By Emily Lenhard on January 17, 2023
Featuring Harry Cridge

Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract are some of the most common reasons that people bring their pets to the vet; within that scope, pancreatitis is one of the most common disorders. Dr. Harry Cridge is working as a clinical researcher to improve both knowledge of this disease and patient outcomes.

Harry Cridge, MVB, MS, PG Cert Vet Ed, DACVIM (SAIM), DECVIM-CA, FHEA, MRCVS, is an assistant professor at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, where he educates future veterinarians, works as a clinician on the Internal Medicine Service, and conducts clinical research.

Cridge’s research program focuses on pancreatitis, a disease that occurs when the pancreas is inflamed. “It’s a very common disorder, and despite that, we have a lot of challenges, not only with how we accurately diagnose the condition, but also how we treat it,” says Cridge, as he explains his personal interest in pancreatitis. “It has a substantial impact on both the patient and the owner, and as such, it’s an area that seems natural to spend more time trying to improve our knowledge.”

There are limited targeted treatments for pancreatitis, so it’s treated supportively—this means many different medications and often challenging, time-specific dosing regimens. It can be an emotional and mental challenge for owners to keep up with this treatment. To make matters worse, some patients experience recurrent or chronic pancreatitis, which means the disorder repeatedly flares up or may never fully resolve.

Research Objectives

Cridge seeks to answer three key questions:

  • What are the mechanisms of disease?
    • Cridge evaluates patient histories to find clues about why the disease develops to help prevent it from occurring in other dogs. Cridge also investigates the effect of oxidative stress on the pancreas. Future studies in this area may allow for it to be targeted therapeutically.
  • How can test results be interpreted accurately?
    • A pancreatitis diagnosis requires a suite of diagnostic tools, but sometimes, important information is overlooked; data show many animals have very high levels of inflammation of the pancreas, but that the animals did not exhibit clinical signs and, therefore, were not diagnosed. Cridge is working to identify common pitfalls to aid in diagnosis.
    • Cridge is evaluating existing tests to assess their limitations and advise clinicians on accurate interpretation.
  • How can outcomes in patients with pancreatitis be improved?
    • Cridge focuses on both management of pancreatitis and its secondary consequences, which can influence patient survival. Cridge’s team recently evaluated the frequency of cardiovascular complications of pancreatitis. Understanding secondary complications may help identify alternate treatment protocols.

Looking ahead, Cridge says his top priority is carving out more information about the disorder, its diagnosis, and new ways to treat it. “There’s just so much we don’t know, and it’s an exciting area to focus our research endeavors,” he says.

Education and Background

Cridge, who is from England, attended the University College Dublin School of Veterinary Medicine, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine (equivalent to an American DVM). From there, he moved to the States and attended the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where he earned his master’s degree in Veterinary Medical Research and also completed an internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery and a residency in Small Animal Internal Medicine.

In 2020, Cridge arrived at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, where he works as an assistant professor of Small Animal Internal Medicine and serves as chair of the Small Animal Rotating Internship Committee. Along with his clinical service, Cridge conducts a robust research program, and regularly publishes; in fact, one of his research articles in a highly ranked veterinary science journal was a top-cited article.

“I really enjoy academia,” says Cridge. “It provides a unique environment to combine clinical cases with teaching and research. A lot of what we study in research applies to the clinic floor, and a lot of the peculiarities and patterns that we see in clinical cases then translate back into research and teaching. Ultimately, it is all intertwined.”

In addition, Cridge is a diplomate of both the American and European Colleges of Veterinary Internal Medicine, and is one of only two veterinarians worldwide to obtain specialist status in Small Animal Medicine Gastroenterology from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Lastly, Cridge earned a postgraduate certificate in Veterinary Education from the University of London’s Royal Veterinary College.

Mentorship and Career Path

Cridge notes the importance of his residency in the shaping of his career path. He says he had good mentors with strong research foci, who exposed him to exploratory thinking and pointed him toward clinical research—something Cridge says he wants to pass along to others.

Cridge further describes how his earliest experiences in clinical research were formative. “My [residency] training led to clinical questions, and as those developed, they led to projects, and those projects have led to new questions,” he explains, and notes that his current pancreatitis research is a “natural escalation from [his] prior work.”

That escalation has caught the attention of administrators, including one who has described him as a “prolific publisher.” Cridge is sure to share that credit with his colleagues. “When you have a good support team, it becomes easier to perform important research. A lot of the Department [of Small Animal Clinical Sciences] is involved in our pancreatitis work, from Emergency and Critical Care to Cardiology and Radiology. We really have built a strong team. Having the support of these groups, and others within the College [and MSU Veterinary Medical Center], is crucial to our success.”