Noah Cohen, VMD, MPH, PhD, DACVIM

AVMA Members Working to Advance Animal and Human Health through Research

Professor of Equine Medicine, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine
Associated Department Head for Research and Graduate Studies in the Dept. of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine

Educational Background

Currently, I am Professor of Equine Medicine and Associate Department Head for Research and Graduate Studies in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. I earned my A.B. (1979) and V.M.D. (1983) degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. After 2 years in private equine practice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, I completed M.P.H. (1986) and Ph.D. (1988) degrees in epidemiology at the school now known as the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. I subsequently completed a large animal internal medicine residency at Texas A&M University and was hired as an Assistant Professor of equine medicine at the Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1991. I was certified as a diplomate of the ACVIM in 1992.

Do you have any pets?

Yes, several dogs and horses.

What is the focus of your research?

When I started graduate training in epidemiology at Hopkins, the epidemiology department chair (Dr. Leon Gordis) told us that, as epidemiologists, we would likely not focus on a specific disease or discipline because the principles of methods of epidemiology are so broadly applicable. So I am guilty of being somewhat unfocused in the sense that I have been engaged in research pertaining to musculoskeletal disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, neurological disorders, infectious diseases, and genetics in equine medicine. In recent years, I have focused on control and prevention of infectious diseases of horses, with an emphasis on Rhodococcus equi pneumonia.

What is the scientific and clinical significance of your research?

I think the most significant impact of my work will be contributing to the training of veterinarians (either as graduate students or as interns and residents) in research. It is my belief and hope that facilitating their careers will yield important clinical advances relevant to the health of horses and other animals, including people. I have tried to promote epidemiology as not just a basic science of veterinary public health and veterinary regulatory medicine, but also as a basic science of clinical medicine by conducting and advocating for patient-based research. The ethic and origin of veterinary medical research is very much rooted in traditional laboratory-based experimentation. For clinicians, patient-based clinical research is of the greatest relevance, such that the hospital can in fact be considered the laboratory setting for observational or experimental clinical research. I have tried to engage private practitioners in design, data collection, and interpretation of patient-based research studies. This is important because studies of patients from teaching or private specialty practices likely do not reflect the more general populations of horses examined by the majority of practitioners. At the end of the day, the most important thing about clinical research is having findings that are relevant to our patients and have direct impact on the practice of veterinary medicine.

What do you find most enjoyable about research?

I think there are 4 things I most enjoy:

  1. Helping others with their career development
  2. The opportunity to continue learning new things
  3. The joy of thinking about clinical problems and then designing, conducting, and analyzing results of studies to test hypotheses
  4. The pleasure and privilege of collaborating with other scientists.

These 4 things enable me to love my work. There are always ups and downs, but I am always excited to come to work to see what we might learn that day, to see what ideas or opportunities will come from reflection and dialogue with collaborators, and to feel that I am helping contribute to both improving the health of horses and assisting with the career development of trainees.

What advice do you have for veterinarians considering a career in biomedical research?

It is a wonderful career choice that is enriching and fulfilling. Don’t be constrained by conventional wisdom regarding career paths or opportunities, and pursue that about which you are passionate. Veterinary clinical practice experience is invaluable for being able to ask clinically relevant research questions. As veterinarians, we have a unique and important position in the health sciences because of our fuller training and knowledge of the diversity of health and disease from which we may provide influential contributions.

See how other AVMA members are advancing animal and human health