Vital Signs
October 2006

The VMRCVM Alumni Society: Building the Bedrock

Dr. Gerhardt G. SchurigDear Friends and Colleagues,
 
It was gratifying to see so many of our practitioner friends and alumni join us here in Blacksburg recently for the annual VVMA/MVMA/Alumni Society Reunion weekend. The mentor program, informational sessions and social events were all well-attended. They provided a great opportunity for our faculty, staff and students to spend time and learn from the veterinarians who serve as the face and the hands of modern veterinary medicine for citizens across the region.
 
The great attendance speaks of the quality of the relationships we enjoy with the organized veterinary medical community, and it also speaks of the growing stature and potential of our college's Alumni Society, which seems to be gathering more momentum every day.
 
Under the leadership of President Dr. Doug Graham and Director of Student and Alumni Affairs Lynn Young, we are now programming more activities than ever before. We host receptions at most of the national veterinary conferences, and we program other special alumni events that occur throughout the year across Virginia and Maryland.
 
We do this because a strong alumni society is an integral part of a strong college of veterinary medicine. We now have almost 2,000 graduates who are practicing in towns and cities across Virginia and Maryland, and also in state and federal agencies and laboratories. Our alumni are influential leaders in their communities and in the profession. And what they do every day as they practice their profession affects our future in many different ways.
 
A Mentor Chats with his Mentee The benefits of a strong alumni society are manifold. Just as our college shaped our graduates' professional lives while they studied in our classrooms and laboratories, they are now in a position to help shape and provide guidance for us. They do this in many ways, from mentoring students to providing us with important feedback about our programs.
 
They also shape public understanding about the importance of modern veterinary medicine. As they interact with other community and statewide leaders as well as their clients about the profession and the college, they can ultimately affect the way the VMRCVM is funded by the private sector as well as by Richmond, Annapolis, and even Washington.
 
These things are helping build a stronger Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. We salute our alumni for the success of the association, and for the important role they play in the success of the college and the profession.
 
Sincerely,  


Gerhardt G. Schurig
Dean


NIH Awards VMRCVM Two Training Grants

DVM student participates in research activities The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded two major NIH training grants to the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. Valued at almost $1 million and designed to boost biomedical and veterinary research, these are the first NIH training grants ever awarded to Virginia Tech.
 
"The receipt of these prestigious NIH grants is an important milestone in the evolution of our research programs," said Dean Gerhardt Schurig. "The shortage of research capacity in the profession of veterinary medicine is well-documented. These grants will enable us to begin preparing researchers to address this need."
 
The success that college researchers working in the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases have had in securing NIH research funding over the past several years played an important role in this landmark NIH funding achievement, according to Schurig.
 
A summer 2005 study and white paper authored by the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council entitled "Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science" described the urgent need to increase the nation's veterinary research capacity in order to foster advances in biomedical research and develop strategies for dealing with new and emerging animal borne diseases that affect public health.
 
The college has been awarded an NIH T-32 Post-DVM Training Grant that will create training opportunities for post-DVM's wishing to "retool" for careers in biomedical research, and an NIH T-35 Summer Veterinary Student Research Program Grant, which creates summer research training experiences for students presently enrolled in the DVM program.
 
"Historically, animal models have been instrumental in understanding the pathogenesis and mechanism of many human diseases," said Dr. X. J. Meng, a physician and virologist who is serving as principal investigator on the $773,873 T-32 grant. "This program will train veterinarians in the skills of a researcher and encourage them to pursue a research career in the areas of animal models of infectious diseases, immunology, molecular biology, physiology, toxicology and nutrition."
 
Candidates for the training positions will be recruited from all over the country, according to Dr. Tom Caruso, director of research initiatives in the college and assistant director in the administration of the grant. He said ideal candidates for the program are veterinarians who have been practicing for two to three years and have realized a developing interest in biomedical research. Seventeen additional researchers from the Blacksburg and College Park campuses of the VMRCVM, the Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Virginia Via College of Osteopathic Medicine are associated with the program.
 
The five-year NIH T-35 grant is being led by Dr. Ansar Ahmed, professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology and director of the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases (CMMID). It is focused on creating training opportunities for DVM students.
 
"DVM students are highly skilled in animal physiology and animal pathology but there is no formal research training within the DVM program," said Dr. Ahmed. "This grant will provide a unique opportunity for DVM students to get excited about research and expand their career opportunities."
 
