Vital Signs: October 2014 Vol. 3, Issue 10

A message from Dean Cyril Clarke

A shared path forward

Dear friends and colleagues,

I'm pleased to report that a number of recent changes at the college have expanded the role of faculty and students in our governance.

Faculty recently approved a policy that will give them shared responsibility for making important decisions. This expansion of their role also includes streamlining the standing committee structure, and formalizing committee responsibilities and membership criteria.

In addition, our veterinary and graduate students now have voting membership on several committees and our faculty at both Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland will have an opportunity to develop a closer working relationship as they serve together on committees responsible for oversight of the DVM program.

To involve more faculty in shared governance, an Executive Committee of the Faculty Association has been created to advise me on policy, budgetary, and general personnel matters. The following colleagues have been elected to serve on this committee:

  • Phil Sponenberg – Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
  • Mike Leib – Small Animal Clinical Sciences
  • Virginia Buechner-Maxwell – Large Animal Clinical Sciences
  • Susan Marmagas – Population Health Sciences
  • Nat Tablante – Veterinary Medicine, Univ. of Maryland

Just this week, the Faculty Executive Committee elected Dr. Buechner-Maxwell as its president. She will serve as a voting member of the College Executive Board, thus providing faculty with a seat at the table where important administrative decisions are made.

While shared internal governance is essential for our continuing development, so too is the advice received from our external stakeholders, including the veterinary medical associations and advisory boards serving the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Equine Medical Center, MPH program, academic affairs, and the Alumni Society.

In the near future, I expect to announce the formation of a College Advisory Council that will have important strategic planning and fundraising functions. I very much appreciate the dedication and commitment of our advisory groups to our students, patients, and the profession. Advisory groups play an important role in keeping the college focused on its mission and helping to chart our vision for the future, and I look forward to working collaboratively with these groups in the coming months and years.

Dr. Cyril Clarke, Dean


Featured Stories

Miniature schnauzers Leyna (left) and Maxwell have both been treated at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Leyna participated in a clinical trial that successfully treated a brain tumor three years ago, while Maxwell had cataract surgery.

College establishes Collaborative Research Network for clinical trials

When 7-year-old miniature schnauzer, Leyna, was having seizures, her worried owners, Matthew Moore and Frank Saltarelli of Washington, D.C., knew they wanted the best possible care for her. Their local veterinarian performed a variety of tests, including an MRI, only to learn that Leyna had an aggressive glioma brain tumor.

After a consultation with Bush Veterinary Neurological Services, one of the region’s top specialty neurology practices, Moore and Saltarelli learned about a clinical trial at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine for dogs with gliomas, dangerous tumors with a very low chance of survival.

They decided to enroll Leyna in the study and now, three years later, she is not only still alive, but thriving.

“Leyna is doing incredibly well,” said Moore, whose other dog, Maxwell, also had successful cataract surgery at the college. “You would never know she had cancer or had gone through the treatment.”

The college is now expanding enrollment in clinical trials like the one that helped Leyna. This summer, a Collaborative Research Network was formed to enable specialty practices in Virginia and Maryland to participate in the veterinary college’s cutting-edge research.

“Because the number of cases seen in the greater Washington, D.C., Richmond, and Baltimore areas far exceeds the number seen in Blacksburg, the establishment of this specialist referral network is already increasing our ability to complete clinical trials quickly,” said Mindy Quigley, clinical trials coordinator at the veterinary college. “And by increasing the number of cases within our studies, the results and findings will have greater scientific merit.”

Read more about the college’s new partnerships through the Collaborative Research Network.

Xin M. Luo (right), assistant professor of immunology, and Husen Zhang, research assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, work to discover ways to detect a deadly childhood illness.

Researchers discover potential early-detection biomarker for “bubble boy” disorder

Many people recognize “the bubble boy” as an unusual character from a “Seinfeld” episode or a John Travolta movie.

But in reality, a genetic disease called SCID, short for severe combined immunodeficiency, forces patients to breathe filtered air and avoid human contact because their bodies’ natural defenses are too weak to fight germs. Although it affects fewer than 2,000 new births each year worldwide, SCID is a cousin to acquired immune deficiency syndrome triggered by a human immunodeficiency virus — HIV/AIDS.

