Reef to Receive Honorary Doctorate from Ghent University

The University of Ghent School of Veterinary Medicine will award an honorary doctorate to Virginia Reef, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVSMR, ECVDI, director of Large Animal Cardiology and Diagnostic Ultrasonography at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet).

Reef is scheduled to receive the award on March 18 at the university in Belgium. Ghent University awards its honorary doctorates “for scientific merit to people who have demonstrated a great merit in academic education, scientific research, and social and scientific services.”

Reef is also the Mark Whittier and Lila Griswold Allam Professor of Medicine, as well as chief of the Section of Sports Medicine and Imaging at New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital in Kennett Square.

“The techniques that she developed and uses are techniques we are using daily with horses at the clinic,” said Ghent professor Gunther Van Loon, DVM, PhD. “They are techniques we can’t imagine doing without in today’s equine medicine.”

A pioneer in the diagnostic use of ultrasound technology, Reef has contributed significantly to the advancement of equine cardiology and the diagnosis of a wide variety of disorders, including early diagnosis of musculoskeletal injury in the horse, significantly reducing catastrophic athletic-use tendon and ligament injuries.

The imaging work conducted by Reef over the past 35 years has influenced veterinary practitioners who use musculoskeletal, abdominal, thoracic, or cardiovascular ultrasound, or who teach its use in an academic setting. A dedicated professor, her work is used worldwide, whether in the classroom, in the lab, or through her hundreds of publications that include more than 50 original research papers, more than 50 case reports, about 130 abstracts in proceedings, 11 major review articles, and 80 book chapters.

“She is an excellent teacher and she works daily examining horses,” Van Loon said. “Veterinary specialists will come to her, or she will travel the world.”

Reef was one of the first veterinarians to use a high-speed treadmill for evaluations of the heart while the horse is exercising, and she was part of the first team to develop a comprehensive evaluation of the poor performance horse.

“We can do cardiac examinations on horses during exercise, or do an endoscopy of the airways,” Van Loon said. “This is a very important technique to use with sport horses or horses with poor performance.”

Reef earned her DVM in 1979 from The Ohio State University. She completed her internship and residency in large animal medicine in 1982 at Penn Vet, where she served as a lecturer until 1986, and has since served on the faculty.

Among her honors and awards are the 2015 Distinguished Educator Academic Award from the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the Robert W. Kirk Award for professional excellence from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, the Michael Moxon Kate Memorial Distinguished Lecturer Award, and The Ohio State University Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Reef is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, a charter member of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, and an associate member of the European College of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging.

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