Vital Signs

June 2012


A service to veterinarians

Dear friends and colleagues,

Dr. Gerhardt G. SchurigLast month, the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine graduated 91 new veterinarians. While our graduates may have met the challenges of our rigorous, four-year training program, their veterinary education did not stop when we handed them a diploma. Veterinarians, like other medical professionals, must stay current and connected with their field. In recent years, VMRCVM has revitalized taking its clinical knowledge and expertise on the road to ensure that veterinarians in the region do just that.

VMRCVM has partnered with our regional veterinary medical associations (VMAs) in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to offer continuing education contact hours. Our faculty provides educational seminars on the latest diagnostic and therapeutic techniques available to small, large, and public practice veterinarians.

Through these seminars, practitioners can stay up-to-date with the latest in the profession, alumni can reconnect with their alma mater, and others have a chance to engage with the college. These relationships are also enhancing our outreach to prospective students, as many aspiring veterinarians seek out opportunities at private practices in their communities.

Dr. Bill Pierson, director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and Dr. Douglas Graham, VTH relations, have taken the lead on organizing these seminars. Although they initially focused on our immediate referral base, I have asked them to turn this into a regional opportunity. To date, approximately 1,000 veterinarians have participated since October 2010. Typically, a local VMA suggests the topic and venue for each seminar and VMRCVM provides the faculty. These partnerships have rejuvenated several local VMAs and even led to the establishment of a new VMA chapter here in Virginia.

This is just one example of how we are supporting our referring veterinarians and the veterinary community. VMRCVM will again deliver some of the continuing education at the 2nd Annual Potomac Regional Veterinary Conference in Arlington, Va., on Sept. 28-30, 2012. As a premier regional college of veterinary medicine, VMRCVM understands that education is a life-long endeavor. We are, and will continue to be, well positioned to offer that education.

Best regards,

Gerhardt G. Schurig, DVM, Ph.D.
Dean
 

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In This Issue

 

 

Featured Stories


Chief U.S. veterinarian's visit highlights critical need for vets at national level

brain cancer research

Dr. John Clifford (right), chief veterinary officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Dr. Valerie Ragan (left), director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, visit with third-year public and corporate veterinary medicine students.

VMRCVM students had an opportunity to listen to Dr. John Clifford, chief veterinary officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, explain the importance of veterinarians in making national policy decisions related to animal health just two weeks before he proved his point on national television.

Clifford visited the veterinary college to speak to third-year public and corporate veterinary medicine students in a problem-solving course, as well as students in the Public Health Club, in March. By April, he was responding to the discovery of a bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) case in the United States on national news networks.

"It is a great honor and privilege to have an internationally recognized leader in animal health like Dr. Clifford work with our students. This is the type of unique opportunity our center has developed to build the skills and knowledge base for successful careers in the public sector," said Dr. Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine.

During his visit to the college, Clifford discussed his leadership of U.S. animal health programs and his experiences as a veterinary in the federal government. He helped to facilitate a case study about a BSE outbreak and its possible political, economic, and social consequences—good practice for what he would experience in real life less than a month later.

"I commend Dr. Ragan for her leadership in providing this level of practical education for veterinary students," Clifford said. "The demand for qualified veterinarians in government necessitates an increase need for the type of program the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine has created."

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Prestigious NIH training program answers biomedical research need

Although veterinarians are uniquely qualified to conduct biomedical research in the field of comparative medicine, most do not pursue research careers, partly due to a lack of training opportunities. VMRCVM has received a five-year, $1.06 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to address this shortage of veterinarians who conduct biomedical research.

Six veterinarian trainees will be funded by this grant to conduct cutting-edge biomedical research through the training program, starting July 1. Trainees will receive a master's degree or doctorate in biomedical and veterinary science, with a preference for the latter, after successful completion of the program.

"By taking advantage of the research strengths of faculty mentors at Virginia Tech, the program will train veterinarians in the areas of virology and bacteriology, immunology and inflammation, genomics and molecular biology, nutrition and obesity, and environmental medicine and toxicology," said Dr. X.J. Meng, professor of molecular virology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology and program director of this NIH training grant.

