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Dean’s Column – The Next 150 Years

Monday, December 9, 2019

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Can you anticipate what the next 150 years will bring for the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine?

That question was put to me as the University compiled a series of essays in which college deans shared their thoughts about the future as part of Purdue’s Sesquicentennial celebration. 2019 also marked our College’s 60th Anniversary – an occasion made even more special when the University took final administrative steps toward construction of a new Veterinary Teaching Hospital. There’s much more about that and other news from our College in this annual report issue of our PVM Report publication.

But what of the next 150 years? Given the amount of change that has happened since Purdue University was founded in 1869, it’s exciting to consider what scenes might unfold that far into the future. Think of surgery performed by robots and personalized medicine precisely fine-tuned to a particular animal’s condition with minimal side effects. Imagine routine treatments for diseases that today are incurable, thanks to veterinarians’ contributions to medical discovery. Veterinary medical support for animal agriculture likely will be revolutionized as well, with the development of highly sophisticated approaches to ensuring healthy livestock, obsoleting the risks of foodborne illnesses and increasing the feasibility of expanded food production. Consider that current forecasts predict that more animal protein will be needed in just the next 20 years to feed 9 billion people. Veterinary medicine also will become much more focused on One Health, which is destined to become a household term defining veterinary medicine’s role in addressing the needs of society in the areas of food security, biomedical research, and ecosystem health.

All of this will influence veterinary education, both in terms of the breadth of subject matter students will have to master and the methodologies employed in the learning process. Just as laptops replaced pen and paper, artificial intelligence and robotic equipment will replace today’s basic hands-on procedures. The College of Veterinary Medicine will educate veterinarians and veterinary nurses for positions described by job titles unknown today, to administer treatments we can’t imagine, and to achieve mind-boggling advances in animal and human health. Certainly entirely new fields of specialization will be taught and new areas of medicine will be researched as the College of Veterinary Medicine educates new generations of One Health veterinarians.

Of course, these are educated guesses about what might happen. But, regardless of what advancements and changes actually do occur, I am confident that our College will be at the forefront, leading the way with the same commitment to excellence and practical, hands-on, exceptional education that characterized its first 60 years. Surely, it is a future to be excited about, and to be faced boldly with the same spirit embodied in Purdue’s favorite rallying cry: “Boiler Up!”

Willie M. Reed, DVM, PhD
Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine


Writer(s): Willie Reed | pvmnews@purdue.edu

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