As part of the T-35 program, six veterinary students will undergo extensive training during summer breaks from the DVM curriculum. Those experiences will include applied training in research methodologies and interaction with Washington D.C. based agencies like the Food & Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine and the United States Department of Agriculture, according to Ahmed.
 
The VMRCVM has substantially increased its NIH research funding over the past several years, Caruso said, adding that a critical mass of NIH funded researchers are required in order to support the training programs. Caruso noted that the recognition of research quality implicit with the receipt of the training grants should also play a role in future faculty recruitment as well.
 


Freeman Leading Global Anatomy Group

Claudio Gutierrez Dr. Tom Caceci and Dr. Larry Freeman in Messina, Italy Walk into any veterinary college instructional laboratory and you're likely to see bones, lots of bones. Anatomy has been a platform discipline in medical education for centuries.
 
"Structure and function are sort of the basis upon which the other clinical sciences are built," said Dr. Larry Freeman, an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP), noting that technological advances in non-invasive imaging such as CT, MRI and others have had a huge impact on the world of structural anatomy.
 
Helping his profession keep abreast of those changes and working to maintain the integrity of international nomenclature systems that standardize terminology in veterinary anatomy are important parts of his job as President of the World Association of Veterinary Anatomists.
 
His international organization presides over the affairs of about 300 scientists associated with several regional and national organizations, including the American Association of Veterinary Anatomists, the European Association of Veterinary Anatomists, the Japanese Association of Veterinary Anatomists and the recently created Asian Association of Veterinary Anatomists.
 
In addition to fostering the general advancement of that branch of the medical sciences, the group is tasked with making sure that a standardized anatomical nomenclature exists for veterinary anatomists in countries around the world.
 
The veterinary anatomical body of knowledge is parsed into three main categories, according to Freeman. These include a macroscopic domain - or gross anatomy; a microscopic domain- or histology; and a developmental domain - or embryology.
 
That task of standardizing the nomenclature is principally accomplished through the work of the International Committee on Veterinary Gross Anatomical Nomenclature, the International Committee on Veterinary Histological Nomenclature, and the International Committee on Veterinary Embryological Nomenclature, said Freeman, whose term as president runs from 2003-2008.
 
The World Association of Veterinary Anatomists publishes on-line and print versions of the Nomina Anatomica Veterinaria, which is a collection of terms associated with gross anatomy and structure; the Nomina Histologica, which includes terminology related to microscopic anatomy; and the Nomina Embryologica Veterinaria; which focuses on embryology.
 
Freeman, another VMRCVM professor, and a graduate student recently attended the XXVI Congress of the European Association of Veterinary Anatomists in Messina, Italy, where they presented papers and participated in the program.
 
Freeman co-chaired the scientific session of oral papers on neuroanatomy and presented a paper, co-authored with Ms. June Mullins of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, entitled "Angioarchitecture of the root of the bovine penis." Freeman also presided over a meeting of the World Association of Veterinary Anatomists held in conjunction with the European Association meeting.
 
Dr. Tom Caceci, an associate professor in the DBSP, co-chaired a poster session and presented two papers, "Gestational stages of microvasculature of the caprine caruncle"and "Immunolocalization of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the caprine placenta, correlated with mRNA expression."
 
Claudio Gutierrez, a current Ph.D. student of Dr. Steven Holladay, an associate professor, DBSP, presented a paper, entitled "Cardiovascular changes in 17-day-old fetuses of type 1 diabetic mothers using a mouse model." co-authored with Drs.Terry Hrubec, Renee Prater, Bonnie Smith, Larry Freeman, and Steven Holladay.
 


Communications Post Established at EMC

Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center has hired Marjorie Musick as the center's first public relations coordinator. In her new role, Musick will develop and implement strategies for increasing the center's visibility and enhancing its public image.
 
As a member of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's public relations team, Musick will be responsible for leading external and internal public relations efforts for the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center. She will report directly to Nat White, director of the center, and to Jeff Douglas, director of public relations and communications for the VMRCVM.
 
"The addition of a public relations professional at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center will allow us to meet the media relations and customer-outreach demands we are experiencing as a result of the center's continued growth," said Douglas.
 
Musick joins the center with almost ten years' experience in the public and private sectors. Prior to joining the Equine Medical Center, she directed communications for both the Washington Technical Professional Forum and the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters in Potomac Falls, Virginia.
 
Musick graduated from Boston University's College of Communications with a bachelor's degree in journalism and is a past member of the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives' editorial advisory committee.
 