The program pairs graduate students with one or more faculty mentors based on their research interest. These include faculty members from the veterinary college as well as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Science, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, and Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine.

"Mentors are selected on the basis of their commitment to student training, their cutting-edge research programs, and their ability to secure competitive external funding," said Dr. Roger Avery, senior associate dean for research and graduate studies and program co-director.

In 2006, the veterinary college received initial funding to train four veterinarians leading to a Ph.D. through the program. Each of these students conducted research projects, including studies on tuberculosis, hepatitis E virus and cross-species infection, lipid and glucose metabolism, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus.

This is not the only student research training opportunity at the veterinary college. This spring, the college also received two grants for the Summer Veterinary Student Research Program, which encourages first- and second-year veterinary students to explore careers in biomedical research.

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Change in leadership at Equine Medical Center

Dr. Nathaniel "Nat" White of Leesburg, Va., has stepped down as director of Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) after nine years of service to the equine community. He will assist with the transition in leadership and continue to contribute to the mission of the center as a professor of surgery.

White had many achievements as director of the center, among which were the authorship of the definitive textbooks on colic and surgery, the recruitment of key faculty and staff to expand the center's clinical and research excellence, the formation of the Veterinary Advisory Board, and the development of three strategic plans. He also played a pivotal role in the successful containment of an equine herpes outbreak at the center in 2007.

Dr. David Hodgson, professor and head of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, has been named interim executive director of the EMC, effective May 1. Dr. Harold McKenzie, associate professor of medicine at the center, has been named the interim associate director and will run the center's day-to-day operations under Hodgson's supervision.

"Drs. Hodgson, McKenzie, and White will work as a team to ensure a seamless and gradual transition to the interim leadership and to make sure that service to the equine community remains at the highest possible level," said Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, VMRCVM dean.

Schurig has tasked a team with developing several potential strategic plans that will sustain the center and enhance its programs and services. The team includes representatives from the EMC Council. "Once we have decided on a specific new strategic plan, we will begin the search for a new director," Schurig said. "Dr. White will chair the selection committee."

View the full press release to learn more.

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Research to help horses, children breathe easier

heaves research

Dr. Buechner-Maxwell fits Jangles, a mare that suffers from heaves, the equine version of asthma, with an inhalation mask.

That horse grazing in the pasture may save a child from an emergency room visit during an asthma attack. Both horses and humans may benefit from Dr. Virginia Buechner-Maxwell's work as a large animal veterinarian and former post-doctoral fellow in pulmonary medicine.

Buechner-Maxwell, a professor of clinical services, medicine, and equine and production management medicine in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, is conducting a career-long investigation of human asthma and related equine disorders of heaves and inflammatory airway disease.

Buechner-Maxwell found her calling while working as a post-doctoral fellow in the University of Michigan School of Medicine's Department of Pulmonary Medicine and Critical Care.

"That experience helped me realize just how much researchers had to manipulate mouse models of human asthma to simulate disease and how little the models actually mimicked the real disease," she said. "I think being a veterinarian gave me a unique comparative perspective that assisted me in arriving at this realization. It motivated me to look more closely at unconventional models, which is why I became so interested in working with heavey horses."

Her research comparing equine breathing disorders and human asthma is important because about 25.7 million asthmatics live in the United States. In some regions of the world as much as half the horse population is afflicted by one of the breathing disorders.

Read more about Buechner-Maxwell's research in a recent university spotlight on achievement.

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agroterrorism conference

In partnership with the Virginia Tech Office of the Vice President for Engagement, the college co-sponsored the Fourth Annual Virginia Agroterrorism Conference at Virginia Tech on May 9.

College hosts agroterrorism conference

The Department of Population Health Sciences and the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, along with the Virginia Tech Office of the Vice President for Engagement, hosted the Fourth Annual Virginia Agroterrorism Conference at the Skelton Conference Center at Virginia Tech on May 9.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the FBI presented the conference to inform the private sector about how state agencies and the federal government would respond to an agroterrorism incident in Virginia.

Veterinarians joined livestock and poultry producers, livestock market managers, food and dairy processors and retailers, and local and state government officials for the one-day conference.

