Dear friends and colleagues,
With the holidays upon us, it's time to reflect on the past year at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Not only did we continue to advance the profession through our education and research programs, but we also turned the page on a new chapter in the college's life with the completion of the Veterinary Medicine Instruction Addition and the arrival of 126 students in the Class of 2016 -- our largest student class ever. Concurrent with this, we have renovated our classrooms and the existing MDL facilities.
While we experienced unprecedented growth over the past year, we also remained committed to educating future leaders of the profession, building a strong research program that seeks to improve both animal and human health, offering the absolute best services, and strengthening relationships with our partners. None of this would have been possible without your hard work and dedication throughout 2012.
The opening of the Veterinary Medicine Instruction Addition enables us to educate our students in state-of-the-art facilities that represent the higher standard of care now expected from pet owners. The attractive, modern facility with its new surgical suite appeals to prospective students who want a quality education in an up-to-date learning environment. It also creates space for teaching and research faculty needed to support our growth. Next year, we hope to continue facility improvements, starting with a remodeling of the cafeteria/commons area.
As a college, we are not only marking the end to another successful year, but also the beginning of a new one full of exciting possibilities. Whether you are a student furthering your education, a faculty or staff member supporting our programs, an alumnus using the knowledge and skills you gained here, or a friend of the college investing your time and resources, we pause to remember each of you and the contributions you make to our efforts.
Wishing you a warm, restful holiday season and health and happiness in the New Year,
Gerhardt G. Schurig, DVM, Ph.D.
Grand opening celebrates new veterinary facilities
Stamps Foundation helps graduate students follow their dreams
Extension veterinarians add value to farms
Center for Animal Human Relationships works on outreach, scientific discovery
Welcome to the College
Dr. Andreas Bachelez joins college as clinical assistant professor of small animal surgery
Dr. Lara Bartl joins college as assistant professor of community practice
Dr. Michele Borgarelli joins college as associate professor of cardiology
Dr. Tom Cecere joins college as assistant professor of anatomic pathology
Dr. Mark Freeman joins college as assistant professor of community practice
Dr. William Gilsenan joins college as clinical instructor of large animal medicine
Dr. Claudio Gutierrez returns to college as anatomy instructor
Dr. Shireen Hafez joins college as anatomy instructor
Dr. Tracy McCracken named assistant director of education and training at CPCVM
Dr. Sherrie Whaley joins college as director of communications
Veterinary students and professionals meet for mentor program
Regional diversity symposium helps students understand differences
VMRCVM alum delivers Thanksgiving turkey to the White House
Exchange program between VMRCVM and Indian university continues to grow
Awards, Honors, & Activities
Lynn Brammer named Extraordinary Employee at Virginia Tech
Dr. Bess Pierce named Engaged Scholar of the Month
Awards & Accolades
Students at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) are learning the fundamentals of veterinary medicine in a new, 30,000-square-foot educational building that represents the next chapter in the life of the college—and the profession. The Veterinary Medicine Instruction Addition, which opened this fall, includes a state-of-the-art clinical techniques laboratory for second- and third-year veterinary students as well as new faculty offices, student seminar space, and small conference areas.
"Veterinarians are the leaders of companion animal practice, the human-animal bond, and the 'one health' movement. We are the only professionals trained in comparative, cross-species medicine, and we play an expanding role in a number of exciting fields, from zoonotic disease prevention to food safety and security," said Dean Gerhardt Schurig at the new building's grand opening. "The completion of the Veterinary Medicine Instruction Addition ensures that we continue to expose our students and faculty to cutting-edge research and practices of veterinary medicine."
The building's 7,400-square-foot surgical space includes a dedicated holding area for patients, a separate induction and patient prep area, and automatic doors that separate the sterile and non-sterile areas in addition to a modern surgical suite. This makes a big difference for faculty members like Dr. Otto Lanz, associate professor of surgery in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences.
"All these advances represent the higher standard of care now expected from owners for the care and treatment of their pets, considered by most a family member," Lanz said. "This investment will enrich the quality of education current veterinary students receive at the VMRCVM. It will also attract future students, so that they too may one day be able to practice quality veterinary medicine by providing them an extraordinary veterinary education."
