The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) provides leadership for and promotes excellence in academic veterinary medicine to prepare the veterinary workforce with the scientific knowledge and skills required to meet societal needs through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge. The AAVMC website sponsors a series of "veterinary spotlights" to show students the vast array of careers that are available to veterinarians. The career path of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine deputy director Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD, professor in the Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, and director of the Center for Pre-Clinical Tissue Engineering within the McGowan Institute, was recently the subject of the series.
Dr. Badylak views his veterinary education as invaluable in providing him with the background and experience necessary to approach research with a comprehensive perspective that can lead to groundbreaking, life-enhancing discoveries. In his lab, Dr. Badylak takes a novel approach to healing that involves use of a biologic scaffold material to reconstitute missing or injured soft tissue, initiate wound healing, and stimulate tissue regeneration.
"I don't think veterinarians realize that they're trained better than any other group to work in interdisciplinary settings," he says. "They're experienced in comparative pathology and understand the differences between species. That base knowledge gives veterinarians a step up that can have a huge impact on the field of medicine. I've had veterinarians in my lab for the past 10 years and they are always some of the most valuable members of my team."
As both a veterinarian and physician, Dr. Badylak describes the rigor of a veterinary medical education as second to none. He encourages veterinary students to pursue medical research, and especially regenerative medical research, because of the field's incredible growth potential and also because of the unique, comparative foundation that a veterinary medical education provides.