2015 Theriogenologist of the Year
Sponsored by Universal Imaging
Dr. Rob Gilbert
Rob Gilbert was born and reared in South Africa, where he completed his veterinary degree in 1977 and entered first a rural mixed practice and then an predominantly equine practice before joining an artificial insemination corporation, where he worked for three years. He then returned to the Faculty of Veterinary Science of the University of Pretoria (at Onderstepoort) to specialize in theriogenology. These were exciting days, in the relatively early history of embryo transfer and the initial adaptation of ultrasonography to veterinary practice. In 1984 he took his wife and toddler son to Madison, Wisconsin, where he had been accepted into a theriogenology residency program, during which his second child, a daughter was born. After that he returned to South Africa, to a faculty position at Onderstepoort. It wasn’t long before the combination of a worsening political position in South Africa and the lure of academic opportunity tempted him to apply for a faculty position at Cornell University, where he has been since 1988.
Dr. Gilbert is a devotee of comparative reproductive studies, believing that insight into mechanisms and reproductive strategies of one species illuminates these processes in less-studied species and allows greater understanding and more rapid advance. In that vein, he has published original observations related to dogs, cats, sheep, goats, beef and dairy cattle, horses, non-domestic species and on human reproductive conditions. He is probably best known, however, for his work on postpartum uterine disease in dairy cows. Stemming from days in private practice, he was perplexed by endometritis – how was it best diagnosed and treated, and was it even a problem? In 1992 he wrote an editorial pleading for a more scientific approach to the study of endometritis and a few years later pioneered the large scale use of endometrial cytology in cows for diagnosis of endometritis, proving that the condition was highly prevalent and severely detrimental to reproductive performance, even in relatively mild form. This opened up a field of investigation which remains very active. Dr. Gilbert’s investigations have added to knowledge of epidemiology and pathogenesis of uterine disease, culminating in development of a vaccine against metritis, currently in trials. More recently his attention has been focused on resumption of postpartum ovarian activity, uterine effects on ovarian function, and endocrine factors affecting oocyte competence as well as the potential for genomic selection for fertility in dairy cows. He continues to indulge his interest in comparative theriogenology by working on funded projects in equine reproduction, and by enjoying clinical work in all species.
Dr. Gilbert lives with his wife in Ithaca New York. They have two adult children.