When Dr. Susan Eades, professor and head of the Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), enrolled in engineering classes at Louisiana State University (LSU) in the 1970s, her family of engineers thought she was destined to take on the family profession. However, Eades had a different plan.
Quickly realizing the field wasn’t for her, she traded her engineering calculator for a stethoscope and started a pre-veterinary program soon after she began her undergraduate degree. Passionate about becoming a veterinarian and helping companion animals, Eades continued her education at LSU and earned her DVM degree in 1982.
Though Eades expected to specialize in companion animals, horses had always intrigued her. In college, she took every opportunity to interact with horses, including cleaning stalls and exercising horses for a cutting and reining horse trainer. In veterinary school, she purchased her first horse and developed a bond.
This bond, and her clinical rotations, further convinced Eades to develop her skills in large animal medicine, with the goal of working in a small-town mixed private practice. However, during her fourth-year clinical rotations in small and large animal internal medicine, Eades decided she wanted to specialize in internal medicine, so she applied for academic internships after earning her DVM degree and never looked back.
“I ended up never going into private practice,” Eades said. “Instead, I stayed in academia.”
She participated in clinical research during her internship and residency at New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania and decided that another degree would be the next step in her career. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in 1988 in veterinary physiology and pharmacology and then accepted a position there as a clinical faculty member.
But Eades’ love for horses never waned; she started researching laminitis, a crippling disease that is categorized by inflammation in the horse hoof, at the University of Georgia. She described this time in her life as “perfect” because her passions for medicine, horses, and research were being used simultaneously in the veterinary profession.
Her work with laminitis gave Eades the opportunity to develop worldwide research collaborations. Though laminitis is a complicated condition, Eades and her research partners around the world have played a crucial role in gaining a better understanding of the condition.
“We really have made a lot of advances,” Eades said. “It’s just a difficult condition to treat because by the time signs of laminitis are evident, there is already so much damage to the tissues in the hoof that lameness is inevitable.”
After 10 years at the University of Georgia, Eades decided it was time to continue her laminitis research and returned to Louisiana to move her three children closer to extended family and work at LSU as an associate professor. There, she became a full professor and mentored faculty and taught students, further encouraging her strong passion for education.
“I love teaching because I get to help students do something they never thought they would be able to do, such as taking a blood sample or putting in a catheter,” Eades said. “I love watching them gain confidence and grow exponentially with every little skill they learn.”
Additionally, Eades learned the importance of veterinary outreach programs while at LSU. She participated in these programs by collaborating with Louisiana veterinarians helping them better serve clientele across the state.
Eades’ mentoring and administration experience at LSU led her to pursue her position at Texas A&M this past spring. With her kids grown, Eades felt moving to Texas and working at the CVM was an exciting next step in her career. After experiencing the Aggie spirit and meeting other leaders at the CVM, Eades crossed the Louisiana border once again to continue her leadership role in the veterinary profession.
“At LSU, I became more active in faculty mentoring and administration and decided I wanted to do that full-time as a department head,” Eades said. “I came to the CVM because of the resources, positive energy, and outstanding leadership that’s here in the college.”
As a new CVM faculty member, Eades hopes to bring more focus into outreach programs at Texas A&M.
“Some of my personal goals are to reach out to veterinarians for feedback and find where we can strategically expand our services to help them better serve their clients,” Eades said.
She also hopes to help the large animal faculty excel in their efforts in clinical service, teaching, and research.
Though Eades looks forward to spending a lot of time at the CVM, she also is excited for new adventures in her personal life. Eades can be found hiking, walking her dogs, kayaking, playing volleyball, following many different sport teams-including the LSU gymnastics team-and, of course, caring for horses or watching the Kentucky Derby.
Whether she’s lecturing students, mentoring a faculty member, or contributing to worldwide research in laminitis, Eades hopes to bring a lifetime of leadership to the CVM.
“I’m just really happy to be here,” Eades said.