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Development news: New fund to support West Virginia students

A new agreement between VMRCVM and West Virginia will create opportunities for aspiring veterinarians from the state. Under the agreement, VMRCVM will welcome up to six West Virginia residents for each class, starting with the incoming Class of 2016. Although this initiative is a big step for the college's relations with the state, participating students must still pay a significant amount for tuition. The college is developing a private fund to offer additional support to West Virginia resident applicants. For more information or to make a donation to this new fund, please contact Dr. Frank Pearsall, director of development, at 540-231-4259.

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Welcome to the College


Dr. Sierra Guynn

Dr. Sierra Guynn, clinical assistant professor of production management medicine

Dr. Sierra Guynn joins college's production management medicine team

Dr. Sierra Guynn of Bastrop, Texas, has returned to VMRCVM as a clinical assistant professor of production management medicine in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. After completing a DVM at the college in 2006, Guynn was in private clinical practice as an associate veterinarian at Link Veterinary Associates in Union Bridge, Md., and at Bastrop Veterinary Hospital in Bastrop, Texas.

Guynn began her position with the college on March 19. In her new role, she will use her user her experience providing broad clinical and ambulatory services in a mixed private practice to contribute to the core mission of food animal field services at the veterinary college.

Learn more about Dr. Guynn.


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Dr. Jia-Qiang He

Dr. Jia-Qiang He, assistant professor of stem cell physiology

Dr. Jia-Qiang He joins college as assistant professor of stem cell physiology

Dr. Jia-Qiang He of Louisville, Ky., has joined VMRCVM as an assistant professor of stem cell physiology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. Jia-Qiang He comes to the college from the University of Louisville, where he was an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Physiology and Biophysics.

Jia-Qiang He began his position with the college on March 1. In his new role, Jia-Qiang He will add to the college's growing research portfolio on stem cells by seeking to understand stem cell cardiac lineage differentiation and to establish new approaches to use these cells for the treatment of cardiac diseases.

Learn more about Dr. He.


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Dr. Paul Schmidt

Dr. Paul Schmidt, emergency planner

Dr. Paul Schmidt joins college as emergency planner

Dr. Paul Schmidt of Blacksburg, Va., has joined VMRCVM as an emergency planner. Of his 27 years of experience as a veterinarian, Schmidt spent 23 years on active duty in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, which include risk management and animal emergency response experience.

Schmidt began his position with the college on May 1. In his new role, he coordinates and conducts risk assessments, performs response and preparedness planning, conducts training and exercise programs, promotes emergency preparedness awareness and outreach, and participates in the State Animal Response Team.


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Awards & Honors


Dr. Brittany J. Carr named Outstanding Graduating Student

Dr. Brittany J. Carr

Dr. Brittany J. Carr, Outstanding Graduating DVM Student

Virginia Tech named Brittany J. Carr of Roanoke, Va., as the Outstanding Graduating Student in VMRCVM for the 2011-2012 academic year. Carr received her bachelor's degree in biology from Furman University and graduated with the DVM Class of 2012 in May.

Carr has excelled academically and was the recipient of the Southwest Virginia Veterinary Medical Association Leadership Scholarship, the Robert C. Brown Career and Life Sciences Award for Leadership and Team Player, and the Roanoke Valley Horseman's Association Award.

In addition, Carr is past president of the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association and a member of the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association Task Force Committee. Carr is also a member of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Carr is the daughter of Bonnie-Jean and the late Dr. James Bradley Carr, a renowned surgeon from Roanoke, Va., and the granddaughter of Nicholas Musashe.

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Dr. Allison O'Kell named Outstanding Master's Student

Dr. Allison O'Kell

Dr. Allison O'Kell, Outstanding Master's Student

Virginia Tech named Dr. Allison O'Kell as the Outstanding Master's Student in VMRCVM for the 2011-2012 academic year. The award recognizes outstanding student performance in each college of the university. Students are selected on the basis of their grade point average and outstanding performance in academic achievement, progress in research, membership and involvement in professional societies, and service to the university community.

