Three sessions: 31 May 2016, 7 June 2016, 24 June 2016
Total approximate duration: 3 hours 45 minutes
Interviewer: Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D.
For supplementary materials:
Please contact, the Historical Resources Center, Research Medical Library:
Javier Garza, MSIS, firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Interview Subject:
Peggy Taylor Tinkey (b. 10 March 1959, Tuscola, Illinois) came to MD Anderson in 1993 as an Assistant Veterinarian in the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery and advanced to faculty status in 1998. She is now a Professor in that Department and has served as Chair since 2006. (The Department is housed in the Division of Basic Science Research.) Dr. Tinkey also has a joint appointment as an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX.
Under Dr. Tinkey’s leadership, the Department has offered continually expanding support to MD Anderson researchers and developed processes of state of the art care for research animal populations.
Major Topics Covered:
Personal background and temperament
Education and transition from private practice to academic medicine
Faith and commitment to animals; ethical and humanitarian dimensions of animal research
Use of animal species in research
Department of Animal Medicine and Surgery: history, evolution, current status
The care of laboratory animals
Examples of research, complexities of research, role of veterinarian, controversies over research
The Gulf Coast Consortium Postdoctoral Laboratory Animal Medicine Residency Program
A note on transcription and the transcript:
This interview had been transcribed according to oral history best practices to preserve the conversational quality of spoken language (rather than editing it to written standards).
The interview subject has been given the opportunity to review the transcript and make changes: any substantial departures from the audio file are indicated with brackets [ ].
In addition, the Archives may have redacted portions of the transcript and audio file in compliance with HIPAA and/or interview subject requests.
Interview Session One: 31 May 2016
A Veterinarian Father Involved in the New Field of Laboratory Animal Medicine
Chapter 01 / Personal Background
An Interest in Living Medicine
Chapter 02 / Educational Path
Faith Shapes a Feeling for Animals; Work that Contributes to Human and Animal Health
Chapter 03 / Character and Personal Philosophy
Speeding Through to Private Practice
Chapter 04 / Professional Path
Opening a Practice and Steps into Academic Medicine
Chapter 05 / Professional Path
A Chance Opportunity to Work at MD Anderson and Earn Specialty Certification
Chapter 06 / Joining MD Anderson/Coming to Texas
Departmental Roles and Strengthening Veterinary Care for Animal Colonies
Chapter 07 / Building the Institution
Interview Session Two: 7 June 2016
A Brief History of Animal Medicine at MD Anderson
Chapter 08 / An Institutional Unit
The Importance of Departmental Accreditation and a Snapshot of Veterinary Medicine at MD Anderson
Chapter 09 / An Institutional Unit
Preparing to Take on Leadership of the Department
Chapter 10 / The Administrator
Taking on the Chair Position and Building Veterinary Medicine and Surgery
Chapter 11 / Building the Institution
The Impact of Successful and Unsuccessful Research Studies
Chapter 12 / The Researcher
Building the Rodent Population and An Overview of MD Anderson’s Genetically Engineered Mice
Chapter 13 / Building the Institution
Interview Session Three: 24 June 2016
Thanks to Mentors, Family, Colleagues
Chapter 14 / View on Career and Accomplishments
An Exemplary Animal Care Program; Why Animals Are “Unsung Heroes”
Chapter 15 / Overview
The Gulf Coast Consortium Postdoctoral Laboratory Animal Medicine Residency Program
Chapter 16 / Beyond the Institution
Behind the Driven Professional: A Creative, Funny Personality
Chapter 17 / Character and Personal Philosophy
Interview Session One: 31 May 2016 (listen/read)
Interview Identifier (listen/read)
Chapter 01 (Personal Background)
A Veterinarian Father Involved in the New Field of Laboratory Animal Medicine (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Tinkey talks about her family and experiences growing up in an agricultural area of Illinois with a veterinarian father. In particular, she tells the story of how her father came to be a community veterinarian and then, as a result of the Vietnam War, spend twenty years in the Air Force, working in the relatively new field of Laboratory Animal Medicine conducting animal research for the space program.
Chapter 02 (Educational Path)
An Interest in Living Medicine (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Tinkey sketches her early educational experiences. She notes that her family didn’t have a lot of animals. However, she had an affinity for science from an early age and notes that she thought in terms of “living medicine” with ideas of going to medical or veterinary school. She explains that she had many women classmates in veterinary school due to the state-wide need for vets and it was easier for women to work with large animals, given the availability of injectable drugs.
