Dr. Jay McDonnell
After earning his veterinary (DVM) and master's (MS) degree from the University of Missouri, Dr. McDonnell spent four years in general practice in Missouri and Oregon, "But I knew I wanted to do more, so I undertook a three-year Neurology-Neurosurgery residency at Tufts University in Massachusetts." In 1998, he became board-certified in Neurology by the American College of Veterinary Medicine.
Since then, Dr. McDonnell has been on a dual path of academia and private practice, first joining the faculty of University of Georgia where he taught in the hospital and classroom. In 2000, he became chief of Neurology-Neurosurgery at Tufts University. There he helped established the in-house magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) suite, a brain surgery unit and minimally-invasive CT-guided biopsy program.
"When I started at Tufts, there were three veterinary neurologists practicing in the Boston area; by the time I left in 2004 to move to Maryland, there were eight—and every one had a full schedule. It goes to show that there really is a demand for veterinary neurology. It's a specialty that most general practitioners welcome."
Since moving to Maryland, Dr. McDonnell has become well-known for his work in the definitive treatment of brain tumors and spinal cord tumors, foramen magnum decompression/dorsal laminectomies and Wobbler's disease. He has lectured nationally, internationally and regionally, and has published more than 20 journal articles, reviews and book chapters.
"Teaching continues to be important to me. I'm an assistant clinical professor at Tufts University and a consultant in Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine. I think having a balance of the academia and private practice enables me to keep at the forefront of veterinary neurology."
Most recently, Dr. McDonnell has been exploring the use of pituitary surgery to treat Canine Cushing's Disease here in the U.S.
"Surgery for pituitary macroadenomas in dogs and cats has been pioneered by Dr. Bjorn Meij of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Despite his work and the proven success of the technique over other treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy, the surgery has failed to be widely adopted here as a viable treatment option. The procedure is technically challenging and has a very steep learning curve, so I went to the Netherlands in the spring of 2010 to study with Dr. Meij;and I also arranged a special seminar with Dr. Meij at the University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine. Currently no one east of the Mississippi is offering this treatment option, so it's exciting to be able to offer this."
There are thousands of cases of Canine Cushing's Disease in the U.S. each year, but the current medical treatment is medication given daily or several times per week that treats the symptoms. "With this surgery, we finally have a treatment option that corrects the disease."
Dr. McDonnell and his wife, Leigh, have three dogs: two Boston Terriers, Cece and Spice, and a Golden Retriever named Omya. "Cece had uncontrolled epileptic seizures, and when his owner gave him up, my wife adopted him and challenged me to control the seizures—which I did! He's now twelve and Spice is four; she was a rescue who'd lost an eye to infection."
Omya, the seven-year-old Golden, was originally raised by the McDonnells as a service dog, "But she failed out...much to our delight."