Erin Malone

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PEOPLE: THE HEART OF THE CVM

Erin Malone

Dr. Erin Malone’s first big research project at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine resulted in a new approach to dealing with horses suffering complications after colic surgery.

After surgery for intestinal issues, horses often struggle with moving food from the stomach down the intestinal tract properly. Since they have no ability to vomit, this can put horses at risk of fatal stomach rupture and greatly slows their recovery from surgery.

Malone had come across a small study that showed an intravenous continuous infusion of lidocaine could relieve pain and restart normal intestinal activity. She decided to investigate further, leading a double-blind, international research project to verify the validity of the approach. Now, using IV lidocaine after colic surgery has become standard practice in most veterinary referral hospitals.

Dr. Erin Malone observes as fourth-year veterinary student Kelsey Jurek examines a horse’s leg.Dr. Erin Malone observes as fourth-year veterinary student Kelsey Jurek examines a horse’s leg. 

“This is one of the research projects I’m most proud of, and it turned out to be a really big deal,” she says. “It’s the kind of research we do at the University of Minnesota.”

Malone has been at the University as a researcher and teacher since the 1990s. The Iowa native received her undergraduate degree from Duke University before earning her DVM from North Carolina State University and PhD at the University of Minnesota.

Among the other important research projects Malone completed was the treatment of equine sarcoids—the most common horse skin tumor—with a commercially available 3M cream.

“The treatment can be done by clients on the farm, getting rid of these tumors in a matter of months” she says. The research team showed that the cream could also resolve ear plaques in horses, the only treatment that has currently proven successful.

Malone spends a third of her time teaching at the veterinary college, and much of her recent work has concentrated on the scholarship of teaching.

“I like the challenge of applying scientific principles to how people learn,” she says.

It’s not theoretical engagement. Students become willing subjects as she deploys different teaching methods to classes to determine which approach yields better results, particularly in terms of what they remember a year or more later.

Now Malone is broadening her research to student wellness, depression, suicide, and the risk of those issues in the student veterinary college population.

Dr. Erin Malone teaches a course in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s active learning center.Dr. Erin Malone teaches a course in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s active learning center.

“We’ve got some great resources on campus, and I’m working with psychology department to make even more help available,” she says.

Outside the university, Malone likes to work in her yard and explore state parks with her husband, Scott Madill, another faculty member at the college. They are empty nesters, with two kids in college.  

While Malone has an annually renewable appointment, she’s never really considered leaving the University.

“I don’t imagine that I could work with a better group anywhere else,” she says.