Vital Signs
March 2007

Change Happens

Dr. Gerhardt G. Schurig Dear Friends and Colleagues,
 
Earlier this month I had an opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the Association of American of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) in Washington, perhaps the largest annual gathering of thought leaders among academic veterinary medicine in the world. A chief item of discussion was "The Foresight Report: Envisioning the Future of Veterinary Medical Education." Perhaps the most sweeping and thought-provoking "white paper" on veterinary education since the "Future Directions for Veterinary Medicine" report published by the Pew Charitable Trusts in 1991, the Foresight Report involved 95 thought leaders in a multi-workshop format that sought to define the profession's future operating environment (20-25 years out) on the basis of "challenge scenarios."
 
The method used - "Foresight Technology" - is designed to elicit "perspectives from the future rather than extended thinking from the present." The entire study is documented in a special edition of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education {Special Edition 2007, Volume 34 (1)} and I commend it to your reading. Among many salient recommendations that emerged from the study: colleges of veterinary medicine should take a more coherent approach to developing individual strategic plans that focus on key strengths but are produced in concert with an over-arching national strategic plan for veterinary education, the profession should consider focusing its ever-expanding academic horizons into more discrete areas of study and practice, we should work to establish an Institute of Comparative Medicine in conjunction with the National Institutes for Health, and many others.
 
It is impossible to know what the future holds; but it is imperative that we develop and sustain a robust, dynamic, highly adaptable system of veterinary education that can help the profession and society cope with whatever circumstances are presented in the future. A key part of that, of course, is resource development, and I also had an opportunity to work on that while I was in Washington. The Veterinary Public Health Workforce Development Act of 2007 has been introduced in Congress (S746, HR 1232). This bill, if authorized and funded, would provide $1.5 billion to be awarded on a competitive grant basis to American colleges of veterinary medicine.
 
The resources would be used to expand the programs and infrastructure required in order for the veterinary profession to meet the critical challenges in public health and other areas it faces in the years ahead. I personally had the opportunity to spend time in Congress speaking with officials on behalf of this legislation, and we are pleased to be working closely with both the AAVMC, the AVMA and many other entities on getting this critical legislation approved during this 110th Congress.
 
Sincerely,  


Gerhardt G. Schurig
Dean


Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center Reopens

Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center reopened to outpatients on Friday, March 30, following the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' issuance of an official release of quarantine on Wednesday, March 28. The hospital is scheduled to resume full operations, including inpatient and emergency care, on Monday, April 2.
 
The quarantine was imposed by the Virginia State Veterinarian's Office on Tuesday, February 20, in response to the suspected infection of two horses with equine herpesvirus type-1 (EHV-1). Eighteen patients were held at the hospital during the restriction. Three of those hospitalized horses tested positive for EHV-1 - two of which have since tested negative for the disease and remain in the center's Animal Biosafety Level 2 isolation unit and one of which was euthanized as a result of unrelated medical conditions. No horses died at the center from EHV-1.
 
According to Dr. Nat White, Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and Director of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, the state veterinarian authorized the release from quarantine based on stringent criteria established by the hospital's leadership including the isolation of groups of horses, the length of time for which the horses have shown no symptoms and a rigorous testing protocol.
 
"The center's facilities have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to ensure the safety and well-being of our patients, and we are ready to once again provide the highest quality of care and service to the equine community," said White.
 
Dr. Martin Furr, Adelaide C. Riggs Chair in Equine Medicine, noted that the university teaching hospital environment proved integral in containing this infection.
 
"Because our faculty members conduct cutting-edge research into equine disease, we were prepared to handle this type of an outbreak," said Furr. "Although additional research into the prevention and treatment of EHV-1 is needed, our experience has taught us that the immediate implementation of emergency management procedures is the best way to stop the spread of this type of contagion."
 
According to Furr, new criterion have been added to the center's biosecurity guidelines as a result of the infection including the mandatory use of hand disinfectants and restrictions on visitor access to hospital facilities.
 
