Anthony Blikslager, NC State College of Veterinary Medicine equine surgery and gastroenterology professor and a world-leading expert in colic, is the new leader of the CVM’s Department of Clinical Sciences.
Blikslager has served for the past year as assistant head of the department, which includes nearly 80 faculty and staff covering broad specialties, including small animal, exotics and equine medicine.
“I am incredibly honored to have been asked to head the Department of Clinical Sciences,” said Blikslager. “I firmly believe this is the finest clinical department in the country, and I will do my utmost to enable faculty and staff to reach their goals.”
Blikslager steps into the role on July 1. Lizette Hardie, who has headed the department since 2008, will continue to serve as a clinical sciences professor of general surgery at the CVM and guide surgery curriculum. She will also co-lead the CVM’s Health and Wellness Center with Greg Lewbart.
Hardie has been an integral part of the CVM’s success almost since the college opened its doors. She joined the CVM in 1985 as an assistant professor of surgery and since 1998 has served as a professor of surgery.
She has trained hundreds of DVM students in surgical skills, from medical tool handling for first-years to guiding fourth-years through surgical rotations as they near graduation. The breadth and depth of Hardie’s CVM career is inspiring. She has guided clinical and classroom curriculum reform, pushed for more support for women in academia and has spent decades researching pain recognition and treatment in animals, developing a collaborative pain research group at the CVM and helping to found the International Veterinary Pain Academy.
“Dr. Hardie has been an incredibly accomplished leader throughout her time as department head of clinical sciences, by far our largest and most diverse unit,” says CVM Dean Paul Lunn. “For over 11 years she provided exemplary leadership in every way and was an enormous help to me personally.”
The Department of Clinical Sciences trains veterinary medicine students and graduate students in comparative biomedical sciences and concentrates on research ranging from measuring animal pain and understanding intestinal pathogens to breakthroughs in ophthalmology and oncology treatment approaches.
Blikslager has been with the CVM since completing his large animal residency at the college in 1994. He joined the staff as an emergency clinical instructor that year, earned a Ph.D. in gastrointestinal physiology from the university in 1997 and then became a research assistant professor of equine surgery.
From 2001 to 2008, he served as an assistant professor of equine surgery and directed the CVM’s equine health program from 2005 to 2008. He has been professor of equine surgery and gastroenterology since 2008 and was the CVM’s equine medicine and surgery service chief from 2015 to 2018. Blikslager is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and an American Gastroenterological Association fellow.
Blikslager has also served as the associate director of the NC State Comparative Medicine Institute since 2016 and is an executive committee member and leader of the newly established Center for Biology and Gastrointestinal Disease, a joint venture between NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill that is developing new ways to treat human and animal esophageal disease.
Blikslager, who co-leads the CVM’s Comparative Gastroenterology Lab, has had a career marked by extensive and impactful research, particularly innovations in understanding and treating equine colic and the use of intestinal stem cells to combat disease. In recent years, he has been passionate about his work with the CVM’s Mathew Gerard to provide the first complete understanding of the nasal anatomy of the rhinoceros, pivotal information to help protect a species vanishing in part because of poaching for horns.
Blikslager’s interest in horses began while growing up on his family’s horse farm in his native United Kingdom.
He eventually moved with his family to a horse farm in Virginia and received a bachelor’s in biochemistry and his DVM from Virginia Tech. He has won numerous honors for his work, including the CVM’s Huffman Leadership Award and the Leroy Coggins Award for Equine Research and the NC State Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Professorship Award.
“I’m looking forward to working with Anthony Blikslager, who has been a personal friend and colleague for many years, even before I joined NC State,” says Lunn. “He brings a history of outstanding accomplishment in clinical and translational research, and is still covering colic emergency surgeries even today.
“I’m also excited about his remarkable performance in mentoring graduate students and residents. It will be great to get to work with him day to day.”
~Jordan Bartel/NC State Veterinary Medicine