AVMA welcomes two assistant directors

Animal Welfare, Education & Research see new hires
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Dr. Robertson
Dr. Sheilah A. Robertson
Dr. Murphey
Dr. Douglas "Ed" Murphey III

Two of the newest employees at the AVMA bring a wealth of experience to their positions.

In January, the AVMA welcomed Dr. Sheilah A. Robertson as an assistant director in the Animal Welfare Division. She is supporting the AVMA's work on issues related to the welfare of companion animals, wildlife, and animals used for work and entertainment.

Dr. Robertson comes to the AVMA from the University of Florida, where she was a professor in the Section of Anesthesia and Pain Management in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

"It's an exciting time to be at the AVMA—the profession is facing many challenges—but promoting animal welfare is an important strategic goal for the Association," said Dr. Robertson, who holds a certificate in animal welfare from the Cambridge E-learning Institute.

"Animal welfare issues are often complex, and my goal is to work with other AVMA staff and volunteers to secure sound scientific and robust practical data so that we can use that to recommend the best plans for moving forward," she said.

After graduating from the University of Glasgow with a BVMS degree in 1980, Dr. Robertson worked for a time in a mixed animal practice in northern England before joining Bristol University as a fellow in large and small animal surgery. The university awarded her a doctorate in 1985 for her research on the stress response to anesthesia and surgery in horses.

At Bristol, Dr. Robertson developed a passion for anesthesia and pain management, and she would go on to achieve diplomate status in both the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists and the European College of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia.

In addition to her time at the University of Florida, Dr. Robertson has held teaching and research positions at the University of Saskatoon and Michigan State University. Her research interests include developing nociceptive testing equipment for several animal species; assessing analgesic agents in cats, horses, and iguanas; and creating clinical tools to assess acute pain in cats.

Dr. Robertson has worked to improve anesthesia and analgesic protocols in a variety of settings and across species. She has also assisted in delivering veterinary services to underserved populations in the Yucatan, Mexico.

Dr. Robertson is a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners' Animal Welfare Committee and serves on the World Small Animal Veterinary Association's Global Pain Council.

Dr. Erle Douglas "Ed" Murphey III joined the AVMA Feb. 6 as an assistant director in the Education and Research Division. He applied for the position because it focuses on a number of facets in the profession in which he has an interest.

His primary responsibilities are working as the staff liaison for the AVMA Council on Research and facilitating operations for the AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties. Dr. Murphey will also take on responsibilities with the AVMA Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates certification program.

Dr. Murphey comes to the AVMA after performing critical-care medical research for a decade at the Shriners Burns Institute, which is part of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. For the past few years, he has been investigating immune function after major injuries.

"Infection after severe burns is usually the most serious complication. In fact, systemic immune dysfunction is common after any major injury or illness, such as cancer patients who later die of sepsis," he said.

Dr. Murphey had an NIH grant to investigate the effect of exposure to bacterial molecules on immune function.

After more than a decade of being involved in medical research, Dr. Murphey wanted to return to his roots as a veterinarian and be more directly involved with the profession.

Dr. Murphey received his DVM degree from The Ohio State University in 1989 and took on an internship in New Hampshire in equine medicine and surgery immediately after. He began his career working at a mixed animal practice for two years in Ohio before completing his residency in large animal surgery at Purdue University. Afterward, Dr. Murphey earned a doctorate in experimental pathology in 2000 from UTMB and later worked as a clinical instructor at Washington State University and the University of Georgia. Dr. Murphey then returned to the UTMB, first as a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral research fellow in trauma and burns, later as an instructor, and, finally, as an assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology.

Dr. Murphey is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. He has written items for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination and chaired the ACVS' Publications Committee. He has also been an ad hoc reviewer for publications such as the American Journal of Veterinary Research and the Journal of Immunology.