The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies Bicentenary

Chad Maki: USA - Class of 2013

Chief Medical Officer at VetCell Therapeutics

Why did you choose to study at The University of Edinburgh?

I am from California and at the time in 2009, making the decision to leave home for a 4 year program was a big one. I had an option to enter a veterinary program in California as well, but when the opportunity to attend R(D)SVS presented itself, my wife and I became excited about this prospect. We learned that the University of Edinburgh is consistently rated a top 20 university in the world, and the veterinary program is also considered one of the best in the world with a long history in the field and with many accomplishments including the creation of Dolly the sheep through the University affiliate, The Roslin Institute. We also embraced the chance to experience Scotland and Europe for a significant period of time during my studies, as we assumed this could be a rare opportunity that may never present itself again in the future. So, after careful thought I happily declared my acceptance of the offer to attend R(D)SVS.

Chad Maki

How did the R(D)SVS contribute to your career choices?

What I really liked about the program was that we learned all aspects of veterinary medicine including small, large and exotic animals, research and public health. This foundation gave me a great understanding of the career opportunities available to me as a veterinarian. I had never worked with horses or farm animals previously so I found this experience very new and exciting. I believe that gaining this broad knowledge and practical experience has made me more confident and comfortable as a veterinary clinician. In the final years in the program, I was also able to focus my extra mural studies (EMS) on small animal medicine as this was the area I was planning on working in. But, I could have just as easily focused in another area of interest or I could have spent an equal amount of time in all areas of study. The flexibility of the EMS work really allows you to explore your interests and helps to guide you for your career choice. Prior to pursuing my veterinary degree, my background and scientific interest was in stem cell research as a research associate at PrimeGen Biotech. During the veterinary program, I was able to continue my scientific interests and completed two research projects at The Roslin Institute. Through the R(D)SVS program I performed a veterinary externship at Colorado State and EMS work in the UK, USA and in Portugal. These worldly experiences have given me far reaching knowledge about veterinary medicine and I believe these are invaluable opportunities that helped shape my career.

I have always had a love for animals and nature and a strong interest in science and have studied many areas including biochemistry, cosmology and stem cell biology to name a few. After graduating, my wife and I moved back to our families in California and we began a family of our own and now have 2 boys. I spent 2 years practicing first opinion small animal medicine and I still currently practice in the clinic part time. During this time I have gained great experience with surgery and all areas of medicine, client communication, and practice management and organization.      

Can you tell us of any personal or professional achievements in your career progression?

I have been fortunate to have found a great veterinary hospital with an enthusiastic and supportive group of veterinarians and technicians and this has fostered my growth as a small animal clinician. With my background in stem cell research, I was also interested in how stem cells can help our pet patients. I began working with my previous research group and we developed a new company called VetCell Therapeutics (VCT) that is solely focused on stem cell therapies for inflammatory, immune-mediated and degenerative diseases for dogs, cats and horses. I started working with VCT as Chief Medical Officer part time since 2014 and I have now operated in a full time position for a year, while still working in the clinic part time. As CMO at VetCell Therapeutics, I have helped with product and clinical development, research and development, marketing and business development. I have attended specific training courses with intraarticular and intralesional stem cell injections, have trained and lectured for veterinarians in the USA and in Hong Kong and China and VCT was featured in a documentary piece on the Veterinary View, produced in collaboration between the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and ITN Productions in the UK. We have also initiated and managed a clinical trial with our product in Hong Kong and have initiated two investigational new animal drug applications for approval of our canine and feline stem cell products with the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) which is a branch of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).    

Realize that you are only a select few with this chance and be thankful for that. Go into vet school with an open mind that you may end up working in an area that you never dreamed of. Get as much hands-on work experience as you can.

Chad MakiClass of 2013

If you could offer some advice to prospective students what would it be?

My advice to you is that if you decide to take the trip across the water to be fully committed to completing your degree and to be open to new experiences and respectful and mindful of new cultures that you will experience in Scotland and the UK. Take every opportunity seriously and give your work 100% of your effort. Realize that you are only a select few with this chance and be thankful for that. Go into vet school with an open mind that you may end up working in an area that you never dreamed of. Get as much hands-on work experience as you can. As a veterinarian you are required to manage your team, communicate well, perform surgical techniques and to take care of your patients and clients to the best of your ability. So, the more live work experience you can get, the more comfortable and confident you will be when you start your first job. Understand that as a veterinarian there are many ways that you can apply your skills and your knowledge and there is a lot of benefit you can have in society. You will make lifelong friendships through the program so be open to making new friends as they will be like family and a major source of support. Lastly, take the time to explore the surrounding areas and countries! There is a lot to see and do out there and Edinburgh is a beautiful city, so enjoy your time!