Posted January 28, 2022
Featuring Danielle Marturello
Head Shot Marturello
Danielle Marturello, DVM, MS, DACVS

Back in veterinary school, Dr. Danielle Marturello’s favorite learning experience happened on the farm. “I really like cows, they’re just very gentle,” she says. “I got to take care of the teaching cows, and I traveled with the ambulatory service. I even got to pull a calf.”

Her focus has since shifted. Marturello, DVM, MS, DACVS, is an assistant professor for the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. She’s also an orthopedic surgeon at the MSU Veterinary Medical Center, where she focuses on healing her patients and supporting her students as she continues the legacy of MSU veterinary orthopedics. “COVID has made things tough,” she says. “It seems like more people got pets during the pandemic, so this past summer, we were flush with new trauma cases while trying to catch up on electives that were waitlisted during shutdown.”

Thankfully, amid that chaos, Marturello was at least surrounded by familiar faces. Before she accepted her tenure-track faculty position, she already was part of the Spartan veterinary community. Her research year, surgical residency, and MS degree all took place in East Lansing.

Alds Together For Emily
Picture of a printed angular deformity guide (left) next to its rendered computer-aided drawing (right). “Currently, we have not made any implants for use in patients, just guides. But our goal is to start printing implants in the next couple of years,” says Marturello.

And she has plenty left to do. Like many of the College’s faculty, Marturello is a hybrid—part educator, part clinician, part researcher. In the laboratory, Marturello’s research largely focuses on creating instruments and implants that are customized for a specific patient. This is advantageous during surgery, in that these custom tools can simplify the procedure and result in shorter anesthesia times and improved outcomes for patients.

“Our program isn’t just about 3-D printing, but the accuracy involved in developing patient-specific instruments and implants, which are especially helpful in cases with challenging fractures or angular limb deformities. Instead of starting with something standard, we can design our tools around a specific patient’s surgical procedure.”

Ideally, Marturello would like to eventually obtain a metal printer so she and her team can print these custom tools on-site.

“We see a lot of trauma here,” says Marturello. “And a lot of patients are sent specifically to us because of our excellent reputation for repairing challenging fractures. Being able to create and use patient-specific tools to assist us in surgery helps bring this to the next level.”

Marturello’s work is a strong example of the feedback loop between research and clinical practice. “The research is coming from clinical problems or things that we want to do better. Research allows us to advance clinical practice. To have clinically applicable research, you have to be in the clinics.”

Outside of MSU, Marturello is still a creator who works with her hands. One day while her dad was visiting, as they were preparing to leave, he jokingly complained that he had nowhere to sit as he put on his shoes. So, Marturello dug into her high school trigonometry, adjusted a few schematics, and built an entryway bench.

Entry Benchedit
The bench Marturello made for her father to sit on.

“My contractor was even impressed,” Marturello laughs. “He said it was pretty good work.”

She also makes “wicked-good” tiramisu and limoncello, and is happy to share the recipes with anyone interested.

To learn more about her research and clinical practice, contact Dr. Danielle Marturello.

Quick Questions with Dr. Marturello

Which professional accomplishment makes you the most proud?
“So far, achieving board diplomate status was very exciting. Officially becoming a diplomate after all your training feels great and lifts a big burden.”

If you won the lottery tomorrow and decided to quit your job, what would you do instead?
“I never had a backup when applying to vet school! I’m not sure what I would’ve done with my life. I’d probably try to get a job at Pixar or somewhere where they do animation because they use a lot of computer-aided drawing programs I use and enjoy. I don’t know how I’d get in, though. I guess if I won the lottery, I could pay them to hire me!”

Any first day of school superstitions?
“Not first day, but I used to have on-call superstitions. I would fold up my scrubs and leave them sitting outside my locker and most of the time, I didn’t get called back.”

What would you tell your first-year-DVM-student self?
“Enjoy being a student while you can, because it only gets harder from here!”

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