O'Kell attended the University of Alberta for undergraduate studies in animal science from 2002-2004. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in 2008 and her Master of Science in biomedical and veterinary sciences from VMRCVM in May. After completing a rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery at VMRCVM in 2009, she remained at the college to begin her residency in small animal internal medicine and master's program as a student in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. O'Kell passed the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) general examination in June 2011, was appointed chief resident by the Veterinary Teaching Hospital board in July 2011, and recently sat for the ACVIM certifying exam, which is the final step to become a board certified internist.

O'Kell's research on the effects of prednisone and ultra-low dose aspirin on coagulation parameters in dogs verified that prednisone therapy carries a risk to canine patients and may in part explain thrombosis, the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel, that occurs in dogs afflicted by immune mediated hemolytic anemia, a condition where the immune system attacks red blood cells. She has published peer-reviewed articles in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine and Canadian Veterinary Journal, presented the results of her research at the 2011 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, and successfully submitted a manuscript resulting from her work for publication in the American Journal of Veterinary Research. During her parallel residency and master's programs, she excelled in teaching veterinary students in the classroom and clinical settings and providing care for hospital patients.

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Dr. Neeta Jain named Outstanding Doctoral Student

Dr. Neeta Jain

Dr. Neeta Jain, Outstanding Doctoral Student

Virginia Tech named Dr. Neeta Jain as the Outstanding Doctoral Student in VMRCVM for the 2011-2012 academic year. The award recognizes outstanding student performance in each college of the university. Students are selected on the basis of their grade point average and outstanding performance in academic achievement, progress in research, membership and involvement in professional societies, and service to the university community.

Jain received her bachelor's in veterinary sciences and animal husbandry from Mhow Veterinary College in July 2005, her master's in biomedical and veterinary sciences from VMRCVM in 2009, and her doctorate in biomedical and veterinary sciences from VMRCVM in May. She served as adjunct faculty and taught animal husbandry at Kasturbagram College in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India and later as a veterinary officer in State Bank of India in Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh, India.

Jain completed her master's and doctoral research under the advisement of Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan, professor of bacteriology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. Her research on the development of treatments for chronic Brucellosis, the most common zoonotic disease worldwide, focused on two approaches—improved delivery of drugs into cells that harbor the pathogenic bacteria and stimulation of the host's immune response. Her findings indicated that immune stimulation when combined with vaccination enhanced clearance of Brucella from infected mice, and such combinations show a potential to prevent relapse in cases of Brucellosis. Jain has published nine peer-reviewed articles in journals including Vaccine, FEMS Microbiology Letters, and the Journal of Nanoparticle Research, and she has several manuscripts under review. Throughout her graduate studies she has presented her research findings at local, national, and international conferences and received five best presentation awards and several travel awards for international conferences. Jain has been recognized as an outstanding infectious disease researcher, scholar, communicator, and collaborator.

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Dr. Jared Taylor named Outstanding Recent Alumnus

Dr. Jared Taylor

Dr. Jared Taylor, Outstanding Alumnus

Dr. Jared Taylor of Stillwater, Okla., has been named the 2012 VMRCVM Outstanding Alumnus. The award recognizes recent graduates who have distinguished themselves professionally in their careers since graduating.

After graduating from VMRCVM with his DVM in 2002, Taylor became an associate veterinarian at a mixed animal practice in southwestern Missouri. In 2004, he left private practice to join the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University and complete a Master of Public Health at the University of Iowa.

Taylor then went to the Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences to pursue a residency in food animal medicine and surgery as well as a Ph.D. in veterinary biomedical sciences. In 2009, he completed his residency and Ph.D. and became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

The following year, Taylor became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and began work as an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University. There, he splits his time teaching, serving in food animal clinics, and continuing his research. During his free time, Taylor enjoys working with his wife and three children on their small beef cattle ranch.

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2012 Pfizer Scholars

The VMRCVM 2012 Pfizer Animal Health Veterinary Student Scholarship winners are (top, left to right) Amy Brida ('13), Sarah Donovan ('14), Heidi Eberly ('14), Sara Hanson ('13), (middle, left to right) Rory Hekking ('14), Gabriel Mills ('14), Raju Naik ('14), Jeremy Shomper ('13), (bottom, left to right) Amanda Weakley ('14), Courtney White ('13), and Rodolfo Zamora ('14).

