Vital Signs: May 2014
Vol. 3, Issue 5
Taking a Good Look at Ourselves
Dear friends and colleagues,
The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine is currently accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education (COE). The council is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the official accrediting body responsible for assuring that veterinary education meets the high standards expected by students and the public.
Continuing our accreditation requires favorable review of annual interim reports submitted to the COE and periodic on-site evaluation. Consistent with the normal seven-year cycle for comprehensive review, the college will be the subject of a COE site visit in October 2014.
In preparation for the visit, we are preparing a detailed self-study covering each of 11 accreditation standards. These standards relate to organization, finances, physical facilities and equipment, clinical resources, library and information resources, students, admission, faculty, curriculum, research programs, and outcomes assessment. A detailed description of these standards can be reviewed on the AVMA website.
When the near-final draft of the self-study is completed this summer, the college community will be invited to review it and submit any suggestions for improvement. The site visit team will meet with faculty, staff, students, and external stakeholders to confirm the accuracy of the self-study and to follow up on any questions they may have concerning our educational program.
It is important that all members of our community, including external stakeholders, be aware of the accreditation review and have an opportunity to participate. Please know that you are invited to comment on any aspect of our program that is relevant to meeting the accreditation standards. Your comments may be directed to the Dean’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accreditation serves a very important function, assuring the quality of our educational program and enabling our graduates to meet licensing requirements. I look forward to sharing the many positive things happening at Virginia-Maryland Vet Med with the site visit team.
Dr. Cyril Clarke, Dean
- University spotlight: The battle against brain cancer
- Class of 2014 prepares for commencement
- USDA requires reporting of emerging pig virus recently found in Virginia
- Student spotlight: Science geek Catharine Cowan does it all (no, really)
- More than 60 students volunteer for Third Annual Equine Gelding Clinic
- Development news: All Hokies Great and Small
Focus on Faculty
Around the College
- Family-friendly activities abound at Annual Open House
- Virginia Tech police dog makes first visit to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital
- Master of Public Health students give capstone presentations
- Students host pet CPR course
- Semi-annual dog wash attracts dirty dogs and their owners
- Children and their parents flock to vet school for Easter egg hunt
- Veterinary students raise more than $2,000 at Relay for Life
- Prospective students visit campus
- Students spark interest in veterinary medicine at Kids' Tech University
- College sends delegation to Southeastern Diversity Matters Conference
- Students practice client communication skills at VCOM Simulation Center
Awards & Activities
- Elaine Flory receives Outstanding Graduate Award
- Elaine Meilahn named May 2014 Staff Member of the Month
- Dr. François Elvinger graduates from Executive Development Institute
- More Awards & Accolades
An aggressive type of brain tumor called a “glioma” took the life of Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy in 2009. Although Kennedy's struggle shined the national spotlight on malignant gliomas for the first time, these tumors were already the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men younger than 40 and women younger than 20.
“Despite years of research on new treatment approaches, the survival statistic hasn’t changed,” said Dr. John Rossmeisl, an associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. “If you are diagnosed with a glioma, you typically have just over a year to live.”
Rossmeisl turned his attention to dogs to develop new therapeutic techniques to treat high-grade gliomas and other forms of brain cancer. “We are developing technology that destroys these types of brain tumors and opens up the blood-brain barrier so that we can get life-saving drugs to the brain in both dogs and humans,” he said.
The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine will be celebrating the achievements of its Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), Master of Science, Master of Public Health, and Doctor of Philosophy students and the family, friends, faculty, and staff members who have helped them along the way on Friday, May 16.
The University Commencement Ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. in Lane Stadium. The Graduate School will confer degrees for Master of Public Health and Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences students at a commencement ceremony in Cassell Coliseum at noon. The veterinary college will hold a separate ceremony for DVM students at 7 p.m. in Squires Commonwealth Ballroom. Certificates of residency will also be awarded at this event.
Receptions will be held for DVM students from 4:30-6 p.m. in the veterinary college commons and for MPH students from 2:30-4 p.m. in the Sandy Hall foyer.