Chapter 03 (Character and Personal Philosophy)
Faith Shapes a Feeling for Animals; Work that Contributes to Human and Animal Health (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Tinkey talks about her the connection between her religious beliefs and the approach she takes to working with animals.
She begins by noting that she was educated in catholic schools, where she had a very good experience. She now attends a Baptist church and she explains some of the elements of her deep sense of faith. She explains that her feeling that “you’re here for a reason bigger than you” greatly influences her work. She explains that she has a deep respect for life and a commitment to benefit the welfare of animals, though she also has a strong conviction that there is a difference between humans and animals.
Next Dr. Tinkey explains that working with animals in a research setting can be “emotionally tough” for veterinarians, given the experimental procedures a veterinarian must conduct. She talks about how she copes with this and sees her role as making an animal’s life as good as possible. Referring to the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, she says, “That’s what we do here.” Dr. Tinkey states that working in veterinary medicine at MD Anderson is her way of contributing to both animal and human health.
Chapter 04 (Professional Path)
Speeding Through to Private Practice (listen/read)
Dr. Tinkey observes that if she were able to repeat her high school and college experiences, she would “slow down.” She notes that she worked very hard in college, taken heavy course loads and winning an acceptance to veterinary school during her sophomore year. She also married and divorced, which influenced her decision to join the Mission Bend Animal Clinic (’83 – ’89), a pet animal practice, as she was a single mother.
Dr. Tinkey sketches the lessons she learned in private practice then briefly notes that she opened her own practice in 1984.
Chapter 05 (Professional Path)
Opening a Practice and Steps into Academic Medicine (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Tinkey explains how she came to open her own veterinary practice, the Prestonwood Animal Clinic, and the lessons she learned.
She also discusses how she began to consider how there might be more she could do with a veterinary degree, leading her to take a year out for a pathology fellowship at the Baylor College of Medicine (’87 – ’88). She explains how the fellowship came about through a “cold call” to Fran Doppel, who created a position for her as Clinical Veterinarian in the research animal area. Dr. Tinkey explains the importance of specialty certification for a professional working this area and why it was not possible to obtain at that time in her life.
Chapter 06 (Joining MD Anderson/Coming to Texas)
A Chance Opportunity to Work at MD Anderson and Earn Specialty Certification (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Tinkey explains how a client who brought a monkey into the veterinary clinic led her to call Ken Gray at MD Anderson. Dr. Gray later contacted her to talk about a job opportunity. She explains what attracted her to take a job with MD Anderson in ’93.
She next explains that Dr. Kim Vargas had been named chair of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery the year before. Tinkey explains her role –to help with a study that Dr. Kian Ang was conducting on 100 rhesus monkeys.
She also talks about looking for opportunities to publish and sketches the requirements she had to meet for board certification. She explains that Dr. Gray provided her with protected time to study for the certification exams.
Chapter 07 (Building the Institution)
Departmental Roles and Strengthening Veterinary Care for Animal Colonies (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Tinkey explains the administrative organization of various sections within the department and the roles she served to build the department during the nineties. She begins by explaining that Dr. Kim Vargas had organized the department in sections and assigned her to lead the Section of Laboratory Animal Medicine, which required an understanding of catheterization and a focus on herd health. She also notes that she was tracked to take over as Department Chair.
Dr. Tinkey explains how the Department needed to change in focus to serve the research needs at MD Anderson, developing more regulatory medicine and a focus on colony health surveillance and biosecurity. She says she needed to embark on a “crash course on rodent biology and diseases” and realized that the department didn’t offer the same kind of medicine for rodents/mice as it did for large animals. She notes in particular that the department did not offer a surgical training program for investigators working with mice. She explains that, in part, this had to do with the perceptions that PIs brought to their work with mice as experimental animals and the role they expected veterinarians to play in studies. Dr. Tinkey explains that veterinarians are much better integrated into research teams now than they were in the nineties.
At the end of the interview session she explains that pain management for rodents is one of the most ignored areas in research animal medicine. She explains assumptions that researchers make about animal pain and how pain can influence research results. She notes that at MD Anderson now, every animal that received survival surgery also gets pain medication.