Construction crews broke ground on the $14.1 million addition in the summer of 2011 and finished before the Class of 2016—the largest in the college's history—arrived on campus in August. Since the new building's completion, the veterinary college now greets visitors with Hokie Stone, the iconic limestone found throughout Virginia Tech's campus.
The grand opening also celebrated the completion of the $10.5 million, 16,000-sqare-foot Infectious Disease Research Facility, which opened November 2011, and renovations of other classroom and laboratory spaces. The event included remarks from Dr. Bill Tyrrell, a 1992 VMRCVM alumnus and past president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association; Tom Rogers-Cotrone, a third-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine student and president of the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association; Dr. Siba Samal, associate dean and chairman of the University of Maryland Department of Veterinary Medicine; and Virginia Tech President Charles Steger.
High-achieving graduate students at the VMRCVM are able to pursue career paths in biomedical research thanks in part to the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation.
In 2011, the Stamps Foundation committed approximately $500,000 to the veterinary college to support graduate students in biomedical and veterinary sciences. The gift, which was the foundation's first to a graduate-level program, covers half of the cost for five graduate students over five years, including travel and research funding. The college matches the other half of the renewable scholarship.
This fall, the college received a second commitment of more than $573,000 to fund an additional cohort of students in the program. This brings the Stamps Foundation's commitment to more than $1 million.
Read more about the Stamps Foundation's support for VMRCVM.
VMRCVM's Extension specialists are contributing to the success of Virginia's beef, dairy, and equine industries through programs that add value to the commonwealth's livestock and safeguard its food supply.
Drs. Dee Whittier and John Currin, veterinary Extension specialists and faculty members in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, are training Extension agents and livestock producers throughout the state through the Virginia Beef Quality Assurance Program. Every year, the program adds from $1.5 million to $2 million to the value of cattle on Virginia's certified farms.
"Through the certification program, producers learn about best management practices that improve the safety and quality of their beef," Whittier said. "We provide training and education on a variety of veterinary topics, such as herd health and the proper administration of vaccines."
Under the umbrella of the National Beef Quality Assurance Program administered by the National Cattleman's Beef Association, the Virginia program has certified about 4,500 producers representing more than half of Virginia's cattle. With such a high number of participants, Virginia is one of the leaders in beef quality assurance. Program leaders prepare materials and organize training in other mid-Atlantic states.
Extension veterinarians also collaborate with faculty members on campus, agents in the field, and local and state organizations to help producers market the health and genetic management used to produce feeder calves. They have also working to control and prevent Johne's disease, safeguard animal health through disease traceability, teach skills to beginning and mid-level beef producers through a cow-calf management course, and train Virginia's food animal veterinarians to utilize the Society of Theriogenology's bull breeding soundness evaluation.
Dr. Scott Pleasant, an Extension equine health specialist and associate professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, also serves as an expert resource to field Extension agents and Virginia's horse industry, which has more than 41,000 operations throughout the commonwealth.
Health professionals throughout the country have started to realize the importance of the human-animal bond in their day-to-day work. Physical therapists have introduced amputees to horse riding as a way to retrain their muscles, counselors have incorporated dogs into their sessions with traumatized children, and doctors have seen results in stroke patients who play catch with golden retrievers.
VMRCVM is adding to the growing body of evidence on the therapeutic benefits of companion animals and creating opportunities in the local community through the Center for Animal Human Relationships.
"With the direction of its advisory group and the assistance of its partners, the center aims to provide educational opportunities for veterinary medical students, outreach and service to the community, and the basis for collaborative research on the animal-human interface," said Dr. Bess Pierce, associate professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and the center's director.
Read more about the Center for Animal Human Relationships.
Dr. Andreas Bachelez of Pullman, Wash., has joined VMRCVM as a clinical assistant professor of small animal surgery in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. He comes to the college from Washington State University, where he held positions as a clinical assistant professor of small animal surgery, clinical instructor, and small animal surgery resident.
