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Texas A&M Professor Delivers 2011 Frank J. Milne State-of-the-Art Lecture to Equine Practitioners

Posted December 08, 2011

Texas A&M Professor Delivers 2011 Frank J. Milne State-of-the-Art Lecture to Equine Practitioners

An interesting fact about veterinary medicine is that research methods are not limited to just the laboratory, but are used in clinical veterinary practice every day. At least that is the important point that Dr. Noah Cohen, professor of large animal clinical sciences at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, shared with fellow veterinarians and veterinary technicians attending the 2011 Frank J. Milne State-of-the-Art Lecture at the 57th Annual American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Convention on November 20. 

Cohen, an expert in epidemiology and equine infectious disease, has presented numerous lectures nationally and internationally on applying principles of epidemiology, the branch of medical science concerned with the occurrence, transmission, and control of diseases, to specific areas of equine practice, including racing injuries, gastrointestinal disease, evidence-based medicine, and infectious disease.

 "When most practitioners think about epidemiology and research, they have the traditional view that epidemiology is about public health and outbreak investigations," said Cohen. "However, using methods from this scientific discipline is something that practitioners strive to do every day in their practice." 

Veterinarians use the principles of evidence-based medicine when they determine a particular diagnosis for their client, as well as what an appropriate treatment plan would be. The science foundation behind evidence-based medicine is epidemiology.  

"As a veterinarian," states Cohen, "the most important information I have in the best treatment plan for a particular disease comes from studying cases with the same disease. As an example, if I see a patient with equine pneumonia, everything I know about the best treatments comes from studying how effective various treatment options have worked or not worked in other patients with equine pneumonia."

Additionally, Cohen addressed the concept of cumulative learning. 

"At every turn, every day," said Cohen, "what I learn is based on what I have learned from other patients. Examinations are given additional context by what we have seen in previous cases. So while we may actually be examining an individual patient in a clinic, how a veterinarian proceeds with diagnosing and treating the disease or injury is based on a population approach." 

Cohen pointed out that much of what is practiced in veterinary medicine came from conclusions drawn from research studies. For this reason, it is important for veterinarians to have a healthy appreciation for epidemiological research methods-to understand the strengths and limitations of studies, so that they can have confidence in the conclusions they choose to incorporate into their practice. 

"I was truly honored to have the opportunity to address the members of the AAEP at the convention this year," said Cohen. "While it was my hope to share something meaningful with them, and give them a new appreciation for interpreting research findings and putting them into practice, I found that I, too, was able to learn from this experience." 

 In preparing for his presentation, Cohen enlisted assistance from two colleagues - fellow veterinarians., Bo Brock a practitioner in Lamesa, TX, and . Jim Moore, a faculty member at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. 

"Both of these gentlemen helped me to develop my presentation by suggesting content and helping with some illustrative graphic elements," said Cohen. "I found that they inspired me, encouraged me, and challenged me with my presentation skills. It was a learning experience for me about teaching. I learned new presentation techniques in preparing for this lecture that will benefit my students in the classroom." 

Having returned back to the CVM from giving this distinguished lecture, Cohen will now begin work on a study investigating laminitis, an inflammation of horses' hooves, that has been funded by financial support from the AAEP Foundation.


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