Dr. Wayne Jensen attends a meeting with Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, founding director of CSU’s Orthopaedic Research Center.
Asked if there is a single sector of the veterinary industry where he hasn’t worked, Dr. Wayne Jensen pauses thoughtfully. “Probably not,” he says with a chuckle.
On Oct. 1, Jensen officially started his newest job, as head of the Colorado State University Department of Clinical Sciences. He has fulfilled the role on an interim basis for one year, first joining CSU as associate department head in 2013. He formerly was chief scientific officer for Morris Animal Foundation, the world’s largest animal-health research foundation.
Jensen now provides critical leadership at a top-tier public research university: guiding the work of nearly 150 faculty and staff who train students in CSU’s renowned Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program; conduct basic and applied research with implications for animal and human health; and provide clinical services at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, a regional referral center offering compassionate specialty care. Clinical Sciences is home to two CSU Programs of Research and Scholarly Excellence – focused on cancer and musculoskeletal health – just one sign of the department’s caliber.
“Dr. Jensen has very strong support from the Clinical Sciences faculty and has been doing an excellent job as interim department head over the last year,” said Dr. Mark Stetter, dean of the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences. “He brings a diverse breadth of experience and is the right person at the right time to help the veterinary profession and our college make significant steps forward in teaching, research and service.”
Jensen, a veterinarian with a master of business administration and a doctorate in pathology, has a remarkably varied and accomplished professional background. (Find his curriculum vitae on this Department of Clinical Sciences webpage.) He began as a bench researcher, seeking to better understand how the immune system activates to fight disease. He later led research and development for a company providing veterinary diagnostics and specialty treatments, managed multimillion-dollar research projects, and along the way co-founded a nationally recognized veterinary hospital in northern Colorado. Jensen intermittently practiced in the clinic, while publishing a raft of research and earning multiple patents – emblems of innovation. Now: higher education.
“I’ve looked for opportunities where I can have a broader impact by helping others do great things,” explains Jensen, who grew up in suburban Denver and Canon City and earned four academic degrees from CSU. “This is one step further in that direction, hopefully having a positive impact on faculty. I look at this opportunity as a huge privilege.”
For years, Jensen has been a well-known and highly respected colleague for many people in the college and on campus.
He is a collaborator with CSU’s Flint Animal Cancer Center in the groundbreaking Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, one of the college’s most prominent current research efforts, which involves some 3,000 individual cases with a total project cost of more than $25 million. He has published dozens of papers in research journals, including the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and holds eight patents representing robust innovation, most recently for technology to detect early renal disease.
With his wife, Tracey Jensen, he founded the 17-year-old Wellington Veterinary Hospital, which was named 2012 Practice of the Year by the American Animal Hospital Association. The couple are CSU veterinary alumni but met in a research laboratory at National Jewish Health, a leading respiratory hospital in Denver, where Jensen’s early research career was notable in part for representing the growing crossover between animal and human medicine.
In his role as chief scientific officer for Morris Animal Foundation, Jensen managed intramural and extramural research programs, the latter comprising about 250 research awards per year with an annual funding commitment of more than $10 million.
His challenge now is directing an academic department that trains veterinarians in one of the world’s top vet schools – against a backdrop of widespread concern about veterinary debt-to-income ratios and practitioner wellbeing, increasing medical specialization, and a growing need to leverage veterinary knowledge to solve pressing challenges in human, animal, and environmental health.
“We have to be different in a measurable way when meeting these challenges,” Jensen says. “What are the metrics that guide how we train students, conduct research, and deliver cutting-edge tertiary care? That’s what I would like to help facilitate.”
Honors and awards
Jensen studied microbiology as an undergraduate, earning his bachelor’s degree and D.V.M. at CSU. He then completed a Ph.D. in pathology in the CSU Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology and an M.B.A. from the CSU College of Business. Jensen has earned, among other honors, the 1989 National Institutes of Health Physician Scientist Award and the 2005 Leadership, Excellence, and Academic Distinction Award from the CSU College of Business.