Bachelez has interests in small animal orthopedics and minimally invasive clinical techniques. In his new role, he will teach clinical surgical techniques to fourth-year veterinary students, interns, and residents, as well as provide small animal surgery support to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
Dr. Lara Bartl of Alexandria, Va., has joined VMRCVM as an assistant professor of community practice in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. She comes to the college from the VCA Alexandria Animal Hospital, where she served as medical director.
Bartl has more than 15 years of experience with canine and feline patients. In her new role, she will support the Veterinary Teaching Hospital's Small Animal Community Practice, which provides full-service out-patient preventative health care to local small animal clients within a 35-mile radius of Blacksburg.
Dr. Michele Borgarelli of Manhattan, Kan., has joined VMRCVM as an associate professor of cardiology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. He comes to the college from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where he was also an associate professor of cardiology.
Borgarelli has research interests in mitral valve disease and pathophysiology and treatment of chronic heart failure. In his new role, he will provide cardiology services to small animal patients at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and pursue his research program.
Dr. Tom Cecere of Blacksburg, Va., has joined VMRCVM as an assistant professor of anatomic pathology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. A VMRCVM alumnus, Cecere was most recently a postdoctoral Fellow in a biomedical research training program at the college, where he studied viral immunology.
Cecere has research interests in swine infectious diseases and microbial immunology. In his new role, he will continue his research program and teach clinical techniques and diagnostic pathology to veterinary students.
Dr. Mark Freeman of Auburn, Ala., has joined VMRCVM as an assistant professor of community practice in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. He comes to the college from the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, where he was an assistant professor of small animal surgery.
Freeman has more than a decade of experience as a veterinarian, both in private practice and academia. In his new role, he will support the Veterinary Teaching Hospital's Small Animal Community Practice, which provides full-service out-patient preventive health care to local small animal clients within a 35-mile radius of Blacksburg.
Dr. William Gilsenan of Kennett Square, Pa., has joined VMRCVM as a clinical instructor of large animal medicine in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. He comes to the college from the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine, where he was a large animal internal medicine resident at the New Bolton Center.
Gilsenan received several teaching awards for his work at the New Bolton Center. In his new role, he will supervise and teach veterinary students, interns, and residents in large animal medicine and support the Veterinary Teaching Hospital's clinical services.
Dr. J. Claudio Gutierrez of Valdivia, Chile, has returned to VMRCVM as an anatomy instructor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. He was previously an assistant professor of anatomy at the Universidad Austral de Chile and an adjunct professor at the college.
Gutierrez has experience in teratology—or the study of birth defects—and research interests in diabetes and pregnancy, as well as fetal development. In his new role, he will supervise and teach veterinary students, interns, and residents in the area of anatomic pathology.
Dr. Shireen Hafez of Baton Rouge, La., has joined VMRCVM as an anatomy instructor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. She comes to the college from the Louisiana State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where she was also an anatomy instructor.
Hafez has more than 15 years of teaching experience in the United States, Egypt, and elsewhere. In her new role, she will supervise and teach veterinary students, interns, and residents in the area of gross veterinary anatomy.
Dr. Tracy McCracken of Chevy Chase, Md., has joined VMRCVM as the assistant director of education and training for the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine. A VMRCVM alumna, McCracken was most recently responsible for technical design and field implementation of the WILD (Wildlife Investigation in Livestock Disease and Public Health) "One Health" training courses conducted throughout Africa by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
McCracken has considerable experience in international veterinary medicine and infectious diseases. In her new role, she will help expand teaching, training, and career advisor programs for the center.
Dr. Sherrie Whaley of Athens, Ga., has joined VMRCVM as director of communications. She comes to the college from the University of Georgia, where she served as director of communications and marketing for the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
In her new position, Whaley will be responsible for strategic communications, including internal and external communications, branding, media relations, and marketing of programs. She will also manage the college's Office of Public Relations and Communications.
Veterinary students had a chance to learn about their expected career paths during an October event that pairs students with practicing veterinarians. "This outstanding program allows our students to build relationships with practicing veterinarians and explore possible career paths, particularly in private and public practice." said Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, VMRCVM dean. "Thanks to our strong partnerships with the VVMA and MVMA and their many volunteers, our students are further appreciating what it means to be a veterinarian outside of the classroom and the teaching hospital."
