Working Together for Progress in the Future
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
As many of you know, I have been traveling extensively throughout Virginia and Maryland this past
month making presentations to groups of practitioners and friends about the future of the veterinary
profession and the future of our college.
During these presentations, I have outlined a number of trends that are shaping the modern profession
of veterinary medicine. Some of these trends include society's growing needs and expectations
from our profession, the need for our profession to generate more veterinary research, and the need
for our profession to more fully address our responsibilities in public health and for alleviating
the shortage of veterinarians. I have also discussed the implications that advancements
in clinical practice have for Veterinary Teaching Hospitals, our need for new and expanded
facilities, and our need for greater philanthropic support.
I have also invested time and effort in explaining our gradual migration into an academic
culture that supports the development of translational research programs.
Our goal is to create greater fusion and synergy between our basic scientists,
our clinicians and our graduate students. Doing this will enable us to rapidly
develop new and improved treatments, diagnostic and preventive modalities in our
laboratories and move them quickly from those laboratories into the world of
It will also engage other scientists at Virginia Tech who are working in areas as diverse
as engineering to bioinformatics on collaborative programs that will help Virginia Tech
achieve its goals for achieving growth in biomedical and life sciences research.
I wish to thank all of the practitioners and others who have taken time from their busy
schedules to meet with us and share their thoughts and opinions about the approach we are
taking toward our future growth and development. We are at an important juncture in the
history of the college and the history of the profession. It is important for all of us
to work closely together on developing creative and workable solutions to address the
challenges we all face in stewarding the future of this profession in a way that
best serves society.
Gerhardt G. Schurig
The first of a series of international searches conducted by the college to recruit new leadership
for the Departments of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS),
and the Veterinary Teaching Hospital has been concluded with the appointment of
Dr. Gregory B. Daniel.
Daniel Appointed New DSACS Head
Daniel, a noted veterinary radiologist, has been appointed Head of the
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and will join the college
on May 1, 2007. Most recently, he served as Professor and Director of Radiological Services
at the University of Tennessee's College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville.
"We're very pleased to recruit an academic leader of Dr. Daniel's caliber to this important leadership
position in our college," said Dean Gerhardt Schurig. "In addition to the vision and leadership capacity
he will bring to the department, the college and the university, he will also bring additional depth
to our already impressive clinical programs in diagnostic imaging."
Daniel earned an undergraduate degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Kentucky, the DVM degree from
Auburn University, and a M.S. degree in Veterinary Medical Science from the University of Illinois.
He is a diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Radiology (ACVR).
Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Tennessee, Daniel conducted an internship in small animal
medicine and surgery and a residency in nuclear medicine and radiology at the University of Illinois College
of Veterinary Medicine. He has also served as a visiting professor of radiology at the University of
Prince Edward Island's Atlantic Veterinary College.
Daniel is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including the Pfizer Award for Research Excellence,
the University of Tennessee Chancellor's Award for Research Excellence, the Dean's
Special Citation Award, among others.
Thanks to the support of the Commonwealth Research Initiative, three virologists
have been hired at Virginia Tech as part of the cluster hires supporting the
host-pathogen-environment interaction (HPEI) research focus and a suite of modern
equipment will be purchased for advanced separation and imaging of living cells.
Commonwealth Research Initiative Supports Virologists Hiring at Virginia Tech
Paul Christopher (Chris) Roberts, associate professor of virology, and Lijuan Yuan and
Subbiah, assistant professors of virology,
have joined an interdisciplinary program focused on emerging and re-emerging
infectious diseases. They are on the faculty in the college's Department of Biomedical Sciences
and Pathobiology (DBSP)
and will work with the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious
and some 35 microbiology faculty members across campus, plus the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute
(VBI) and the
Fralin Biotechnology Center.
"The Commonwealth Research Initiatives' one-time funds were very instrumental in enabling us to
hire these leading scientists, making possible the start-up resources needed to
assure that they have the necessary research equipment and supplies to continue and
enhance the good work they are doing. It would be very
beneficial if these CRI funds continued into the future," said Virginia Tech
President Charles Steger.
A new 77,000 square foot integrative life sciences facility being constructed at the Virginia Tech Corporate
Research Center by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Natural Resources, Science, and Veterinary
Medicine will include the Advanced Separation and Imaging of Living Cells Facility, with equipment made
possible by the Commonwealth Research Initiative.