Now, using a mouse model, Virginia Tech researchers in the September issue of The ISME Journal describe a potential biomarker to detect SCID by analyzing for a microbe in the fecal matter of infants.

“If SCID is not detected, children cannot live past their first year,” said Xin M. Luo, an assistant professor of immunology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. “Now, we may have a noninvasive way to screen for this disease because this microbe may be present only in negligible amounts in healthy, young children. If larger populations of the microbe are present, quick examination is needed to prevent a potentially deadly emergency.”

Read more about Luo’s discovery and its potential application.

VT Helping Paws animals are used across campus—for reading programs that put children at ease, for stress relief in the library during finals week, and even for counseling sessions.

Campus Canines: Exploring the human-animal bond at Virginia Tech

The first three pages of Dr. Seuss’ classic, “Hop on Pop,” feature a playful puppy, a character recently brought to life at the Blacksburg library when 6-year-old Emma read “Hop on Pop” aloud.

The dog listening to Emma wasn’t a puppy but an adult golden retriever named Yogi, trained for just this sort of thing. The PAWS to Read program, a service function of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, uses dogs as a sounding board for children learning to read.

The reading program is just one of the outreach activities at the Center for Animal-Human Relationships and one of many ways—including an innovative project to film puppies in 3-D—in which canines take part in campus life at Virginia Tech.

When Yogi visits the library with his owner, Dr. Virginia Corrigan, a veterinarian and community practice resident in the vet med college, reading to him is simple: just sign up for a 10-minute time slot. Hui Li has noticed that the dog's presence helps her 6-year-old, Ryan, concentrate, even though her son is usually hesitant around other dogs.

“He seems very relaxed today instead of nervous,” Li said after her son read “Oscar and the Frog” to the dog.

Said Corrigan, “Yogi makes them feel more comfortable. Yogi seems to respond to them, too. He knows his role for this. He gets really calm. He’s really sweet.”

Read more about the Virginia Tech Helping PAWS program in the latest issue of the Virginia Tech Magazine.

Smusz with a piece of his artwork that was recently installed in the Large Animal Hospital.

Ted Smusz, the “voice” of the veterinary college, donates animal art to teaching hospital

If you’ve ever called the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, there’s a good chance you’ve talked to Ted Smusz. As a communications assistant for the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Smusz works with a six-person team that answers more than 500 calls a day to the hospital switchboard.

But Smusz, who has spent more than 30 years with the college, is more than just a dedicated employee. He’s also a self-taught digital photographer and editor who recently donated some of his unique animal art to the teaching hospital’s newly renovated examination rooms.

To say that Smusz is a patient man is something of an understatement. “I can spend up to 40 hours on a photo,” Smusz said. “I’m not only sizing the photo, but also blowing it up and digitally redrawing it. I do most of it manually to save the skin texture and tone on my subjects.”

The pony-tailed, bespectacled Smusz spends evenings in a studio at his Blacksburg home that allows him to focus on his art. In addition to a high-resolution digital camera with a variety of lenses, he also has three software programs that allow him to edit photos pixel by pixel.

Read more about Smusz and his generous contributions to the veterinary college.

Dr. Grant Turnwald

In memoriam: Dr. Grant Turnwald, professor emeritus

Dr. Grant H. Turnwald, professor emeritus of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, died Saturday, Sept. 27 in Blacksburg. He was 71.

A native of New Zealand, Turnwald graduated from the University of Sydney in Australia with a bachelor of veterinary science degree and practiced veterinary medicine in New Zealand for several years. After moving to the United States, he completed a master’s degree in veterinary medicine and surgery from Texas A&M.

Turnwald finished an internship and graduate assistantship in small animal medicine and surgery at Texas A&M before moving to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he accepted a position as an assistant professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

After nine years at Louisiana State University, Turnwald and his family moved to Oklahoma to become head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery at Oklahoma State University in 1988.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1998, Turnwald served the veterinary college as associate dean for academic affairs from 1998 to 2009, led the college through important curricular revisions, and updated the college’s professional curriculum.

Read more about Turnwald and his accomplishments.

Katelyn Somers, one of the founding student co-chairs of VT Helping PAWS (Pet Assisted Wellness Service), a student-run therapy-animal program at the college, is pictured with Delaware, the college's first in-residence therapy dog.

