Dr. Laura Yannai
Medical Oncology Intern
Unlike some of my colleagues, I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a veterinarian, but my love of animals started at the age of three when I pestered my parents into getting us our first family cat. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland at College Park, where I found myself increasingly drawn to the sciences and developed a particular interest in physiology and how the body works. As an undergrad, I worked at the National Institutes of Health for two years in a research lab studying childhood genetics and obesity and decided I wanted to go to medical school and pursue a career as a physician.
There’s an expression about the best-laid plans, and that’s exactly what happened when I realized shortly after graduating college that while I was still interested in medicine, something about the prospect of medical school didn’t feel quite right. Around this time, I started to volunteer at an animal shelter in my free time, and I quickly realized that animals were the missing piece in the puzzle of transforming my interest in healthcare into a career.
As a fourth-year veterinary student rotating through the clinic floor at Ohio State University, I didn’t know what to expect heading into my oncology rotation, but I anticipated a lot of sadness. However, from my first day, I realized I was mistaken and was surprised by the hope I encountered. While the patients and their owners were experiencing the struggles of a cancer diagnosis, we gave owners more good quality time with their companions, and there was hope and positivity to be found every day.
Shortly after my experience as a student on the oncology service, the tables turned when my own cat Ellie, whom I had brought home from the shelter right before I started vet school, was diagnosed with an aggressive type of nasal tumor. Every day afterward, from the time of her diagnosis until the time we had to let her go peacefully, I was grateful for the love and care she received from her oncology team and the extra time we got to spend together. The experience solidified what I was already starting to suspect – that a career in veterinary oncology was where I was headed.
I feel incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to continue my training at the FACC, surrounded by some of the kindest and hardest-working people at the forefront of oncology research and treatment.
In my free time, I enjoy traveling and exploring new places with my wife and spending time with our three cats (Valentino, Oliver, and Coco) and our dog Benji.