Chasing discovery requires a personality driven to push through adversity. These individuals seek a deeper understanding to focus on the truly important and avoid distractions. We pay tribute to those who inspire us as they investigate our world with an unstoppable passion.
PEOPLE: THE HEART OF THE CVM
Dr. Jody Lulich may spend many of his days seeing patients or in front of classroom, but outside work, he has a passion for writing.
He’s spent part of the past two years working with a local literary organization on a memoir that covers his Chicago childhood. The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis selected Lulich from more than 100 other applicants for its Mentor Series in Poetry and Creative Prose in 2015 and 2016, offering other writers the opportunity to work closely with Lulich on their craft.
A reading captured on a YouTube video reveals Lulich describing in aching detail how he often crawled into the safety of his parents’ bed and found himself enclosed in his mother’s arms. Years later, after the funeral of his mother, he walks through the bedroom once more, recalling his understandably emotional response to the demise of the most important person in his life.
Capturing memories is a far cry from his day job as director of the Minnesota Urolith Center and internal medicine professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, where he holds the Osborne-Hill's Endowed Chair in Nephrology and Urology. At the college, Lulich is better known for helping author more than 400 published scientific papers and for developing a noninvasive method for removing urinary stones. His teaching and research abilities were recognized nationally when he received the 2012 Mark L. Morris, Sr., Lifetime Achievement Award.
That’s just one of many teaching awards he’s received, including Speaker of the Year from the North American Veterinary Conference in 2007. It’s been quite a career, especially for a guy who originally had little interest in internal medicine or living in Minnesota.
As Lulich tells the story, he initially wanted to be an animal pathologist until College of Veterinary Medicine Professor Carl Osborne, now deceased, came calling in the 1980s.
He twice asked Lulich to come to the University of Minnesota for a veterinary residency and to earn a PhD in internal medicine, even though the college did not have a position open at the time. Osborne’s goal was to create that offering and have Lulich as his student. Eventually, Lulich obliged, and never left the University.
Five years later, he joined the faculty, focusing on urinary stones. The Urolith Center, he points out, offers its services to veterinarians across the country at no cost thanks to philanthropic support from Hill’s Pet Nutrition and others. It’s the largest human or animal urinary stone center in the world, attracting more than 84,000 submissions annually.
The center has received and investigated more than one million urinary stones since 1981. Urinary stones are fundamentally a mystery to scientists, who still struggle to understand why they form and the role diet and other factors play, Lulich says.
Away from campus, Lulich shares his Roseville home with husband, Joe Linn, a retired state employee, and two dogs, a cat, and a macaw. When not writing, he plays classical piano and enjoys many other hobbies.
Looking back at his career and forward to his goals for the future, the professor summarizes what always has been his goal.
“I’ve heard it said that the best colleges of veterinary medicine provide the best care not only by utilizing contemporary knowledge but by creating it,” he says. “We’re always looking for a better way to manage disease, hopefully a way that is less painful, more compassionate, and less expensive.”