"We know from conversations with our peers and other industry experts that our biosafety procedures are among the strictest," said Furr. "Biosecurity guidelines are essentially living documents that are always being reevaluated and we decided to augment our existing protocols with these additional measures in order to further protect our patients."
 
An opening day informational meeting featuring presentations by the center's internal medicine specialists was held for clients and referring veterinarians interested in learning more about EHV-1 prevention and general biosecurity on Friday, March 30 at the center as part of the re-opening process.
 
"We would like to thank the regulatory officials, university representatives, industry members and horse owners who worked closely with the center's leadership throughout the quarantine," said White. "We look forward to continued cooperation among these parties in pursuing the well-being of the horse and of the equine industry."
 
Clients with questions concerning the reopening can call the center's toll-free hotline at 1-866-438-7235. Information regarding the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center's clinicians and services is available online at www.equinemedicalcenter.net
 


Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine Presents SAVMA Symposium

The Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine (CPCVM) in the VMRCVM recently presented a day-long seminar focused on veterinary careers in public practice as part of the annual meeting of the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) held at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
 
Public practice is an area historically underserved by the veterinary profession, according to Dr. Bettye Walters, director of the Maryland campus based CPCVM. In view of the recent threat posed by Avian Influenza H5N1 and the possibility that zoonotic disease agents might be used as bioterrorism weapons, there is an urgent need for more veterinarians to serve in this sector of the profession.
 
The symposium- the second of its kind- is designed to provide information to veterinary students on the opportunities and benefits a career in public practice has to offer and it is sponsored through grants awarded to the center by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to recruit veterinarians for their agency and others in the federal government.
 
"The impact a veterinarian can have in public practice is quite significant," said Dr. Walters. "You have the potential to help vast numbers of animals all across the nation and even globally at one time."
 
This year's presenters included representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other branches of the US Government.
 
Dr. Linda Detwiler, assistant director of the CPCVM, provided opening remarks for the symposium and another featured presenter was Dr. Michelle Colby, a policy analyst with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OTSP) with the Executive Office of the President of the United States of America. Dr. Colby is a 1999 graduate of the VMRCVM and she is currently the only veterinarian serving in the White House.
 
Those interested in learning more about the symposium can download the symposium presentations in PDF format from the CPCVM website.
 


Drs. Kaur and Singh Prepare for a Year in Tanzania

PLUG "Send chocolate."
 
That's how Virginia Tech's University Veterinarian Dr. Taranjit Kaur responds to those who ask what they can do to assist her and her family while they are living deep in the African bush.
 
Kaur, an assistant professor in the college's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP), her husband Dr. Jatinder Singh, and their three-year old daughter are busy preparing to depart for Tanzania on a year-long research project designed to establish a health monitoring system for chimpanzees in the region.
 
The project is sponsored through a prestigious five-year National Science Foundation CAREER grant awarded to Dr. Kaur in 2003 so she can develop a more "wholistic" system for the integration of technology, research and education.
 
The family will be living in a unique portable laboratory/residence near Lake Tanganyika, the second deepest lake in the world, in the Mahale Mountains National Park on the western border of the east African nation. With over 700 chimpanzees, the park is believed to host the largest population of the endangered animal in the world.
 
Dr. Kaur and Dr. Singh, a research assistant professor in the DBSP, will be helping Tanzanian National Park Authority (TANAPA) officials develop science-based management strategies to protect the free-ranging chimpanzee population from tourism related problems like disease transmission, habitat destruction, and competition for resources. Because of genetic similarities between chimps and people, both are highly susceptible to influenza, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.
 
While they are in Tanzania, the family will be living and working in a structure known as Portable Laboratory on Uncommon Ground or P.L.U.G. Under the direction of Matt Lutz, an assistant professor in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies (CAUS), a team of Virginia Tech students designed the one-of-a-kind building. P.L.U.G. weighs less than a ton and can be assembled and disassembled in only a few hours by as few as two people using no tools.
 
