Penn Vet’s Dr. Virginia Reef to Receive Honorary Doctorate from Ghent University in Belgium

The University of Ghent School of Veterinary Medicine will award an honorary doctorate to Virginia Reef, DVM, DACVIM, DACVSMR, DECVDI, 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 Universityawards its honorary doctorates “for scientificmeritto people whohave demonstratedagreat meritinacademiceducation, scientificresearch and socialandscientific 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, Pennsylvania.

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

Ghent University published this video about the selection of Reef for the award.

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 widely 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.”

Known also for her groundbreaking research in equine sports medicine, Reef was one of the first veterinarians to use a high-speed treadmill for evaluations of the heart while the horse is exercising. In addition, Reef 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 (ACVIM), a charter member of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (ACVSMR), and an Associate Member of the European College of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging (ECVDI).

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the first veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles more than 4,000 patient visits a year, while the Field Service treats nearly 37,000 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling more than 30,000 patient visits a year.For more information, visit

Ghent University is one of the major universities in the Dutch-speaking region of Europe. It distinguishes itself as a socially committed and pluralistic university in a broad international perspective. 117 faculty departments, spread over 11 faculties, offer high-quality courses in every one of their scientific disciplines. With a view to cooperation in research and community service, numerous research groups, centres and institutes have been founded over the years. For more information,

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