Katelyn Somers: First-hand experience with wounded warriors and their canine companions

Katelyn Somers of Annapolis, Maryland, is a fourth-year veterinary student at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. She graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Somers is tracking in small animal medicine and hopes to work in private practice after graduation.

During my time in veterinary school, I have learned to have a profound respect for the healing power of the human-animal bond. We all understand the beneficial effects of having animals in our lives (otherwise we would not be in the veterinary profession!), and we know how emotionally connected we can be with our pets. I strongly believe in harnessing this healing power for the greater good, particularly with regard to service animals and animal-assisted therapy.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to dedicate my public-corporate rotation to this initiative. Through a variety of fortuitous circumstances, I was tasked with creating a program that would provide funding for military service dogs. This program would be managed by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF), the philanthropic branch of the AVMA.

The AVMF was in the midst of creating a program that would provide funding for those who cannot afford veterinary care for their pets, including low-income senior citizens and individuals with extenuating personal circumstances. It would also cover funding for the veterinary care of military service dogs, particularly those used for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and other invisible wounds. I was given the responsibility of learning how we, as a veterinary community, can best support those service dogs and their owners.

Read Somers’ account of her rotation with the Warrior Canine Connection.

Dr. Dani McVety, CEO and co-founder of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, speaks to students about humane ways to perform euthanasia for
various situations.

Companion Animal Club events address end-of-life decisions

Last month, students in the veterinary college’s Companion Animal Club hosted a guest speaker and a wet lab on one of the most sensitive areas of veterinary medicine: euthanasia.

“Every life comes to an end and it is how we approach this end that can make all the difference to both our patients and our clients,” said Sara Waltz, a third-year veterinary student and president of the Companion Animal Club. “Euthanasia and end-of-life counseling is an inevitable part of our career. That being said, all too often I think many of us are unprepared for some of the situations we encounter.”

Waltz became familiar with some of the situations surrounding euthanasia when she worked in emergency medicine. One day at the clinic, a client whose dog was dead on arrival after being hit by a car embraced and thanked Waltz.

“I couldn’t understand what it was that I had done for him aside from tell him his loyal companion had passed away and present him with a cardboard box and a clay paw print instead of his family member,” Waltz said. “Somehow, this act and my empathy had meant enough to this stranger to feel comfortable hugging me and thanking me.”

These experiences drove Waltz to find a way to help her fellow students be more comfortable with euthanasia. In partnership with Zoetis and the college’s Veterinary Business Management Association and the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Companion Animal Club held a school-wide euthanasia seminar in September featuring Dr. Dani McVety, CEO and co-founder of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, the largest network of veterinarians dedicated solely to end-of-life veterinary care.

Read more about last month’s school-wide euthanasia seminar.

Welcome to the College

Dr. Marcos Santos

Dr. Marcos Santos, clinical instructor of large animal surgery

Dr. Marcos Santos of Savoy, Illinois, has joined the veterinary college as a clinical instructor of large animal surgery in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.

Santos comes to the college from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he completed an equine surgery internship and residency. He previously completed equine surgery internships at the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Kentucky, and The Equine Center in San Luis Obispo, California.

Dr. João Soares

Dr. João Soares, assistant professor of anesthesiology

Dr. João Henrique N. Soares of Davis, California, has joined the veterinary college as an assistant professor of anesthesiology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences.

Soares comes to the college from the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where he was a staff veterinarian in anesthesiology. He was previously an anesthesia and critical patient care resident at the same university. Soares has also held several positions at universities in Brazil.

Focus on Faculty: Dr. Sherrie Clark

Dr. Sherrie Clark

Dr. Sherrie Clark is an associate professor of theriogenology in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. After finishing a bachelor’s degree in animal science at Virginia Tech, Clark earned her doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in 1996. She also completed a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in animal science at the University of Illinois in Urbana. Clark is board-certified with the American College of Theriogenologists.

Disputanta, Virginia, a community in Prince George County. Now that I’m back in Virginia I feel like I can say the town. When I was living in the Midwest, I had to initially get people to understand that I was from Virginia and not West Virginia. So, I usually told them that I grew up south of Washington, D.C.

