MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Each month we will be showcasing two of our amazing VES members. Please let us know if you’d like to nominate a member to be showcased.

Penny regier, dvm, MS, DACVS

Assistant Professor, University of Florida

I was raised in a military family, but I spent most of my life growing up in the great state of Oklahoma and am the oldest of four children (one brother and two sisters). I spent my younger years as a figure skater before joining the rest of my family as a soccer player. After graduating with a zoology degree from Oklahoma State University in 2005, I married my husband, Jake; we then moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma where I worked as a shark biologist at the Oklahoma Aquarium. After several years, I decided to attend veterinary school and earned my DVM from Oklahoma State University in 2013. We then moved to Fort Collins, Colorado where I completed my rotating internship, small animal surgery residency, and masters degree at Colorado State University. While in Colorado, I had the opportunity to not only enjoy the great outdoors, but I was able to train with many great surgeons and to experience many aspects of MIS with Dr. Eric Monnet. After completing my residency, we made the journey to Gainesville, Florida where I joined the faculty at University of Florida. While not working or spending time outdoors, we enjoy hanging with our large dog, 3 cats, a tortoise, and many plants.


Tell us about your current role (ie. Practice type, position, professional and research focuses?)

I currently work as an Assistant Professor in Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery at the University of Florida and am completing my ACVS Minimally Invasive Fellowship in Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery with Dr. Brad Case. I love getting to work in an academic setting and seeing students and residents get excited about surgery. As I progress in my career, my research interests have evolved to include gastrointestinal surgery, upper airway surgery, as well as minimally invasive surgical techniques.


How do you incorporate MIS into your surgery clinic?

I enjoy incorporating MIS into many aspects of surgery from basic procedures like laparoscopic ovariectomies and gastropexies, to more advanced surgical procedures like thoracoscopy, cholecystectomies, and adrenalectomies. I love exposing veterinary students and residents to basic MIS procedures on a weekly basis and getting them excited about incorporating this into their future practice. We are able to then build off these fundamental skills, and I get to not only teach and watch residents develop their more advanced MIS skills, but also learn and develop techniques myself.


What excites you about MIS? (or tell us about a MIS success story)

I love being involved in a field that is continuing to evolve and progress. There is so much more to explore and learn in veterinary medicine and MIS, and it is both exciting and fun to be a part of a process that continues to challenge me and encourage me to keep learning. It is always exciting to be a part of something new and innovative and get to expose and excite others about MIS.


Why do you love being a VES member?

Being a VES member is a great opportunity to stay informed and learn about new and exciting opportunities in MIS from many different experts in the field. I really enjoy getting to be a part of a great community that is welcoming and able to share ideas and thoughts and provide feedback. I especially love being able to hear different ideas and experiences other surgeons have had and incorporating those into my practice.


Where would you like to see veterinary MIS go in the future?

Veterinary MIS has an open road ahead, and the possibilities are endless. I would love to see MIS become more readily accessible and available to our veterinary patients. In order for this to happen, I would like to see MIS training opportunities become more readily available for both students and surgery residents.


What do you like to do for fun outside of veterinary medicine?

My favorite activities involve spending time with my family and traveling. I must admit that I’m an old lady at heart, and I love bird watching, reading, crocheting, and plants (my new Florida obsession)! My husband and I enjoy getting outdoors to hike and spending time near the water, whether kayaking the Florida rivers and coast or just enjoying the beautiful beaches.


ikuya ehara, dvm, ceo

St. Lukes Animal Medical Center

I founded St. Luke’s Animal Medical Center in 1994 and have been a practitioner and a hospital owner for 25 years. It has been 17 years since I started practicing MIS in 2003. In 2005, my colleagues and I co-founded Japan Society for Veterinary Endoscopic Surgery (JSVES) with the aim to advance the field of MIS in Japan. I have recently taken on the role of Chief Education Manager for a company named AEON PET ACADEMY (AePA), through which I help to provide and teach MIS in 6 cities around the country.


Tell us about your current role

As the vice president of JSVES, I oversee our educational activities such as organizing MIS CE events and endoscopic surgical skill accreditation programs. My responsibility as the department chair at the corporate university of AePA is to provide education with the support of specialists from the fields of veterinary radiology, anesthesiology, surgery, orthopedic surgery; and human endoscopic surgery, and nursing.

My research revolves around expanding indications for MIS and attaining better surgical outcomes compared to open surgery by building upon its strength of highly precise surgical maneuvers and clear magnified views. I am currently particularly eager to expand indication for thoracoscopic lung lobectomies and laparoscopic liver lobectomies.


How do you incorporate MIS into your surgery clinic?

At our Animal Endoscopy Center wing we built in 2005, we provide MIS options to many of the soft tissue surgeries and accept cases from other animal hospitals as well as the general public. For hospitals interested in implementing MIS, we offer help in instrument selection, provide in-clinic seminars and technical support.


What excites you about MIS?

When I first began to practice MIS, there were hardly any veterinary facilities offering this service. Not knowing how to navigate myself in this new field, I was fortunate to make acquaintance with and learn from the highly distinguished experts of MIS in the human field in Japan. Through the process, making something that was not possible possible, brought me much joy and excitement. I am now grateful for the initial challenges I faced because I feel that they helped me grow and become confident enough to explore new indications for MIS. I am eager to continue on this journey and my pursuit to acquire further technical expertise.


Why do you love being a VES member?

VES brings together people from all over the world. Through MIS, I have made many friends who have not only transformed my professional career but have also brought great joy. Sharing experiences through cases of my own and discussing new findings and insights of others with international colleagues are both fascinating and stimulating.


Where would you like to see veterinary MIS go in the future?

I am certain that veterinary MIS will go along the same path as that of humans where endoscopic surgery continues to expand. I hope to see the day when clients are offered the option of MIS in consultation rooms of animal hospitals all over the world, where the choice is made on which is the “best practice” for animals between traditional open surgery and MIS. I am confident that high quality MIS will become available worldwide, and VES will play a big role in its success.


What do you like to do for fun outside of veterinary medicine?

I enjoy traveling and golf. Wine and good food are also sources of pleasure. I used to travel abroad on a monthly basis before the pandemic, always making sure to have time of my own to explore around. I loved to endlessly stroll around cities with music in my ears, taking in the new and unknown world. Due to the pandemic, my travels are now limited to domestic and no longer international, but I have become to love spending a quiet night at home in front of the TV with my dog on my lap.