View the mentor workshop photo gallery.
The college hosted the third Southeastern Veterinary Student Diversity Matters Symposium in mid-September. This year's theme was "More than Meets the Eye: Understanding Our Visible and Non-visible Differences." The 2012 symposium addressed many aspects of diversity and included an overview of climate survey results, a presentation on non-visible diversities, an LGBTQ panel discussion, a workshop on how to start a VOICE chapter, and a session on providing for people with disabilities. There were also opportunities to debrief and tour our Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The symposium rotates among the seven veterinary medical colleges in the Southeast. This was the first time the VMRCVM hosted the symposium.
View the diversity symposium photo gallery.
Dr. Bob Evans (DVM '98) of Cargill Turkeys delivered "Cobbler," the National Thanksgiving Turkey, to President Obama at the White House on Nov. 21. Dr. Evans not only provided veterinary care for candidate turkeys, but also evaluated their physical conditions and personality to pick the best birds for delivery. "Cobbler," who was pardoned by the president, will spend the rest of his life on Mt. Vernon.
A memorandum of understanding between Virginia Tech and Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) in Chennai, India, and a grant from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities have facilitated a collaborative student and faculty exchange program between the two universities. This year, eight students attended Dr. Elankumaran 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 VMRCVM's Center for Regenerative Medicine, and two faculty members from TANUVAS were undergoing molecular virology training at the Maryland campus. Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan, professor of bacteriology, is also a coordinator for this program.
A self-described small-town girl, Lynn Brammer makes a big difference in the lives of everyone she meets. Her mission in life, she says, is to help make her community a better place for people and animals.
During the workday, Brammer works as a small animal medicine technician at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. As a "pet nurse," in the hospital's internal medicine department, she draws blood, places catheters, administers medication, and schedules diagnostics for patients. She does all of this while helping to build the future of the veterinary profession through hands-on training of fourth-year doctor of veterinary medicine students.
Read more and watch a video on how Brammer's commitment to serve makes her an Extraordinary Employee at Virginia Tech.
With more than 20 years of professional experience in the military and academia, Pierce has become one of the nation's leading experts on the subject of working dogs.
After graduating cum laude in 1992 from Auburn University with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, she joined the Army Veterinary Corps and served at Edwards Air Force Base, focusing on military working dog care. Working in a variety of assignments around the world since her stint at Edwards AFB, Pierce has spent 15 years in active military service, including three years as chief of internal medicine at the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Veterinary Service.
After joining the VMRCVM faculty, Pierce left active military duty and became a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, serving now as a colonel and the reserve director of the Military Working Dog Veterinary Service.
Virginia Tech's Office of Outreach and International Affairs has named Pierce an Engaged Scholar of the Month. Read more about Pierce's achievements and the busy world of working dogs.
Kaitlyn Kramer Childs, DVM candidate in the Class of 2014, won second prize in the veterinary internal medicine category and John Alex Teed, DVM candidate in the Class of 2014, won a special prize in the same category at the 4th International Clinical Case Presentation Conference held at Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) in Chennai, India in July. Their case presentations were among 140 total presentations, which included participants from Malaysia, Australia, and Afghanistan.
María Cristina Villafranca Locher, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, won a first place certificate at the XVII Congreso Veterinario de Leon conference in Leon, Mexico for her poster, "Quantification of the cellular prion protein (PrPC) mRNA in bovine gametes and during bovine embryo development."
Dr. Donna McWilliams (DVM '02) was recently recognized by the Lakeland Police Department for establishing the Veterinarian Care Program to provide medical care for retired police canines.
Yanyan Ni, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, won the best overall graduate student presentation award at the 93rd annual meeting of the Conference for Research Workers in Animal Diseases in December.
Dr. Michael Nolan (DVM '09), recently achieved Diplomate status with the American College of Veterinary Radiology (Radiation Oncology).
