The path of a polymath: Lloyd Reeve-Johnson


Lloyd Reeve-JohnsonMany Australians have read about veterinarian Lloyd Reeve-Johnson in his capacity as a live export investigator, particularly when his journey to Mauritius to examine flaws in regulation of the trade gained national media coverage.

During the trip he noted pregnant cattle, misleading paperwork, unaccounted calf euthanasia and a general failure to implement OIE recommendations.

However his interest in the live animal trade is a relatively small part of an impressively polymathic career which encompasses areas such as drug development, education and even a novel.

The 43-year-old grew up internationally, spending his childhood in remote rural Zimbabwe and feeling the influence of the generations of farming in his family.

More drawn to animals than crops, he rode horses from the age of three and looked forward to one day owning the family cattle ranch.

“Becoming a veterinarian seemed the logical way to add value to the animal management and breeding aspects of the ranch,” Reeve-Johnson said.

And so after attending the historic Rugby School in Warwickshire, UK, he moved on to a veterinary degree at Edinburgh University.

Reeve-Johnson worked as a country vet in the South of Scotland/North of England for a pleasant couple of years (“in a clinic very akin to that described in the James Herriot novels”), before being hired by a multinational, an experience which brought him to 60 countries over an eight year period.

“I was able to use my foreign languages on a weekly basis, work in some fascinating cultures across emerging Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia at a time of a lot of change and growth,” he said.

Reeve-Johnson assisted in the development of some new treatments such as the macrolide antibiotic Tilmicosin, which is sold in 120 countries.

He was also involved in the development of ionophores, hormones as well as number of companion animal products, including some which were used to assist human drug development.

The experience in the corporate world helped Reeve-Johnson acquire the necessary nous to establish the PetDoctors UK clinic chain in 2002 with two other vets and a banker.

PetDoctors grew from a couple of branches with a dozen staff to 28 multi-vet clinics, a major tertiary referral site and a large diagnostic laboratory (Greendale Diagnostics) within a few years.

Expansion enabled Reeve-Johnson and his team to release some of their own branded products and conduct ethical research in to new treatments.

In 2005 Reeve-Johnson moved to Australian and was appointed Head of Veterinary School at the University of Queensland, spending an “interesting couple of years” of reform.

Continue reading The path of a polymath: Lloyd Reeve-Johnson

Cat-friendly crusader Andrea Harvey

Andrea at the Gap National ParkFeline patients are notoriously challenging: some are difficult to handle, others become so stressed at the vet their blood glucose skyrockets, and the mere scent of a vet is enough to manifest profound physiological changes including pyrexia, tachypnoea and dyspnoea. But according to feline specialist Andrea Harvey, there is much the average vet can do to make cats more comfortable.

Harvey, a UK-qualified feline specialist who relocated to Australia last year, has been working in conjunction with the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) on its ‘Cat Friendly Clinic’ scheme since 2005.

The program is designed to provide veterinary clinics with educational resources to reduce the stress to cats visiting the vet, and acknowledging veterinary clinics that do make measures to make their clinics as least stressful as possible for cats.  

None of this is really rocket science,” Harvey said. “But I think that often as vets we are good at focusing on complex problems and missing the small simple things that make a big difference, and I am absolutely adamant that this forms an essential foundation for feline medicine.”

Harvey graduated from Bristol University in 2000, when feline medicine was in its infancy (the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, now the go-to publication on any feline affliction, was launched in 1999).

I was exceptionally lucky to be mentored and inspired as an undergraduate by feline specialists such as Tim Gruffydd-Jones and Andy Sparkes around that time,” she said. “When I went out into practice I realised how much cats were still being treated like small dogs and second class citizens, and I just wanted to do a better job with them than that.” Continue reading Cat-friendly crusader Andrea Harvey

Honours for Harris: a vet’s story

James Harris and PhilJames Harris knew he wanted to be a vet when he was six years-old, and growing up in the US as a British evacuee during World War ll. He never deviated from this youthful decision, but neither did it stop him from also gaining a degree in anthropology, becoming a professionally trained musician, and pursuing a serious interest in ceramics, along the way to studying veterinary science. He was determined to not be bored.