High-tech and completely environmentally friendly, the building has been designed so that it will leave no trace of its existence once it is removed from the national park, according to Dr. Kaur. The building will function much like a living organism, Kaur said, adding that it fits unobtrusively into its surroundings, uses solar power as its energy source and can be easily moved from site to site.
 
P.L.U.G. began its journey to Africa on March 28 when it was disassembled, packaged, and loaded on a truck to Norfolk, where it was then placed on a ship bound for Dar Es Salaam, the capital city of Tanzania.
 
In addition to P.L.U.G., all other supplies for the year-long expedition were also shipped to Africa on the 28th. This included laboratory and computer equipment, a forty-foot shipping container filled with enough food to last the family a year and other related supplies.
 
When asked how the family would cope with the natural hazards of life in the African bush like poisonous snakes, leopards and other African animals, she replied: "We're all going to live in harmony."
 
A 16 foot aluminum fishing boat powered by an outboard motor will serve as the family's main means of evacuation should the need arise, said Dr. Kaur.
 
A national independent film production company recorded the entire packaging process. In addition, the crew will possibly be accompanying Dr. Kaur and her team in Africa for a documentary on their research efforts.
 
Kaur and Singh, their daughter, Lutz and four students-two from the CAUS and two from the VMRCVM-will leave for Africa in May. While the others will return after a few weeks, Dr. Kaur and her family are not expected back in the United States until May 2008.
 


Communications Scholar Challenges Profession during Virginia Veterinary Conference

Dr. Wes Jamison Veterinarians were challenged to become the "priests" that will help society come to grips with the role animals play in the modern world by communications researcher and popular speaker Dr. Wes Jamison during a presentation he made at the recent Virginia Veterinary Conference in Roanoke.
 
Jamison, presently working on a second Ph.D. at the University of Florida's College of Communications, argues that the present animal rights movement is being empowered by an undercurrent of social conflict in our society wrought from our inability to resolve the issue of why some animals end up on the plate while others end up in the parlor.
 
While the animal rights movement in this country can be traced back more than 100 years, he said, the real activism began about 20 years ago after the passage of the Animal Welfare Act in 1985 and subsequent amendments in 1987.
 
Activist groups that have advocated measures as extreme as elevating the status of companion animals to "canine Americans" have recently found their efforts thwarted at the national level, and have increasingly focused their activism at the local and state level.
 
"This is not a scientific debate," he said. "It is a social movement"
 
Jamison identified four societal and cultural phenomena that have led up the present state of activism. These include increased urbanization, where animals have moved from the fields into the house; anthropomorphism, where people project human qualities upon animals; growing acceptance of theories of evolution, which suggests people and animals arose from similar organisms eons ago; and egalitarianism, which suggests that the sense of equal rights established for gender and race as civilization has advanced should now be extended toward other species.
 
"Animal rights is not about animals," he said. "And if you want to argue that on the basis of empiricism you're going to get body-slammed."
 
Jamison acknowledged that another reason for the growing animal rights movement is because of the growing intensity of the human/animal bond. Pets are the perfect vessels for our love because they offer unconditional love in response, they never put us in nursing homes, they never divorce us and they never break our hearts by growing up and leaving the home like children do, he said.
 
"They supplement what is lacking in our lives from our human relationships," he said.
 
Jamison contends that the societal cognitive dissonance between a culture that sees some animals as pets and some animals as food creates a dichotomy which animal rights activists are successfully exploiting.
 
On the one hand, veterinarians are providing expensive and sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic protocols for animals we deign to be viewed as pets, and on the other hand, veterinarians are working to maximize the growth and productivity of the animals grown for human consumption. The irony, he said, is that those animals are culturally interchangeable; one culture might eat cattle and another might see them as sacred.
 
Jamison warned that continued reticence on the part of the profession to more actively define the role of animals in society could lead to a "Balkanization" of the profession and open the door for activist groups to move in and frame the debate.
 
"Are animals family or food," he asked, "You are being called upon by society to take the leading role in this debate," he said. "You have the authority and credibility to interpret and mediate a tenuous and irreconcilable relationship."
 


