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American College of Veterinary Pathologists
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Pillars of Pathology

In 1996, Dr. Leon Saunders (1919-2009) published a “Biographical History of Veterinary Pathology” containing the contributions of veterinarians that established and expanded the discipline of veterinary pathology.  The book is dedicated to Dr. William Osler (1849-1919), a Canadian doctor, clinician and pathologist that is considered the father of veterinary pathology in North America.  The text provides brief biographical sketches on the personal and professional lives of 150-plus veterinary pathologists that form a truly international cast of characters. 

Where do we go from here? Thankfully for all of us, the necropsy knife has been picked up and passed to others to keep the discipline, the journal, and the College healthy and alive.  If the foundation has been laid by the pathologists highlighted in Saunders’ text, then those that have come later, and even now, serve as the “pillars” upon the foundation that support the expansion of our discipline.  With this theme in mind, the Education Committee of the ACVP has inaugurated a minisymposium entitled “Pillars of Pathology” that highlight the newcomers in the history of veterinary pathology.  Four pathologists were chosen to populate this first minisymposium, bearing in mind the candidate list was long and the choice of only four difficult.  Drs. Barthold, Meuten, King and Thrall will speak at the inaugural minisymposium at the Annual Meeting of the ACVP in Seattle, WA in December 2012.  This is not intended to be an awards/recognition ceremony or any kind of career send-off as all are still active in their fields; however, the spirit of the session is educational and how ordinary people can become extraordinary pathologists.

Speaking for those of us that completed residency training at either agricultural colleges or land grant institutions, pathology instruction on laboratory rodents and rabbits paled in volume or case load to the domesticated  animal species. In the case of sporadically introduced research mice or perhaps a pet rat or guinea pig, a lack of familiarity breeds contempt.  If you cannot rely on your own experiences, then you must rely on others’, and the first book pulled from the shelf is Percy and Barthold’s Pathology of Laboratory Rodents and Rabbits.

Stephen W. Barthold is a native of San Carlos, CA and received his Bachelors of Veterinary Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from the University of California at Davis. He attributes most of his early path to be the result of his mentors’ confidence in him by their recommendations for veterinary school and post-graduate work.  Dr. Barthold helped finance his veterinary education by working part time and summers in research labs at UC Davis. During this time he acquired an interest in research and an emerging interest in pathology, which was influenced significantly by Dr. Peter Kennedy. During veterinary school, he enlisted in the Early Commissioning Program of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps.  Upon graduation from veterinary school, Dr. Barthold was recommended by the Dean of UC Davis veterinary school (Dr. Bill Pritchard) to the head of the Army Veterinary Corps (General Wilson Osteen) to work at the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine at Natick, MA, where he served as Director of the Laboratory Animal Unit.  This time in MA was significant personally and professionally as Dr. Barthold completed his Army appointment, moonlighted in private practice (Framingham Animal Hospital) and realized that his interest in research exceeded his interest in an Army career or career in private practice. Dr. Barthold also met a young lady (Beverly) that would soon become his wife and mother to his daughter, Kerry Jean (Barthold) Sullivan.

After discharge from the Army at the rank of Captain in 1971, Dr. Barthold entered a pathology and research graduate program at the University of Wisconsin under the direction of Dr. Carl Olsen, Jr.  Dr. Olsen was a charter member of the ACVP and was an enormous influence on Dr. Barthold’s professional path, instilling “that pathology was an essential tool for a successful research career”.  Dr. Barthold received a MS (1973) and PhD (1974) primarily investigating the pathogenesis of bovine papilloma virus.  Following his training and ACVP board certification (1976), Dr. Barthold embarked on a successful professional career of 23 years at Yale University School of Medicine, working his way through the faculty ranks to Full Professor of Comparative Medicine and serving as assistant and then associate director of the Division of Animal Care. In 1997, Dr. Barthold left Yale University to become the inaugural and current director of the UC Davis Center for Comparative Medicine, a research center that is co-sponsored by the schools of medicine and veterinary medicine and focuses on animal models of human disease.