What are your current responsibilities at the college? If you teach, what do you teach?
I am currently the section chief for Production Management Medicine and I am one of two specialists in reproduction (theriogenologists) at the college. I teach theriogenology and some aspects of swine production medicine. As with many other faculty members this seems very short and sweet, but my day encompasses many tasks that include teaching, research, and clinical service. I truly enjoy working with the veterinary students across all four years and learning as much from them as I hope they do from me!

Read the full interview with Clark.

Alumni Corner

Dr. Robert Ratcliffe (DVM ’01) had more than 13 years of experience in mixed animal and mobile veterinary practice before opening the new clinic in New Oxford, Pennsylvania. Photo by Shane Dunlap, The Evening Sun.

Veterinarian offers pet care and house calls at new Pennsylvania clinic

profile by Melody Asper; reprinted with permission from The Evening Sun

Dogs and cats are important members of many families, said veterinarian Dr. Robert Ratcliffe (DVM ’01), and his goal is to support his clients’ special relationship with their pets by offering compassionate and quality health care in his new clinic or by house calls.

New Oxford Veterinary Clinic, located in New Oxford, Pennsylvania, about 35 miles south of Harrisburg, opened in September as the “clinic partner” for Lake Meade Mobile Vets which he founded two years ago, Ratcliffe said.

He was born and raised in Long Island, New York, but despite the urban atmosphere he had pets and loved animals of all kinds from early childhood. Some of his favorite childhood memories are from the times he visited dairies where his father had worked earlier in life and summer vacations at ranches where he first considered becoming a veterinarian, Ratcliffe said.

After graduating from St. John’s University in New York he worked at a human hospital for five years, Ratcliffe said, but realized that what he really wanted was to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian.

He graduated from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech in 2001, and accepted a position as a mixed animal practitioner in Carroll County, Maryland, where he worked four years. It was during his time at that practice that he traveled the rural countryside in York and Adams counties tending to farm animals and fell in love with south central Pennsylvania, Ratcliffe said.

Read the full article on Ratcliffe and his new clinic.

Around the College

Faculty, students involved in presidential installation events

A three-day celebration that engaged students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the broader community commemorated the installation of Dr. Timothy D. Sands as Virginia Tech’s 16th president on Friday, Oct. 17.

Sands officially joined the Virginia Tech community as its 16th president on June 1, 2014. College of Veterinary Medicine faculty Dr. Kathy Hosig and Dr. X.J. Meng participated in an academic showcase, “ Experience Virginia Tech: Learn, Explore, Engage,” which highlighted innovative teaching and research.

Hosig, a registered dietician and associate professor of population health sciences, was a panelist on “The Food We Eat” panel, while Meng, a virologist and University Distinguished Professor, was one of five professors on the “Contagion” panel, held at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center.

On Saturday, Oct. 18, installation events concluded with a community pizza party starting at noon on the Dietrick lawn. Veterinary students displayed an ambulatory truck and answered questions about the college’s animal field services and the veterinary school.

College celebrates Veterinary Technician Week

The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine recognized the contributions and invaluable service of its veterinary technicians as a part of National Veterinary Technician Week, Oct. 12-18. The college has numerous technicians at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Blacksburg, the Roanoke Satellite Referral Center in Roanoke, and the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg. Hats off to the college's veterinary technicians for their service, excellence, and dedication to patients, clients, and students!
View a Facebook photo gallery of the college’s veterinary technicians.

Veterinary students and practitioners connect at mentor workshop

The veterinary college once again teamed up with the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association and the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association for the annual mentor workshop on Oct. 16-17. The workshop brought dozens of veterinarians to the college representing a wide variety of private and public practices, industry, and academia. Students and mentors were paired together based on area of interest and location. The mentor workshop, which was one of the first successful such programs in the country, has been a model for similar programs in other states.
View a Facebook photo gallery of this year’s mentor workshop.

Dr. Terry Swecker discusses antibiotics in feed

With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposing to phase out the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in livestock and to require more veterinary oversight, the issue of antibiotics in feed has never been more hotly debated. Dr. William “Terry” Swecker, professor of production management medicine in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, recently weighed in on the topic with Medill Washington, a service of the Northwestern University graduate journalism program. Learn more about the antibiotics debate.