Boyle Focused on Immuno-Contraceptive Approach to Animal Population Explosion

Dr. Boyle The population explosion of stray and feral cats and dogs has become a worldwide epidemic that cannot be constrained by traditional methods of surgical sterilization.
 
Immunocontraceptives represent the only viable approaches to solving the problem, according to Dr. Stephen Boyle, a professor of bacteriology in the college's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP), and for the last ten years he has been diligently working on finding a solution.
 
Boyle has been working in his lab to develop immuno-contraceptive vaccines and he has helped found an international professional society that is dedicated to raising money and interest to support additional research.
 
Every year over five million stray and feral animals (mostly cats and dogs) are euthanized in the United States alone, according to Dr. Boyle, and that number continues to grow. There is simply not enough shelter space and economic resources to house the millions of lost and abandoned animals, said Boyle, and sadly, most endure a life of suffering. In addition, stray and feral animals can carry rabies and other zoonotic diseases and present a threat to domestic animals and people.
 
Sterilization is the key to humanely solving this global problem. However, the number of animals currently sterilized each year is not nearly enough to control the ever-expanding number of stray and feral animals, he said. There are not enough veterinarians to conduct the time-consuming surgeries for all of the animals that need it and the cost of the surgery is often beyond the means of many pet owners and animal shelters.
 
Those realities underscore the viability of developing permanent, affordable, injectable or implantable immuno-contraceptives, explains Dr. Boyle, who is currently working in his laboratory in the VMRCVM's Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease (CMMID) to find potential solutions that are economical for immediate production and distribution.
 
Immunocontraceptives stimulate natural responses in an animal's immune system to render them sterile. If such an approach could be perfected, the ease of administration and cost-savings over surgical sterilization would enable it to be applied on a scale that could make an impact on the spiraling over-population problem, Boyle said.
 
"Immunocontraception represents a very promising approach to solving the global animal over-population problem," said Dr. Boyle. "I am pleased to help develop this research approach and gratified by the growing interest from so many scientists at other institutions."
 
Advancements in molecular biology that enable scientists to alter the genetic structure of life have provided the scientific capacity to perfect this approach.
 
In fact, Boyle's quest for affordable, non-surgical contraception for all cats and dogs was inspired by a veterinary student who suggested, in jest, that he do "something useful" with the technology at his disposal and urged him to consider non-surgical contraception for companion animals.
 
Boyle initially experimented with a genetically altered vaccine strain of salmonella as a carrier agent for his first vaccine, which basically sought to create conditions that prevented the fertilization of an egg.
 
Boyle also took a look at what was being done in the field at other universities. During his investigation, he found there were numerous labs across the country researching non-surgical contraceptive approaches, but there was very little collaboration between scientific investigators; animal shelter, welfare and philanthropic organizations; and other interested parties.
 
Convinced that more could be accomplished with increased collaboration, Dr. Boyle established the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs (ACC&D) in 2000 with Drs. Henry Baker and Brenda Griffin at Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine.
 
The mission of the ACC&D is to "expedite the successful introduction of methods to non-surgically sterilize dogs and cats and to support the distribution and promotion of these products to humanely control cat and dog populations worldwide." The alliance draws hundreds of attendants from around the globe to its symposiums and is currently sponsoring trials of potential immuno-contraceptives.
 
"We are looking forward to finding an affordable, non-surgical method to help control cat and dog overpopulation," said Dr. Boyle. "I would encourage anyone interested in helping further the goals of the ACC&D to go to our web site (http://www.acc-d.org/) and consider joining in order to contribute your time and talents."
 
Dr. Stephen Boyle received his undergraduate education from Rutgers and his Ph.D. from the University of Rhode Island. Before coming to the University in 1984 as an associate professor, Boyle was an assistant and an associate professor at Memorial University, Newfoundland. In addition to the AAC&D, he is a member of the American Society for Microbiology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases.
 


Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine to Present Annual Open House

VMRCVM Open House The VMRCVM's annual "Open House" will be held on Saturday, March 31 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
 
Visitors will have the opportunity to take guided tours of the 225,000 square foot complex, glimpse the inside of a dog's stomach, witness equine acupuncture, and learn about the modern veterinary medical profession, among other things.
 
