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A New Program for Aging Animals

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Advances in veterinary medicine help animals live longer, and with a larger population of aging companion animals comes a new set of medical needs. A generous gift from Dr. Kady Gjessing—made in memory of her mother—lays the groundwork for an innovative gerontology program at NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine that will take the lead in addressing these challenges.

“If we were going to use one word to summarize aging and what happens to animals as they age, it’s complexity, and I’m really excited that we’re now getting the opportunity to examine and teach this complexity,” said Dr. Natasha Olby, the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Kady M. Gjessing and Rahna M. Davidson Distinguished Chair in Gerontology.

While veterinary gerontology isn’t a new field, the program at NC State is unique. According to Dr. D. Paul Lunn, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, it’s the first in the country to benefit from the commitment and resources Gjessing’s gift provides. Such support is critical, as it helps Olby and her team gather the preliminary data needed to develop a strong program.

The impact of this new initiative will be far-reaching. “We can improve [aging animals’] quality of life, their ability to interact with us. We can also learn from those experiences lessons that can be applied to human medicine as well,” said Lunn.