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Veterinary Medicine

Thai princess visits Veterinary Teaching Hospital for insight into vet med and cancer treatment

by Coleman Cornelius

The James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital last month hosted a princess from Thailand who traveled to Colorado with her entourage to learn about the role of veterinary medicine in public health and to explore her interest in cancer with experts at Colorado State University.

Thai princess visits CSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital

(6 images)

Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol of Thailand meets Dr. Rod Page, director of the CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center, during a recent visit to the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Princess Chulabhorn learns from Dr. James Custis about radiation treatment provided in a veterinary cancer case.

The princess gains information from CSU that could help expand veterinary training, particularly in cancer care, as a means to improved public health in Thailand.

Dr. James Custis describes a dog's cancer treatment to Princess Chulabhorn, a chemist and toxicologist who is concerned about cancer rates in her home country.

The princess witnesses ways that CSU veterinarians gain insights applicable to human medicine while treating animals with naturally occurring diseases.

Dr. Mark Stetter, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, talks with CSU students from Thailand who helped welcome Princess Chulabhorn.


Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol of Thailand visited the Veterinary Teaching Hospital for two days with a group of palace staff and a team representing Chulabhorn Research Institute in Bangkok and Kasetsart University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Princess Chulabhorn, who has a doctorate in chemistry and completed post-doctoral work in toxicology, is founding president of her namesake research institute, is a professor of chemistry at Mahidol University, and has a particular interest in expanding cancer research and treatment for people and animals in her home country.

“She was very enthusiastic in talking about her research institute and ways to collaborate on cancer,” said Dr. Tim Hackett, director of CSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “We've hosted celebrities, politicians and other VIPs at the hospital, but this was completely different because of collaboration with advance teams, planning, the large entourage and the protocol. It took the meaning of ‘VIP’ to a whole new level.”

The youngest daughter of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit of Thailand, Princess Chulabhorn was awarded UNESCO’s Einstein Medal for promoting scientific collaboration in Asia.

Collaborating across countries

In her discussions with Dr. Rod Page, director of the CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center, the princess discussed the challenge of fatal liver cancer among Thai people who regularly eat raw, fresh-water fish. The fish carry a parasite, known as liver fluke, which can lead to bile duct cancer. Read more

Princess Chulabhorn also is concerned about arsenic contamination of water and its ties to cancer and diseases of the skin and cardiovascular system among people in Thailand, Page said.

“We discussed possible student, fellow and faculty exchanges and the role of veterinary medicine in public health as a way to continue collaborations,” Page said.  “The leadership team of the Kasetsart University Veterinary School, which Princess Chulabhorn helps to fund, discussed their desire to have more specialty training programs and to create more research depth within their veterinary school.”

Close connections

The CSU veterinary program came to the attention of the princess in part because of a professional tie: Dr. Sirirat Niyom is a veterinarian who completed doctoral studies at CSU in anesthesia and pain management. Niyom, who earned her Ph.D. in 2013, now works on the Bangkok campus of Kasetsart University and has worked closely with Princess Chulabhorn.

Niyom, who joined the Thai delegation in March, reconnected at CSU with her advisers, Dr. Khursheed Mama and Dr. Pedro Boscan.

“It was an honor to host Princess Chulabhorn and to share information about health challenges that face people and animals worldwide,” said Dr. Mark Stetter, a veterinarian and dean of the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “We appreciate her interest in veterinary medicine and in CSU as a potential collaborator.”