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.

Valery Scharf

DVM, MS, DACVS;
Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University

I grew up in Massachusetts before moving to California to earn my bachelor’s degree in earth sciences/oceanography at Stanford University. I then received my DVM from Texas A&M University in 2009 and moved to The Ohio State University for my rotating internship. Beginning in 2010, I spent 4 years completing my small animal surgery residency and masters in translational oncology at the University of Florida. During my residency, I was fortunate to start my clinical training at the same time that Brad Case joined UF as faculty, so I was able to see firsthand a MIS program being built from the ground up.

Following my residency, I joined the faculty at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine in 2014 as a clinical assistant professor of soft tissue and oncologic surgery. In 2018, I changed to a tenure track position in order to better pursue my research interests, which include MIS (particularly thoracoscopy), spontaneous pneumothorax, surgical education, thyroid neoplasia and associations with environmental exposure, and the effects of sleep in veterinary medicine.

How do you incorporate MIS into your surgery clinic?

Our goals are to 1) introduce veterinary students to routine MIS procedures, 2) train surgery residents in MIS fundamentals, and 3) develop new and innovate MIS techniques. We accomplish this through the use of “Minimally Invasive Mondays” – every Monday, clinics are designated for elective MIS procedures. This provides vet students with exposure to laparoscopic ovariectomies and gastropexies while giving residents the chance to build their MIS skills with routine procedures. With this foundation, our surgery team (staff, residents, and surgeons) are better able to tackle more complex MIS cases when they arise.

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

Surgical education is a huge part of what motivates me to come to work each day, and MIS training is the most enjoyable part of that. I was fortunate enough to receive extensive MIS training in my residency, and it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to help provide this for the next generation of surgeons by building a program at NC State and working with experts from many other institutions.

Why do you love being a VES member?

VES has been a wonderful resource in providing a forum to learn from a diverse group of experts in the field and to hash out ideas for future collaborations. In addition, VES’s response to the pandemic has been a great example of innovation in delivering educational content despite a new set of challenges. I think this speaks to the sense of genuine community among VES members, which sets it apart from a lot of professional organizations. The meeting locations aren’t too shabby either!

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

I love thoracoscopy and think there is still so much to develop within this field. In the short-term, my current interests include improving our ability to effectively diagnose and treat primary spontaneous pneumothorax thoracoscopically. I would also like to see (and help facilitate) veterinary school curricula adopting MIS education as a more consistent and structured part of veterinary surgical education.

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

Fun outside veterinary medicine??? I love to travel, primarily for hiking and backpacking trips, but am also happy staying busy with outdoor activities closer to home including biking, swimming, climbing, and kayaking. I also enjoy photography, marginally successful home renovation projects, and helping my family manage their hobby vineyard in Texas.

Jesus Villalobos

DVM, MS;
CEO Hospital Veterinary Del Valle

Graduated from Veterinary Medicine at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) in 1995 and dedicated to endoscopy and MIS since 1998, starting endoscopy as a specialty in animals in Mexico. In 2000 received as Diplomate in Minimally Invasive Surgery and Microsurgery from Hospital ABC (American British Cowdray) in Mexico City. 2011 received as GP Certificate in Endoscopy from the European School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies in Madrid, Spain. In 2015 finished Master Science studies at the University of the State of Mexico. I am currently president of the Latin American Society of Veterinary Endoscopy, member of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians and of the Comparative Gastroenterology Society.

Currently, I am the CEO of Hospital Veterinario Del Valle in Mexico City, reference center for endoscopy in Mexico, participated as instructor in MIS in the research teaching center at ABC Hospital (American British Cowdray) in Mexico City. I have participated in the Research Center for Advanced Studies of Mexico in the development of mechatronic assistance for laparoscopic surgery (“solo surgery”) and in simulators for teaching flexible endoscopy. I have also taken part in fellowship stays in MIS in the human area at the Children Hospital of Mexico and at the General Hospital of Mexico. Participated as teacher in the Universidad del Valle de México.

How do you incorporate MIS into your surgery clinic?

We initiated in 1998 MIS in our hospital in Mexico City. The services grew up as doctors became interested and patients needed the procedures, our goal is to use the equipment for small species to the fullest for other species of animals. Currently in our hospital we cover different areas of endoscopy and MIS.

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

Definitely, I find formidable the idea of being able to move the procedures of endoscopy and MIS to many species of animals. I have had the opportunity of performing endoscopy in penguins, marine mammals, sharks, tigers, pandas, etc. Endoscopy is a very good option for any size or species of animals

Why do you love being a VES member?

I started as a member of VES in 2005, in the second Congress in Keystone Colorado, USA. It was a very pleasant experience getting to know there the best researchers and clinicians that have written the most advanced articles and books in MIS. We always have passed very good time in VES congresses where we share science, adventures and great parties in a multicultural environment of friendship

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

I believe we have a good path in Veterinary MIS and endoscopy, every time we extend more knowledge around the world and that benefits to our patients. Personally, I had the opportunity to found, with other colleagues, the Latin American Society of Veterinary Endoscopy. We always had the support of excellent members of the VES, which participated with us as teachers in our annual conferences. I am very excited for our first Worldwide Congress in MIS in 2021, where we will gather the most important 8 endoscopy associations of MIS of the world.

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

I love travelling, making new friends and visiting the geographical and historical zones that I wanted to know since ever. I also love photography, landscapes, flowers and animals in their own environment. And last but not least, I enjoy walking, riding bicycle and horses, and I absolutely love life itself.