Eleven VMRCVM students awarded 2012 Pfizer Animal Health Veterinary Student Scholarships

Eleven DVM students from the VMRCVM were recently awarded 2012 Pfizer Animal Health Veterinary Student Scholarships in the amount of $2,500. The scholarship winners are Amy Brida ('13), Sarah Donovan ('14), Heidi Eberly ('14), Sara Hanson ('13), Rory Hekking ('14), Gabriel Mills ('14), Raju Naik ('14), Jeremy Shomper ('13), Amanda Weakley ('14), Courtney White ('13), and Rodolfo Zamora ('14).

The students were selected by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation's (AVMF) Grants and Awards Scholarship subcommittee based on academic excellence, professional interests, leadership, diversity, and potential for contribution to the veterinary profession.

Learn more about the Veterinary Student Scholarship Program.

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Faculty and students honored at awards luncheon

The college held its annual Spring Awards Luncheon on April 6 at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center. Many thanks to our generous donors who support our outstanding students and congratulations to the students and faculty members who were honored during the ceremony for their academic performance and teaching excellence. More than 100 scholarship awards were presented totaling over $225,000. The following faculty were honored for teaching excellence.

The Certificate of Teaching Excellence
The award acknowledges the dedication and expertise
of faculty in their field of teaching.
Dr. Reid Tyson
Dr. Reid Tyson
Assistant Professor of Radiology
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
 
 
Pfizer Distinguished Teacher Award
The award, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health, is given to a
faculty member who displays outstanding teaching ability.
Dr. John H. Rossmeisl, Jr.
Dr. John H. Rossmeisl, Jr.
Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
 
 
Bayer Animal Health Faculty Recognition Award
An award presented by each class to a faculty member in recognition
of faculty commitment to teaching and the impact good teachers
have on the career of the veterinarians they train.
Bayer
Dr. Bonnie Smith (left)
Associate Professor of Anatomy, Embryology, and Physiology
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Awarded by the Class of 2014

Dr. Scott Pleasant (right)
Associate Professor of Equine Field Service and Equine Extension
Director, Equine Podiatry Unit
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences
Awarded by the Class of 2012

Dr. Maria Killos
Dr. Maria Killos
Assistant Professor of Veterinary Anesthesiology
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
Awarded by the Class of 2013

Virginia M. and Edward E. Thompson Award
The award recognizes faculty for outstanding contributions in the clinical sciences
and for humanitarian values, professional standards, and demonstrated
commitment to excellence in teaching, research and public service.
Dr. Gregory Daniel
Dr. Gregory Daniel
Department Head, Professor of Radiology
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
 
    Dr. Sharon Witonsky
Dr. Sharon Witonsky
Associate Professor of Equine Field Service
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences

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Awards & Accolades Roundup

Leslie Betterton, support technician in the Equine Field Service, passed the Licensed Veterinary Technician exam and received an associate degree in veterinary technology.

Cyndi Booth, administrative coordinator in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, received a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies from Virginia Tech.

Dr. Bonnie Brenseke, Ph.D. candidate and anatomic pathology resident in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, received a 2nd place poster presentation award at the 28th Annual Virginia Tech Graduate Research Symposium.

Travis Burns, farrier in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, has received a "therapeutic" specialty endorsement from the American Farriers Association (AFA). Candidates for this endorsement must have completed the AFA's Certified Journeyman Farrier program, have five years' experience in this specialization, be well informed in practice and theoretical issues related to foot and hoof pathology, and pass written, oral, practical, and forging examinations. Burns is one of a small number of farriers with this specialty endorsement in the United States.

Jacob Cawley, DVM candidate in the Class of 2015, has been accepted as one of 45 students across the country in the new Medical Research Scholars Program, a partnership between the National Institutes of Health and Pfizer Inc. that offers a year-long research experience in Bethesda, Md. for medical students. The program combines the Howard Hughes Medical Institute-NIH Research Scholars Program and the NIH Clinical Research Training Program.

Dr. Thomas Cecere, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, received a 2nd place talk presentation award at the 28th Annual Virginia Tech Graduate Research Symposium.