Kathleen Pack, licensed veterinary technician in the Small Animal Hospital, and her 1-year-old Ragdoll cat, Batman, passed the final screening with Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program. Batman is the Roanoke Valley's only cat to qualify for the national registry of animal-handler therapy teams.
Dr. Valerie Ragan, CPCVM director, was reappointed to the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association Executive Board as director at large.
Dr. Suzanne Santamaria, a veterinary terminologist at the Veterinary Terminology Services Laboratory, received a "best paper" award at the three-day International Conference on Biomedical Ontology in Graz, Austria, in July.
VMRCVM's Staff Members of the Month were Carolyn Sink, supervisor of diagnostic services at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, for July; Kimberly Allen, animal care tech at the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases, for August; Janet Bramlett, housekeeping worker, for September; Karen Hall, laboratory specialist for the Teaching and Research Animal Care Support Service, for October; Darlene Duncan, educational support specialist for the Office of Academic Affairs, for November; and Mary Lickliter, small animal ICU tech, for December.
The Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine received an additional $102,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agriculture Service's Office of Capacity Building and Development to expand technical assistance to the USDA Armenia Animal Health Programs through 2013. Center director Dr. Valerie Ragan traveled to Armenia in August to work with USDA and Armenia Ministry of Agriculture officials and veterinarians on enhancements and assessment of zoonotic disease control strategies. She is also working to develop a Master of Public Health practicum opportunity for dual DVM/MPH students. This is the second expansion of the USDA grant, now totaling $301,000 for center assistance in the Caucasus. It includes funding for veterinary student travel to Armenia to assist with the project.
Dr. Michael Edwards (DVM '11) and Dr. Virginia Topp (DVM '12) visited the college in November to share information with students about recent graduate experiences, searching for employment, and working in corporate veterinary medicine.
Dr. Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine (CPCVM), traveled to Lyons, France, to meet with the dean and faculty of the École Nationale Vétérinaire (School for National Veterinary Services), the world's oldest veterinary school. Ragan met with faculty from the French school to learn about their history, structure, and training and to provide an overview and discussion of CPCVM's mission, function, and curriculum in the public and corporate track. Plans are to continue discussions and to explore the possibility for the exchange of students, sharing of curriculum, and other potential collaborations.
Dr. Valerie Ragan, Dr. Stephen Sundlof, and Dr. Gary Vroegindewey of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine presented a one-day workshop on veterinary career transition at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Annual Convention in San Diego in August. The workshop which was supported by AVMA Membership and Field Services is one of a series that has garnered strong interest.
Dr. Gary Vroegindewey, director of global health initiatives at CPCVM, and fourth-year DVM students Michael Neafsey and Lauren Ranivand participated in a "One Health" international clerkship in the Punta Cana region of the Dominican Republic in July. Working with the Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) clinic in Veron, the students conducted a "One Health assessment," taught a class on dog bite prevention and rabies, did a feral cat issue assessment, and participated in endangered Ridgeway Hawk surveillance. This pilot program is part of a planned on-going "One Health" partnership with VCOM in the Dominican Republic.
Dr. Gary Vroegindewey, director of global health initiatives at CPCVM, and Dr. David Sherman of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University presented a four-day course on "Global One Health" at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University in July. This program provided MSU students with an understanding of global health issues and the role played by veterinarians.
Dr. Jean Whichard (DVM '95), microbiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, presented a seminar entitled "Surveillance for antimicrobial resistance among foodborne bacteria isolated in the United States" at the college in August.
Dr. Anne Zajac, associate professor of parasitology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, presented a FAMACHA workshop at Virginia State University's Hair Sheep Day in October.
Vital Signs is published throughout the year by the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dean: Dr. Gerhardt G. Schurig
Produced By: Office of Public Relations and Communications
Director: Sherrie Whaley
Content Editor: Michael Sutphin
Web Editor: Alison Elward
Contributors: Liz Crumbley, Laura Neff-Henderson, Michael Sutphin, Sherrie Whaley
Contributing Photographers: Alison Elward, Terry Lawrence, John McCormick, Jim Stroup, Logan Wallace, Sherrie Whaley