Surgical Research Laboratory Personnel
Michael G. Conzemius, D.V.M., Ph.D., Diplomate ACVS
Tata Group Endowed Professor of Surgery
Dr. Conzemius received his D.V.M. from Iowa State University in 1990. After completing an internship at Rowley Memorial Animal Hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts, and a surgical residency at the University of Pennsylvania, he became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgery in 1996. He earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering in 2000 from Iowa State University.
Dr. Conzemius became the Tata Group Endowed Professor of Surgery in December, 2009. He was honored by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2009 for his scientific poster on a fracture osteomyelitis model and by the Veterinary Orthopedic Society in 2008 for his scientific poster on the antibacterial properties of surgical grade titanium. Dr. Conzemius received the Pfizer Award for Research Excellence in 2002, in addition to awards from the American Society of Biomechanics for his work with osteonecrosis research in 1999 and 2001. He holds several patents, including two for a canine total elbow implant. He is currently the president of the Veterinary Orthopedic Society and is involved with several other professional organizations, including the Orthopedic Research Society, the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, and the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Most recently, Dr. Conzemius was appointed Director of the Clinical Investigation Center, a group within the College of Veterinary Medicine dedicated to advancing veterinary and human medicine through clinical trials. Read more about the CIC here.
Prior to coming to the University of Minnesota as professor of surgery in 2006, Dr. Conzemius was an an associate professor at Iowa State University and an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include joint replacement system development, cartilage injury and repair, and prevention of ACL injury.
Dr. Conzemius’ faculty bio can be found by clicking here.
G. Elizabeth Pluhar, D.V.M., Ph.D., Diplomate ACVS
Dr. Pluhar received her D.V.M. from Oregon State University in 1989. She earned a master of science degree in molecular biology from Northern Illinois University prior to starting veterinary school. She completed a small animal medicine and surgery internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York, followed by a surgical residency and concurrent master of science program in veterinary sciences at Washington State University. In 1999, she earned a Ph.D. in veterinary sciences/comparative orthopaedics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.
Dr. Pluhar received the prestigious William Harris Award from the Orthopedic Research Society and Harris Fellows Club in 2002 for outstanding work in orthopaedic research related to the hip. She has received numerous awards for both oral and written presentations and scholarships in recognition of her academic endeavors. She is involved with several professional organizations, including the Society of Neuro-Oncology, the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS), the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and the Veterinary Orthopedic Society (VOS). She currently serves as the Chair of the ORS, ACVS and VOS.
She was an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Colorado State University prior to coming to the University of Minnesota in 2003. Her research interests include the investigation of novel gene and immunotherapies for brain tumors.
Dr. Pluhar’s faculty bio can be found by clicking here.
Vicki L. Wilke, D.V.M., Ph.D., Diplomate ACVS
Assistant Clinical Specialist
Dr. Wilke received her D.V.M. from the University of Wisconsin in 1998. She completed a small animal medicine and surgery internship with the Michigan Veterinary Specialists in Southfield, Michigan. After a year of working as an emergency associate at the Animal Emergency Clinic, Des Moines, Iowa, she was accepted into a surgical residency program at Iowa State University that she successfully completed in 2003. In 2004, Dr. Wilke became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. This achievement was followed by another in 2006, when she earned her Ph.D. in animal breeding and genetics. Her Ph.D. thesis was entitled “Analysis of Genomic Region(s) and Gene(s) Associated with Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture in the Dog.”
Dr. Wilke has received numerous accolades during her career including the Research Excellence Award from Iowa State University in 2006 and the Mark Bloomberg Resident Research Award from the Veterinary Orthopedic Society. Dr. Wilke serves as an active member of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Veterinary Orthopedic Society.
Dr. Wilke served as an assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Iowa State University before joining the team at the University of Minnesota’s Surgical Research Laboratory. Her primary research interests include canine cranial cruciate ligament disease, genetic predisposition and inheritance of canine orthopedic disease, and gene expression differences in thyroid cancer.
Kari Ekenstedt, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Dr. Ekenstedt earned a D.V.M. from the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota in 2005. In the spring of 2010, she successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis entitled "Genetic Basis of Canine Neurological and Neuromuscular Diseases". Dr. Ekenstedt received the 2010 Young Investigator Award from the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Outstanding Oral Presentation Award at the 5th International Conference on Canine and Feline Genomics and Inherited Diseases for her thesis work on inherited polyneuropathy in Leonberger dogs. Dr. Ekenstedt currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) and is past chair of the MVMA's Small Animal Continuing Education Committee.
Dr. Ekenstedt's research interests lie in animal genetics, particularly canine, and the relationships of genetics and disease. In addition to her work in the Surgical Research Laboratory, Dr. Ekenstedt practices part time at a private small animal clinic in an eastern suburb of St. Paul.
Dr. Ekenstedt's alumni graduate student profile can be found here.
Duane Robinson, D.V.M.
Dr. Robinson earned a D.V.M. with distinction from Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in 2000. After a year in private small animal practice, he returned to the Ontario Veterinary College, where he completed a small animal internship, followed by a small animal surgical internship at Affiliated Veterinary Specialists in Orange Park Florida. He then joined the Veterinary Orthopaedic Research laboratory at Iowa State University, where he was a research fellow for three years. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate and small animal surgery resident at the University of Minnesota.
Dr. Robinson’s research interests include evaluating the role of bacterial biofilms in implant-associated infections and, in particular, orthopaedic devices. He is also interested in clinical/translational research and aspires to work in an academic environment when he is finished with his current program. He has numerous publications to his credit, and his graduate student biography can be found here.
Kristina Kiefer, D.V.M.
Dr. Kristina Kiefer earned a D.V.M. from the University of Minnesota in 2006. She completed a small animal internship at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital followed by a small animal surgical internship at Gulf Coast Veterinary Surgery. She then joined the Veterinary Surgery Research laboratory at the University of Minnesota, as a Ph.D. candidate and small animal surgery resident.
Dr. Kiefer's research interests include evaluating the use of canine adipose derived stem cells as a therapeutic modality for the treatment of osteoarthritis and intervertebral disc disease as well as other various orthopedic conditions in canines.
Her graduate student biography can be found here.
Kristy Metivier, D.V.M., M. Phil.
Dr. Metivier earned a D.V.M. with honors from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine in 2004 and her Masters in Philosophy at the same institution in 2008.
Her research focuses on the molecular characterization of canine follicular thyroid carcinoma, the most common malignant thyroid tumor subtype in this species. She is currently investigating gene and protein expression differences in these tumors with the ultimate goal of understanding the pathogenesis and identifying biomarkers and potential genetic therapeutic targets.
Her graduate student biography can be found here.