AVMA Council on Education
Dear friends and colleagues,
Last week, a committee of the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) met to consider whether the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (COE) should be accorded continuing recognition as the official accrediting agency for colleges and programs that offer the veterinary professional (DVM or VMD) degree. Official recognition by the USDE is necessary for students enrolled in COE-accredited colleges to be eligible to participate in a federal student loan program. It is also relevant to state licensure requirements that graduates must satisfy before being allowed to practice veterinary medicine.
This periodic review of the COE includes an opportunity for the public to submit written and oral comments relevant to accreditation of veterinary medical colleges. As a member of the COE for the past three years, I am pleased to report that the meeting not only had a positive outcome, but also involved representation from two of Virginia’s top veterinarians, Drs. Jeff Newman and Bill Tyrrell, who provided oral comments in favor of recognition. Drs. Newman and Tyrrell, who own and operate multi-doctor practices in Northern Virginia, presented informed and favorable opinions on the clinical competency and quality of graduate veterinarians.
To ensure that the COE and the accreditation standards are responsive to changes in veterinary medical education as well as any concerns expressed by the profession or public, listening sessions are held in conjunction with annual professional meetings and all proposed changes to standards are submitted for public comment before they are finalized. This rigorous process of review and analysis is necessary to confirm that accredited colleges graduate veterinarians who are well prepared to serve the public “through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge,” as described in the Veterinarian’s Oath.
At the conclusion of meeting, the committee recommended that the COE continue to be formally recognized as the official accrediting agency for veterinary medical education in the U.S. This process reaffirms the council’s status as the agency responsible for assuring that veterinary education meets the high standards expected by students, parents, the public, and the profession — and reminds us of the importance of our own accreditation. Last year, the COE reaccredited the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine for a period of up to seven years. This is the maximum period of accreditation and reflects the hard work of our college in ensuring that our Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students receive the best education possible.
Dr. Cyril Clarke, Dean
If the shoe fits: Scott Pleasant and Travis Burns bring unique skills to equine podiatry service
Horse owner Joe Calicchio of Lexington, Virginia made his first visit to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Blacksburg after a local veterinarian referred one of his horses with a complicated lower limb issue. Scott Pleasant, director of the equine podiatry service, not only successfully treated Calicchio’s horse but also introduced him to college farrier Travis Burns.
“Dr. Pleasant is the one who go us started,” Calicchio said. “When we first came, we worked with him to deal with medical issues, but right now we’re on our own with Travis unless there’s a problem.”
Calicchio and his wife own several horses that have benefited in one way or another from Pleasant and Burns. “We feel very confident in their services,” he said. “I take the time out of my day — it’s an hour and a half trip — when needed because I feel good about the service here.”
Every year, the Veterinary Teaching Hospital sees approximately 1,200 cases through the equine podiatry service, one in five of which involves therapeutic podiatry. The service treats patients within a 35-mile practice radius or on referral. Recently, the college completed construction on a new equine podiatry barn.
Faculty, students, and alumni contribute to prominent virology gathering at Virginia Tech
The annual meeting of the American Society for Virology, which was held at Virginia Tech for the first time this year, not only attracted a large crowd with the world’s leading virus experts but also gave faculty, students, and alumni of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine an opportunity to showcase their virology research and network with colleagues.
The Virginia Tech organizing committee from the conference, which brought more than 1,200 scientists to the university’s campus, was co-chaired by X.J. Meng, University Distinguished Professor of Molecular Virology, and included veterinary college representatives Roger Avery, Lijuan Yuan, Tanya LeRoith, and Andrea Bertke.
Sarah McDonald, an assistant professor at both the veterinary college and the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, gave a lecture on her rotavirus work, and most of the college’s graduate students in virology presented at the annual meeting or volunteered their time. Several college alumni also attended the conference. Among these were Sue VandeWoude (DVM ’86), a virologist at Colorado State University who was the first recipient of the college’s Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award last year, and her colleague Carmen Ledesma-Feliciano (DVM ’12).