Dr. Barthold’s diagnostic specialty is pathology of laboratory rodents and rabbits and his primary research focus over the past 25 years has been Lyme borreliosis.  As a testament to his contribution to both diagnostic pathology and research are over 300 publications and book chapters including the seminal textbook on diseases of laboratory rodents and rabbits and heavily cited works on the pathogenesis of coronaviruses, Citrobacter rodentium and Borrelia burgdorferi.  Dr. Barthold displays a lengthy track record for continuous, extramural grant funding, active participation in professional committees/appointments and editorial boards, mentorship of 40-plus graduate research and residency trainees and enumerable abstracts, scientific presentations and invited speakerships at national and international meetings. Dr. Barthold has also received significant and deserved recognition for his work in the form of professional honors/awards. Most notably, Dr. Barthold was elected to the National Academies Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2001, and is recipient of several career awards, including the AALAS Nathan R. Brewer Award for Career Excellence in Research, UC Alumni Achievement Award, Francis Schofield Medal from the Ontario Veterinary College, Pfizer Research Award, AVMA Charles River Prize, Meriel-AAVMC Excellence in Research Award, and Honorary Diplomate in the ACLAM.  

Dr. Barthold continues to be productive and is looking forward to retirement in the next couple of years when he plans to spend time with his family and devote time to cure his “insatiable appetite” for fly fishing.

One textbook that is surely on the shelves of most pathologists that do any significant diagnostic work is Tumors in Domestic Animals. This textbook is the standard for veterinary educators and diagnosticians and is widely used throughout the profession as a reference. Originally published in 1961 by Dr. Jack E. Moulton (1922-2003), this book set the foundation for the recognition and identification of neoplastic diseases and most-likely is arguably responsible for the field of comparative oncology. Dr. Moulton published three editions of the book and a fourth edition was passed to a new editor.  It was certainly no small task for Dr. Moulton to choose a person to continue the standard of excellence established in the former editions, especially in the face of the expanding knowledge base of veterinary cancers.  Dr. Moulton entrusted his project to Dr. Donald J. Meuten.

Donald J. Meuten’s original dream was basketball. Meuten was a member of the 1967 University of Connecticut basketball team while completing his undergraduate degree in Storrs, CT.  Observing that his “college basketball career was short and his NBA dreams imaginary”, Dr. Meuten quickly turned to his back-up plan of becoming a veterinarian and completed his DVM degree from Cornell University in 1974.  Immediately after veterinary school, Dr. Meuten entered private practice in California, then Connecticut and New York.  Dr. Meuten reflects that the “swath of dead from one ocean to the other was so wide he was advised on a career in pathology”.

Acting on this advice, Dr. Meuten received training in anatomic pathology from Cornell and completed a residency in clinical pathology from The Ohio State University.  While at Ohio State, Dr. Meuten earned a PhD degree investigating the mechanism of hypercalcemia of malignancy in dogs under the mentorship of Dr. Charles Capen and Dr. Gary Kociba.  Dr. Meuten completed his PhD in 1981, became board certified in anatomic pathology in 1981 and in clinical pathology in 1987. 

Dr. Meuten’s education is followed by a successful and productive career.  Dr. Meuten has spent the majority of his professional career (1983-present) at the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University where he is currently a professor.  Dr. Meuten has 100-plus manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journals and enumerable presentations in scientific meetings. Dr. Meuten continues to be an excellent teacher to veterinary students, trainees and pathology colleagues. He is consistently invited to provide continuing education lectures to veterinarians, veterinary pathologists, and other professionals worldwide. Most of these invited talks are directed at practicing veterinarians or pathologists at national and international meetings such as the American Veterinary Medical Association, North American Veterinary Conference, ACVP, and CL Davis Foundation events. He also is an ambassador of the profession providing continuing education talks in Australia, England, Southeast Asia, Brazil and Scotland.  Dr. Meuten is a multiple recipient of NCSU’s Outstanding Teaching Award, most recently in 2012. Dr. Meuten has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus from both the University of Connecticut and The Ohio State University. He has provided invaluable service to the ACVP serving on the editorial board for the journal, examination committee chairperson (clinical pathology), Councilor (1995-2000) and President of the ACVP (2009-2010).  Dr. Meuten has provided significant or notable scientific contributions to the discipline including novel discoveries on hypercalcemia and malignancy, creation of the formula used to adjust serum calcium for albumin concentration and was the first to report cryptosporidiosis in dairy calves.  However, in the realm of publications, awards or scientific discoveries, Dr. Meuten is most proud of his role as editor of Tumors in Domestic Animals.
Dr. Meuten’s productivity continues today and the 5th edition of Tumors in Domestic Animals is rumored to be in press soon.   Since his knees are no longer suitable for basketball, he spends his personal time assisting his wife, Dr. Nicki Young-Meuten, with management of their private veterinary practice, riding horses, farming and making sure everybody knows how proud he is of his children; son, Travis (also a veterinarian and in the anatomic pathology program at CSU) and daughter, Janelle (still taking college money).

