Vital Signs: January 2014
Vol. 3, Issue 1
Capital Project Update
Dear friends and colleagues,
I am pleased to report that Virginia Tech has provided the college with funding to proceed with two planned capital projects. The first involves conversion of faculty offices in the current “cube farm” to enclosed offices. This project will improve the work environment for faculty and allow us to accommodate our Population Health Sciences faculty, who must vacate space in Sandy Hall later this year. Sufficient funding has been secured to accomplish the first phase, which will involve remodeling of the third floor space that is currently being occupied by clinical sciences faculty. A preliminary design has been developed in consultation with department heads and will soon be shared with faculty for their review and input.
The second project involves completion of the living-learning space encompassing the Student Commons, Vet Med Café, and library. Remodeling of the Commons and Café was completed last year. The final phase of this project will focus on the library. Study space available to students will be increased and space allocated to hard copies of books and journals will be reduced while expanding digital library resources. This new design will reflect the substantive changes in library usage that have occurred in recent years.
In addition, preparations are underway to ensure that the Veterinary Teaching Hospital is ready for an accreditation review scheduled for October of this year. Reorganization of the reception/business area has already been completed and a long list of deferred maintenance needs have been identified and will be addressed over the next six months.
These projects will improve our ability to provide a world-class education to our students and top-quality services to our clients. While we work through the logistics of improving our facilities, we will continue to carry out our important teaching, research, and service missions.
Dr. Cyril Clarke, Dean
- College’s application numbers continue upward trend
- Popular therapy dog program inspires others to start their own
- New AVMA partnership supports recruitment and retention of public and corporate vets
- Hokie puppies aid research
- Equine nurse Amanda Compton: Driven to succeed
- Dr. Martha Larson earns distinguished teaching award
- Back on their hooves: A helping hand for horses in need
- Professor Marion Ehrich gives to college in many ways
- Alumni update: Alumni connect at reunions in Nashville, Orlando
Welcome to the College
Focus on Faculty
Around the College
- Students visit Centers for Disease Control
- College hosts Beef Cattle Health Conference
- Equine veterinarians continue their education at third annual conference
- Colt on road to recovery after December trip to Veterinary Teaching Hospital
- Equine Field Service holds annual open house
Awards & Activities
- Dr. David Panciera named Oklahoma State Veterinary Center Distinguished Alumnus
- Dr. Theresa Pancotto recognized as Teacher of the Week
- More Awards & Accolades
For many, becoming a veterinarian is a lifelong dream. The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine is about to make that dream one step closer to reality for 120 prospective students.
In mid-February, the college will issue acceptance letters to candidates for the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program following another record-breaking application period in which more than 1,400 prospective students applied, 260 interviewed on the college’s Blacksburg campus, and less than half of those will make the final cut.
Despite little change in the total number of students applying to veterinary schools nationwide, the college saw a 15 percent spike in the number of applications. This follows several years of double-digit increases in application numbers that now gives the college the third-largest applicant pool in North America, according to figures from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.
Therapy dogs have been making appearances in the community and on Virginia Tech’s campus for almost two years. However, it was their appearance on Facebook that served as the impetus for Old Dominion University students to model their popular program on the Norfolk campus.
“Many of the students here are away from home for the first time and have left beloved pets behind,” said Heidi Garman of Hampton, Va., a senior biology major at Old Dominion University who coordinated the therapy dog program for the university’s Pre-Veterinary Medical Association. “They really miss the time they have with their pets, and we wanted to offer them a way to connect with a pet here on campus.”
Garman explained that the relatively new club was searching for a project that could both meet the group’s interests and support the campus community. When the students — many of whom are interested in applying to the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine— saw photos of therapy dogs in action on the college’s Facebook page, they knew that they had found a way to promote the human-animal bond too.
The college’s Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the National Association of Federal Veterinarians are answering the call for veterinarians to fill a critical need in public service and corporate practice with the recent signing of a formal memorandum of understanding that aims to better promote careers in these sectors.
The partnership seeks to educate Congress and human resource managers within the federal government of a wide variety of job opportunities that veterinarians are qualified to fill and to boost career-building programs that seek to recruit, train, and retain the next generation workforce.
“The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine is very well positioned to partner with the AVMA and NAFV to prepare veterinary students and veterinarians for career opportunities beyond private clinical practice,” said Dr. Cyril Clarke, dean of the college. “The location of our Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine on the University of Maryland campus places it in close proximity to a wealth of federal, not-for-profit and other organizations in the Washington, D.C. area that are working nationally and internationally to advance animal and public health. It is also important that we work together to develop deeper relationships between the profession and organizations involved in food and fiber production, biomedical research and product development.”
