Vital Signs: August 2014
Vol. 3, Issue 8
India Program Provides
Wealth of Experiences
Dear friends and colleagues,
Earlier this summer, I visited the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) in Chennai, India to review our international program and gain first-hand knowledge of the clinical and other experiences available for our veterinary and graduate students. This program has been in place for several years and involves exchange of Virginia-Maryland and TANUVAS veterinary students during the summer, practicum training for our MPH students, training of TANUVAS faculty in research methodologies in Blacksburg and College Park, recent approval of a dual Ph.D. agreement, and an annual research symposium held in Chennai and co-sponsored by our colleges.
The Virginia-Maryland students participating in the program enroll in a graded, two-credit hour elective course, “International Clinical Veterinary Medicine.” During the initial three weeks, students rotate through clinical services at the TANUVAS teaching hospital in Chennai and also receive didactic instruction and visit local animal research facilities. The hospital sees approximately 75,000 animals per year (about 200 small animal cases per day), providing a wealth of hands-on, minds-on exposure to general medicine and surgery cases, including those occurring frequently in tropical/subtropical climates and in many cases exhibiting pathologies more advanced than those encountered in the U.S. Our students then visit another TANUVAS veterinary school in Namakkal for two weeks, where they gain experience working with small and large ruminants, poultry, and other animals encountered in a more rural location. The final week is spent visiting wildlife facilities, a sheep breeding research station, and touring a few historic and cultural sites.
This course provides an ideal opportunity for our students to learn more about the inextricable links between animal and public health, and gain a global perspective on animal diseases that have a significant impact on economic development and food safety. Such experience is directly relevant to our strategic vision of advancing One Health. In addition, the benefits of exposing students to learning environments that are so rich in their cultural, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity cannot be underestimated.
I appreciate the roles played by Drs. Elankumaran Subbiah and Nammalwar Sriranganathan in the initiation and development of the program with TANUVAS, and I look forward to working with other faculty on the development of additional international programs. We already are working on projects involving South America and the Caribbean.
Dr. Cyril Clarke, Dean
- Class of 2018 kicks off next four years at ‘white coat’ ceremony
- Study finds common household chemicals cause reproduction problems in mice
- A global view: Veterinary student Sarah Krones gains an international perspective
- College launches new homepage
- Companion animal clinical trials underway at the college
Welcome to the College
- Dr. Chris Byron joins college as large animal surgeon
- Dr. Rachael Carpenter joins college an anesthesiology instructor
Around the College
- College leadership accepts the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
- College welcomes new graduate students
- Teaching and Learning Symposium gives faculty a dose of their own medicine
- Alumni reunite in the Mile-High City
- Community members enjoy Happy and Healthy Pet Weekend
- Student researchers present their work in Ithaca
- Veterinary Science Camp brings Girl Scouts to the college
Awards & Activities
The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine welcomed 120 new students who will pursue their life-long dreams to become veterinarians over the next four years.
Students in the Class of 2018 participated in a “white coat” ceremony at the college’s Virginia Tech campus Aug. 21, following four days of orientation activities to prepare them for their professional training. The ceremony marked an important transition in their lives, as students are considered part of the profession in veterinary medicine.
“This important event marks and celebrates the induction of trainee veterinarians into a very distinguished profession, a profession that was founded on service to society and advancement of medical knowledge,” said Dr. Cyril Clarke, dean of the veterinary college, who addressed the first incoming class since assuming leadership of the college last year. He explained that the white coat is a symbol of the science-based nature of the profession, as well as a reminder that students have been given the rare opportunity to become veterinarians.
Approximately 250 family, friends, faculty and staff members, and guests attended the ceremony where the students received a white laboratory coat and a stethoscope. Also in attendance were representatives from the Virginia and Maryland Veterinary Medical Associations who welcomed the group into the profession.
Earlier in the week, the first-year students completed a full schedule of orientation activities. In addition to lectures, tours, and presentations at the college, students visited the Alta Mons campgrounds in Shawsville, Virginia, for a day of team-building exercises. View the video below about their experiences prior to the start of classes.
Virginia Tech researchers who were using a disinfectant when handling mice have discovered that two active ingredients in it cause declines in mouse reproduction.
Although the chemicals responsible for the declines are common in household cleaning products and disinfectants used in medical and food preparation settings, including hand sanitizers, academic scientists have never published a rigorous study, until now, on their safety or toxicity.
“It is likely that you have these chemicals in your house,” said Dr. Terry Hrubec, a research assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology and an associate professor of anatomy at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia. “The answer to the question, ‘Are these chemicals harmful to humans?’ is that we simply don’t know.”
Hrubec and her research team at the veterinary college saw a decline in reproductive performance of her mice. Stumped by her initial findings, Hrubec noticed animal care staff in her laboratory wetting their hands with a disinfectant before touching the mice.