Interview Identifier (listen/read)
Chapter 08 (An Institutional Unit)
A Brief History of Animal Medicine at MD Anderson (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Tinkey sketches the history of animal medicine at MD Anderson. She explains that the first president, R. Lee Clark, saw the value of having a veterinarian on staff and hired the first vet, Dr. John Jardine, in the sixties or seventies before a department of veterinary medicine had been established. She says she believes the department was founded in the seventies, with Dr. Cliff Stevens hired as the first pathologist.
Now, she notes, there are two veterinary departments as well as the primate center at the Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research. She explains that it was unusual for a cancer hospital to have a chimpanzee research colony and that this took vision. Dr. Tinkey sketches administrative reorganizations in veterinary medicine.
Chapter 09 (An Institutional Unit)
The Importance of Departmental Accreditation and a Snapshot of Veterinary Medicine at MD Anderson (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Tinkey talks about the importance of accreditation in keeping MD Anderson research abreast of advances in the field of animal medicine. She draws a comparison with hospital accreditation and sketches the origin of the peer review system with AAALAC [Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care], founded in 1965. She notes that MD Anderson was the 183rd institution to be accredited, indication of early adoption of care methods.
Next Dr. Tinkey explains what is involved in the extensive review process, providing a snapshot of the issues of concern to her, as Chair of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery. She notes that accreditation is part of department culture now and keeps the department constantly changing and improving.
Chapter 10 (The Administrator)
Preparing to Take on Leadership of the Department (listen/read)
Dr. Tinkey explains that the growth of the department has been connected with Dr. Kenneth Gray’s vision and his role in mentoring her to take over as department chair. She talks about the areas of skill that leadership has required, noting the assertive temperaments of veterinarians at MD Anderson.
She talks about the value of the Faculty Leadership Academy and the challenges this training has enabled her to meet.
Next, Dr. Tinkey mentions changes she instituted once Kenneth Gray retired. Specifically, she expanded the approaches taken to large animal care into the area of rodent care: she hired four additional veterinarians and reorganized the department (in 2006) to create a Section of Compliance and Rodent Clinical Care.
Chapter 11 (Building the Institution)
Taking on the Chair Position and Building Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Tinkey talks about several changes she brought to the department once she took over as chair.
She begins by explaining that from 2006 – 2006 she was serving as chief of the Section of Experimental Surgery and Imaging Support. She loved the job, she explains, and took on the chairmanship out of a sense of loyalty and duty to Dr. Gray.
She then provides an overview of the vision she brought to the role: having a centralized veterinary surgical service. She explains that research benefits when veterinarians are involved, bringing “surgical judgement” to animal research methods. She gives examples, discussing aseptic technique and leg amputations, noting that the latter creates chronic pain which, left untreated, can alter research results.
Next, she talks about changing departmental culture so that faculty and staff are all interested in “electronicizing” whenever possible (her term), i.e. always exploring how technology can help them perform better. She gives several examples: capturing information for datamining to evaluate workflow; using an iPhone to trouble shoot after-hours problems with animals; using a 3D printer to create a device to anaesthetize baby rats; creating an electronic medical records system for rodents.
She explains the importance of the EMR for rodents –an in-house written program (later replaced with a commercial version). This allowed for individual health care for valuable rodents. (Mice can cost $150 each.)
Chapter 12 (The Researcher)
The Impact of Successful and Unsuccessful Research Studies (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Tinkey talks about the impact two research studies, one successful and one unsuccessful.
She first discusses Kian Ang’s radiobiology study that she participated in when she was first hired. She explains that the study was designed to determine of the maximum dosage for radiation delivered to the spinal cord was valid. Dr. Ang determined that it was not, allowing for higher doses and new lifesaving procedures for patients. Dr. Tinkey talks about her role on this study as clinical veterinarian and explains that this result has an impact on her commitment to animal research.
Next, she talks about a plastic surgeon’s attempts to test an artificial trachea in dogs. This study failed because a proper biomaterial was not available. She explains that the failure of the tracheas created serious post-surgical complication in the dogs, forcing the PI to abandon the study. She also notes that the complications were very upsetting: one technician wanted to bring in IACOOC and a controversy broke out in the department over the value of this kind of experimentation. She talks about the value of having conversations about the humanity of animal research.
Chapter 13 (Building the Institution)
Building the Rodent Population and An Overview of MD Anderson’s Genetically Engineered Mice (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Tinkey sketches the growth of the rodent facilities administered by the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery and describes the genetically engineered rodents that many MD Anderson researchers use. Rodent facilities have grown in tandem with the growth of MD Anderson research.