An emerging pig virus, which has claimed the lives of millions of piglets and raised pork prices nationwide, has spread to Virginia. Last month, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services confirmed the first case of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) in the state and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that U.S. pork producers are now required to report instances of the deadly virus.
PEDV, which has a high mortality rate for piglets, was first recognized in the United States last May and has spread to 30 states.
“The virus affects all pigs, but it has the greatest impact on piglets because they are more likely to suffer from severe diarrhea and dehydration leading to death,” said Dr. Kevin Pelzer, professor of production management medicine in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.
On April 18, USDA announced that it is now requiring pork producers to report cases of the virus and tracking the movement of pigs, vehicles, and equipment leaving affected premises. According to Pelzer, pork producers can help prevent the spread of the virus by following strict biosecurity and good sanitation procedures on their farms. The highly contagious virus spreads through the fecal-oral route when pigs come into contact with other infected pigs or contaminated objects, such as boots or tires from a farm with infected pigs.
To say that Catharine (Cat) Cowan is an overachiever is a bit of an understatement. The Michigan native is a dual DVM/Ph.D. student, researcher extraordinaire, a Stamps Fellow, an alumna of Tech's Global Perspectives Program, and she completed the Virginia Tech Graduate School Future Professoriate Certificate.
Her real love, however, is her research in immunology. A close second might be the worldwide travels her degree programs have afforded her so far.
For the past three years, Cowan has been performing immunology research in the laboratory of Dr. S. Ansar Ahmed, professor of immunology and head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. Much of her research deals with neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell in mammals. “Neutrophils are a critical cellular component of innate immunity,” she explained. Formed from stem cells in the bone marrow, neutrophils are one of the first-responders of inflammatory cells to migrate towards the site of inflammation. Her thesis project focuses on how neutrophils behave in chronic inflammation, such as in the autoimmune disease lupus.
Veterinary students and clinicians provided no-cost castration services to horse owners who might not otherwise be able to afford it through the Third Annual Equine Gelding Clinic on April 5.
About 25 third-year equine track students, as well as 40 other DVM student volunteers, took time out of their Saturday morning to take the vital signs and medical history of 20 stallions at the recent clinic. With the help of a dozen faculty members and four area veterinarians, the equine students performed anesthesia and castrated the stallions. Veterinary practices in the region referred all of the horse owners to the clinic.
According to Dr. Julie Settlage, clinical assistant professor of large animal surgery and event organizer, the clinic has several goals: to provide a high quality teaching and learning event for future equine veterinarians, to strengthen the relationship between academic veterinarians and referring veterinarians, and to help alleviate the unwanted horse population in the region. While spay and neuter programs for cats and dogs are common throughout the United States, similar programs for horses are rare.
The college partnered with the Unwanted Horse Coalition, a project of the American Horse Council, to offer the clinic. Animal health company Zoetis provided most of the pharmaceuticals needed for the procedures as well.
The HokieBird statue that greets visitors to the veterinary college recently had a few special visitors of its own, including the donors, artist, and student designers who made it a reality. The HokieBird has been welcoming students, faculty, staff, and guests at the entrance to the Veterinary Medicine Instruction Addition for the past few months.
Last spring, Veterinary Teaching Hospital clients Mike and Laura Hewitt were so pleased with the hospital’s treatment of their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Duffy, that they donated the statue and an artist’s services to paint it. Third-year veterinary students Sarah Repsher and Allyson Ripley designed the statue, which has been named “All Hokies Great & Small.”
When Dr. Karla Frazier (DVM ’94) saw the news reports about Gorky, a K-9 officer who lost his life in the line of duty, she knew that she had to help.
Back in January, German shepherd Gorky joined Davie County sheriff’s deputies in serving an arrest warrant. The man first tried to get away and then took hostages. The situation escalated and both Gorky and his handler, Deputy Chris Fleming, were shot. Fleming recovered, but 5-year-old Gorky died from his injuries the next morning.
Frazier and her colleagues at the Hillsdale Animal Hospital in Advance, N.C., about 20 miles south of Winston-Salem, paid close attention to the news about the shooting.