One veterinary pathologist has played a role in training more pathologists than any other.  This begins for some when they start their training program and receive “The Grey Book”.  For others, it might begin as they pour over thousands of gross images in preparation for the ACVP certification examination.  The book and the images are the contributions of one of the masters of observation and pillars of gross pathology, Dr. John M. King.

From age 7, Dr. John M. King was raised in a farm home for boys, the Hillside School in Marlborough, MA.  The school provided education and agricultural/farming experience, which may have planted the early seed for Dr. King to pursue a career as a veterinarian.  After his secondary education, Dr. King enlisted in the Army at the end of WWII and served as a paratrooper. Although he was more than pleased with the extra $50/month pay awarded to those that jump out of perfectly good planes, the true blessing to Dr. King was the GI Bill that allowed him to trade 48 months of service for 48 months of a college education.  In 1947, Dr. King married Marie Ryan and gives her all the credit for putting him through his pre-training education at the University of Delaware.  He was saving the use of his GI Bill for veterinary college.  The Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Clarence McElroy, was an acquaintance with the Dean of Students at Delaware and both encouraged Dr. King to head west to Oklahoma. Dr. King and his wife traveled to Stillwater and established Oklahoma residency, then he entered veterinary school at Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Oklahoma State).  Following his DVM training in 1955, the King’s (now with son Jon David King) moved east to Cornell University to train in anatomic pathology and undertake graduate training, which was completed in 1963.  Dr. King lists his mentors for that period as Dr. Peter Olafson and Dr. Roger Panciera, the latter an Oklahoma State graduate and just two years ahead of Dr. King in the training program himself.

Following his formal education, Dr. King was an assistant professor at Washington State University and worked for six years as a pathologist for the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research in Pittsburgh, PA.  In 1968, Dr. King made his way back to Cornell University where he spent the remainder of his career.

Dr. King’s legendary career has focused on teaching and few, if any, have not been impacted in some way by his contributions.  Dr. King has authored or co-authored over 100 publications, and fostered/encouraged many publications by residents and trainees.  Dr. King has traveled world-wide promoting and teaching veterinary pathology with an emphasis on gross observations.  Many miles were put on cargo vans filled with buckets of tissue specimens in Klotz solution as Dr. King went on demonstration “tours” in the eastern United States.  What Dr. King could not show us in person, he photographed.  In an interview with the OK-State legacy program, Dr. King described that he spent 1-2 hours each day over the course of his career photo-documenting lesions.  This resulted in the accumulation of over 50,000 images of which more than 25,000 are available online at his “Show and Tell” website (  Each of the photos was meticulously labeled because Dr. King wanted to share.  Furthermore, whenever asked about the webpage, Dr. King always wants to acknowledge Dr. Linda Parrish, Dr. James Britt, John Leukovitz (program designer) and Susan Williams that helped make the website possible.  Dr. King organized the Northeast Veterinary Pathology Conference, a diagnostic pathology focus group patterned after Southeast Conference at Tifton (GA) and has been a champion of the Diagnostic Pathology focus group of the ACVP.  Dr. King is a pillar of the C.L. Davis Foundation and his contributions to the Foundation were recognized in 2007 as the Foundation inaugurated its highest level award, the John M. King Award for Sustained Contribution to Veterinary Pathology.  Dr. King has also been named a Distinguished Alumnus from Oklahoma State University.  There are other awards and recognitions; however, not surprisingly, Dr. King does not list awards on his CV.  Dr. King has authored several textbooks, most notably the Gross Necropsy Technique for Animals, which remains the primary training manual delivered to resident trainees in anatomic pathology.  Lastly, Dr. King is most proud of the nationally recognized Veterinary Medical Antique Instrument Museum housed at Cornell that he organized and works on almost daily.

