Vets and Physicians Find Research Parallels

The New York Times—September 10, 2012

Once a narrow trail traveled by a few hardy pioneers, the road connecting veterinary colleges and human medical institutions has become a busy thoroughfare over the last five years or so, with a steady flow of researchers representing a wide variety of medical disciplines on both sides.


The growing realization that vets and medical doctors may have very good reasons to talk to one another has led to a host of collaborative research projects aimed at speeding the journey from lab to human clinical trials and, in the end, producing a result that can be applied to human and animal patients alike.


The big bet is that veterinary science and human medical science can combine to achieve efficiencies that translate across species. In some instances, this has already happened.

Dr. Hollis G. Potter, head of magnetic resonance imaging at Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, has been working with Dr. Lisa A. Fortier of Cornell University’s college of veterinary medicine to analyze meniscus injuries using sheep.

Quantitative M.R.I. techniques like ultrashort echo-time imaging makes it possible to see how knee tissue heals, and how much stress it can stand after surgical repair, information that has immediate application for the human knee. “In just a couple of years, we’ve taken this process from sheep to humans,” Dr. Potter said.

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