When you imagine the veterinary college lending its support to a Virginia Tech research project, you probably imagine a laboratory or a clinic seting. But a recent partnership with the university’s School of Visual Arts has a surprising setting — a room full of puppies.
The Labrador puppies, who were bred through the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s theriogenology service but live in private homes, are participating in a project sponsored by the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology SEAD (Science, Engineering, Art, and Design) Major Initiative Program Grant. Using three depth-map cameras, the research team has started a 3-D catalog of canine body types.
For veterinary nurse Amanda Compton, 2013 was a year to remember.
Not only did she receive numerous academic and career accolades, but she also achieved national success in the sport of competitive carriage driving.
An employee of the college’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Compton holds an associate’s degree from Potomac State College of West Virginia University and a bachelor’s degree in animal veterinary sciences from West Virginia University.
She graduated from Northern Virginia Community College in veterinary technology and became a licensed veterinary technician in May 2013. In addition she was awarded Veterinary Technician Student of the Year by the Virginia Association of Licensed Veterinary Technicians.
The accolades didn’t stop there. Compton received the Potomac State College Young Alumni Award and was named Member of the Year of the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians in December 2013.
The Washington, D.C. native, who lived most of her life in West Virginia, is also a registered equine dental technician with the Board of Veterinary Medicine and the first person in Virginia to hold both veterinary technician and equine dental technician credentials.
Dr. Martha Larson, professor of radiology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, has received the 2013 Zoetis Animal Health Distinguished Teaching Award.
The award recognizes an educator at the veterinary college with a strong record of teaching excellence. The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges will consider Larson and other award winners at each of the veterinary schools in the U.S. and Caribbean for a national distinguished teaching award presented by Zoetis, formerly known as Pfizer Animal Health.
Larson is known as a compassionate and effective instructor at the college. Since joining the faculty in the fall of 1986, Larson has taught 14 courses and served as a course leader in three. She also serves as section chief of radiology and anesthesia.
Peggy Schultz remembers the strong sense of accomplishment her whole family would feel when her father succeeded in nursing an injured horse back to health on their farm.
“He wasn’t a sophisticated veterinarian or anything, but would just patch them up and make sure they got a lot of rest, pain management, bandaging, and cleaning,” she said. “We would get real excited when one got well. It was like a big celebration.”
Through her philanthropy, Schultz will help make it more likely that other horse-loving families will have similar cause for celebration in the future. A public-school educator from Woodbine, Md., she recently made a generous commitment of support from her estate toward research into regenerative medicine at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va.
Marion Ehrich is making a difference for her students today, as well as the ones she’ll have tomorrow.
Ehrich, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology and co-director for the Laboratory for Neurotoxicity Studies, has donated generously to the college during her career.
Much of her giving has been directed toward research performed in the college, but Ehrich also created the Fiedler Scholarship for Students from Rural Areas. Established in 1995, the scholarship was set up to honor her father and his farm roots, by providing educational opportunities to students from small, rural communities.
Even with more than 2,500 alumni, the college is finding ways for its graduates throughout the country to stay in touch with their alma mater. This winter, two alumni receptions at veterinary conferences more than 600 miles apart provided just that opportunity.
In December, more than 40 alumni attended the alumni reception held in conjunction with the American Association for Equine Practitioners Conference at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tenn. A month later, more than 40 alumni participated in another alumni reception — this one during the North American Veterinary Community Conference, held at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 19.
During the latter reception, Dr. Marva Davis (DVM ’87) was the 50/50 raffle winner with proceeds going to the Alumni Society’s Peter Eyre Scholarship. Marva returned her $150 winnings to the college for a total of $300 towards the scholarship. She made the donation as a small remembrance and thanks to her parents, Tyree P. and Muriel D. Felder, for their education, love, and support all her life.
Lynn Young, the college’s director of alumni relations, has traveled throughout Virginia and Maryland during the past two years connecting with more than 100 alumni in their veterinary practices. She also visits alumni practices near conference locations. In addition to collecting information from alumni to update records, she fills them in on what’s new at the college.
Welcome to the College
Dr. Sandra James-Yi of Crystal Lake, Ill., has joined the college as a clinical assistant professor of toxicology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology.
An experienced veterinarian, toxicologist, and environmental scientist, James-Yi was previously a postdoctoral associate in pathology at the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis-St. Paul. She has also been a visiting assistant professor of toxicology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
Focus on Faculty: Dr. Julie Settlage
Dr. Julie Settlage (DVM ’00) is a clinical assistant professor of large animal surgery in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of William and Mary, she pursued her doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. After graduation, Settlage completed an equine surgery residency at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va. She worked at veterinary clinics in New Jersey before returning to her alma mater in her current position in 2009. In both 2009 and 2013, the fourth-year classes elected Settlage as their Teacher of the Year.
