Donald A. Abt
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, (RET), East Falmouth, MA, USA
In the winter and spring of 1976, an idea was developed that the veterinary profession was missing the boat by not including aquatic animals among the many species attended to in its realm of comparative medicine. Aquatic animals served as food animals, laboratory animals and companion animals yet were formally ignored by the profession at large. As a result of this awakening, in my role as Associate Dean at the School of Veterinary Medicine University of Pennsylvania, I was tasked with spending that coming summer at Woods Hole on Cape Cod exploring interest levels at the many scientific institutions there to join forces in the development of a veterinary education program in aquatic animal medicine and pathology. Discussions were also carried out with a number of other potential academic and research collaborators up and down the East Coast and elsewhere. With many individuals contributing to this explorative effort, it soon became evident that this was a viable and worthwhile endeavor. In August our colleagues at the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Ithaca readily accepted an invitation to formerly join the effort.
The result was AQUAVET. Funding for a first presentation was obtained from the Sea Grant Program. Sixteen students selected from the two veterinary schools became the first class which gathered at the Marine Biological Laboratory in late spring of 1977 with faculty drawn from 20 academic and governmental institutions up and down the East Coast. There were 53 scientists involved with those 16 students that first year. Everyone wanted to be part of it.
As the phrase goes, the Rest is History as demonstrated by the fact that AQUAVET is alive and well 40 years later. How did this happen?
The author wishes to thank the hundreds and hundreds of students and faculty over the past forty years who have made AQUAVET the program it is today. Without you it would never have happened.