Vital Signs: December 2016 Vol. 5, Issue 12

A look back at 2016

A message from Dean Cyril Clarke

The Year in Review

Dear friends and colleagues,

As we come to the end of 2016, we take this opportunity to look back on the many accomplishments achieved this year.

A few highlights:

  • With the arrival of the Class of 2020, we launched a new Doctor of Veterinary Medicine curriculum that integrates the basic and clinical sciences, incorporates team-based learning, allows for early entry into the clinics, and switches to a pass/fail grading system.
  • The college maintained its position as one of the top-ranked colleges in the nation in the number of applications for admission. We received 1,400 applications for 120 positions available in the Class of 2020 — the second largest applicant pool in North American for the second year in a row.
  • X.J. Meng, University Distinguished Professor of Molecular Virology, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors given to a scientist in the United States. Meng also helped organize the 2016 annual meeting of the American Society for Virology, which brought 1,300 scientists to Virginia Tech.
  • We became the first college at Virginia Tech to implement the new advancement model, which brings together development, communications, and alumni relations under the leadership of Alison Wainwright Davitt, our new assistant dean of advancement.
  • S. Ansar Ahmed, who previously served as head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, was named associate dean for research and graduate studies at the college.
  • The Department of Population Health Sciences continued to make progress in expanding One Health initiatives, including design of a new undergraduate program in public health, which has been submitted to the university for approval. We also welcomed Laura Hungerford as the new department head.
  • The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg made progress on its New Horizons initiatives, launched a full-time farrier service, and debuted a new high-definition CT scanner for standing horses.
  • Our clinical research program continued to expand with two new members of the Collaborative Research Network and new clinical trials in the areas of cardiology, oncology, and medicine.
  • Virginia Tech Animal Laboratory Services (ViTALS), our full-service veterinary diagnostic laboratory, become the first in Virginia to earn provisional accreditation through the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians.
  • Neuroscientist Michelle Theus and her colleagues received a five-year, $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study traumatic brain injury.
  • Recent alumna Betsy Schroeder (DVM ’16) received a prestigious Epidemic Intelligence Service Fellowship through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
  • Our veterinary students hosted the college’s inaugural Wellness Week with workshops, lectures, and activities organized by the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association and several other student clubs.
  • The college gave undergraduate students from underrepresented populations a peek into the veterinary profession through the week-long VetTRAC Summer Program.
  • We continued to upgrade our facilities in both Blacksburg and Leesburg. Highlights include new collaborative learning technology in instructional spaces, an expanded anatomy cooler, and renovated research spaces for the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases. We also opened a new equine therapeutic podiatry facility at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
  • Last but not least, we graduated the first cohort from Puppy University, a partnership between the veterinary college and Saint Francis Service Dogs in Roanoke to prepare puppies for service dog training.

These accomplishments would not be possible without the contributions of faculty and staff, students, alumni, donors, referring veterinarians, and friends of the college, and we thank them for their support. Our collective effort made 2016 a successful year, and we will build on this success in 2017.

Have a happy holiday and a prosperous New Year!

Dr. Cyril Clarke, Dean


Vital Signs is published throughout the year by the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

  • Dean: Cyril R. Clarke
  • Assistant Dean for Advancement: Alison Wainwright Davitt
  • Managing Editor: Michael Sutphin
  • Web Editor: Alison Elward
  • Assistant Editor: Kelsey Foster
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