“Gorky went into a situation with an active shooter,” said Frazier, who learned details about the situation from one of her team members who’s married to a sheriff’s deputy. “It’s hard to read the news reports about him lying down next to his handler after the shooting and not be touched by the story.”
Focus on Faculty: Dr. X.J. Meng
Dr. X.J. Meng is trained in both human medicine and veterinary science and is a professor of molecular virology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. The Qingdao, China native was named a University Distinguished Professor in 2013, the first from the veterinary college to hold the prestigious title. In addition to his teaching duties, he researches antiviral vaccines and the molecular biology of viruses.
What drew you to this field?
I completed medical school in China with intentions of becoming a surgeon. I briefly practiced medicine part-time, then enrolled in a microbiology graduate program where I worked in a virus research institute. I became totally fascinated by viruses, the smallest and simplest form of life on earth.
Around the College
Awards & Activities
Virginia Tech has named fourth-year student Elaine Flory the 2014 recipient of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine Outstanding Graduate Award.
Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association and the senior class, the Outstanding Graduate Award recognizes exceptional academic achievement and leadership by a graduating student from each of the university’s eight colleges. Recipients have a minimum grade point average of 3.75 on a 4.0 scale and are selected by faculty and students within the respective colleges.
Flory has excelled academically and was the recipient of the Dr. Jocelyn Leighty Rodgers Memorial Scholarship and the Andrea Walnes Memorial Scholarship. She was honored with induction into Chi Chapter of Phi Zeta, the national veterinary honor society.
Elaine Meilahn works tirelessly to care for the Equine Medical Center’s horses and for the research program and regenerative medicine program in general. One of her nominators noted that “She cares deeply for the welfare of the horses and goes the extra mile to make sure that they are well cared for.”
An EMC employee since 2006, Elaine provides exemplary support to many single projects as part of her ongoing extraordinary job performance. Notable examples include coming in nights and weekends, juggling a busy schedule with many projects simultaneously demanding her time, training new staff members with patience and understanding, trouble-shooting issues with shipping in bad weather, and extraordinary care of research horses above all else. “Elaine is cooperative and helpful to all EMC faculty with their individual research projects and teaching laboratories. She is both kind and effective at her job, and her hard work makes an enormous difference to the faculty, graduate students, and staff members,” wrote a colleague.
Dr. François Elvinger, professor and head of the Department of Population Health Sciences, graduated from Virginia Tech’s Executive Development Institute. Established by the University Organizational and Professional Development team, the institute is designed to identify and develop Virginia Tech’s leaders and provides multiple approaches to career enhancement and development.
In the institute, Elvinger learned about leadership, decision-making, and ethics, as well as about giving and receiving feedback. He worked as part of a team to create an action-learning case study that focused on a challenge in higher education. Participants also studied Virginia Tech’s governance, finance, and legal structure.
Nominees for the institute must have an official Virginia Tech “sponsor.” The sponsor must be a dean or vice president of the nominee’s respective department. The nomination period runs June to July of each year. Nomination procedures and an application form can be found at www.uopd.vt.edu. Any veterinary college leaders or managers interested in the institute should contact the Dean’s office at email@example.com to express their interest.
Virginia Tech awarded four veterinary college employees with 2014 Excellence in Access and Inclusion Awards, which honors faculty and staff members who have helped students with disabilities. The award winners were Dr. Jennifer Hodgson, associate dean for professional programs; Dr. Kathy Hosig, associate professor of population health sciences; Dr. Yong Lee, associate professor of cellular and molecular biology; and Becky Jones, graduate program coordinator. Recipients of the award are recognized for going beyond compliance with policies and procedures and making life on campus more accessible and equitable for students, employees, and the community.
Hassan Mahsoub, a biomedical and veterinary sciences Ph.D. candidate, recently won first prize at the 2014 Virginia Tech Graduate Student Association’s Research Symposium held on March 26 for his poster entitled, “Primary Characterization of Hemorrhagic Enteritis Virus Receptor(s), an Avian Adenovirus, on B Lymphoblastoid Cells.” His co-author was Dr. F. William Pierson, medical director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
Tracee Popielarczyk, a biomedical and veterinary sciences Ph.D. candidate has been inducted as an associate member in Iota Delta Rho, the interdisciplinary research honor society. Iota Delta Rho is the nation’s first interdisciplinary honor society and was founded at Virginia Tech in 2011. Popielarczyk exemplifies a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to research. She spent a year in a nanofiber development lab in to learn how to manufacture scaffolds for stem cell studies and is now using those scaffolds to study stem cell behavior. Popielarczyk is also a Stamps Foundation Fellow and a student in the regenerative medicine interdisciplinary graduate education program.
