Laura Kramer is a De-facto diplomate of the European Veterinary Parasitology College and is Professor of Veterinary Parasitology and Parasitic Diseases at the University of Parma Veterinary School in Parma Italy. She served as EVPC board member from 2006-2009 and as Secretary and college representative on the EBVS Board from 2009-2012.
I was born and raised in New York City and still maintain my American citizenship. I decided early on (I was about 8) that I wanted to be a vet. I was your typical “bring-the stray-dog-home” daughter of a rather less pet-inclined mom, and my mother probably thought that if she supported my desire, I could have all the dog company I wanted in my professional life.
After graduating from college at Syracuse University in upstate New York, I applied to several vet schools around the US. Alas, to my great disappointment, I was not accepted to any of them. It was then that I decided to move to Italy and study veterinary medicine in the famous “Food Valley”. Indeed, Parma is the home to two gastronomical miracles: Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano. It was a challenge to learn Italian well enough to complete my vet degree, but I did it in 1991 and went into private practice in a small clinic in Parma. As many small animal practioners know, parasitology and dermatology make up a large part of our daily lives, and I slowly developed a passion for both. In 1993 I started my PhD in dermatopathology and immunology, focusing on local immune responses to different parasites, including Demodex sp., Sarcopates scabiei and Leishmania infantum. It wasn’t long before my love of veterinary parasitology became a profession and I was hired onto the tenure track at the U of Parma Vet School. I run the diagnostic and research lab in parasitology, supervise PhDs, teach undergraduates and spend several hours a week in the teaching hospital, consulting with colleagues and interns on parasites and parasitic diseases.
My experience within the European College of Veterinary Parasitology began at the very beginning.
In the late-1990’s a worldwide trend to reduce the hours and resources devoted to Parasitology teaching in the undergraduate veterinary curriculum created an urgent need for structured post-graduate training in this important speciality to ensure the long term provision and certification of veterinary parasitologists with adequate breadth and depth of expertise to fulfil public expectations. Consequently, myself and several others organized a workshop to address this concern in 2001 at the XVth International Congress of the World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology (WAAVP) in Stresa (Italy). At this workshop it was decided to seek to establish a European College for Veterinary Parasitology within the framework of the European Board of Veterinary Specialisation (EBVS). This project was subsequently endorsed by the European Federation of Parasitology and by national societies of Parasitology in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. The EBVS granted provisional recognition in June 2003 and full recognition in April, 2012. I was the first de-facto diplomate (2003) of the College. Veterinary Parasitology is a discipline-oriented specialisation, which focuses on parasites, their pathogenicity and their effects on animal health, in particular the epidemiology, clinical signs, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, control and monitoring of animal parasitic diseases. The study of Veterinary Parasitology also includes the understanding and control of parasitic zoonoses. It is such a great discipline that branches out into so many others: Public Health, Pathology and Clinical Pathology, Porcine, Bovine and Small Ruminant Health Management, Dermatology…..Indeed, the EVPC has had joint Residency workshops with sister colleges. Diplomates of the college ar ein academia, industry and private practice.
During my years spent as EBVS representative of the EVPC, my college went through the process of definitive recognition. I learned from this experience that the EBVS expects rigorous standards from its members (i.e. the colleges) and that it has developed into an organization that aims at guaranteeing the highest level and quality of veterinary specialization. This, to me, is the most important role that the EBVS currently plays and this must continue. Quality assurance, standardization of the training and examination processes, and fair mediation when required, are and must remain primary objectives.
I have followed very closely the past and current initiatives to obtain European recognition of the specialist title and there is no doubt that important strides have been made; this also must continue to be a priority for the EBVS.
I am very pleased and honored to be able to contribute to these and other important goals of the EBVS as new Secretary.