Dr. King remains active, both in the northeast and in the summertime down in warmer Florida. Here, he fashions oval boxes in the Shaking Quaker (Shaker) style and pulls the bow across his fiddle.  As for the fiddle playing, Dr. King states that his wife of 65 years is amazed by his “lack of pride” while playing; however, Dr. King affirms that anyone that hears his music can at least recognize the tune. 

In the realm of clinical pathology, one name recognized as synonymous with excellence literally around the world is Mary Anna Thrall. Through her extensive outreach to veterinary practitioners and teaching of veterinary students and pathology residents, Dr. Thrall has “the knack” for making clinical pathology fun and has truly been an inspiration for those who have followed in her footsteps.

Dr. Mary Anna Thrall was born and raised in Indiana. Before trading cornfields for the mountain or ocean views, Dr. Thrall received a BA degree in Biology and Education from the University of Evansville (IN) and then completed her DVM at Purdue University.  Immediately following graduation, Dr. Thrall entered private practice providing excellent clinical care to all veterinary patients in the vicinity of Greeley, CO for a 5-year period.  In 1975, Dr. Thrall entered a residency and graduate training program at the veterinary college at Colorado State University.  She completed an MS degree in 1977 and became board certified in clinical pathology the same year.  The experiences in clinical practice and advanced training in clinical pathology serve as the foundation of an academic career that begins at Colorado State.  Dr. Thrall’s research interests have been in the areas of bone marrow transplantation as therapy for feline models of lysosomal storage disorders, characterization of feline models of lysosomal storage diseases and treatment of ethylene glycol toxicosis in dogs and cats.  She was primary investigator or co-investigator for numerous research awards including grants from the National Institute of Health, the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation and the national Niemann-Pick Foundation.  She is author or co-author of 135-plus scientific publications and book chapters and is the primary author of a clinical pathology textbook, Veterinary Hematology and Clinical Chemistry that is translated into Japanese and Portuguese and used worldwide to train veterinarians in clinical pathology. She has helped train 42 veterinary clinical pathologists and 24 graduate students (8 as major professor).   She is extremely active in providing continuing education for veterinarians and pathologists, and has provided more than 275 scientific presentations and continuing education programs at local, regional, national and international venues.  Dr. Thrall has provided outstanding service to the ACVP serving on enumerable committees, as Councilor (1998-2003), and Vice-President/President-elect and President of the College (2006-2007).  She has also served as the president of The American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology (1984-1985). Dr. Thrall’s awards include the Association for Women Veterinarians Distinguished Service Award (1987), a CSU Distinguished Faculty Award (1988), the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine Distinguished Alumna Award (2004) and the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology Lifetime Achievement Award (2008). 

After 32 years on faculty at Colorado State and following one of the most productive careers achieved in veterinary clinical pathology, perhaps one would retire?  Not Dr. Thrall.  Instead according to Don Meuten, “she has turned in her keys, left an office piled full with papers, slides, brochures, cases, kodachromes, pipettes, refractometers, gallons of unused ethylene glycol and moved off shore.” Dr. Thrall is still not done.  She is currently a Professor and Section Chief of the Department of Pathobiology at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine where she teaches veterinary clinical pathology to more than 300 veterinary students per year, and plans to continue to do so “until her brain atrophies.”

The nature of this minisymposium would probably be classified unique, and the current plan of the Education Committee is to consider repeating the format every 3-5 years with different extraordinary pathologists. This of course depends on how well this first effort is received by you.  Join us in Seattle for the 2012 Annual Meeting.  The Pillars of Pathology session is currently scheduled for Sunday morning, December 2, 2012, 8A to 12 noon.  The preliminary program that includes all session information  is currently available on the ACVP website. 

Thanks to  Dr. Robin Allison, Dr. Michael D. Lairmore, Dr. Roger J. Panciera, Ms. Jennifer Paustenbaugh (for the OK-STATE Legacy history project), and Dr. Lois Roth-Johnson for contributing to this article.