10 Most Memorable Stories of 2021

From UW Veterinary Care success stories to COVID-19 research to the much-anticipated groundbreaking of our building expansion, the UW School of Veterinary Medicine has a lot to be proud of this year.

As we ring in the new year, join us in looking back at some of our most memorable stories from 2021, celebrating our faculty, staff, students and alumni and their impact in Wisconsin and around the world.



The SVM chapter of Veterinarians as One Inclusive Community for Empowerment (VOICE) won the VOICE Chapter of the Year Award for 2020-21 – the second time in the last three years. The award recognized our students’ leadership in organizing successful events, going above and beyond VOICE programming requirements, and creating an inclusive environment in the SVM and the local community. Related: In an additional example of our students’ exceptional leadership, from March 2020-21, Marie Bucko DVM’21 served as president of the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA).



Since February 2020, researchers David O’Connor and Thomas Friedrich have been sequencing the genomes of the virus that causes COVID-19. Their work has contributed to efforts in tracking novel variants and steering public health ordinances throughout the state.


Polar Bears as Patients: Caring for Animals at Henry Vilas Zoo

Henry Vilas Zoo’s two polar bears, Berit and Bo. (Kristin Myers/Henry Vilas Zoo)UW Veterinary Care has been the contracted veterinary service at the Henry Vilas Zoo since 2019. Hear from School of Veterinary Medicine alumna Mary Thurber DVM’14, the primary veterinarian at Henry Vilas Zoo, as she describes the collaborative effort that is required to care for every animal at the zoo, including the resident polar bears, Berit and Bo.


UW Veterinary Care Cancer Patients to Benefit from New, More Precise Radiation Therapy Delivery System

The Radixact radiation therapy treatment delivery system. (Photo: Ron Collins/Accuray)Oncology patients at UW Veterinary Care are receiving care through a new, cutting-edge radiation therapy machine called the Radixact system. This machine tracks tumors in real-time, allowing for more precise dose delivery and opening new doors in veterinary cancer treatment. UW Veterinary Care is currently the only veterinary medical hospital worldwide to offer this treatment.


A New Face, and New Hope, for Gemma

Gemma, a four-year-old mixed breed dog, relaxes at home. Her muzzle sports a distinct shape and hair pattern following reconstructive surgery at UW Veterinary Care to repair severe facial injuries. (Photo: Bryan Hasse)

Gemma, a dog transferred from Qatar to an animal rescue in Wisconsin, underwent an innovative facial reconstruction surgery to address severe wounds on her face, snout and jaw. Veterinarians at UW Veterinary Care collaborated to create a novel approach to facial reconstruction, using virtual planning and 3D modeling to treat her injuries.


School’s Inaugural Class Establishes First Class Scholarship Fund

The School of Veterinary Medicine class of 1987.Inspired by Bradley Poff DVM’87 and his educational journey, the SVM’s inaugural class banded together to support students of today and tomorrow. The School of Veterinary Medicine Charter Class of 1987 Scholarship Fund will provide student support in perpetuity and has raised over $38,000 to date. Related: In the 2020-21 academic year, the school was thrilled to launch several new scholarship opportunities to benefit students. The Veterinary Medicine Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scholarship Endowment Fund was also established, with Emma Sweet DVMx’22 named as the inaugural recipient.


Veterinary Clinic for Homeless Pet Owners Meets Growing Demand

The Wisconsin Companion Animal Resources, Education, and Social Services (WisCARES) clinic provides veterinary medical care and social services to individuals in Dane County who are low-income or experiencing homelessness. Financial challenges caused by the pandemic have led new clientele to WisCARES, many of whom may not have needed the service before.


UW-Madison Professors Teach Schools How to Do Antigen Testing

A team of UW–Madison researchers, including faculty from the School of Veterinary Medicine, taught nurses and personnel at over 100 Dane County schools how to conduct rapid antigen testing for COVID-19. This project allowed local schools to react quickly to potential infections and prevent the spread of the virus.



School of Veterinary Medicine Dean Mark Markel, Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW mascot Bucky Badger take shovels in hand.In June, the School of Veterinary Medicine broke ground on its building expansion, celebrating the current and future impact of the school on veterinarian training and research. The building expansion will double the size of the small animal hospital, increase the size of the large animal hospital, improve instruction spaces for students, and expand and update research laboratories. The expansion is expected to be complete in 2023, with renovations of the current building finishing up in 2024.



FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2012, file photo, minks look out of a cage at a fur farm in the village of Litusovo, northeast of Minsk, Belarus. Coronavirus outbreaks at mink farms in Spain and the Netherlands have scientists digging into how the animals got infected and if they can spread it to people. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits, File)On two different sides of the world, two alumnae of the UW School of Veterinary Medicine were just getting settled into new professional roles when the novel coronavirus struck. They rolled up their sleeves, called upon the relationships, resources and skills they’ve developed, and led efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic – all the while advancing other public health priorities as well. For both, their work is guided by a collaborative, cross-disciplinary One Health approach, recognizing that animal health, human health and the environment are interconnected. Related: An additional alumna making a global impact in 2021 was Lisa Borzynski DVM’93, who traveled to Japan as a Fédération Equestre Internationale veterinarian for the Tokyo Olympics equestrian events.

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