Otto Lanz, John Rossmeisl promoted to professor at June 6 board meeting
The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved the promotion of two faculty members at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at its June 6 meeting.
Otto Lanz, a faculty member in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, was promoted to professor of surgery. Lanz joined the veterinary college in 1998 following a small animal internship and surgery residency at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. Lanz completed his doctor of veterinary medicine from Auburn University and is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.
John Rossmeisl, who is also a faculty member in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, was promoted to professor of neurology and neurosurgery. Rossmeisl completed a small animal internal medicine residency at the veterinary college before joining the faculty in 2002. He completed a doctor of veterinary medicine from Auburn University and a master’s degree from the veterinary college. Rossmeisl was recognized with the 2014 Zoetis Award for Research Excellence for his work on brain tumors.
Virginia Buechner-Maxwell named director of Center for Animal Human Relationships
Virginia Buechner-Maxwell, professor and large animal internal medicine specialist in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, has been appointed the new director of the Center for Animal Human Relationships (CENTAUR).
“As part of the Virginia Tech community, CENTAUR is uniquely positioned to organize and execute collaborative studies that contribute to the growing body of information which recognizes the benefit of animal interaction on human mental and physical health,” said Buechner-Maxwell, who has been a member of the CENTAUR Advisory Board since 2012 and earned an advanced certificate in Animal Assisted Therapy Activities and Learning from the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work.
She added, “Since animals are a central element of the program, maintaining good health in these partners is essential to the program’s success. As veterinarians, we are also committed to assessing the impact of these programs on the animals, and developing better and more sensitive methods for detecting and treating health problems as they arise.”
As the new director, Buechner-Maxwell plans to expand the center’s research activities to better understand and document the benefits of the animal-human relationship while continuing to maintain the already established programs. Because of her background in large animal medicine, Buechner-Maxwell is particularly interested in studying the impact of equine-assisted programs on human health. She also hopes to enhance collaborative efforts at the center.
Lijuan Yuan gains rotavirus research experience during sabbatical in Australia
An enteric virus researcher for over 23 years, Lijuan Yuan, associate professor of virology and immunology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, was thrilled to spend a six-month sabbatical at the University of Melbourne in Australia, working with Barbara Coulson in her prestigious rotavirus pathogenesis and immunity laboratory.
“The discoveries in Barbara Coulson’s laboratory contribute greatly to the understanding of rotavirus-host interactions, innate immunity, and the development of rotavirus vaccines,” explained Yuan.
As both a Ph.D. student and post-doctoral scientist, Coulson worked with the co-discoverers of rotavirus in humans, Ian Hamilton Holmes of the University of Melbourne and Ruth Bishop of the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Today, Coulson continues to work on rotavirus innate immunity, pathogenesis and receptor usage. Though she also studies rotavirus, Yuan focuses more on adaptive immunity and vaccine development. “So this was very good for me to go there and be a part of her research team and to learn something different from the focus of my research” said Yuan.
Researchers study the trial and error of viral evolution
Viruses evolve quickly. A small tweak to the genetic makeup of a mostly mild strain of influenza can give rise to the next pandemic. An equally small change to the same strain in a different setting can fade it into obscurity. The right trait at the right time is everything.
A group of scientists from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, and Yale University are studying exactly how viral evolution occurs, and how that knowledge might help prevent disease.
The researchers analyzed multiple studies on three well-known and varied viral families, all of which have genomes that consist of segments of genetic material called RNA. RNA viruses are ubiquitous in nature, infecting most animals, including humans, plants, and bacteria.
Neutrophils ‘vacuum’ microbes away from the brain
Meiqing Shi, along with fellow researchers from the University of Maryland, College Park, and Nanjing Medical University, China, uncovered a new way that neutrophils, or white blood cells, combat infections in the brain — by removing microbes from the site of infection to be eliminated elsewhere instead of disposing of them directly onsite. The researchers made their discovery using intravital microscopy.