At 10 a.m., veterinary students will begin conducting guided tours of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and other college facilities. Tours last approximately 60 minutes and will depart at thirty-minute intervals throughout the day. A video profiling the college entitled "Breaking New Ground in Veterinary Medicine" will be shown periodically throughout the day.
 
Children's stuffed animals can be "surgically repaired" during a "Teddy Bear Repair Clinic" from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a drawing contest for kids will also be featured. Demonstrations and informational sessions on radiology, endoscopy, ultrasound, equine thermography, electron microscopy and other topics will also be presented throughout the day.
 
The day will feature a lecture at 10:30 a.m. on avian influenza by Dr. Bill Pierson, associate professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology.
 
Presentations on how to prepare a competitive application for veterinary college will be made at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., presentations on equine colic will be featured at 10:30 a.m. and 12 p.m.
 
A silent auction featuring gift certificates and merchandise from local merchants as well as merchandise provided by VMRCVM clubs and organizations will be held from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
 
The annual Omega Tau Sigma Service Dog of the Year Award will be presented at 2 p.m. and the St. Francis of Assisi Service Dog Foundation will present a demonstration on how dogs are trained to help the physically-challenged.
 
For more information about the VMRCVM's Open House, check out www.vetmed.vt.edu
 


Fourth Annual Dog Walk Against Cancer

4th Annual Dog Walk For the fourth year in a row, the VMRCVM's Center for Comparative Oncology (CeCO) will sponsor a "Dog Walk Against Cancer." The event will be held rain or shine on Saturday, April 21, 2007 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the front lawn of the VMRCVM's Virginia Tech campus on Duck Pond Drive and is open to the public and their pets.
 
Highlights of the event include a kick-off informational session on cancer in animals at 10:00 a.m. and a survivor and remembrance walk around the flowers in The Grove at 1:00 p.m. to honor and remember all two- and four- legged cancer survivors and victims.
 
The event seeks to raise funds to support cancer research conducted by students and increase public awareness about cancer, according to Dr. John Robertson, a professor in the college's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP) and director of CeCO, a research center that studies cancer in animals and people.
 
"Cancer is a major disease problem in dogs, just as it is in people," said Robertson, who estimates that as many as 40% of middle-aged and elderly dogs will eventually contract cancer. "Our goal is to learn as much about prevention, treatment and cure as we can."
 
Individuals participating in the event are asked to acquire sponsors for each owner/dog team and present those funds to organizers on the day of the event. There is a minimum of $25.00 in total donations required per human participant. People participating in the event are asked to only bring dogs that get along well with other dogs and other people in crowded conditions. In addition, all dogs must have up-to-date vaccination records and must be kept on a leash and under the control of their walker at all times.
 
All money raised during this event will directly go to support the Student Cancer Research Fellowships in the CeCO.
 
Chartered in 2002, CeCO is an academic center for basic and clinical research on cancer. The mission of CeCO is to study the development of cancer in animals and in people, to develop new ways to diagnose cancer and to find new treatments to control and cure it.
 
For more information or to download the registration and donation forms, please visit CeCO's website.
 


Congress to Address Critical Shortage of Veterinarians in Public Health Practice

Senator Wayne Allard & Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin The United States is facing a critical shortage of veterinarians in public health practice areas such as food safety and security, bioterrorism and emergency preparedness, environmental health, regulatory medicine, diagnostic laboratory medicine, food systems veterinary medicine and biomedical research.
 
Federal support is urgently needed to help the profession gear up to meet the challenges it faces in the future, and the recently introduced federal Veterinary Public Health Workforce Expansion Act (S746, HR 1232) may help acquire it.
 
Sponsored by U.S. Senator Wayne Allard (R-Colorado.) and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), the act would establish a competitive federal grants program to build research, diagnostic and training capacity in the nation's veterinary medical colleges.
 