Harris’s services to the veterinary profession and animal welfare were recognised in this year’s Australia Day awards with a Medal of the Order of Australia, despite having lived and worked in Tasmania for just 11 of the 55 years he has been in practice. Not that he regards veterinary practice as work, since work is an ‘unpleasant activity’, and whatever Harris does he enjoys because for him ‘life is fun’.

His affinity with animals was apparent very early. Whether it was learning to ride horses while still a toddler, being a magnet for stray dogs while walking with his Scottish nanny, or during his regular Sunday visits to Regent Park Zoo, it was soon clear he shared a special relationship with animals. A perk of his parents’ pre-war membership to the London Zoological Society allowed him to befriend any of the animals housed at Regent Park Zoo, but rather than developing a relationship with just one relatively placid wild animal, Harris instead divided his Sunday afternoons between a tiger, a wolf, and a pack of dingoes. Continue reading Honours for Harris: a vet’s story

Veterinary radiologist receives highest academic honour

Graeme Allan and Hugo.Veterinary specialist radiologist Graeme Allan will be awarded a Doctor in Veterinary Science (DVSc) this year in recognition of his prolific contribution to the field of veterinary diagnostic imaging.

The DVSc is a rare honour, awarded to outstanding researchers whose body of work is deemed to have made a consistent and distinguished contribution to veterinary science. Candidates submit a collection of original publications for assessment by examiners who are considered pre-eminent in their respective research field.

The unusual thing in Allan’s case is that his clinical research was undertaken while running a busy private specialist practice. As such he is the first Australian veterinarian in private practice to receive the DVSc by examination.

His thesis, ‘Radiological Studies of Disease in Companion and Zoo Animals’, is a compilation of more than 45 years of collaborative studies looking into a range of conditions, including pioneering studies on contrast radiography, oesophageal dysfunction, radiotherapy for treatment of cancer in companion animals right through to new forms of rickets in rex kittens, osteochondrosis in the cheetah and osteocondritis in snow leopards. Continue reading Veterinary radiologist receives highest academic honour

Face to Face: A surgeon’s inspiration

Ilana Mendels and Jeff Mayo.There’s something almost savant-like about world renowned veterinary surgeon Jeff Mayo. He has a compulsion to learn how everything works – and the quiet confidence that he can master it if he sets his mind to it. Even if that means repeating the same task over and over until he achieves perfection.

Mayo, who in July taught two tibial tuberosity advancement workshops hosted by VetPrac at two Australian universities, credits his success to a series of remarkable role models – including his own veterinarian.

I was twelve years old, I’d just bought a horse, and this guy came out to do a health check. That was the day I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian. I spent every day with him til the day I went to college.”

Irv LeVine was something of a renaissance man, not only practicing as a veterinarian but singing and recording music, flying planes and horsing around.

His approach to life in general wore off on me,” Mayo said. “The man just has fun all the time. He doesn’t fight, he doesn’t argue, his medicine was very practical.”

But Mayo didn’t proceed directly to veterinary school. He undertook a degree in respiratory therapy through Boise State University before working as a respiratory therapist at Duke University Medical Centre.

A respiratory therapist (RT) or inhalation therapist, he explains, is an allied health worker trained in the assessment and treatment of breathing disorders including asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. RTs specialise and advise doctors on airway management, mechanical ventilation and acid-base balance.

Mayo proved good at it. In less than twelve month’s he had completed every one of the hospitals 16 additional RT qualifications. He practiced for four years until the hunger for veterinary science drew him back to college.

Mayo was recognised early as a gifted student at Oregon State University College, and something of an entrepreneur. He continued to practice as an RT to pay his way through veterinary school – with the permission of the Dean. Continue reading Face to Face: A surgeon’s inspiration