"The facility will permit researchers to observe and manipulate changes that occur during
host-pathogen interactions, such as in the infection process," said
IBPHS director Dennis Dean.
"The facility will augment Virginia Tech's virology research and complement our well-established expertise
in bacteriological research and our emerging strength in vector-borne disease research."
Roberts, originally from Salisbury, N.C., received his B.S. in biology from Davidson
College in North Carolina and his M.S. in microbiology and Ph.D. in
microbiology and virology from Philipps-Universitat in Marburg/Lahn, Germany. He worked as a research
associate in the Department of Microbiology/Immunology at Emory University, Atlanta, before
joining the School of Medicine at Wayne State University in 1999. His research has been consistently supported by the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a principal
investigator (PI), and by the American
Institute of Cancer Research and National Cancer Institute
(NCI) as a co-PI.
Lijuan Yuan, who is from Beijing, China, earned diplomas in pharmaceutics from Beijing Health
School and in biochemistry from Beijing University, an M.S. in immunology and
virology from the Capital Institute of Pediatrics at the
Peking Union Medical College and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, and a Ph.D.
in immunology and virology from the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine of The Ohio
State University. She was a postdoctoral fellow in immunology and molecular virology
with the epidemiology section of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases at the
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
She returned to Ohio State in 2002 as an adjunct assistant professor and
research scientist in the Food Animal Health Research Program.
Elankumaran Subbiah has been with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
(VMRCVM) since 1999, based at the
University of Maryland campus in College Park.
He received his undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine and his master's
and Ph.D. degrees in veterinary microbiology from the Tamil Nadu
Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Madras Veterinary College, India
and worked there as an assistant professor for 10 years before joining
the VMRCVM. He was certified as a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists
(ACVM) in 2003
and named as a research assistant professor in 2004.
The Advanced Separation and Imaging of Living Cells Facility will provide modern
tools of the trade for investigation of infectious disease processes, which will
include a cell sorter, often used to separate diseased cells from healthy
cells; a live scan confocal microscope, which permits the researcher to observe and
track changes in living cells or tissues; a laser capture micro-dissection
system, which can isolate very small sections of tissue for detailed examination;
and a luminex system that can tag molecules so they can be visualized,
sorted, isolated, or tracked - even within cells and as they enter and exit.
In 2004, the Commonwealth of Virginia asked members of the National Academy of Sciences
to evaluate a proposal to expand an evolving collaborative program for HPEI
research at Virginia Tech. Following their recommendations, Virginia Tech has
developed and implemented the multidisciplinary approaches that are
essential for anticipating conditions under which new infectious diseases
will emerge and old ones will re-emerge. Academy members rated the proposal as
having a very high potential for developing nationally and internationally
recognized research programs, building upon the demonstrated
success of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI).
In spring 2006, an unprecedented research initiative received bi-partisan support from the
Virginia General Assembly. The research initiative provides over $200 million to state
universities for the 2006-08 biennium, including funds for specific research projects.
For Virginia Tech, $15 million was appropriated to directly enhance the university's
research programs in science and engineering with a special focus on nanotechnology and
host-pathogen-environment interactions. An additional $11 million was appropriated for
research equipment, and funds are also provided to support graduate students and new
The mission of the Institute for Biomedical and Public Health Sciences
is to enhance the quality and quantity of research in biomedical and public health
sciences at Virginia Tech and develop innovative cross-disciplinary research efforts in
areas that foster the development of new knowledge fields for the 21st Century.
VMRCVM Dean Schurig
is a former leader of IBPHS.
The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical
Center's Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) system offers hope in the form of proper diagnosis
to owners of horses suffering from soft tissue injuries.
The center, which was the first equine hospital in the eastern United States to offer MRI,
houses a Hallmarq open 0.3 Tesla magnet that became operational in April 2004.
MRI Allows for Better Diagnosis of Soft Tissue Injuries in Horses
"We're seeing horses here that need that next step in diagnosis including high performance
horses with subtle injuries that need further evaluation," said
Dr. Nat White,
Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and Director of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center.
MRI is a non-invasive imaging technique that has been used for human diagnosis
since the 1980's but is a relatively new diagnostic tool in treating
horses. It provides incredibly sharp and detailed pictures of soft tissues inside
of the body by using a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy.
"When the foot is placed in a magnetic field the atoms making up the tissues align
with that field. Radiowaves are intermittently pulsed into the magnetic
field to alter the atom alignment. When energy gained from the radiowaves
is released from the tissue, it is detected as a signal and transmitted to a computer.
