Dr. Kristen Weishaar, D.V.M., M.S., Diplomate ACVIM (Oncology)
Clinical Trials Director
I have lived in many places across the country: from California to Massachusetts, and now Colorado. I did my undergraduate work at Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!), and earned my D.V.M. from Tufts University in Massachusetts.
I have always loved animals – my family got our first dog when I was six, a black Lab named Shannon – and I have always loved science. For a while, I thought I would become a physician, but then realized that I really preferred working with animals as patients.
When I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian, I was planning to be a general practitioner and not specialize in one particular area. My interest in oncology did not develop until my junior year of undergraduate studies when I was diagnosed with two brain tumors: one in my pineal gland and the other in my pituitary gland. Because my family was back in Massachusetts, I chose to have my surgery and radiation treatments where I had a large support system. I had to take a semester off for cancer treatments, but I worked hard through summer classes in order to graduate on time. Pushing myself like that, I believe, helped prepare me for my internships and residency.
After earning my D.V.M. degree, I completed my rotating internship at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey under the mentorship of Dr. Craig Clifford, followed by an oncology internship in Washington, D.C., in 2010 with Dr. Chand Khanna. Both of these veterinarians were enormously influential in guiding me towards a career in veterinary oncology, especially in my choice to come to Colorado State University and apply for a residency at the Flint Animal Cancer Center.
I was accepted for an internship position at the FACC as the Clinical Trials Coordinator, which I completed in July 2011, and then I began my oncology residency at the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital in conjunction with the FACC, which I finished in July 2014. After that, I stayed on in the position of Director of Clinical Trials as a board-certified medical oncologist.
It has been an incredible learning experience and I find that I agree with what Dr. Clifford and Dr. Khanna told me before I came here: the Flint Animal Cancer Center is an incredible place to learn what it means to provide the best possible cancer care for both patient and client. Almost anything a clinician needs is at our fingertips from the finest diagnostic tools to the best treatment options. More importantly, the faculty is not only the best in the field, but they are always collegial and supportive. Add to the mix the best nurses, clients, and patients and you have the most wonderful working and learning environment!
I feel very lucky to be at an institution that recognizes the value of clinical trials in veterinary oncology and fully supports the Clinical Trials program. The only way to find new treatments for both animals and people with cancer is through clinical research, and I am excited to play a role in this effort. Trials allow patients access to treatments that are not commercially available and can provide a financial benefit to owners, which helps animals to get treatment the owners might not otherwise be able to afford.
While I am continuing to learn and grow as a clinician, some aspects of my life will not change: spending time with my beloved Lab/pointer mix, Ollie, enjoying all of the local beer Colorado has to offer, and planning travels to other countries when life is less full and more calm. For now, thought, my main focus is to make the Clinical Trials Service at the FACC the best we can possibly be.