She notes that the first significant expansion occurred in 2006 when the rodent facility was moved from its old location in the Jones Freeman Building to the new location in the Mitchell Research Building [BSRB]. Dr. Tinkey describes the “state of the art” caging systems that the Department invested in in order to reduce labor costs. She explains that the Department aims include identifying space to grow, sustaining the growth rate and achieving workforce efficiency. To demonstrate adherence to these aims, she talks about the roboticized cage washing system that has helped the Department maintain efficiency and control costs as the number of rodent cages has increased by twenty-five thousand between 2006 and 2016. She next sketches additional increases and some administrative changes in handling the rodent population. She notes that the Department is beginning a renovation to add another 8500 rodent cages.
Next, she talks about the genetically engineered mice that are important to MD Anderson research. She explains that “humanized mice” are “little avatars that grow a human tumor to generate a PDX or patient derived xenograft. She goes on to describe immune-deficient mice and nude mice, the latter being a “huge foundation” of cancer research that require a sterile environment with consequent special handling. She notes that the institution has invested over a billion dollars in animals for research, including genetically engineered mice that have been developed at MD Anderson.
Dr. Tinkey next talks about the Department’s emergency plans instituted to protect this investment. She recalls being at Baylor and the loss of thirty thousand animals during Tropical Storm Alison. MD Anderson keep animals in basements and protects animals with flood mitigation plans and on-call staff 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. She discusses the link between the Department’s Veterinary Emergency Plan and the institution’s Emergency Plan, noting the Department instituted a disaster plan as part of the accreditation process. She explains that MD Anderson’s plan is “very mature.”
Interview Identifier (listen/read)
Chapter 14 (View on Career and Accomplishments)
Thanks to Mentors, Family, Colleagues (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Tinkey thanks people who have had an impact on her career, including her parents, her husband and children, several mentors, colleagues, and members of faculty, and staff in her department. She tells a story to demonstrate the dedication and passion of her faculty and staff.
Chapter 15 (Overview)
An Exemplary Animal Care Program; Why Animals Are “Unsung Heroes” (listen/read)
Dr. Tinkey begins this chapter by outlining what has been accomplished in the Department of Animal Medicine and Surgery under her leadership. She notes that the department was recently given a “glowing external review” and was called “an exemplary care program,” indicating that “we have done a lot of things right.” She says she is most proud of the fact that the department is a “high-functioning team,” despite the fact that veterinarians are passionate, opinionated people who frequently disagree.
Next, to give context for her discussion of why animals are key for cancer research, Dr. Tinkey recalls going to a lecture where she learned that the imperative for modern animal research came from the Nuremberg Trials and discussions of war crimes including experimentation on human beings. Dr. Tinkey concludes that animal use is a “humanitarian principle.”
Next she talks about the need to use many different species of animals for research. She notes that animals are “powerful research tools” in service of work that will benefit patients. However, she asserts, “they aren’t little test tubes. They are sentient beings.” This sentiment, she says, brings humanity into the research process. She talks about why animals are the “unsung heroes” of research and how they are deserving of respect throughout the research process.
Chapter 16 (Beyond the Institution)
The Gulf Coast Consortium Postdoctoral Laboratory Animal Medicine Residency Program (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Tinkey explains her role in creating the Gulf Coast Consortium Postdoctoral Laboratory Animal Medicine Residency Program, part of the Department’s education mission. She notes that former chair, Dr. Ken Grey, always has a fellowship position he usually awarded to a veterinarian in private practice who was exploring other careers. When she took over the chairmanship, there were 25 – 30 veterinarians at the Texas Medical Center and she had the idea to link these professionals and institutions to create a training program. Dr. Suzanne Craig, she notes, was responsible for setting the program in place and launching it in 2006. She talks about the numbers of fellows involved and where they have found positions after leaving.
Chapter 17 (Character and Personal Philosophy)
Behind the Driven Professional: A Creative, Funny Personality (listen/read)
In this chapter, Dr. Tinkey provides a glimpse behind the professional persona. She notes that she is very focused and driven at work and that’s how colleagues know her. However she is a fun-loving jokester outside of work and enjoys many creative activities. She confirms that her creative side comes out at work, first in the poetry she writes for department celebrations. She gives an example by singing the parodic lyrics she wrote to the Soft Cell song, “Tainted Love.”
Next, Dr. Tinkey talks about her humor and creativity help her as an administrator (work that is not her first love).