Two VMRCVM students have been accepted into the F. Edward Hébert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP). Katy Dorsey has received a two-year HPSP scholarship and has been commissions as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, and Robert Fathke has received a three-year HPSP scholarship and will be commissioned.

Dr. Marion Ehrich, professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, was selected as the 2012 recipient of the South Dakota State University College of Pharmacy Distinguished Alumni Award.

Dr. Rebecca Funk, clinical assistant professor of equine field service in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, and Dr. Anne Zajac, associate professor of parasitology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, recently presented an "Equine Parasites and Dewormer Resistance" seminar at the Virginia Horse Center.

Dr. Sierra Guynn, clinical assistant professor of production management medicine in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, and Dr. Kevin Pelzer, professor of production management medicine and epidemiology in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, recently provided a small ruminant continuing education course at the Mid-Atlantic States Veterinary Clinic sponsored by the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Katherine Howell, Class of 2012 valedictorian, received the Richard B. Talbot Award. Named after VMRCVM's founding dean, the award recognizes academic excellence in the student body.

Brandy Jones, small animal medicine ward technician, was chosen as VMRCVM's Staff Member of the Month for April 2012.

Dr. Stephanie Kemp, internal medicine resident in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, and Dr. Jodi Sangster, internal medicine resident in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, received the District of Columbia Academy of Veterinary Medicine Resident Award at the college's spring awards luncheon. The award recognizes a resident who has demonstrated special ability, effort, and effectiveness in clinical instruction.

Dr. Deena Khan, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, received a travel award to attend the 2012 Organization for the Study of Sex Differences (OSSD) Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Md.

Hassan Mahsoub, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, received a 2nd place poster presentation award at the 28th Annual Virginia Tech Graduate Research Symposium.

Dr. Zenithson Ng, community practice resident in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, received the Bente Flatland Resident Award at the spring awards luncheon. This award, established by Dr. Carroll U. Stephens and John P. J. Havran in honor of Dr. Bente Flatland ('97), is presented to a resident who exhibits both exemplary scientific knowledge and special compassion in dealing with patients and pet owners.

Team VMRCVM recently achieved the "Gold Team" fundraising status in Virginia Tech's Relay for Life after raising more than $7,000. Team captain Derek O'Dell, DVM candidate in the Class of 2013, was a top 10 individual fundraiser for the event out of more than 5,800 participants.

Dr. Kevin Pelzer, professor of production management medicine and epidemiology in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, recently gave a presentation on small rumninant health and management at the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association annual meeting.

Dr. J. Phillip Pickett, professor of ophthalmology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, visited the Wildlife Center of Virginia in March to assist with eye surgery on a young black bear. The surgery was successful and the bear was released from the facility in May.

Dr. Beverly Purswell, professor of clinical services and theriogenology in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, was recently conferred the "professor emerita" title by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

Tami Quesenberry, medical technologist for the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, was chosen as VMRCVM's Staff Member of the Month for May 2012.

The VMRCVM food animal palpation team won second place among all of the North American veterinary schools at this year's Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) Symposium at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Team members included Reagan Rodgers, Jenn Surotchak, and Margi White from the Class of 2013. Dr. Sherrie Clark, associate professor of theriogenology in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, was the team advisor.

Dr. Kathy Simmons (DVM '84) has been named chief veterinarian for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Simmons practiced veterinary medicine at the Herndon-Reston Animal Hospital in Herndon, Va., for 27 years and recently spent a year as a policy fellow on Capitol Hill for the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Carling Sitterley, DVM/MPH candidate in the Class of 2014, was elected communications chair of the national chapter of Veterinary Students as One In Culture and Ethnicity (VOICE).

Dr. Tonya Sparks (DVM '09) was recently appointed Digital Medical Editor of Clinician's Brief, the official publication of the North American Veterinary Conference.

Dr. Elankumaran Subbiah, virologist in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, has been selected as the recipient of the 2012 Pfizer Award for Research Excellence and was recently promoted to associate professor with tenure.

Dr. Nathaniel Tablante, associate professor and extension specialist in poultry health at the College Park campus, received the Edward H. Ralph DPI Metal of Achievement from the Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. during the 56th annual Booster Banquet at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury, Md.