Yogi, in-house therapy dog, celebrates sixth birthday

The college wished Yogi, one of its in-house therapy dogs, a very happy 6th birthday last week. Yogi is owned by Dr. Virginia Corrigan, a community practice resident. He loves to hang out at the college, let children read to him at the Blacksburg library, and work with our VT Helping PAWS group, both on campus and in the community.

Classes of ’89 and ’94 reunite in Blacksburg

Alumni from the Classes of ’89 and ’94 had a chance to catch up with their alma mater and their classmates in mid-October. The college hosted 20th and 25th reunions for about 60 alumni and their guests. The reunion included a reception at the Veterinary Medicine Instruction Addition and a tour of the college. View a Facebook photo gallery from the reunions.

Equine Medical Center shows appreciation to more than 100 clients

The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia, hosted a client appreciation day on Saturday, Oct. 4. Held in conjunction with the center’s 30th anniversary, the event featured lectures and demonstrations on holistic medicine, what to expect from a pre-purchase exam, equine emergencies and first aid, and advanced podiatry techniques. Participants also toured the hospital and regenerative medicine lab.
View a Facebook photo gallery of the client appreciation day activities.

Kids learn about veterinary medicine at first-ever Virginia Science Festival

The inaugural Virginia Science Festival featured hands-on experiences, live performances, interactive demonstrations, and family-oriented science entertainment on a variety of science-related topics, including veterinary medicine, in both Blacksburg and Roanoke. Budding scientists of all ages learned about what it takes to become a veterinarian at the college’s interactive exhibit at the Moss Arts Center on Saturday, Oct. 4. Mannequins from the college’s new clinical skills lab allowed children and teens to practice veterinary skills such as bandaging and intubation.
View a Facebook photo gallery of the college’s display at the Virginia Science Festival

Local pet owners support first-year class at dog wash

Veterinary students held a community dog wash at the veterinary college on Sept. 28. Presented by the DVM Class of 2018 and the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Association, the semi-annual event attracted community members and their dogs of all shapes and sizes.
View a Facebook photo gallery of the dog wash

Awards & Activities

Brendan Martin

Brendan Martin awarded national bovine scholarship

Brendan Martin of Mt. Solon, Virginia has received the AABP Foundation – Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholarship to support his career in large-animal veterinary medicine. He is a fourth-year veterinary student at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.

The $5,000 national scholarship is awarded to 15 veterinary students each year through a collaboration between Zoetis and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) Foundation.

Martin also received an expenses-paid trip to the AABP Annual Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico in September.

The 24-year-old grew up on a beef cattle, poultry, and crop farm in Augusta County, Virginia where he helped his Dad background steers and helped his cousins with their dairy. When he first came to Virginia Tech for his bachelor’s degree in 2008, Martin’s plan was to double major in animal and poultry sciences, and dairy science.

While studying at Tech, he became interested in bovine reproduction and started a Angus cow/calf herd from just a few cows. “I have been able to use my herd of cattle to learn on, as well as to help pay for school,” he said. His degree plans changed once he was granted early acceptance into the Virginia-Maryland vet school.

Learn more about Martin's accomplishments and career goals.

Raven Gray receives her Staff Member of the Month award from Dean Cyril Clarke

Raven Gray named October Staff Member of the Month

After working part-time for five years at the veterinary college, Raven Gray became a full-time employee in the Teaching Hospital business office in May. In only five months, she has made a positive impression on faculty, staff, and hospital clients.

Her nominator wrote, “Raven is a breath of fresh air when it comes to Business Office communications. She is always kind-hearted towards every individual. She smiles at clients and at staff (we have to pay bills too!). Raven actually takes time to discuss issues that may arise rather than just requesting money.”

Client relations are a very important aspect of veterinary medicine. “Specialty medicine is expensive and a real financial challenge for many of our clients. It is important that they have a positive interaction when it comes to paying the bill or working out financial details,” the nominator said. “No one wants to talk about money when a beloved pet’s health is at stake. When I hand clients over to Raven, I am confident that the interaction will be a considerate one.”

Read more about the college’s Staff Members of the Month.

More Awards & Accolades

Dr. Michelle Theus, assistant professor of molecular and cellular neurobiology, was named a Virginia Tech Scholar of the Week by the Office of the Vice President for Research. Read more about Theus’ research.