Ivette Valenzuela (MPH ’13), Ph.D. candidate, was awarded a Citizen Scholar designation by the Virginia Tech Graduate School. She received her award at an induction ceremony this spring where she delivered a brief presentation to program leaders, other Citizen Scholars, and guests about her research project on “Type 2 diabetes Outcomes for Hispanic Adults in a Community-based Lifestyle Intervention Program Delivered in Partnership with Catholic Churches.”
Alice Houk, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, received a second-place award at the Virginia Tech Graduate Student Assembly’s Research Symposium on March 26 for her oral presentation on Cystoisospora canis.
The Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology hosted the Sixth Annual Clinical Pathology Training Course for anatomic pathology residents on April 9-11. The department had 15 participants attend from across the U.S. and one who attended remotely from England. The course’s goal was to provide pathology residents with a concise review of clinical pathology concepts and practice at interpreting a wide range of laboratory findings in the areas of clinical chemistry, cytology, and hematology. Participants received 22 hours of continuing education credits over the three-day course and honed their skills in preparation for their pathology certifying exam. Course organizers and speakers included Dr. Katie Boes, assistant professor of clinical pathology; Dr. Sarah Hammond, Ph.D. candidate and senior clinical pathology resident; Dr. Tanya LeRoith, clinical associate professor of anatomic pathology; Dr. Nicole Weinstein, assistant professor of clinical pathology; and Dr. Kurt Zimmerman, associate professor of pathology and informatics.
Dr. X.J. Meng, University Distinguished Professor of Molecular Virology, was recently appointed as the co-editor-in-chief of Veterinary Microbiology, an international journal published by Elsevier since 1976. Meng was also recently appointed as an editor for mBio, a broad-scope high impact journal published by the American Society for Microbiology.
Dr. S. Ansar Ahmed, professor and head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, served on the National Institutes of Health Conflict Study section IMM-N (02) on April 8-9, 2014.
Dr. Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, was part of a training team for USDA’s Cochran Fellowship Program in partnership with USDA and Colorado State University, speaking to visiting veterinarians from Armenia and the Republic of Georgia who are participating in the program. The Cochran Fellowship Program provides short-term training opportunities to agricultural professionals from middle income countries, emerging markets, and emerging democracies.
Dr. Valerie Ragan attended the first International Conference on One Health One Science in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which included distinguished speakers from around the world addressing the science behind One Health initiatives and new approaches, as well as potential collaborations.
Dr. Gary Vroegindewey of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine has been named the Chair, OIE (World Animal Health Organization) ad hoc Committee on Natural Disaster Risk Reduction and Management and presided over the inaugural meeting at OIE headquarters in Paris this April.
Thomas Inzana, the Tyler J. and Frances F. Young Chair of Bacteriology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, is presenting two papers on biofilm formation and polymicrobial infections by Histophilus somni and Pasteurella multocida at the International Pasteurellaceae meeting in Prato, Italy, in May. He is also the sole external reviewer for the five-year review of the graduate program at Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Lijuan Yuan, associate professor of virology and immunology, was invited by four universities in China to give seminars in March 2014:
- College of Animal Science and Technology, Yunnan Agricultural University. “Study mechanisms of probiotics and prebiotics in germ-free pigs and gnotobiotic pigs transplanted with new born human gut microbiota.” March 14, 2014, Kunming, Yunnan, China.
- Department of Veterinary Medicine, College of Animal Science and Technology, Jiangxi Agricultural University. “Gnotobiotic pig models for studying enteric virus infection, immunity and vaccines.” March 17, 2014, Nanchang, China.