The bill is actively supported by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
 
"This legislation is a realistic solution to the significant shortage of veterinarians in these critical public health areas," said Dr. Lance Perryman, AAVMC President and Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. "Public health practice veterinarians affect the lives of every citizen of this country every day."
 
Many recent studies have shown dramatic shortfalls of veterinarians in key public health practice areas including food systems veterinary medicine and several agencies in the federal government that protect the nation's food supply and keep a watchful eye for bioterrorism and foreign animal diseases.
 
The current national pool of 2,500 new graduates a year is not enough to meet the demands of a growing population and the changing public health needs of society, according to AAVMC officials.
 
"This legislation provides an opportunity for all of our nation's 28 veterinary medical colleges to build classrooms, teaching facilities, and diagnostic and research laboratories to serve the public health needs of a growing population for years to come," said Dr. Lawrence Heider, executive director of the AAVMC.
 


Veterinary Scientists Explore Poultry Virus Approach to Human Prostate Cancer

Dr. Subbiah VMRCVM virologists are looking at how a genetically modified variant of Avian Newcastle disease virus (NDV) can treat human prostate cancer.
 
Dr. Elankurmaran Subbiah, assistant professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP), was recently awarded a prestigious research grant by the Department of Defense. This "Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program" award will support the exploration and hypothesis development for an innovative approach to treating prostate cancer.
 
Subbiah and his co-investigator, Dr. Siba K. Samal, associate dean - Maryland Campus, were awarded a $113,250 grant for their ongoing work using a genetically modified version of NDV to treat prostate cancer in humans.
 
Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). The ACS estimates there will be almost 219,000 new cases of prostate cancer reported in the United States in 2007.
 
According to Subbiah, the use of poultry viruses as cancer therapy poses no threat to humans and several other oncolytic viruses are currently being explored to treat cancer. However, Subbiah's work is the first to alter Newcastle disease virus through a reverse genetic system to target prostate cancer specifically.
 
Reverse genetics (RG) is the process of generating a recombinant virus from cloned complimentary DNA (cDNA) copy of a viral genome, explains Subbiah. Through the RG system, recombinant viruses can be designed to have specific properties that make them attractive as biotechnological tools, live vaccines, and cancer therapeutics. This is achieved through the introduction of the desired changes in the cDNA, which are then transferred faithfully to the recombinant virus.
 
In the current investigation, Dr. Subbiah and his associates are altering the fusion protein of NDV to replicate only in the presence of prostate specific antigen (PSA), which is found exclusively in cancerous prostate cells.
 
Normal, healthy cells have an interferon antiviral system that activates upon infection with NDV thereby preventing replication of the virus, explains Dr. Subbiah. Cancer cells, however, have defective interferon antiviral systems, he said. NDV utilizes the defects to replicate in the diseased cells. The replication of NDV leads to the death of the cancer cell by a process called apoptosis - also known as programmed cell death or cell suicide- in the cell.
 
"We believe this novel concept of altering Newcastle disease virus to selectively replicate and kill only cancer cells that secrete PSA will pave the way for several radical treatment approaches not only for prostate cancer, but for many different types of cancer," said Subbiah. "We are excited about the endless possibilities this approach offers to treat cancer."
 
Dr. Subbiah received his B.V.Sc. in 1984, M.V.Sc. in 1989, and Ph.D in Veterinary Microbiology in 1996 from the Madras Veterinary College in Madras, India. He was a research assistant professor at VMRCVM's University of Maryland-College Park campus prior to joining Virginia Tech in 2006.
 
In 2000, he was a finalist for the Invention of the Year Award in Life Sciences for his work on dermal immunization of chickens with a unique plasmid DNA.
 


Testing of New Gait Analysis System Underway at Equine Medical Center

Gait Analysis System Faculty members at Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center are currently testing a new high-speed digital video system which will allow for detailed gait analysis, lameness diagnosis and hoof balancing in horses. The testing began in October 2006 with clinical application scheduled to start in May of 2007.
 