Betsy Schroeder, a third-year veterinary student, was the first female contestant and first female champion on Sports Jeopardy. Schroeder was among 30,000 contestants to register online for auditions to complete on the show’s first season. She succeeded in her audition in July in New York City, taped her episode in August in Los Angeles, and appeared in mid-October on Sports Jeopardy’s Season 1, Episode 4. View the episode online and check out her winners circle interview.

The American College of Veterinary Pathologists has awarded Diplomate status to Dr. Miranda Vieson, anatomic pathology resident and Ph.D. student; Dr. Sarah Hammond (DVM ’05), clinical pathology resident and Ph.D. student; and Dr. Sheryl Coutermarsh-Ott (DVM ’11), Ph.D. student. They recently passed the board examinations in anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, and anatomic pathology, respectively.

Jason Regalado, under the direction of Drs. Nick Evans and Bill Pierson (Department of Population Health Sciences), won “Best Graduate Student Presentation” at the 86th Northeastern Conference on Avian Diseases held in State College, Pennsylvania on Sept. 24-25. His paper was entitled, “Evaluation of an isothermal DNA amplification assay for Salmonella with applications for food safety.” The authors were J. Regalado, N. P. Evans, R. D. Evans, J. Sullivan, and F.W. Pierson.

Dr. Phil Sponenberg, professor of pathology and genetics in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, received the first- and second-place awards for a photo contest following a presentation at an international meeting in Mexico on Oct. 9. First place was a photo of a South African goat and her kid. Second place was a photo of a Mapuche woman and a lamb in Argentina.

Jamie Secoura, podiatry farrier intern, passed the American Farriers Association Certified Journeyman Farrier exam this fall. She is one of only 19 women that currently hold the Certified Journeyman Farrier distinction.


Dr. Tom Kerkering, professor of internal medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and adjunct professor in the college’s Department of Population Health Sciences, left for Sierra Leone on Aug. 30. He worked with the World Health Organization as an advisor to treat health facility workers in proper infection control techniques to prevent Ebola virus from spreading to caregivers. Kerkering, who is the Carilion Clinic’s chief of infectious disease, teaches about infectious diseases to the Master of Public Health students.

Recent Master of Public Health graduates Alex Telionis and Caitlin Rivers in Dr. Stephen Eubank’s Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory are actively modeling Ebola in West Africa to support outbreak and control efforts. Their results are presented to Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services audiences by Dr. Bryan Lewis, public health policy analyst, in weekly invited briefings.

Dr. Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Nathaniel Tablante, associate director of the center on the Maryland campus, along with Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of the Governmental Relations Division of the AVMA, met in Washington, D.C. with Dr. Gregory Parham, a veterinarian and USDA’s associate secretary for administration, and nine USDA upper level administrators and human resource personnel. The discussion was centered on the expansion of opportunities for federal veterinarians in the U.S. government, with an initial focus on expanding opportunities in USDA, recognizing and utilizing the broad skills of veterinarians. The meeting was instigated at the suggestion of Parham, who has been in discussions with the center’s team and fully supports the effort.

On September 16, the Virginia Tech Laboratory Employee Professional Development Network sponsored the full-day program “Scientist-Driven Quality Assurances: Standing up for the integrity of our data.” The morning program included a keynote presentation by Dr. Rebecca Davies, associate professor at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, titled “Safeguarding Sound Science with Good Research Practices, GRP.” The afternoon session was a Virginia Tech Quality Showcase that included presentations describing programs and laboratories at Virginia Tech that have incorporated or advocate quality practices in their daily operations. The afternoon program included presentations by several individuals in the veterinary college, including Sandy Hancock (Good Laboratory Practice Program), Pete Jobst (Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care), and Dr. Tanya LeRoith (American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians).


Stephen Eubank, professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences, has been invited to speak as part of a panel discussion on the strengths and limitations of biological risk assessments at the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, a federal advisory committee that addresses issues related to biosecurity and dual use research — in particular, gain-of-function experiments on pathogens.

Dr. Giulio Menciotti, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, and Dr. Michele Borgarelli, associate professor of cardiology, presented a session on “Quantitative evaluation of canine mitral valve in dogs using three-dimensional echocardiography” at the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine – Companion Animals Congress in Germany on Sept. 4-6.

