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Dr. Jacob Cawley

Medical Oncology Resident

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Dr. Cawley

I grew up in Newport, Rhode Island with a variety of pets over the years including a rabbit, dogs, cats, goldfish and even tadpoles that we kids caught down at the pond and were allowed to keep. My parents have always been animal lovers, too.

I believe that it was during career day in second or third grade when I decided becoming an "animal doctor" was the career I wanted. To that end, I volunteered with our local animal shelter throughout junior high school and high school, working a variety of jobs with a diversity of animals in various conditions of health.  

As biology major at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, I was introduced to research by my plant biology professor who was a wonderful mentor.  I was encouraged to be deeply curious, to ask questions, to look for phenomenon and seek explanations. I was also pushed to attend and present at scientific conferences.  Because Marist has  a strong sciences department, it has a great placement rate with medical and veterinary schools and those four years prepared me well for the next four years of veterinary school.

I was accepted at Virginia–Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine where, at the end of my freshman year, I participated in the Summer Veterinary Research Scholars Program. Those eight weeks were significant in determining my future in veterinary oncology. 

I had entered veterinary school with an interest in oncology, fascinated by the challenges that cancer offers at the molecular level as well as the clinical case level. I was randomly assigned to a lab studying acute myeloid leukemia. Oddly, it wasn’t until the end of the program, when I was to present my findings, that I made the connection to my grandfather’s death. 

My grandfather was a big part of my life growing up. I was 13 years old when he was diagnosed with this disease and, although we were able to visit him as a family during his treatment, it was very shortly after diagnosis that he died of this disease I was studying in the lab. I realized that I had kept that connection to cancer in the back of my mind all these years

After completing the SVRS program, I was invited to apply for a year-long research program at the NIH Medical Research Scholars Program -- and was accepted. This was the first time the school  had an applicant accepted into this prestigious program, so it was a coup both for me and for the school. Although offered an opportunity to stay and complete a Ph.D., I preferred to finish the veterinary program.

After graduating, I completed a small animal internship at Cornell Veterinary Hospital in Ithaca, New York, which I really enjoyed but when applying for my residency, I had Colorado State University in mind. I had spent two weeks at CSU during my fourth year and had been deeply impressed with the collegial environment  and the team approach to treating patients. 

A key aspect of our work is client communication, which means advocating for the pet from a medical standpoint, but also communicating with the client to understand their bond, their particular situation and, together, devising the right treatment plan. Our obligation is to provide help and hope to patients and their families.

As much as I love my work, I also love my days off when I can take advantage of the great Colorado weather and terrific landscapes. On warm days, I hit the hiking trails with my two dogs: Kuma, a spitz mix and Nellie, a shepherd mix. When snow falls, we still celebrate the outdoors by heading to the slopes for some snowboarding. 

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