Monica Taylor, administrative assistant for the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, was chosen as VMRCVM's Staff Member of the Month for June 2012.

Members of the VMRCVM chapter of Veterinary Students as One In Culture and Ethnicity (VOICE) participated in the Kids' Tech University event at Virginia Tech on Saturday, March 24, 2012. The VOICE exhibit titled "Animals, Inside & Out, Through the Eyes of Veterinarians" featured information on animal nutrition, body condition scoring, rabies, and public health, as well as animal skeletal models and radiographs of interesting clinical cases.

Dr. Gary Vroegindewey, director of global health initiatives at the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, lectured at the U.S. Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in the Public Health Issues of Disasters in Developing Countries course on "Veterinary Issues—Cultural Aspects and Peri-Conflict Considerations."

VT Helping PAWS, an animal-assisted therapy program at VMRCVM, brought therapy dogs to Virginia Tech's Newman Library for a pet therapy study break to help students relieve stress during spring exams.

Catherine (Cassie) Wedd, DVM/MPH candidate in the Class of 2013, has been selected as the first recipient of the Mitchell A. Essey Veterinary Public Practice Scholarship.

Dr. Nat White, professor of equine surgery at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC), presented a "Tuesday Talk" at the EMC titled, "Is Your Horse Off Behind? - Diagnosing and Treating Hind Limb Lamenesses."

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Alumni Spotlight


VMRCVM Alumni Society welcomes the Class of 2012

Commencement activities for the VMRCVM class of 2012 were held on Friday, May 11. Diplomas were awarded to 91 veterinarians, making them the newest members of the VMRCVM Alumni Society.

Dr. Thomas Armitage, president of the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, administered the "Veterinarian's Oath" and Dr. Donald Henry, president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, welcomed the new graduates into the profession on behalf of the organized veterinary medical community.

Dr. Tisha Harper, assistant professor of surgery in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, was selected by the graduating class to deliver the keynote speech. Dr. Katherine A. Howell, the valedictorian of the class of 2012, was awarded the Richard B. Talbot Award, and Dr. Jared Taylor ('02) was honored as the Outstanding Young Alumnus.

Veterinarian's Oath
View a video of the
Class of 2012 taking
the veterinarian's oath.
    Graduation photo gallery
View a graduation
photo gallery
.
 

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Outreach Spotlight


Community sees the benefits of service dog eye exams

german shepherd service dog

A service dog looks curiously at Virginia Tech photographer Logan Wallace during an eye exam on May 16. Dr. J. Phillip Pickett (left), professor of ophthalmology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, and the college's ophthalmology team has offered the exams for free during Service Dog Eye Exam Month for the past five years. WSLS Channel 10 reporter Lindsay Ward offered a glimpse into the impact that these exams have on their owners in a "Making a Difference" news segment which aired May 17.

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College provides veterinary education in Mongolia

faculty and students in Mongolia

As part of a memorandum of understanding with the Mongolian State University of Agriculture (MSUA) School of Veterinary Medicine, the college has been participating in the delivery of master's level instruction to veterinarians in Mongolia. The master's degree in veterinary clinical practice will be awarded by MSUA, but the curriculum is developed and delivered by a consortium of schools including Virginia Tech, Mississippi State University, Middle Tennessee State University, and North Dakota State University.

In addition to instruction conducted via the Internet, Dr. Phillip Sponenberg (left), professor of anatomic pathology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Dr. Bess Pierce (center), associate professor of community practice in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, and Dr. Bill Pierson (right), director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and professor of biosecurity and infection control in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, delivered a 10-day intensive on-site training session in the capitol of Ulaanbaatar in November.

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Credits

Vital Signs is published throughout the year by the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dean: Dr. Gerhardt G. Schurig
Produced By: Office of Public Relations and Communications
Managing Editor: Michael Sutphin
Web Editor: Alison Elward
Copy Editor: Alison Elward
Contributing Writers: Michael Sutphin, Susan Steeves, Sandra Avant, Alison Elward, Frank Pearsall
Contributing Photographers: Terry Lawrence, John McCormick, Michael Sutphin, Logan Wallace

For questions or additional information about Vital Signs, email vetcomm@vt.edu.

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