What are your current responsibilities at the college? If you teach, what do you teach?
I have many different roles here at the college. I work mostly in the hospital as a large animal surgeon. I teach fourth-year DVM students and surgery residents in the clinical setting and first through third-year DVM students in laboratories and lectures. My favorite topic to teach is equine colic. I have a burning interest in student surgical learning, thus, my research interests include studying methods on improving surgical learning. I also serve as the Section Chief of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery and sit on the university’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
Around the College
Awards & Activities
Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences named Dr. David Panciera as one of three recipients of its 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award. Panciera is the Anne Hunter Professor of Veterinary Medicine in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences.
A 1982 graduate from Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Panciera has received awards for clinical teaching, including the Bayer Animal Health Faculty Recognition Award in 2006 and 2010. He obtained more than $650,000 in research grants with an emphasis on clinical endocrinology and has authored a textbook on small animal endocrinology.
The Virginia Tech Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research recognized Dr. Theresa Pancotto, clinical assistant professor of neurology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, as a Teacher of the Week.
The award recognizes Pancotto’s dedication to clinical teaching, emphasis on practical knowledge, and engagement with students in the fourth-year veterinary curriculum. Pancotto, who primarily teaches fourth-year students, is an enthusiastic instructor who focuses on classroom knowledge that can be applied outside specialty institutes.
Kira Cook, large animal husbandry supervisor in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, was named the December 2013 Staff Member of the Month.
Dr. Julia Coutin, third-year small animal surgery resident, was awarded chief resident status by the Veterinary Teaching Hospital board.
Dr. Theresa Pancotto, clinical assistant professor of neurology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, recently completed the requirements to become a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner. Pancotto received certification through the University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Stephanie Riggins, ophthalmology technician in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, was named the January 2014 Staff Member of the Month.
Dr. Megan Shepherd, assistant professor of clinical nutrition in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, was named a Top 15 veterinary nutrition professor by Vet Tech Colleges.
Dr. Lijuan Yuan, professor of virology and immunology, received an $115,000 grant from the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health to study the reduction of rotavirus diarrhea.
Dr. Jacque Pelzer, director of admissions and student services, has already kicked off recruiting efforts for the Class of 2019. Upcoming events include:
- Feb. 1 – West Virginia University students visit campus for tours and admissions information sessions
- Feb. 6 – Presentation at the Conference of Higher Education Pedagogy, Virginia Tech
- Feb. 9 – Virginia Tech’s Pre-Health Advisor Student Meet and Greet
- Feb. 11 – Delaware State University Career Fair in Dover, Del.
- Feb. 21 – Lecture at Ferrum College in Ferrum, Va.
- Feb. 28 – San Diego State University Pre-Health Conference and Career Fair in San Diego, Calif.
- March 27-29 – Minorities in Agriculture, National Resources and Related Sciences Conference in Birmingham, Ala.
- March 31 – Prairie View A&M University Pre-Veterinary Club in Prairie View, Texas
- March 31 – West Virginia University Professional Day in Morgantown, W.Va.
The Class of 2015 took top honors in the Annual Coin Wars last month. Each student class, residents and interns, and faculty and staff competed to determine which group could donate the most coins. By taking top honors, the Class of 2015 also received a free breakfast in January, complements of Omega Tau Sigma. In all, the college donated $271 to the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program (MCEAP) before Thanksgiving. The MCEAP helps families experiencing unexpected financial strain like layoffs and health issues. Our fundraiser gave local families the ability to enjoy a great Thanksgiving meal!
David S. Lindsay, professor of parasitology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, visited China to meet with collaborators last fall. He gave a seminar on “Toxoplasma, Neospora, Sarcocystis” to the Department of Parasitology, College of Veterinary Medicine, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China (Oct. 31, 2013). In addition, he presented an invited talk on "Biology of Cystoisospora tissue cysts” at the 12th bi-annual meeting of the China Association of Veterinary Parasitology in Zhengzhou, China (Nov. 2, 2013) and gave a seminar on “Recent advances in parasite biology of Toxoplasma,” to the Department of Pathogen Biology, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China (Nov. 5, 2013).
Thomas Inzana, the Tyler J. and Frances F. Young Chair of Bacteriology, received a competitive grant from USDA-NIFA for almost $500,000 in September 2013 for investigation of Pasteurella multocida biofilms and polymicrobila biofilms infections in bovine respiratory disease by Pasteurella multocida and Histophilus somni.
