November 2009

Strengthening the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Gerhardt G. Schurig Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am often reminded our college is unique in many ways. Not the least of which is a campus that spans 280 miles, two states, and three campuses. At our northern most point is the Avrum Gudelsky Veterinary Center at the University of Maryland-College Park campus, home to the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine (CPCVM).

As many of you may know, we recently hired Dr. Valerie Ragan as the director of the CPCVM. In collaboration with Drs. Siba Samal, associate dean on the Maryland campus, and Bettye Walters, director for international activities at the center, she is working to reaffirm the campus and center as a vibrant part of our college and the profession.

At a time when many in the veterinary community are growing concerned about the ability of the profession to meet the growing needs of the government and corporate sectors, it is important to recognize the work the CPCVM has done and is continuing to do on that front. For over 20 years, the center has worked to recruit and encourage students to pursue this path through education and externship and international travel experiences.

We are exploring many exciting, new initiatives for further strengthening the CPCVM and its mission, and raising the national and international profile of the center. As part of this effort, an advisory task force from the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association has been formed to provide recommendations to the center. Recently, Drs. Samal, Ragan, and Walters also met with a roundtable of representatives from government and corporate agencies to discuss how to best integrate the needs, goals, and abilities of the CPCVM and those it serves. A new advisory committee has also been formed and recently held an initial, full-day meeting at the Avrum Gudelsky Veterinary Center.

Another primary goal is to expand the resources available to not only current students, but also practicing veterinarians who are perhaps considering a career change. To meet the needs of this sector, the center has resumed its continuing education lecture series. These seminars are open to interested students and practitioners from the area who are interested in learning more about the college and different areas of veterinary medicine. I recently traveled up to College Park with Dr. Mark Crisman, a professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, who discussed veterinary acupuncture, to participate in the inaugural session. If you are in the DC-Metro area, please consider attending one or all of the sessions.

As I have said before, our College Park campus and the CPCVM are resources for all of us. I would encourage those of you who are interested in learning more to contact Dr. Ragan at

With kind regards,

Gerhardt G. Schurig, DVM, Ph.D.

In This Issue



Featured Stories

Sriranganathan honored with Pfizer Award for Research Excellence

Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan

Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan (left), a professor of bacteriology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, receives the Pfizer Award for Research Excellence from Dr. David Stansfield from Pfizer Animal Health.

Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan, a professor of bacteriology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, was awarded the prestigious Pfizer Award for Research Excellence during ceremonies associated with the college's 2009 Research Symposium. He was also invited to be the keynote speaker for the event.

He was honored for his continuing efforts in biomedical research, specifically in the rapidly developing area of nanomedicine for drug delivery.

"Dr. Sriranganthan is a truly prolific researcher in our college and we are pleased to see him recognized in this way," said Dr. Roger Avery, senior associate dean for research and graduate studies. "The work he is completing is timely and has the potential to not only impact animal health, but human health worldwide."

Sriranganathan’s primary research interests include: Development of vaccines against agents of bioterrorism; development of multivalent vaccines against neosporosis, anthrax, tuberculosis etc, using the current USDA approved Brucella abortus RB51 cattle vaccine as the platform; targeted drug delivery against intracellular pathogens like drug resistant Salmonella, Brucella and Mycobacterium; phage mediated bioremediation of food borne Salmonella in poultry; and the effect of aging on immune response.

He received his 1966 and his M.V.Sc. in1968 from the University of Agriculture Sciences in Bangalore, India. In 1974, he earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology from Oregon State University. Prior to joining the faculty of the VMRCVM in 1984 as an assistant professor, he served as an assistant professor at Washington State University and he completed postdoctoral work at the USDA in Washington State.

He is a member of the American Society of Microbiology, the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, and the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases. He is board certified as a diplomate by the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists.

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College hosts 21st Annual Research Symposium

21st Annual Research Symposium

Graduate students presented their research in a poster session as part of the veterinary college’s 21st Annual Research Symposium.

