally invasive surgery, surgical education research and better understanding the variety of diseases caused by migrating plant awns in dogs. The 2019 STAR project will combine both clinical and bench-top research on migrating plant awns in dogs and will be done in conjunction with Dr. Charles Bevins.

Dr. Balsa can be contacted at

Jamie Burkitt, DVM, DACVECC

*On sabbatical in 2021 - not taking STAR students for 2021 cycle*

Assistant Professor of Clinical Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care

Dr. Burkitt is an assistant professor of clinical small animal emergency and critical care in the VMTH. Her main research interests lie in better understanding and preventing recurrence of urethral obstruction in male cats. Dr. Burkitt is just starting her research projects in the VMTH and is interested in retrospective and prospective data collection and analysis regarding factors that can help prevent recurrence of this devastating disease in male cats.

The best way to contact Dr. Burkitt is via email at:

Sarah le Jeune, DVM, CVA, Diplomate ACVS

Clinical Equine Emergency Surgery and Critical Care

Dr. le Jeune is an equine emergency surgeon with a strong interest in acupuncture. Research interests include studies investigating the effectiveness of acupuncture and clinical studies on various facets of equine gastro-intestinal diseases and other equine surgical conditions.

Please visit Dr. le Jeune's website at:

Ronald Li, DVM, MVetMed, DACVECC

Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences 

(See also: Biochemistry/Cellular Biology, Immunology/Infectious Diseases)

Dr. Li is a small animal criticalist and platelet-neutrophil biologist in the department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences.  The Li Comparative Platelet and Neutrophil Physiology Laboratory focuses on platelet and neutrophil interaction in health and diseases, immune and hemostatic function of platelets and the testing of anti-platelet therapies in small animals.  Currently Dr. Li is working on projects related to the impact of genetic polymorphisms in cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy on clopidogrel therapy and platelet activation.  His laboratory is also investigating the role of platelet-derived high mobility group box-1 in platelet activation and neutrophil extracellular trap formation in dogs and cats.   

 Please contact Ronald Li at for more information.

Joao H. N. Soares, MV, MSc, DSc

Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia

(See also: Anesthesia/Pain Management; Pulmonary Medicine)

Dr. Joao Soares is a veterinary anesthesiologist with a research interest in respiratory function during anesthesia, including the use of specialized monitoring such as respiratory mechanics, electrical impedance tomography and volumetric capnography. Current research projects are 1) Evaluation of methods to choose positive end-expiratory pressure during mechanical ventilation of anesthetized dogs; and 2) retrospective study on the occurrence of postanesthetic pulmonary complications in dogs and cats anesthetized at the VMTH. 

Potential STAR projects for the summer of 2019 are: 1) Anatomic and alveolar dead space in anesthetized dogs of different breeds; or 2) Effects of blood sampling duration upon arterial blood gases in anesthetized horses in lateral and dorsal recumbency. Both projects will be performed in anesthetized patients of the UCDavis VMTH. Other projects in the area of respiratory physiology applied to anesthesia may be discussed depending on the student interest.

Please, e-mail Dr. Soares for more information at



Aijun Wang, PhD

UC Davis Medical Center, Department of Surgery (see also: Translational Research, Orthopedics, Biochemistry)

My name is Aijun Wang. I am an assistant professor at the Department of Surgery, School of Medicine. My research interests center on engineering stem cells and biomaterials to develop novel regenerative medical therapies, especially surgical treatments for congenital anomalies. Since my employment as Co-Director of the Surgical Bioengineering Laboratory and an Assistant Professor at the University of California Davis School of Medicine in 2012, my lab has successfully combined tissue-engineering technologies with the most advanced fetal intervention, and developed novel biomaterial and stem cell-based treatments (including nanofibrous materials, fetal membrane, decelluarized extracellular matrix, iPSC-derived stem cells, placenta-derived stem cells) for devastating structural and genetic birth defects, such as spina bifida, hemophilia and congenital diaphragmatic hernia. Currently, we are extensively using the mouse, rat, guinea pig, rabbit and sheep experimental models to develop novel regenerative therapies. We are also adapting these novel therapies we developed in the lab for the treatment of naturally occurring diseases in companion animals.

Please visit Dr. Wang’s website at or the  website  for  the  Surgical Bioengineering Laboratory at

Contact Dr. Wang: