A One Health Conversation With Dr. Sheldon Rubin

As OCSA’s One Health Champion this month, Dr. Sheldon Rubin was kind enough to give us a few minutes of his time and answer a few questions. We sat down to chat about his work with Dr. Roger Mahr and the One Health Initiative as well as the President’s Award he won from the ISVMA. Dr. Rubin has been a fantastic supporter of OCSA and we’re grateful to have him support our mission.
Sheldon Rubin Blog Pic

OCSA: You have been involved in numerous leadership roles in various veterinary associations and have received many awards, can you tell us about the President’s Award from the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association (ISVMA)?

Dr. Sheldon Rubin: My contributions to organized veterinary medicine were directly influenced by my mentors in veterinary college. Perhaps no one was more instrumental in embedding this life direction in my mind than Dr. Erwin Small.  A professor, mentor, friend, and a wonderful role model, Erv left all of his students with the importance of serving our profession. Member of most veterinary organizations at the time, I started by volunteering for committee work and then in leadership to help in making these organizations stronger and more meaningful to veterinarians and the public. While I always have felt that receiving awards often means I am getting older, there is nothing to match the ecstatic feeling of receiving  an award from your colleagues.  The ISVMA President’s Award is one of those special awards that was given to me for “Sustained Dedication to the Advancement of Veterinary Medicine”  by Dr. Roger Mahr, then president. While very humbled by the presentation, it was an award that represented a culmination of contributions to helping make  ISVMA a prominent animal health organization in the state and in the nation. I was honored and proudly display the award plaque for all to see.

OCSA:  You have known, Dr. Roger Mahr, past CEO of the One Health Commission, for many years.  Can you tell us about the different projects you have worked on together?

SR: I met Dr. Mahr many years ago volunteering in the Chicago and Illinois Veterinary Medical Associations.  I knew Dr. Mahr was going to be a leader from the very beginning.  Hard working, goal oriented, detailed, and an outstanding committed leader, Dr. Mahr followed my footsteps as secretary and then president of the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association. While I worked with Dr. Mahr on many meaningful committees and projects, there wasn’t one project that was more important to Roger  than the One Health Commission. The single best thing I could do as a private practitioner was to totally support his work and accomplishments and talk and write about them in my many media opportunities. When I was asked to play a small role in the OCSA outreach to veterinarians and the public, it was an honor to again support Roger’s  “One Health” initiative.

OCSA: Can you tell us about your son, Dr. David Rubin and his work in the field of Gastroenterology at the University of Chicago Medicine?  We are particularly interested in his interest in cancer prevention.

SR: Both of my children, David and Debbie, have become  everything a parent could wish for their children.  David made a decision to choose human medicine and through his tremendous dedication, hard work, and endless search for answers to perplexing medical problems, he became Section Chief of the Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Department  at  the University of Chicago.  David specializes in the treatment and assessment of digestive diseases. His clinical expertise includes inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) and high-risk cancer syndromes.  His expertise extends to teaching the public, as well as physicians all over the world.  I truly believe his exceptional compassion for people is directly a result of seeing how compassionate veterinarians are to the animals they treat as well as their human  companions.  David’s investigative prowess has led to defining the risk factors for colorectal cancer and delineating those factors that can be avoided and those that we have no control over such as the hereditary contributions.

OCSA: Can you tell us about your involvement at the Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago?

SR: For over 30 years now I have been a member of the board of directors of Chicago’s Anti-Cruelty Society. I have always thought it was important to maintain an  open communications between veterinarians and shelters so that as veterinarians we can offer whatever education and help is needed to be able to adopt the healthiest animals possible. This liaison position has been a remarkable experience for me on many levels. Not only working with and meeting the most incredible dedicated staff and volunteers, but being able to interact with so many homeless pets who all eventually find their forever home. Developing the Anti-Cruelty Society extern program with the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine over 25 years ago was probably one of my volunteer highlights.  This highly  competitive program gives senior veterinary students a 2 week intensive program in shelter medicine and surgery and always receives high grades from all of the participants. I have encouraged all my colleagues to become involved with their local humane societies and rescue groups. As the leaders in animal health, veterinarians have a wealth of information and guidance they can offer to help shelters find a home for every adoptable animal.

OCSA:  You and your lovely wife Paulette have traveled extensively, what is your most memorable trip?

SR: The demands of being medical director for a large small animal practice in Chicago never allowed for extended time away. Once retired we have been able to devote the time to visit some wonderful places in the world. Picking one favorite or memorable place is very difficult because we loved every trip we have taken. What has stood out in my mind in each part of the world has been the differences in the human/animal bond. From islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific where dogs and cats don’t really belong to anyone unless you feed them, to Europe, where pets are an important member of the family and are welcome every place people are,  the relationships we observed, while different, have been heart-warming. But our wild-life interactions probably are the most memorable, especially our visit to the Falkland Islands and the interaction with thousands of penguins.  And of course what could be more memorable than seeing Humpback whales fly out of the water in Maui  close enough to be splashed.  The world we share with our animal friends is indeed small and as we travel it seems to get smaller and smaller.

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