From big cats to Blacksburg: Li-Jen Chang joins veterinary college
March 27, 2023
Li-Jen Chang recently joined the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine as a clinical assistant professor of veterinary anesthesia and pain management. In this position, Chang will spend most of his time working at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, one of the college’s three hospitals.
Chang’s experiences — not only as an anesthesiologist but as a former zoo veterinarian and a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine — bring a valuable perspective to the college.
Chang earned his master of veterinary medicine and DVM-equivalent from National Chung Hsing University and pursued his dream of becoming a zoo veterinarian in his native Taiwan.
For seven years, Chang focused on ruminants and large carnivores at the Taipei Zoo, the largest zoo in Taiwan. Big cats were his favorites to work with.
“When I was a really young zoo vet, I got a pretty bad scratch from a tiger ” Chang explained.
"Learning how to control this kind of big guy became very important. That's the key."
His interest in learning more about anesthesiology led Chang to leave the Taipei Zoo and enter an anesthesiology residency program at Purdue University, and his pursuit of knowledge didn’t stop there.
"I've practiced traditional Chinese medicine since I was a graduate student. I thought, if we could do more evidence-based Chinese medicine and practice it in veterinary medicine, that could be very interesting, so I enrolled in a Ph.D. program in China regarding Chinese medicine, focusing on the application of traditional human theories in veterinary medicine.”
In 2020, Chang finished his residency and his Ph.D. in Chinese medicine. He worked at Oklahoma State University as a clinical assistant professor before joining the veterinary college in early 2023.
He enjoys the challenge and variety of cases he’s seen at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital for both large and small animal departments.