Shi, who is an assistant professor at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Maryland, College Park, elaborated on the importance of the discovery. “We hope our study opens a new field by using in vivo imaging to investigate how white blood cells interact with microbes in the brain, providing the scientific basis for targeting white blood cells as preventive and therapeutic interventions in brain infections,” said Shi. The report appears in the March 2016 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.
Focus on Faculty: William E. Monroe
William E. Monroe leads the charge on diversity issues at the veterinary college
When not seeing patients in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s internal medicine service or conducting research on endocrine diseases such as diabetes mellitus, William E. Monroe is searching for new ways to make the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine a more diverse and inclusive place.
Monroe, who is a professor of internal medicine in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, has taken on many leadership roles in the college’s ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. He was a member of the college’s original committee on diversity and is the chair of the current committee.
“I got started after an incident happened in class where someone made a comment that offended a student that I really didn’t know how deal with,” Monroe explained. He then attended an on-campus training to be better informed about how to respond in future situations.
After learning about gaps in the college’s recruitment of underrepresented populations, Monroe decided to attend conferences and speak with student groups about diversity recruiting. He also connected the college with Virginia Tech’s Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP). Founded in 1993, MAOP helps promote the diversification of the Virginia Tech campus as a whole.
Megan Taliaferro (DVM ’02) combines love of animals with teaching as head of new veterinary assistant program
Megan Taliaferro is as comfortable treating a mini horse as she is to a goat, and she looks forward to adopting a new lab puppy this summer as a companion for her tabby, Owen. But in addition to her love for animals, Taliaferro has an affinity for teaching – the main reason why she chose to leave a Suffolk animal practice to be the first head of Tidewater Community College’s new veterinary assistant program.
“When I was practicing, I discovered I loved teaching,” said Taliaferro, who is at TCC after five years as an associate veterinarian at Nansemond Veterinary Clinic. “Whenever we had interns, they would stick them with me. I realized I not only love this profession, but love teaching others about it.”
TCC’s inaugural class of 18 working toward a Career Studies Certificate in Veterinary Assistant began the program this spring and will graduate in December 2016. The 17-credit program prepares students to assist and support licensed veterinary technicians and veterinarians in the health and handling of small domestic animals and exotic species.Read more about alum Megan Taliaferro’s work to establish the veterinary assistant program.
Around the College
Awards & Activities
College presents annual teaching hospital awards
The college recognized the accomplishments of its Veterinary Teaching Hospital employees during an awards ceremony on Friday, June 17.
April Huffman, medical technologist, received the Director’s Annual Staff Performance Award this year.
The college also presented certificates of appreciation to the nominees for this award. These included Ashley Bath, anesthesia technician; Kara Clark, medical records clerk; Jen Clifford, radiologic technician; Melanie Coleman, office services specialist; Jessica Douthat, specialty medicine technician; Nikki Hallinan, small animal care technician; April Huffman, necropsy technician; Nicole Kandzior, specialty medicine technician; Gail Kibler, computer systems engineer; Andrea Kogut, clinical laboratory scientist; Jill Kormendy, administrative assistant; Stephanie Levey, medical transcriptionist; David Papanu, lead pharmacy technician; Christa White, CSS/surgery technician; and Brandon Willis, lead pharmacy technician.
During the ceremony, the college also presented certificates of residency to Virginia Kiefer Corrigan, ABVP/community practice resident; Elsa Ludwig, large animal surgery resident; Nick Parkinson, large animal medicine resident; Amy Santonastaso, equine field service resident; Dominique Sawyere, small animal surgery resident; Jessica Stahle, radiology resident; and Vincent Ziglioli, small animal medicine resident.
Likewise, Morgan Bertison, small animal medicine and surgery intern; Jessica Bradford, production management medicine intern; Cheslymar Garcia, small animal medicine and surgery intern; Kyle Maddox, small animal medicine and surgery intern; Victor Stora, small animal medicine and surgery intern; Lauren Trager, equine field service intern; and Dottie Williams, small animal medicine and surgery intern; received certificates of internship. The college also recognized its incoming teaching hospital interns.
