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A government delegation from India visited Virginia Tech on May 23-25 to discuss an ongoing collaboration between the university and the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) in Chennai, India.
The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, whose flagship facility is located on Tech's campus, began a partnership with the Indian university six years ago that has grown to include a collaborative student and faculty exchange program.
The visit comes on the heels of a recent announcement that the Tamil Nadu government would introduce regenerative medicine in veterinary care and will develop a Stem Cell Research Center, a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country.
"We're excited about the new center which will no doubt intensify research collaborations between both institution's faculty and graduate students," said Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the Virginia-Maryland veterinary college.
The delegation presented gifts to Dr. Charles Steger, university president, during their visit.
Government representatives who visited Virginia included Tambaram Krishnamurthy Chinneyah, honorable minister for animal husbandry for the State of Tamil Nadu; Gagandeep Singh Bedi, secretary to government for animal husbandry and fisheries for the State of Tamil Nadu; and Dr. Prabakaran Rajamanickam, vice chancellor of TANUVAS.
"We are pleased to have such a high-ranking state government delegation from Tamil Nadu, including an elected representative, travel to Blacksburg to continue our strong collaborative programs," said Dr. Elankumaran Subbiah, associate professor of virology in the veterinary college. "Virginia Tech and TANUVAS signed a memorandum of understanding in 2007 and we have had a strong working relationship ever since."
"The chief minister of the government of Tamil Nadu has recognized and been pleased with this growing collaboration and recently extended a $1.1 million grant to TANUVAS to establish an exclusive center for stem cell and regenerative medicine for animals in collaboration with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech — a first of its kind in India," the secretary of government said.
The delegation met with Dr. Mark McNamee, senior vice president and provost of
Virginia Tech, during their visit.
During the trip, the delegation visited with a number of college and university representatives at Virginia Tech, including Dr. Jerry Niles, director of special projects for Outreach and International Affairs; Dr. Mark McNamee, senior vice president and provost; Dr. Roop Mahajan, director of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science; Dr. Charles Steger, university president; Dr. Roger Avery, senior associate dean for research and graduate studies at the veterinary college; Dr. John Dooley, chief executive officer of the Virginia Tech Foundation; and Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the veterinary college.
While on campus, the representatives toured the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease facilities. They also visited Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., where the university and college have a number of collaborative programs in stem cell and regenerative medicine.
According to Subbiah, the state high-level team is pleased with the discussions at Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University and several collaborative efforts ranging from stem cells to nanotechnology, from child health to sustainable model societies, are being contemplated at TANUVAS. This closely aligns with the mandates of the Virginia Tech-India program in Chennai.
Vice Chancellor Prabakaran added, "The partnership with Virginia Tech and with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in particular is a phenomenal success and we are looking forward to many years of productive collaboration."
Last year, eight students attended Subbiah's six-week Summer International Clinical Veterinary Medicine course offered in India. Four senior DVM students from TANUVAS received clinical training at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, two regenerative medicine faculty members from TANUVAS attended a three-month training program at the college's Center for Regenerative Medicine, and two faculty members from TANUVAS went through molecular virology training at the Maryland campus. Subbiah and Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan, professor of microbiology, initiated this program using a small grant from the US-India agricultural knowledge initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
This summer, a group of eight students from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine will visit TANUVAS starting July 7, and a group of five students from TANUVAS travel to the veterinary college in August, Subbiah said.