This observation led her to a letter published in Nature by co-author Patricia Hunt, a geneticist at Washington State University, who had made the same discovery. These two independent observations were the impetus for the study. When Hrubec tested whether the disinfectant might be causing reproductive decline, she came up with the unexpected finding.
Veterinary student Sarah Krones knows the power of a book.
She was 10 when she read British veterinarian James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small. “After reading that book, I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian,” she said.
Jump forward to 2014, and Krones, of Ijamsville, Maryland, represents the best of the best at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, where she is following the public and corporate veterinary medicine track, is earning a dual Master of Public Health degree, and plans to use her education to help underserved populations.
In January 2014, Krones was among a small group of U.S students at the International Veterinary Students’ Association (IVSA) symposium in Turkey. A few months later, she traveled to Indonesia to represent U.S. students at the IVSA Congress.
“I spent a lot of time exchanging stories about anatomy lab, commiserating on scrub colors, and learning about the focus of vet med in other countries,” she wrote about her trip to Turkey. “I found I was more often reaching out of my comfort zone to interact with students from Tunisia, Algeria, South Korea, and Indonesia, sharing stories from home, comparing clothes and language, and learning about their exam schedules and how they set up rotations.”
The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine launched a new homepage in July. The new design features a sleek, modern look with improved navigation to help prospective and current students, faculty and staff, alumni, and other visitors learn about the college.
The homepage also utilizes a responsive design that makes for a better user experience for visitors on mobile devices. Although the college’s entire website features the new color scheme, the Office of Public Relations and Communications will be working to update the remainder of the site with easier navigation and layout over the next few months.
When Michael and Sandra Friedlander first came to the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine three years ago with their dog, Grayton, they learned some bad news: Grayton had nasal adenocarcinoma, a form of cancer with a short life expectancy.
“Most dogs with this form of cancer are with their owners no more than a few months after the diagnosis, but here Grayton is three years later,” said Michael Friedlander, who is the executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and senior dean at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.
No stranger to medical research, Friedlander was referred by Veterinary Teaching Hospital clinicians to an experimental treatment at the University of Florida called stereotactic radiation therapy, which delivers precise, high dosages of radiation to a tumor and can only be performed once. “That shrunk the tumor down to almost nothing,” said Friedlander, who is also the associate provost for health sciences at Virginia Tech. “We knew when Grayton had the procedure that we couldn’t do it again, but now the cancer is back.”
Today, the 11-year-old Labradoodle is the first patient at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in a new clinical trial that is testing the use of gold nanoparticles and a targeted laser treatment for solid tumors in dogs and cats. The study is one of several on new treatments for client-owned companion animals at the college. In January, the college established the Veterinary Clinical Research Office to help facilitate this work.
Welcome to the College
Dr. Chris Byron of Schaumburg, Illinois, has joined the college as an associate professor of large animal surgery in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.
An equine surgeon with experience in academia and private practice, Byron comes to the college from the American Veterinary Medical Association, where he was an assistant scientific editor. He is board-certified with the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and has a research interest in equine joint disease.
Dr. Rachael Carpenter of Elgin, Illinois, has joined the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech as a clinical instructor of anesthesiology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences.
A veterinary anesthesiologist, Carpenter comes to the college from Animal Emergency of Kane County in Elgin, Illinois, where she was an emergency clinician. She was also an aesthesia consultant for practitioners and specialists in the greater Chicago area, as well as a consultant for the Veterinary Information Network.
Dr. Kathy Simmons has worked in an animal hospital, on her family’s West Virginia farm, and on Capitol Hill. For the past two years, she has been a leading voice for animal care and health regulatory issues in her role as chief veterinarian for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).
Simmons is also a proud graduate of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine’s founding Class of 1984. “Many of us who were a part of the first class had worked very hard to advocate for the formation of a veterinary college in Virginia,” she said. “I personally was involved with the work of the Citizens Committee for a Veterinary College in Virginia.”
The college’s inaugural class had 64 members, including Simmons. Just as they are today, both Virginia and Maryland students were in-state students at the regional college. “It was, personally for me and professionally for the college, a very proud moment when the members of the Class of 1984 accepted their diplomas to become veterinarians,” she said.
Around the College
Awards & Activities
Ed Wilson, facilities maintenance assistant, has been named the August 2014 Staff Member of the Month. Since he joined the college in December of 2007, Wilson has become a very important cog in the veterinary college’s machine. His work as a facilities maintenance assistant requires a wide range of skills, both mechanical and personal. Wilson moves items when needed, puts things together, and is often the first person called when something goes wrong. His calm, friendly demeanor is appreciated by all who come into contact with him.