The less dense tissues emit a signal that appears in white on the
final image of the foot," said White. "So with MRI, we're really looking
at the chemical components of the foot rather than its structure."
In the resulting images, the dark areas represent the dense bone or tendon and the white areas
represent the tissue which contains more water and fat. "When we see an increased signal (increased
areas with more white than black) in a dense tendon or bone, it is abnormal and indicates an area
of inflammation," said White.
MRI is especially useful in imaging problems in the foot and lower leg that do not appear in
other modalities such as radiographs and ultrasound.
It can detect injuries to subchondral bones, joints, ligaments and tendons,
as well as attachments of ligaments to bone, infection, hoof damage and foreign bodies.
"For example, if we have a nail puncture into the horse's foot and pull the nail out, you can't
always find directly where the nail went even with surgery, but with the MRI, we can see it,"
said White. "That's the kind of situation in which there is a huge advantage to using the MRI."
The standing MRI does not require general anesthesia which lowers risk and allows for
outpatient scheduling. Once the MR scan is complete,
a process that typically takes from one to two hours, a complex digital library
system allows the center's staff to store images for easy access and to share
those images with referring veterinarians. Typically 200-250 images are made
from a complete series of MR sequences on a foot.
The addition of the MRI in 2004 strengthened the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical
Center's extensive lineup of diagnostic capabilities that now includes digital
radiology, computed radiography, ultrasonography, video endoscopy, nuclear
scintigraphy and high speed video for gait analysis.
"Our MRI unit is yet another means by which we can provide access to state-of-the-art
diagnostic care for horse owners," said White. "I am pleased that this
technology has had such a significant impact on the health and well-being of our patients."
According to Dr. Ken Sullins, professor of equine surgery at the center, the
combination of a surgery facility with MR and other imaging capabilities
in one location provides significant advantages in caring for horses.
"We can diagnose and treat at one facility," said Sullins. "That is good for both the
horse and its owner."
Tablante, an associate professor, extension specialist, and Director of the
Veterinary Medical Sciences Graduate Program on the VMRCVM's College Park campus,
has recently been awarded the Bruce W. Calnek Applied Poultry Research Achievement Award.
VMRCVM Professor Honored for Achievement in Poultry Research
This award is given by the American Association of Avian Pathologists
(AAAP) to a researcher
whose outstanding professional contributions have resulted in a measurable impact on
the control of important poultry diseases. Dr. Tablante was honored for the pioneering
work he and his colleagues are doing in the development of an in-house composting
method that is used to control the spread of infectious materials during disease
outbreaks in broiler flocks. This work is especially important during an era
when infectious diseases, like Avian Influenza, present such a threat to international
health and well-being.
"In house composting averts potential groundwater pollution from burial, avoids
high fuel costs and potential air pollution with incineration, and prevents
potential disease spread associated with transportation to landfills
and the high transport costs and tipping fees," said Tablante. "Because the
infected carcasses are composted inside the poultry house, the risk of spreading
infectious agents to people and animals is greatly reduced. The high temperatures generated
by the composting process also inactivate most pathogens,
including Avian Influenza virus."
This innovative method was initially utilized during an Avian Influenza outbreak
that occurred on the Delmarva Peninsula in 2004. Utilizing the in-house composting
method developed by Tablante and his colleagues, the outbreak was contained to only three farms.
Had it been necessary to transport the birds to landfills or other mass
disposal facilities, the chance of further spread of the disease would have been significantly
increased, according to Tablante.
Dr. Tablante is currently collaborating with George "Bud" Malone of the University of
Delaware on a "National Training Program on Mass Euthanasia and Disposal Procedures
for Catastrophic Poultry Disease Events," which combines Tablante's in-house composting procedure
with an innovative depopulation method that Malone has developed.
The program is designed to prepare the poultry industry, government officials,
and extension agents to respond quickly and efficiently in cases of catastrophic
disease or disaster. All of this is made possible by a three-year, five-million
dollar education and outreach grant from the United States Department of Agriculture
(USDA) secured by the
University of Maryland.
Since May 2005, there have been over 30 training sessions nationwide and over 1800
poultry production personnel and federal and state emergency responders have
participated in the training. In addition, Dr. Tablante has recently secured another
USDA grant that will enable the researchers to expand the scope of the training module.
Dr. Tablante earned his degree in veterinary medicine in 1976 from the University
of the Philippines. He received his first master's degree from the University of
California-Davis in 1985 and his second master's degree from the University
of Guelph in 1995. He is also a Diplomate of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians and
has been with VMRCVM since 1997.