The awards ceremony also recognized support staff who had contributed to the teaching hospital’s success, including housekeeping, facilities, communications, Vet Med Café, mechanical services, reprographics, dean’s office, and IT support employees.
Ludeman Eng honored with emeritus status
Ludeman A. Eng, associate professor of biomedical sciences and pathobiology in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of “associate professor emeritus” by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
The emeritus title may be conferred on retired professors, associate professors, and administrative officers who are specially recommended to the board by Virginia Tech President Timothy D. Sands. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board receive an emeritus certificate from the university.
A member of the university community since 1981, Eng served as the Department Head for Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology in the veterinary college for 15 years and served as the chair of the Department of Basic Sciences at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine for five years.
Doris Tickle named June Staff Member of the Month
For the 18 years she has worked at Virginia Tech, Doris Tickle has been a hardworking, dependable staff member in whatever role she has assumed. Her nominator described how “She consistently goes above and beyond to help fellow staff, students, and faculty.” Currently, Tickle works in the Glassware Service Lab and “knows the glassware policies very well and will not hesitate to guide students in the right direction on lab and safety practices. She is also very kind and gets along with everyone she meets. When people bring items to the lab for cleaning or sterilization, she greets them with a smile and immediately starts working on the items they brought her.”
Tickle is also always eager to assist fellow co-workers and students, including driving to other labs to assist with work when needed. “She is always thinking of our lab users and what they may need,” said her nominator. “Doris is very enthusiastic about her job and extremely hardworking. Doris encompasses all the qualities of an outstanding co-worker.” Because of this continued dedication to her job, Tickle also recently received the Customer Service Excellence Certificate from University Organizational and Professional Development.
More Awards & Activities
The American College of Veterinary Microbiologists recently established two travel awards in memory of two ACVM Diplomates who were active contributors to ACVM and to the field of veterinary microbiology, and who are very much missed. The Brenda Love Memorial Award provides $1000 annually to support travel by a Ph.D. student to present his or her research at the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians annual meeting, and the Elankumaran Subbiah Memorial Award provides $1,000 annually to support travel by a Ph.D. student to present their research at the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases. The ACVM website has more information about the application process.
The Office of Academic Affairs hosted workshops and lectures in May for two speakers with relevance to the college’s curriculum revision process: Nikki Woods and Mahan Kulasegaram. Woods is the director for the Centre for Ambulatory Care Education at Women’s College Hospital, a scientist at the Wilson Centre, and an assistant professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. Her work examines the role of biomedical knowledge in clinical reasoning and value of basic science training in the development of medical expertise. Applying principles of memory and learning to medical education, she has begun to look beyond the problem-solving aspect of diagnosis to the cognitive resources that support clinical reasoning. Kulasegaram is currently a scientist at the Wilson Centre and the University of Toronto MD program. His academic point is as assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Kulasegaram’s research examines educational assessment from both a psychometric and cognitive perspective. His work aims to advance assessment theory and practice by conceptualizing assessment as an instructional opportunity for the transfer of learning.
Dai R, Lu R, Ahmed SA. “The Upregulation of Genomic Imprinted DLK1-Dio3 miRNAs in Murine Lupus Is Associated with Global DNA Hypomethylation.” PLoS One. 2016 Apr 12;11(4):e0153509. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153509. eCollection 2016.
Ben Okyere, a Ph.D. candidate in Michelle Theus’ laboratory, won the Best IMSD Graduate Presentation Award at the 2016 Mid-Atlantic PREP/IMSD Research Symposium in Richmond, Virginia, in May.
Thomas Inzana, the Tyler J. and Frances F. Young Chair in Bacteriology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, gave a continuing education talk to the Association of Veterinary Microbiologists on “Veterinary Mycology: Traditional to modern methods for culture and identification of fungi.” He also presented a poster at ASM Microbe 2016 on “Histophilus somni Survives within Bovine Macrophages through Inhibition of Lysosome-Phagosome Fusion.” Inzana also served as chapter editor and author on “Commercial Methods in Clinical Veterinary Microbiology” for the textbook “Commercial Methods in Clinical Microbiology” by Wiley with X.J. Meng, Tanja Opriessnig, and Lora Ballweber as co-authors.
