In The Spotlight

From the Dean



“We don’t just hold those who came before us in high esteem… We build on their ideas and create new ones… We look for human cures in the unlikeliest places… Because we understand that when we help animals, they help us in return.”

Our college is indeed opening doors and changing lives. To learn how, visit, or contact my office to see an informational video about Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine. There, you will catch a glimpse of the important and impactful work being done here—work that explores the science of veterinary medicine, which leads to discoveries that advance the standards of care in human and veterinary referral centers. The result is a vibrant academic environment that enriches the education and career success of our students.

Our college of today bears little physical resemblance to the college of 50 or 100 years ago, as programs and facilities have evolved and adapted to the pressures of economics, university priorities, applicant pools, and demand for graduates with new skills. A college that embraces the changes necessary for new opportunities is a college well positioned for future prosperity.

One factor that continues to drive change in the veterinary profession is the exponential growth of technology. Quantitatively, this has been described by Moore’s Law, an observation that the number of transistors in a densely integrated circuit essentially doubles every two years. Thus, the impact of technology on veterinary medicine has grown, and will continue to grow, at an exhilarating rate.

The expansion of technology opens doors to new possibilities. And yet, technology by itself is virtually meaningless until it is skillfully applied to problems in the natural world. Veterinary practitioners decipher analytical chemistries, interpret biometric data, and analyze digital images, leading to effective treatments and preventatives.

As a result, we achieve a stronger human-animal bond, more efficient reproduction, improved animal health and welfare, better public health, and many other advances. Likewise, biomedical scientists are the ones that translate genomics, recombinant DNA technology, targeted gene expression, and gene editing strategies into new treatments for diseases heretofore considered incurable.

This issue of the Auburn Veterinarian tells a remarkable story on the application of biotechnology to cure a dreaded human disease, and describes, from a child’s perspective, the deeply personal impact of the disease and the pursuit of its cure. A gene therapy protocol developed in the college’s Scott-Ritchey Research Center, in partnership with scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has essentially cured cats of inherited GM1 gangliosidosis.

The treatment holds great promise for doing the same for a child named Jojo, as it is tested for the first time in humans at the National Institutes of Health. With a spirit of hope, Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine is opening doors and changing lives.

For updates on this and other exciting programs in the college, I hope to see you in Auburn for the 112th Annual Conference October 17-20, 2019.

War Eagle!

Dean Johnson's Signature

Dean Calvin Johnson '86

Dean Johnson Dean Johnson

In This Issue