The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine recently hosted its 21st Annual Research Symposium, designed to showcase the research of the college’s graduate students.

Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan, a professor of bacteriology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology and this year’s recipient of the college’s Pfizer Award for Research Excellence, was the keynote speaker. His presentation was entitled "Nanomedicine: Drug Delivery Against Intra-Cellular Pathogens."

As is traditional, graduate students in their last year of study presented their research in fifteen-minute time slots as part of a faculty adjudicated awards competition and other students participated in a poster session.

Two sessions were held - one in the morning and another in the afternoon - and students were judged at the master's and Ph.D. level both in posters and in presentation.

After opening comments from Dean Gerhardt Schurig and Senior Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies Roger Avery, the first round of poster sessions and student presentations was held.

The awards from the day's proceedings were presented during a dinner banquet held that evening.

The first place award for master's student presentations went to Dr. Sarah Davies; second place was awarded to Dr. Jamie Wearn.

The first place award for master's student poster session competition went to Suzanne Hirst; second place went to Dr. Marianne Werner.

There was a tie for the first place award for Ph.D. student presentations. The winners were Dr. Naveen Surendran and Alicia Feagins.

The first place award for Ph.D. student poster session was Shobana Raghunath; second place was Dr. R.S. Pudupakam.

Two other college awards which recognize staff performance and achievement within the research and graduate studies division were presented during the concluding ceremony. Jennifer Mirabella was honored with the Research & Graduate Studies Outstanding Contribution Award and Carolyn Tanner was honored with the Outstanding Co-Worker Award.

In addition, Sriranganathan was formally presented with the Pfizer Award for Research Excellence.

Initiated in 1989 to showcase the college's research accomplishments and activities, the college's annual research symposium is considered one of the oldest continuing research symposia at the university.

See photos from the symposium.

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The power of giving: Honoring their legacy

Preston Society recognition reception

Dr. Peter Eyre (right), former dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College, speaks to members of Virginia Tech’s Preston Society and other distinguished guests during a tour of the veterinary college as part of a recent “recognition reception.”

On Friday, November 20th, the Virginia-Maryland Regional College welcomed members of the William Preston Society, comprised of former members of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, former university presidents, and the current president, and other distinguished guests to a recognition reception in honor of many people who have helped the college become what it is today.

The event celebrated the completion of the John N. Dalton Society Wall of Honor; the lab relocation and plaque recognizing the donation of the late Dr. JoAnne O’Brien that created the Companion Animal Reproduction and Endocrinology Studies (CARES) laboratory; and the college's 25th anniversary sculpture "Running Together," created through the generosity of Jane Talbot in memory of Founding Dean Richard Talbot.

Dean Gerhardt Schurig and former Dean Peter Eyre welcomed the visitors and thanked them for their contributions. Many gave time, money, or both to build and sustain the college through the years. From lobbying for the founding legislation and financing of the college to nurturing its growth during the first 25 years, the Dalton Society Wall of Honor recognizes those who helped the college in numerous ways in its earliest years. The CARES laboratory is a lasting tribute to O’Brien who, at a time when there were very few women in veterinary medicine, forged her way in the profession many decades ago. The "Running Together" statue beautifies the college's grounds, depicts the human-animal bond, and memorializes the college's founding dean.

"It took a strategic combination of hard work, dedication, and a good amount of grassroots efforts to get our college established," Schurig told the guests. "We have come a long way and I am very proud of the achievements we have made in research, in medicine, and in education."

Guests then participated in a tour of the college led by Dr. Frank Pearsall '84, the college’s director of development. The day concluded with a reception in the Heritage Room.

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Veterinary experts warn holiday joy can present animal health hazards

holiday hazards for pets

A few precautions can help make sure a family's holiday spirit isn't dampened by the untimely--and preventable--illness or injury of a beloved dog or cat.