- Department of Animal Science, Zhejiang A & F University. “Gut microbiota, probiotics and prebiotics: impact on neonatal immunity, viral gastroenteritis and vaccines in gnotobiotic pigs.” March 20, 2014, Lin’an, Zhejiang, China.
- College of Animal Sciences, Zhejiang University. “Immunomodulation by probiotics and prebiotics on viral gastroenteritis and vaccine efficacy in gnotobiotic pigs.” March 21, 2014, Hangzhou, China.
Dr. F. William Pierson of the Department of Population Health Sciences spoke at the 2014 Virginia Agroterrorism Conference held on April 29 in Smithfield, Va. His presentation was entitled, “Food Supply Security: Risk Management on Multiple Fronts.”
Dr. Michael Leib, the C.R. Roberts Professor of Small Animal Medicine, presented at the 51st Annual Veterinary Conference at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine on “Acute pancreatitis in dogs: an update,” and “What’s new in the treatment of GI diseases in dogs and cats: probiotics, anti-emetics, and antacids.” Athens, Ga., March 2014.
Dr. Michele Borgarelli, associate professor of cardiology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, provided four talks on “Veterinary Cardiology in 2014 from the Stethoscope to the Surgery” at the 82 International SCIVAC Congress in Milan, Italy from March 28-30, 2014. He also provided 11 talks at the Annual Brazilian Veterinary Cardiology Society meeting in San Paolo, Brazil from April 6-7, 2014.
Dr. Gregory Daniel, professor and head of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, provided 15 talks and two imaging review sessions at the Nuclear Medicine Short Course at the University of Tennessee on April 4-6, 2014. He also presented “Satellite Clinic/Hospital Survey Results” at the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians’ Department Head and Hospital Directors Meeting in Atlanta, Ga., on March 28, 2014.
Dr. Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, was an invited speaker at the first “One Health, One Region” meeting in Tzaghkadzor, Armenia. Representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture and Health from Armenia and the Republic of Georgia, as well as private veterinarians and farmers were in attendance. Ragan’s presentation was entitled “One Health, One Region: Strategies for the Control and Prevention of Brucellosis and Anthrax.”
Jessica Walters, a biomedical and veterinary sciences DVM/Ph.D. dual-degree student, recently had her manuscript entitled, “Experimental Comparison of Hemolytic and Nonhemolytic Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale Field Isolates In Vivo,”published in Avian Diseases (Vol 58: 78-82). Her co-authors included Nammalwar Sriranganathan, professor of bacteriology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology; Audrey McElroy, professor of poultry immunophysiology in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences at Virginia Tech; F. William Pierson, professor of biosecurity and avian medicine in the Department of Population Health Sciences; and a researcher from Cargill Turkey Production.
Dr. Carolina Ricco, assistant professor of veterinary anesthesiology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, and Dr. P. Natalia Henao-Guerrero, assistant professor of anesthesiology, published “Cardiovascular effects of oro-tracheal intubation following anesthetic induction with propofol, ketamine-propofol, or ketamine-diazepam in premedicated dogs.” JAVMA 2014; 244(8):934-939
- May 16 — Commencement Ceremonies
- Blacksburg, VA
- June 29 - July 1 — MVMA Summer Conference
- Ocean City, MD
- July 25 - 29 — AVMA Annual Convention
- Denver, CO
- August 8 – 9 — Happy and Healthy Pet Weekend
- Blacksburg, VA
- August 25 — Start of Fall 2014 Semester
- Blacksburg, VA
- August 30 — VA-MD Vet Med Homecoming
- Blacksburg, VA
- August 30 — Class Reunions: Classes of 1984, 1999, 2004, and 2009
- Blacksburg, VA
For More Upcoming Events…
Vital Signs is published throughout the year by the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.
- Dean: Dr. Cyril R. Clarke
- Produced By: Office of Public Relations and Communications
- Director: Sherrie Whaley
- Content Editor: Michael Sutphin
- Web Editors: Alison Elward, Jesse Janowiak
- Contributors: Watson Edwards, Alison Elward, Michael Sutphin, Sherrie Whaley
- Photography / Videography: Watson Edwards, Alison Elward, Ed Monroe, Jim Stroup, Sherrie Whaley