Two faculty members and a veterinary student from the college recently traveled to Orlando,
Florida to make presentations and participate in the North American Veterinary Conference
(NAVC) and affiliated professional
society meetings. North American is one of the largest annual veterinary continuing education
conferences in the country.
Faculty and Students Attend NAVC and VBMA National Meeting
S. Leib the C. R. Roberts Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Department of Small Animal Clinical
Sciences (DSACS) and
Dr. Otto Lanz,
an associate professor in DSACS both participated in the conference.
Dr. Leib lectured in four different sessions at the conference. His lectures included:
"Esophageal obstruction with 'Greenies'," "Chronic vomiting in
dogs and cats: A diagnostic approach," "Helicobacter: Does it cause gastritis and vomiting
in dogs and cats?" and "Case challenge series: GI Cases."
Dr. Lanz presented two lectures on small animal reconstructive surgery and led a master
class session on wound management for veterinary technicians.
Tonya Sparks, a member of VMRCVM's class of 2009 and national president of the Veterinary
Business Management Association (VBMA),
a veterinary student professional society, presided over the VBMA National Meeting and
also attended the NAVC.
"I love the energy of the NAVC," commented Sparks. "It's amazing to experience so many people
gathered in one place for the same common goals."
hosts an alumni gathering every year during the NAVC. Over fifty alumni
attended this year's event. The alumni were joined by VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig.
Rapid advancements in non-invasive imaging technologies have led to dramatic
improvements in medical diagnostics. But those same advancements require that members
of the healthcare team invest time in staying current.
Virginia Tech to Present Small Animal Radiography for Veterinary Technicians
On April 14, 2007, Virginia Tech will present
Small Animal Radiography for Veterinary Technicians led by
Dr. Jeryl C.
Jones, associate professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
and Mary Ayers, B.B.A, RT(R). Jones is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Radiology
(ACVR) and Ayers is a registered veterinary technician.
Designed to aid veterinary technicians in improving their skills in small animal
radiography, the course is being sponsored by the VMRCVM
and Virginia Tech's Department of Continuing and Professional Education.
The course will teach technicians to recognize and correct radiographic quality problems
and it will help them refine their small animal positioning techniques.
The workshop will be held on Virginia Tech's campus in Blacksburg at the VMRCVM
building on Duck Pond Drive.
Registration is $425, which includes all lectures, clinical laboratories,
morning and afternoon refreshments, lunch and a copy of the textbook,
"Radiography in Veterinary Technology" by Lisa Lavin. Participants will also
receive a CD of digital radiographs they create during the laboratory. Upon successful
completion of the workshop, each participant will receive a CE certificate for 7 contact hours
(0.7 Continuing Education Units).
Advance registration and payment is required and must be received by March 31, 2007 due
to limited space availability.
Online registration is available at
For additional information on the workshop, accommodations, or registration please visit
www.cpe.vt.edu/sarvt/ or contact Ann Cinsavich at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-231-5261.
For more information about upcoming continuing education programs at VMRCVM, please visit
Whether it's Equine Herpesvirus-1, Potomac Horse Fever or Strangles, infectious diseases
in horses have appeared frequently in recent news headlines. Fortunately, the
Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center
in Leesburg, Virginia, is on the frontlines in the battle against infectious
diseases within the equine population.
Isolation Unit Valuable Resource at EMC
The center state-of-the-art Animal Biosafety Level 2 isolation unit specifically
designed to quarantine horses that are diagnosed with, or suspected of having,
contagious diseases. The $1 million facility was unveiled
in February 2004 in thanks to a bequest from the estate of the late Paul Mellon,
along with smaller private contributions and support.
The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center's isolation unit stands apart from the main
building and can accommodate up to eight horses. Each stall features an individual stall
entry and ventilation system in order to prevent cross-contamination as well as a video
camera so the medical staff can monitor patients at all times.
In order to provide for the safety and care of hospitalized horses, the center's
team follows strict protocols in isolating patients suspected of having contagious diseases.
"If we believe that a horse may be capable of spreading a contagious organism, then that
horse has to be placed in isolation where they're physically separated from other
horses," said Harold C. McKenzie,
III, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM, assistant professor of equine medicine at the
Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center. "We very closely monitor all of the horses in our
care and we're quick to act if we suspect a potential infectious disease issue."
