Dr. Kara Lascola is an assistant professor in the equine service.
How long have you been a faculty member at Illinois?
A little over eight years.
Where are you from and where did you train?
I did most of my training (veterinary school, internship, residency, and post-doc) at Tufts University. My undergraduate degree and master’s were at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and before that I grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., before moving to Chicago for high school.
What do you enjoy most about being an equine medicine veterinarian?
I like the diversity and type of cases that I see and, obviously, I enjoy working with horses.
Did you ever consider being a small animal veterinarian or has this been your life-long dream?
I did not consider following a small animal path. Although I have to say, as a veterinary student, I appreciated and enjoyed all rotations whatever the area of specialty. I actually started out thinking I would go into conservation or wildlife medicine. In my second year I started working in the large animal hospital at Tufts and that changed my mind.
What research projects are you currently working on?
I have an interest in advanced imaging (CT, MRI) and in respiratory medicine. I have recently been working on using CT to aid in the diagnosis of respiratory disease in foals and am about to start an MRI study with our cardiologist, Dr. Ryan Fries, evaluating cardiac function and anatomy in foals. In addition I have a few studies investigating the treatment aspect of respiratory disease. One is a pharmacologic study investigating the utility of an antibiotic for the treatment of pneumonia in adult horses and I will be starting an oxygen therapy study this spring.
Is there anything new in equine medicine at the hospital that you’re looking forward to?
I am looking forward to the development of the sports medicine program over the next few years. And I look forward to being able to contribute to the rehabilitation aspect through offering acupuncture as an adjunct therapy for managing horses with chronic pain associated with musculoskeletal problems.
What is most rewarding for you as a practitioner and/or as a professor?
As a professor, a significant amount of my time is invested in training veterinary students, interns, and residents not only on the clinic floor, but also in the classroom and research programs. It is great when I know that they are engaged and excited in what they are learning and it is most rewarding to watch them succeed and to know that they take pride in their accomplishments.
What brings you the most satisfaction in your job?
As a referral hospital it is harder to establish longer-term relationships with clients because they are often here on an emergency basis. I would say that cases where I have had the opportunity to be involved with follow-up care and have gotten to know the owner, patient, and referring veterinarian better are rewarding.
Is there a breed of horse you most enjoy working with ?
I cannot say that I have a favorite breed to work with here at Illinois. That being said, I do enjoy having the opportunity to work with a breed that I do not see often or maybe have not worked with before. In my internship and residency, the clientele owned a more diverse selection of breeds and I definitely saw more draft and warmblood horses. So I miss them a little but I also like the breeds I work with now.
Tell us about a case that interested you or had a great outcome that you thought was almost hopeless.
Sick neonatal foals often have multiple problems (sepsis, pneumonia, encephalopathy, ruptured bladder, septic joints, etc.) and can carry a pretty guarded prognosis for the first 24 to 48 hours or even longer. Watching them go home after hospitalization and getting the pictures from the owners of them running around the pasture a few months down the road is great.
Is there anything you especially appreciate about the work the referring vets accomplish for you prior to a difficult case?
In cases that are going to require intensive—possibly expensive—care or that may have a more guarded prognosis, I think our referring vets do a great job talking to the owners ahead of time to prepare them, especially because bringing the horse here can be an overwhelming experience for the owner under those circumstances. Even while the horse is here being treated, I appreciate being able to work with the referring vet to make sure the owner understands what is going on.