Unlike previous analog programs, which could only capture horses in motion at 30 frames per second, this new technology can film at 60 frames per second in high definition, permitting the center's specialists to clearly view foot landing, breakover and arc of the foot, and limb flight. Using an equine treadmill that offers graded exercise in a controlled environment, a horse's gait can be captured at both varying and consistent speeds. The footage can then be frozen in still frames or played in slow motion, allowing for precision viewing of movements.
 
"We are thrilled by the possibilities offered by this new gait analysis technology," said Dr. Nat White, Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and Director of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center. "The benefits of slowing or freezing high quality digital images of a horse at full gallop are endless."
 
According to Dr. Curry Keoughan, clinical assistant professor in equine lameness & surgery, using video technology rather than analog film may also result in enhanced performance through more accurate therapeutic shoeing.
 
"Previous gait analysis systems were based on computer images that were sometimes misleading," said Keoughan. "This system will enable us to optimize hoof balance and comfort leading to heightened performance and success."
 
Keoughan notes that this new technology will be of particular benefit for athletic horses.
 
"To improve productivity even a half of a percent in a race horse is very significant," said Keoughan.
 
Horses from the Loudoun Therapeutic Riding Foundation in Leesburg, Virginia, participated in the testing.
 
"We are pleased to have contributed to this important work since it will benefit all horses -- including ours," said Joanne Hart, executive director of the Loudoun Therapeutic Riding Foundation. "The team at the center is wonderful so this has been a great experience."
 
The tentative date for which the new gait analysis service will be made available is May 1, 2007.
 


Dr. Peter EyrePeter Eyre Honored with Emeritus Status at Virginia Tech

Peter Eyre, professor and former dean of the VMRCVM, was conferred with the title "professor and dean emeritus" by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors during the board's quarterly meeting March 26.
 
The title of emeritus may be conferred on retired professors and associate professors, administrative officers, librarians, and exceptional staff members who have given exemplary service to the university and who are specially recommended to the board of visitors by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board of visitors receive an emeritus certificate from the university.
 
A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1985, Eyre served as the dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine for 18 years. Through his leadership, he advanced the college's missions of education, biomedical research and outreach to the broader community.
 


VMRCVM Co-hosts HIV/AIDS Lecture Series

Dr. Vineeta Gupta The VMRCVM and the Association for India's Development recently presented a two-part lecture series on the crisis of AIDS in developing countries around the world on the Virginia Tech campus as part of the Women's Month Celebration at Virginia Tech.
 
The first lecture, held on the VMRCVM campus, was entitled "Global Access to HIV/AIDS Medications: Local and Global Dimensions" and discussed the influence of governmental policies on HIV control and research.
 
The second lecture, held in Virginia Tech's Torgersen Hall, was entitled "The International Response to HIV: Gender Implications" and focused on the gender-based inequalities in the support provided to AIDS patients.
 
Dr. Vineeta Gupta, Founder-Director of the Stop HIV/AIDS in India Initiative (SHAII), presented both lectures. Dr. Gupta holds the unique combination of a medical degree and law degree and has twenty years experience as a grassroots human rights activist and community organizer both in India and the United States.
 
She has spoken on health care, HIV/AIDS-related issues, global trade, human rights and policies of international financial institutions at numerous university campuses and prestigious international forums and has been recognized for her work by several international organizations.
 


Vet Med Students to Present Community Dogwash

Dogwash Veterinary students enrolled in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine will present a community "Dogwash" on Saturday, April 21 from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. on the campus of Virginia Tech.
 
The community dogwash event will be held at the rear of the veterinary college complex. Signs on Southgate and Duck Pond Drive will help guide dogwash participants to the event.
 
Presented semi-annually by DVM students enrolled in the VMRCVM, the dogwash is always a popular community event. The cost of a dog wash is $10.00 and for an additional $5.00 customers can have their dogs' nails trimmed and ears cleaned.
 
Animals will be washed on a "first-come, first-served" basis and no appointments are necessary. Dogs will be washed while owners wait. Dogs must be on a leash, and be at least five months old with current vaccinations.
 
The dogwash is sponsored by the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA), a professional organization for DVM students.
 

 
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