Once horses are placed in isolation, the center's doctors, nurses and technicians
follow stringent biosecurity procedures governing patient care, movement in
and out of the isolation unit, and cleaning and sterilization of stalls.
"The unit protects the general hospital population, but it also protects the animal that
is in isolation," said Martin O. Furr,
DVM, Ph.D., Diplomate ACVIM, Adelaide C. Riggs Chair in Equine Medicine at the center.
"We take extraordinary precautions to keep our patients safe."
The center's faculty members also conduct research related to the prevention and treatment
of infectious diseases. Since the center's inception in 1984, researchers have
played key roles in the development of Marquis, the first FDA-approved treatment
for Equine Protozoal Myelitis, and of the technique for using inhaled
antibiotics to treat respiratory diseases. Private philanthropy has spearheaded
the expansion of research facilities at the center, and a new collaborative research
complex is currently being constructed.
"This isolation unit and the research underway at the center are vital and
necessary components in our ability to offer comprehensive healthcare services to our patients,"
said Nathaniel A. White, II, DVM, MS,
Diplomate ACVS, Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and Director of the Marion duPont Scott Equine
Medical Center. "Our patients' health is always our first priority."
For the second year in a row, an equine veterinarian in the
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
at Virginia Tech is using an internet-based stallion service auction to benefit
equine reproductive programs in the college.
VMRCVM's Electronic Stallion Service Auction Benefits Equine Reproductive Research
The electronic auction was developed by Dr. John Dascanio, an associate professor in the
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences
and a board certified equine reproductive specialist (theriogenologist).
The equine breeding season generally runs from the middle of February until the middle of
June, Dascanio says, so the auction began accepting bids December 1, 2006 and
will continue to do so until February 15, 2007. Any stallion breeding slots not purchased
by the closing date will be sold at 60 percent of the full price on a first come first served
basis until May 1. Horse owners who wish to donate stallion services, which will
probably cost between $500 and $2000 for the horses registered on the site,
simply download a registration form from the
Stallion Service Auction website and submit the form to Dr. Dascanio.
Auction participants bid up the services for a particular stallion until the
winning bid is announced at the end of the auction. The entire bid then goes to support
the college's equine reproductive research, education and service programs.
The mares' owners agree to pay all normally related costs associated with the breeding,
including the collection, storage and shipment of semen, pregnancy and ultrasound
examinations and other costs. With the exception of Thoroughbreds, which are
bred through natural cover per regulations established by The Jockey Club,
most horses have the opportunity to be bred through artificial insemination, Dascanio said.
"Hopefully, all parties will benefit," said Dascanio. "The stallion owners will
get a tax credit for the amount of the final bid, the mare owners may
receive a stud fee below the stallion's normal cost, and money
will be raised to support equine reproductive programs at the college."
One of the reasons Dascanio was motivated to create the program is because of the
relative shortage of funds to support equine reproduction. Many organizations
fund colic, lameness, laminitis and other disorders, but few specifically support
equine reproductive work. Last year, the Stallion Auction raised approximately $6,000.
Dascanio and colleagues are already working on a number of promising programs.
For example, pregnancy loss or abortion remains a significant problem with some mares.
In one program, the researchers are looking at gene expression in the uterus of the horse to
determine how an over or under-expression of some genes might contribute to the onset of
post-mating endometritis, which can interfere with conception and early pregnancy. In addition,
Dr. Dascanio is now working on developing a small scholarship for a senior student interested
in equine reproduction and expanding the reproductive educational links on the site
For more information on the auction, to place a bid or to offer your
stallion for stud services, please see the college's web site at
Dr. Gordon Allan MacInnis, a retired faculty member in the
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at VMRCVM,
passed away December 18, 2006 at the age of 84.
VMRCVM Mourns Passing of Dr. Gordon MacInnis
Dr. MacInnis retired from the VMRCVM in 1983 following more than 20 years of service with
Virginia Tech. He began his career with Tech as an Extension Veterinarian in 1962 and
was one of the original faculty members of the VMRCVM. He was also a founding father
and lifelong advocate for Virginia Tech's chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho, an agriculture fraternity.
He was born March 8, 1922 in Salem, Oregon and he earned his DVM in 1950 from Ohio State University.
During World War II, Dr. MacInnis served in the European Theatre of Operations with the 389th
Field Artillery, 97th Infantry Division. Before coming to Blacksburg, he practiced veterinary
medicine in Ohio and served on the faculty of Washington State University.