Dr. Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, traveled to Armenia in January 2014 to continue work on animal health capacity and veterinary infrastructure building as part of a partnership with the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service. While there, she and a USDA team met with several Armenian Deputy Ministers and U.S. Embassy personnel, as well as representatives from the United Nations, European Union, and the World Bank. The primary purpose of the visit was to develop training plans for this fiscal year. Ragan also traveled to several field laboratories to observe brucellosis testing in preparation for developing a quality control system for the field brucellosis laboratories.
Dr. Gary Vroegindewey of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine advised the AVMA Future Leader Program during the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference in Chicago on Jan. 10-11. According to Dr. Heather Case, director of AVMA’s Scientific Activities Division, the center “has a long leadership history in promoting career transition in the profession and we were honored to have them provide guidance to our Future Leader participants as they develop their year-long project on veterinary career transition.” This support compliments the recently announced memorandum of understanding between the college, AVMA, and National Association of Federal Veterinarians.
Dr. Valerie Ragan met in Washington, D.C. with USDA Foreign Agriculture Service personnel, as well as Department of Defense personnel who are part of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, to discuss coordination on activities in Armenia and a partnership to develop a veterinary certification/accreditation program in the country.
Dr. Valerie Ragan, representing the Consortium for the Advancement of Brucellosis Science (CABS), and other CABS members, met with staff of Monitor Deloitte, a contractor serving as the Secretariat for the recently formed AgResults fund. Five large international donors — Finance Canada, the UK Department for International Development (DfID), AusAID, USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — have come together to create the AgResults fund which is focused on creating mechanisms which pay for outputs instead of inputs in the service of smallholder farmers internationally. AgResults was launched by a number of world leaders and the head of the World Bank at the Mexican G20. They are aiming to create two types of initiatives — those that incentivize the creation of brand-new needed technologies and those that take existing technologies and incentivize novel approaches to increase smallholder adoption. The World Bank serves as the treasurer for the initiative. AgResults was interested in talking to CABS regarding creating funding awards for research for the development of new vaccines for brucellosis, a major disease worldwide impacting the health of human and animals. Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, former dean of the college, and Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology are also CABS members.
Thomas Inzana, the Tyler J. and Frances F. Young Chair of Bacteriology, gave a talk on the use of photonic biosensors for diagnosis of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus at the Regional European Biomedical Congress in Athens, Greece in December 2013. He also presented a paper on the moelcular and bioinformatic characterization of a vaccine candidate of Francisella tularensis at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Denver, Colo., in September 2013.
Dr. Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, has been invited to give a seminar on “The Eradication of Bovine Brucellosis Program” in March 2014 at Yangzhou University in China.
Drs. Noah Pavlisko, P. Natalia Henao-Guerrero, Maria Killos, and Carolina Ricco of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, along with three other external faculty members, published “Evaluation of tissue oxygen saturation with near-infrared spectroscopy during experimental acute hemorrhagic shock and resuscitation in dogs” in the American Journal of Veterinary Research 75(1):48-Abstract.
- February 11 — Equine Medical Center Tuesday Talk:
- “Tendons, Ligaments & Imaging: Advances in diagnosis and treatment of tendon and ligament injuries”
Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center — Leesburg, VA
- February 16–20 — Western Veterinary Conference
- Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino — Las Vegas, NV
- February 27 – March 1 — VVMA Annual Winter Conference
- The Hotel Roanoke — Roanoke, VA
- March 1 — Alumni Board Meeting
- The Hotel Roanoke — Roanoke, VA
- March 7 — Interview & Résumé Lunch and Learn
- VA-MD Vet Med Building, Classroom 100 — Blacksburg, VA
- March 11 — Equine Medical Center Tuesday Talk:
- “Sports Medicine & Lameness: What can go wrong within your horse’s joint and how we can help”
Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center — Leesburg, VA
For More Upcoming Events…
Vital Signs is published throughout the year by the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.
- Dean: Dr. Cyril R. Clarke
- Produced By: Office of Public Relations and Communications
- Director: Sherrie Whaley
- Content Editor: Michael Sutphin, Alison Elward
- Web Editors: Alison Elward, Jesse Janowiak
- Contributors: Victoria Broehm, Derinda Blakeney, Alison Elward, Sharon Peart, Rich Polikoff, Albert Raboteau, Michael Sutphin, Sherrie Whaley, Lynn Young
- Photography / Videography: Alison Elward, Sara Hazard, Michael Sutphin, Sherrie Whaley, Lynn Young, Albert Raboteau