Wolf J.C., W.A. Baumgartner, V.S. Blazer, A.C. Camus, J.A. Emgelhardt, J.W. Fournie, S. Frasca Jr, D.B. Groman, M.L. Kent, L.H. Khoo, J.M. Law, E.D. Lombardini, C. Ruehl-Fehlert, H.E. Segner, S.A. Smith, J.M. Spitzbergen, K. Weber and M.J. Wolfe. "Non-lesion, misdiagnoses and other interpretive challenges in fish histopathology studies: A guide for Investigators, Authors, Reviewers and Readers.” Toxicologic Pathology. August 11, 2014. Named “Best Paper Award for Invited Review” by Toxicology Pathology at the 2016 Society of Toxicologic Pathology annual meeting in San Diego, CA.
Michelle Theus, assistant professor of molecular and cellular biology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, received the Virginia Tech Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science Junior Faculty Award in the amount of $60,000 per year for the next two years.
Lei S, Ryu J, Wen K, Twitchell EL, Bui T, Ramesh A, Weiss M, Li G, Samuel H, Clark-Deener S, Jiang X, Lee K, Yuan L. “Increased and prolonged human norovirus infection in RAG2/IL2RG deficient gnotobiotic pigs with severe combined immunodeficiency.” Abstract# W33-4. 35th American Society for Virology Annual Meeting. June 18-22, 2016. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA.
Bui T, Li G, Kim I, Wen K, Twitchell EL, Lei S, Ramesh A, Weiss M, Yang X, Clark-Deener S, Choy R, Yuan L. “Racecadotril ameliorates rotavirus diarrhea in a neonatal gnotobiotic pig model.” Abstract# P35-01. 35th American Society for Virology Annual Meeting. June 18-22, 2016. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA.
Twitchell EL, Tin C, Wen K, Li G, Ramesh A, Weiss M, Lei S, Bui T, Yang X, Shultz-Cherry S, Zhang H, Vilchez S, Azcarate-Peril MA, Becker-Dreps S, Yuan L. “A gnotobiotic pig model of dysbiosis and rotavirus immunity.” Abstract# P35-10. 35th American Society for Virology Annual Meeting. June 18-22, 2016. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA.
Giri-Rachman EA, Poniman M, Lie S, Lusiany T, Retnoningrum DS, Yuan L. “Cloning and purification of norovirus P particle and in silico study as an intranasal hepatitis B vaccine candidate.” Abstract# P8-17. 35th American Society for Virology Annual Meeting. June 18-22, 2016. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA.
- August 5-9, 2016 — AVMA Annual Conference
- San Antonio, TX
- August 12-13, 2016 —Reunion for the Classes of 2006 and 2011
- Chateau Morrisette Winery, Floyd, VA
- August 19, 2016 — DVM Class of 2020 White Coat Ceremony
- VA-MD Vet Med, Blacksburg, VA
- August 19, 2016 —Second Annual Small Animal Summer Conference for Veterinarians
- VA-MD Vet Med, Blacksburg, VA
- September 16-17, 2016 —Reunion for the Class of 1996
- VA-MD Vet Med, Blacksburg, VA
For More Upcoming Events…
Vital Signs is published throughout the year by the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.
- Dean: Cyril R. Clarke
- Produced By: Office of Public Relations and Communications
- Managing Editor: Michael Sutphin
- Web Editor: Alison Elward
- Assistant Editor: Kelsey Foster
- Contributors: Alison Elward, American Societies for Experimental Biology, Kelsey Foster, Mark Owczarski, Michael Sutphin, Tidewater Community College, Ashley WennersHerron
- Photography: Lynn Blevins, Alison Elward, Doug Graham, David Hungate, Doug Margulies, Michael Sutphin, Logan Wallace, Nat White, Lijuan Yuan, Tidewater Community College