Dr. Michael Leib, the C.R. Roberts Professor of Small Animal Medicine, presented seven hours of continuing education at the Southwest Veterinary Symposium in Fort Worth, Texas, in September.

Sponenberg, D.P.  “Desafíos en la conservación de razas locales en los EEUU (Challenges in the conservation of landraces in the United States).”  XV Simposio Iberoamericano sobre Conservación y Utilización de Recursos Zoogenéticos.  San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. October 9, 2014.

Lijuan Yuan, associate professor of virology and immunology, presented a workshop on “Human Rotaviruses and Noroviruses: Models for Understanding Virology, Cell Biology, and Treatment/Prevention Strategies” in North Bethesda, Maryland on Sept. 29-30. The workshop was sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. W. Dee Whittier, professor of production management medicine in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, gave three presentations at the World Buiatrics Congress in Cairns, Australia from July 27 to Aug. 1. The presentations were on “Parasitology of sucking beef calves treated with macrocylic lactone anthelmintics in either an extended-release injectable formulation or a pour-on formulation,” “Fertility in Angus cross beef cows following 5d CO-Synch + CIDR or 7d CO-Synch + CIDR estrus synchronization and timed artificial insemination,” and “Weight gains in sucking beef calves treated with macrocylic lactone anthelmintics in either an extended-release injectable formulation or a pour-on formulation.”


Science Signalling cover Jingyu Zhang, Xiao-Jun Tian, Hang Zhang, Yue Teng, Ruoyan Li, Fan Bai, Subbiah Elankumaran, and Jianhua Xing. “TGF-β–induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition proceeds through stepwise activation of multiple feedback loops.” Science Signaling. Sept. 30, 2014. Vol. 7, Issue 345, p. ra91.

Kirsty J. Dixon, Michelle H. Theus, Claudiu M. Nelersu, Jose Mier, Lissette G. Travieso, Tzong-Shiue Yu, Steven G. Kernie, and Danield J. Lieb. “Endogenous neural stem/progenitor cells stabilize the cortical microenvironment following traumatic brain injury.” Journal of Nuerotrauma.  Oct. 7, 2014.

Husen Zhang, Joshua B. Sparks, Saikumar V. Karyala, Robert Settlage, Xin M. Luo. “Host adaptive immunity alters gut microbiota.”  The ISME Journal, 2014.

Husen Zhang, Liao X, Joshua B. Sparks, Xin M. Luo. “Dynamics of gut microbiota in autoimmune lupus.” 2014.  Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Accepted.

Shah N, Bandara AB, Sandal I,  Inzana  TJ. “Natural competence in Histophilus somni strain 2336.” Veterinary Microbiology. Oct. 10, 2014.

Pan Y, Fisher T, Olk C,  Inzana  TJ. “Detection of Antibodies to the Biofilm Exopolysaccharide of Histophilus somni following Infection in Cattle by Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay.” Clinical Vaccine Immunology. October 2014.

Champion A, Goodwin TA, Brolinson P, Werre SR, Prater M,  Inzana  TJ. “Prevalence and characterization of methicillin-resistant  Staphylococcus aureus  isolates from healthy university student athletes” Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials. Aug. 2, 2014. (E-pub head of print.)

Heng HG, Ruth JD, Lee K. “Venous air embolism detected on computed tomography of small animals.” Journal of Small Animal Practice. 55:420-423, 2014

Christopher B. Arena, Paulo A. Garcia, Michael B. Sano, John D. Olson, Thomas Rogers-Cotrone, John H. Rossmeisl, Rafael V. Davalos. “Focal blood-brain-barrier disruption with high-frequency pulsed electric fields.”  TECHNOLOGY, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1142/S2339547814500186

Sponenberg, D.P. “Cerdos Criollos en los Estados Unidos (Criollo Pigs in the United States).”  Las Razas Porcinas Iberoamericanas. Un Enfoque Etnozootécnico. Editor, Olimpia Lima Silva Filha. Instituto Federal Baiano, Campus Valença. Salvador, Brazil. Book chapter, pages 83-91.

Sponenberg, D.P.  “Desafíos en la conservación de razas locales en los EEUU (Challenges in the conservation of landraces in the United States).” Actas Iberoamericanas de Conservación Animal. 4: 181-182. 2014.

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