His nominator wrote, “I would like to nominate Ed Wilson (for Staff Member of the Month). His assistance in moving faculty and items out of the 3rd Floor, Phase II area was exceptional! Ed always has an upbeat/positive attitude and helps with requests in a very speedy manner. I always appreciate his help.”
Dr. Xin Luo, assistant professor of immunology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, has been named a Virginia Tech Scholar of the Week. Read more about Luo’s research accomplishments.
Rebekah Woodyard, administrative assistant in the dean’s office, recently completed the Administrative Professional Development Program and was awarded a certificate at an awards ceremony held on Thursday, July 24.
Jessica Walters, Ph.D. candidate, received the 2014 Young Scientist Award from the Indian Society of Veterinary Immunology and Biotechnology for her research presentation entitled, “Virulence Comparison of Hemolytic and Non-Hemolytic Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale Strains Using a Live Turkey Infection Model.” Her advisor is Dr. Bill Pierson.
Dr. Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, has been invited to be the keynote speaker for a “Brucellosis Roadshow” hosted by MDS Animal Health in South Africa. Ragan will be traveling to different locations in South Africa to give presentations to veterinarians and dairy farmers on brucellosis control strategies and lessons learned from the United States Brucellosis Eradication Program.
Dr. Bill Pierson, chair of the AAAP-Diseases of Public Health Significance Committee, and Dr. Nathaniel Tablante, chair-elect of the AAAP-Epidemiology Committee, will co-chair a symposium at the 2016 AVMA/AAAP convention in San Antonio, Texas entitled, “Emerging and Re-Emerging Zoonotic Diseases.”
College director of communications, Sherrie Whaley, Ph.D., and Lynn Young, director of alumni relations, recently presented a TED talk on “Communications and Cultivation of rDVMs (and much more)” at the Association of Veterinary Advancement Professionals conference in Fort Collins, Colorado. The presentation summarized the positive changes that have occurred in hospital relations, development, alumni relations, public relations, and student affairs since 2009, but especially over the past two years thanks to strong collaboration by the College Relations group.
Dr. Jacque Pelzer, Dr. Jennie Hodgson and Dr. Stephen Were published “Veterinary students’ perceptions of their learning environment as measured by the Dundee Ready Education Environment Measure,” in BMC Research Notes 2014 7:170. Pelzer serves as director of admissions and student services, Hodgson is associate dean for professional programs, and Were is a research assistant professor.
Dr. Bill Pierson, professor of biosecurity and infection control, presented a scientific paper at the 2014 AVMA / AAAP Convention in Denver, Colorado, entitled, “Characterization of Irregular Hemolytic Isolates Compared to Non-Hemolytic Isolates of Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale by the Use of In Vitro Studies and a Turkey Embryo Model.” Paper authors included Jessica Walters, R. Evans, Tanya LeRoith, Nammalwar Sriranganathan, and Bill Pierson.
Dr. Valerie Ragan, director of the Center of Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, along with former faculty member Dr. Gary Vroegindewey, conducted a sold-out Global Career Transition Workshop at the AVMA convention in Denver. Vroegindewey and Ragan also provided additional lectures on general career transition in veterinary medicine at the convention. Additionally, Ragan was a panel speaker at the Women's Leadership Development Initiative Symposium at the Denver convention.
- August 30 — VA-MD Vet Med Homecoming
- Blacksburg, VA
- August 30 — Class Reunions: Classes of 1984, 1999, 2004, and 2009
- Blacksburg, VA
- September 10 — Continuing Education: Managing Pet Obesity and
The Pros and Cons of Alternative Pet Diets
- Staunton, VA
- September 24 — Continuing Education: Day-to-Day Small Animal Reproductive Encounters:
Update on Diagnoses and Treatments
- Virginia Beach, VA
- September 30 — Continuing Education: GI Surgery Tips and Tricks: From the Stomach to the Colon and Laparoscopic-assisted GI Surgery
- Winchester, VA
- October 1 — Continuing Education: GI Surgery Tips and Tricks: From the Stomach to the Colon and Laparoscopic-assisted GI Surgery
- Frederick, MD
- September 27 — College Park Vet Med Open House
- College Park, MD
- October 10 – 11 — Class Reunions: Classes of 1989 & 1994
- Blacksburg, VA
- October 17 — Mentor Workshop
- Blacksburg, VA
- November 7 – 9 — Potomac Regional Veterinary Conference
- Baltimore, MD
- November 15 — Human-Animal Bond Symposium
- 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: Alison Elward, Jesse Janowiak, Michael Sutphin, Sherrie Whaley
- Photography / Videography: Cyril Clarke, Alison Elward, J. Scott Parker, Michael Sutphin, Logan Wallace, Sherrie Whaley, Lynn Young