Holiday decorations and holiday treats may help make the season bright, but they can also cause problems for household pets, say experts in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

A few precautions can help make sure a family's holiday spirit isn't dampened by the untimely--and preventable--illness or injury of a beloved dog or cat.

One of the most common problems during the holiday season is dietary indiscretion – dogs and cats love to be around all the holiday food, and may experience a variety of gastrointestinal disturbances if they get treats, or steal food off the counters or from the garbage can. A tidbit of bland table food may be acceptable for an occasional holiday treat, but pets should be monitored carefully to keep them out of trouble.

Many problems also occur when curious pets ingest foreign objects or toxic substances, says Dr. Bess Pierce, an associate professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, who leads the college’s community practice clerkship. Puppies have been known to chew on ornaments, which can shatter into jagged shards of glass and cut the mouth. Similarly, pet-owners should carefully choose “presents” and avoid giving toys or bones which could break or be swallowed in small pieces. These could present a choking hazard or obstruct the esophagus, stomach or intestines.

Puppies and kittens are sometimes tempted to chew on holiday tree light cords, which can cause mouth burns or fatal shock. Even brief electric shocks can trigger an irregular heartbeat, which can cause fluid to gather in the lungs, leading to serious complications or death.

Cats are frequently attracted to tinsel, but if a cat swallows a piece, it can stimulate an accordion-like folding of the intestines--a life-threatening condition.

Ornaments and tinsel should be kept out of a pet's reach, when possible, and pet-owners should watch their animals closely, Pierce says.

A number of holiday plants and treats also pose danger for animals, says Dr. Dennis Blodgett, a veterinary toxicologist in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology.

Chocolate, for example, contains a caffeine-like substance that is very dangerous for dogs. Two squares of baking chocolate, or just over a pound of milk chocolate, can kill a twenty-pound dog, according to Blodgett. Other less well known potential food hazards for pets include raisins and grapes, sugarless gums and candies, macadamia nuts, and yeast dough.

Some common holiday plants are also dangerous. Ingesting mistletoe can cause clinical signs ranging from an upset stomach to death, depending upon the amount consumed and the size of the animal. Other dangerous plants include holly berries, Jerusalem cherries and Kalanchoe potted plants. Poinsettias usually only produce mild clinical signs and should generally be considered non-toxic. Lilies in holiday floral arrangements are very toxic for cats.

Dogs and cats should be kept away from the water in holiday-tree stands, says Blodgett, since it contains turpentine-like compounds that are dangerous for both dogs and cats, but particularly lethal for cats. Placing a physical barrier such as a mesh screen or tree skirt is the best preventive measure that can be taken.

Other miscellaneous poisons during the holiday season are liquid potpourris, the fluid in bubble lights, and the fluid in some recently imported snow globes.

The cold weather associated with the holiday season can also pose problems. Automobile-owners changing their own antifreeze should always make sure the toxic substance is kept away from pets.

While dogs and cats are attracted to the substance because of its sweet smell and taste, its active ingredient, ethylene glycol, can cause massive kidney damage and death if ingested.

A better option is to use the newer, less toxic antifreeze brands that contain propylene glycol and are recommended for households with pets and children, says Pierce.

In addition, sidewalk de-icing salts can also pose a threat to animals, says Blodgett. Since a few minutes can often mean the difference between life and death with regard to poisonings, pet-owners should contact their local veterinarian quickly if they suspect their pet has ingested some of these toxic substances.

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News in Brief

Alumni enjoy tailgate before Virginia Tech vs. the University of Maryland

VT vs. MD pre-game tailgate party

Over 160 Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine alumni and friends gathered for a pre-game tailgate party at the Riggs Alumni Center in College Park, Md. as Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland faced off.

Over 160 Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine alumni and friends gathered for a pre-game tailgate party at the Riggs Alumni Center in College Park, Md. as Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland faced off on Saturday, November 14th.

Drs. Tom Massie, president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, and Jim Reed, president of the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, were in attendance.

