University of Georgia
March 2015
Alum 'comes home,' makes impact

Dr. Chad Schmiedt, associate professor of soft tissue surgery in the College of Veterinary Medicine, focuses on the feline renal transplantation program, which allows cats with kidney disease to return to normal health. (Photo by Carolyn Crist)

Alum 'comes home' and makes a major impact

Dr. Chad Schmiedt's research in veterinary medicine also has implications for humans.

Associate professor of soft tissue surgery Dr. Chad Schmiedt, who earned his DVM from the University of Georgia in 2000, is perhaps most well-known for his recent work involving feline kidney transplants, but the truth is, he almost didn’t go into the field of veterinary medicine at all.

“My mom was a veterinary technician, but even with all that animal exposure, I grew up wanting to be a human physician. It wasn’t until I went to Clemson and got my first dog—an Old English sheepdog named Baxter—that everything clicked. The strong bond I established with Baxter was compelling.”

As a contract student out of South Carolina, Schmiedt came to UGA in the fall of 1996. After graduating in 2000, he spent time at the University of Tennessee, a private practice in Dallas, Texas, as well as five years at the University of Wisconsin, which is where he studied renal transplantations, the surgery that has brought him so much success today.

When asked about his favorite UGA memory, Schmiedt responded, “coming home.” In 2007, a faculty position in the College of Veterinary Medicine became available and he applied.

“They say you never know what you had until it’s gone, well that was my experience coming home,” Schmiedt said. “The campus, the people, the town, the Southern charms, the food, the beautiful countryside, the whole energy of the place—all those memories came flooding back … and then I got the job. It was an incredible homecoming.”

As associate professor of soft tissue surgery at UGA, Schmiedt focuses on the feline renal transplantation program, which allows cats with kidney disease to return to normal health and return to a normal standard of living. Donor kidneys are typically provided by shelter or research cats and must be adopted by the family of the recipient cat. The University of Georgia is one of only four programs in the world to offer these services, and often receives patients from across the United States and beyond.

In 2011, Schmiedit was presented with the Clinical Research Award from UGA’s chapter of Phi Zeta, veterinary medicine’s only honors society in the United States. The award was given in recognition for work in understanding the ins and outs and whys of high blood pressure in post-kidney transplant patients. These findings are significant not only in the world of veterinary medicine, but also for their implications in human medicine, too.

“Veterinarians truly value the opportunity to impact, not only a person’s pet, but society as a whole. One exciting thing about renal transplantation is that it reaches across species and we can use information we learn about animals to help people and vice versa; this is the concept of One Medicine.”

Schmiedt’s work is just one example of the many ways the University of Georgia is creating positive change on a global level.

Outside of the operating room, Schmiedt teaches and mentors the next generation of veterinarians, including Whitney Hinson. Hinson graduated from UGA in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in avian biology and is expected to graduate from the College of Veterinary Medicine with a doctoral degree in May.

“As a mentee who wants to pursue a career in surgery, I am extremely grateful for Dr. Schmiedt’s support and investment in my education and for guiding me through the necessary steps to become a surgeon. He allowed me to become an active participant in his research involving chronic feline kidney disease,” Hinson said.

In addition to his work as a faculty member, Schmiedt is an active alumnus and was named to the UGA Alumni Association’s 40 Under 40 in 2014. This honor cemented the caliber of people produced by the university in Schmiedt’s mind. As a graduate, he feels it is important for alumni to stay involved because it helps secure and enhance UGA’s future and legacy.

“Our product is our people. Alumni can help make that product even better by engaging with new graduates through mentorships, networking and supporting programs personally or financially.”

And in case you’re wondering, Schmiedt is a dog person, but admits, “there are some pretty amazing cats out there.”

Click here to learn more about UGA’s feline renal transplantation program.

Interested in supporting how the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Small Animal Medicine? Click here.

—Jamie E. Lewis, UGA Alumni Association