March 15, 2015


 Veterinary medicine represented on Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ list

Wright and Gretebeck recognized for one-health approach in Haiti

Posted Feb. 25, 2015

Dr. Nikki Wright and veterinary student Lisa Gretebeck have been named to Forbes’ 2015 list of the 30 “best-and-brightest” individuals under the age of 30 who are innovating the field of health care.

Dr. Wright, 28, and Gretebeck, 26, made Forbes’ prestigious “30 Under 30” list for founding Pou Sante: Amar Haiti, a nonprofit organization taking a one-health approach to improving human and animal lives in the impoverished nation of Haiti. 

Lisa Gretebeck (left photo, at right) and Dr. Nikki Wright (right photo, at right) are helping impoverished Haitian communities through instruction in animal husbandry and by treating local livestock. 

“Our students never cease to amaze me,” said Dr. Joan C. Hendricks, dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Wright received her VMD degree from UPenn in 2014; Gretebeck deferred graduation until 2015 to spend an extra year in the Medical Research Scholars Program at the National Institutes of Health, where she is conducting research related to emerging zoonoses.

“Lisa and Nikki are shining examples of the vital role veterinarians play in reducing poverty and hunger worldwide. They are true one-health ambassadors, demonstrating how human, animal, and environmental health are inextricably linked,” Dean Hendricks said.

As veterinary students, Dr. Wright and Gretebeck saw an opportunity to aid the people of Haiti, where an estimated 80 percent of the population lives in poverty. In 2012, they received Penn Vet’s Student Inspiration Award and $10,000 prize to bring Pou Sante: Amar Haiti to life.

The organization provides rural Haitian families with resources and training in sustainable animal husbandry by bringing in veterinarians and veterinary students who educate the populace in goat management and provide veterinary care for the livestock. These efforts promote financial independence and community commerce.

To date, Pou Sante has coordinated five trips bringing more than 20 veterinarians and veterinary students to the Caribbean nation and has provided veterinary care for over a thousand animals. Pou Sante, which earned 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 2014, continues to bring veterinary aid and maintains strong ties with the Haitian community.

Since graduating last May, Dr. Wright has worked as associate veterinarian at the Banfield Pet Hospital in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, as well as a relief veterinarian for the Humane Society of the United States’ Pets for Life Program.

“Working with the Haitian community has been a life-changing experience. I hope to contribute to additional one-health efforts in the future, aiding other underserved communities domestically and abroad,” she said.

“It is an honor to be named to Forbes’ ‘30 Under 30’ list,” Gretebeck said. “Our experiences in Haiti helped me better understand the positive impact of veterinarians on both animal and human health.”