Prasanth Chelikani is an expert in production animal physiology and obesity.
When the initiative began in 2015, Texas Tech University set out to devise innovative, world-class curriculum that would effectively develop practice-ready veterinarians in a cost-effective manner.
Almost a decade earlier, under the inspired leadership of their founding dean, Alastair Cribb, the University of Calgary broke the mold, so to speak. They built a new model for training veterinarians in North America, established a new level of excellence, and, without knowing it at the time, laid the educational foundation from which Texas Tech would adapt to build its veterinary medical program to answer the needs of rural and regional communities of Texas. And so, the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo was born.
Prasanth Chelikani was a founding faculty member of Calgary's veterinary program. He now brings his expertise to Texas Tech as a professor of physiology, beginning his duties on Tuesday (Jan. 4).
Students at the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine will benefit from Chelikani's experience and insights in building an excellent instructional, research and service program.
"In traditional veterinary programs, students often fail to appreciate the importance of basic science courses such as physiology until they reach their clinical years," Chelikani said. "For more than a decade, we have tried to bridge this gap between basic and clinical courses at Calgary. Now, we have a unique opportunity at the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine to make it even better – to integrate physiology with anatomy, paraclinical and clinical courses – so students can gain a broader and deeper understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms of clinical cases they might encounter in practice."
As a member of the University of Calgary faculty since 2007, Chelikani's research focuses on the physiological mechanisms regulating energy balance and metabolism in rodent models of human metabolic diseases, small animal pets and production animals. His teaching efforts have helped develop the syllabus, course content and assessment structure of veterinary physiology and related courses. These courses cover not only basic physiology of the various body systems but also clinical presentations of disease.
"When we talk about practice veterinary medicine, we talk about the 'art and science' of its practice," said Guy Loneragan, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. "Science is critically important, but it needs to be connected to the art of practice. Dr. Chelikani brings so much insight in connecting science with its application. He will take our program to a whole new level. Dr. Chelikani also adds tremendously to One Health research. He will find many collaborations within the school, in the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and across campus, such as the Obesity Research Institute. Our animals and the communities we serve will benefit greatly from his research at Texas Tech."
As a tenured professor at Calgary, Chelikani also has coordinated Calgary's first-year course on introductory animal nutrition, a second-year course on applied animal nutrition and a graduate course on nutritional physiology and metabolism.
Chelikani, who holds a dual appointment with the Department of Nutritional Sciences within the College of Human Sciences, feels his focus on animal physiology and obesity fits well with the school's One Health focus.
Prior to joining the University of Calgary faculty in 2007, Chelikani completed his post-doctoral training in gastrointestinal physiology at the Veteran's Affairs Medical Center and Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
He earned his bachelor's degree in veterinary sciences in 1994 and his master's degree in veterinary sciences in reproductive physiology in 1997 from Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University in Tirupati, India. He then earned a doctorate in animal science from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada in 2003.
Chelikani was named a fellow of The Obesity Society in 2016 and has been a member of the Canadian Obesity Network since 2008 and the Obesity Society since 2003. He has been a member of the American Society for Nutrition and Canadian Nutrition Society since 2018.
"Dr. Chelikani has a lot of experience working with veterinary students to relate core physiology concepts to practical application," said John Dascanio, senior associate dean for academic and student affairs. "He will serve as a foundational faculty member in the curriculum, helping students establish the knowledge they need to be successful in future aspects of the curriculum. His research in obesity has direct One Health applications, linking humans and animals, thus bringing potential health benefits for all of us."
Chelikani joins a growing and vibrant team of faculty and staff at the School of Veterinary Medicine. Additional team members will continue to be added over the next few months as the school prepares to welcome its inaugural class in the fall of 2021.
About the School of Veterinary Medicine
Thanks to the generosity of Amarillo and communities across Texas, and the commitment of legislators from around the state, the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo was established in 2018. In September 2020, the school was granted a Letter of Reasonable Assurance, from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education and has begun the admissions process in preparation for classes to begin in August of 2021.
The School of Veterinary Medicine will recruit and select students with a passion to serve rural and regional communities. Its curriculum is focused on the competencies and skills necessary for success in practice types that support these communities. Texas Tech's innovative and cost-efficient model partners with the wider community of veterinary practices across the state to provide clinical, real-world experiential learning.