Drs. Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate and Veterinary Medicine, and Bettye Walters, director for international activities, from the college’s College Park campus also joined in the festivities.

For more information on upcoming alumni events, visit the alumni society website.

See photos from the tailgate!

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College offers pet portraits with Santa

pet portraits with santa

“Dewey,” poses for a photo with Santa. Have your pet photographed Saturday, Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the veterinary college.

Pictures with Santa Claus are a holiday tradition for many people. This year, have the furry and four-legged members of your family professionally photographed with the jolly man in red on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.

Cats, dogs and exotics (no reptiles) are all welcome. All pets must be on a leash or contained and should be well-behaved.

Photographs will be taken in the college's classroom 125, which is located on the east side of the veterinary college complex. Signs will direct visitors to the event and ample parking will be available.

Packages of portraits are being offered and details will be available on-site. The photos can be picked up at the college.

The program is being presented by the college's Omega Tau Sigma service fraternity, a veterinary student organization that provides a variety of community services.

For more information, contact Valerie Reinoso at

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Calling all alumni: Veterinary college announces fundraising challenge

The Campaign for Virginia Tech

As the university enters the last 12 months of the Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future, the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine announces the Alumni Giving Challenge.

As the university enters the last 12 months of the Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future, the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine announces the Alumni Giving Challenge.

All alumni are asked to make a gift, as they are able, in a competition between classes that will run through December 2010. Recognizing the different giving capabilities between first alumni and those of more recent years, the competition will be measured in both cumulative dollar amounts and percentage of participation by class.

As an example, if every member from each class pledged $300, the college would quickly raise over $650,000 in support. If those gifts were made as 5-year pledges, the total would quickly grow to over $3 million.

Any alumni gifts made to the Translational Medicine Complex Fund or the Dean’s Fund for Excellence will be counted in this challenge. Individuals, who have already made a gift during our campaign, will automatically have their participation and dollar amount credited for their class.

Alumni can look for more information about the campaign and the impact of their support in a letter from Dean Gerhardt Schurig which will be arriving in mailboxes very soon. If you have any questions about the alumni challenge or are ready to make a pledge, please call the Development Office at (540) 231-4716.

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Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center announces Tuesday Talks schedule

Tuesday Talks at EMC

The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center has announced its 2009-10 “Tuesday Talks” schedule. All Tuesday Talk lectures will be held at 7 p.m. in the Equine Medical Center’s library.

Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center has announced its 2009-10 Tuesday Talks schedule. This series of free lectures is designed to provide veterinarians, horse owners, and horse professionals with valuable insight and practical advice related to a wide array of equine health care topics.

The 2009-10 Tuesday Talks schedule is as follows:

All Tuesday Talk lectures will be held at 7 p.m. in the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center’s library. No fee is charged for attending but seating is limited and pre-registration is required. To register, e-mail Amy Troppmann or call (703) 771-6843.

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Important notice to all alumni using e-mail accounts

The Virginia Tech Alumni Association is pleased to announce the university’s expanding features for all Virginia Tech alumni free e-mail accounts (e.g.

These exciting new features are scheduled for conversion from the local Virginia Tech e-mail system to Google e-mail service soon. The expanded features from Google include larger storage space, virus scanning and spam filtering capabilities, IM/Chat service (Google Talk), personalized webpages, and more.

There will be no change in e-mail addresses as they currently appear; however, each account holder must register and move their information to the new service. Instructions will be provided by e-mail on how to move your e-mail messages, files, and contacts from your current mailbox to the mailbox in the new Google system.

This change will not affect any active Virginia Tech affiliates such as faculty and staff (including retirees) or enrolled students, who happen to be alumni of Virginia Tech.

Once the conversion is ready to take place, users will be notified with the timeline and instructions on how to begin the necessary transition.

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Follow the VMRCVM on Facebook

find us on facebookHave a Facebook account? Become a fan of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine! Stay up-to-date on the news of the college, see pictures from events, and connect with classmates. Join us today!

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