Homeland Security Funds Agri-Terrorism Protection Program

New courses will help prevent agro-terrorism With funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), two VMRCVM faculty members are working to protect the heartland by developing a training course that will help farmers and producers at the local level detect and prevent possible efforts to sabotage the nation's food supply.
 
Drs. Bill Pierson and Francois Elvinger, associate professors in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS), were recently awarded a $110, 421 grant from the University of Tennessee to aid in the development of an agricultural vulnerability assessment training course as part of a larger program funded at Tennessee by DHS.
 
The purpose of this course is to train individuals in the agriculture industry to recognize potential threats of agro-terrorism, equip them with the knowledge of proper mitigation strategies to help lessen the effects of attacks and, hopefully, prevent them from ever occurring.
 
The first part of the course is designed to help individuals in rural communities identify areas where they may be vulnerable to attack. For example, in dairy production, one might examine the system for raw milk delivery. Is milk being delivered from the farm to processing in sealed, locked tankers or are the containers unsecured? If it is the latter, the product can be more easily tampered with, making the company a more attractive target, according to Pierson.
 
When a potential problem area is detected, the next step is to methodically determine a solution. Pierson and Elvinger have specifically developed a module entitled "Identification and implementation of mitigation measures to harden targets." It addresses such topics as mechanisms of disease spread and product adulteration, biosecurity programs, incident response and business recovery plans.
 
Training officials in rural agricultural communities how to assess and correct their own vulnerabilities plays an important role in maintaining the nation's preparedness in the post 9/11 world, according to Pierson. "This course allows rural communities to assess vulnerabilities and address them, thereby lessening the likelihood and impact of an attack," he said. "Most importantly, it equips them to do this for themselves," said Pierson.
 
Once the design of the course is approved by the Department of Homeland Security, pilot sessions will be conducted and evaluated before the program is released for nationwide implementation, according to Pierson. Pierson and Elvinger hope to conduct the pilot sessions this fall with 34 additional course offerings to follow in locations across the country.
 
While Pierson and Elvinger and other course contributors will attend many of the instructional courses, extension agents and veterinarians will also be trained to administer the course. Pierson is also hopeful that a recently submitted grant proposal designed to support web-based delivery of the course will be approved, further expanding the number of agricultural operations and communities that can benefit from the program.
 


Kevin Pelzer Wins Virginia Tech Wine Award

President Steger Presents Dr. Pelzer with Wine Award The honors keep rolling in for the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences' Kevin Pelzer.
 
Dr. Kevin Pelzer, associate professor, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, has been awarded a 2006 W.E. Wine Award for Excellence in Teaching.
 
In July 2006, Pelzer was honored with a national teaching award in the clinical sciences by the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
 
Three Wine Awards for Excellence in Teaching are made possible by a gift from the Virginia Tech Alumni Association that honors William E. Wine, a former rector of the board of visitors and Alumni Association president.
 
Pelzer has been in the Production Management Medicine section of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech for the past 18 years. He currently serves as the section chief of the Production Management Medicine service.
 
Clinically, Pelzer has provided preventive and individual animal health care to food animal producers. His research focuses on the epidemiology of diseases within food animal populations and public health with a specific focus on sheep and goats.
 
He teaches 14 different courses at the veterinary school and has presented more than 100 lectures on the topic of food animal health care issues. Pelzer has been a member of the Virginia Tech community since 1987.
 


VMRCVM Programs Encourage Food Animal Veterinary Careers

April Mafturak Palpates a Cow A major study conducted by the Food Supply Veterinary Medicine Consortium has determined that the nation is facing a shortage of food animal veterinarians and that it will likely get worse over the next decade.
 
The study determined that the supply of food animal practitioners will lag four to five percent behind a demand that is expected to increase by 12-13% through the year 2016.
 
Much of this may be a result of changes in production agriculture and demographic changes in academic veterinary medicine, according to Dr. Grant Turnwald, associate dean for academic affairs.
 
Many veterinary students are more interested in pursuing careers in small animal veterinary medicine in more urban and suburban areas these days, Turnwald said.
 
While traditional ambulatory based large animal veterinary medicine is still practiced in communities across America, the rise of factory farming and the subsequent demise of the family farm have changed the modern practice environment.
 
But the VMRCVM was founded to help foster agriculture and the college offers many programs and incentives to encourage students to seek careers in food animal veterinary medicine.
 
The college's tracking oriented curriculum enables students to concentrate their studies in food animal veterinary medicine, and each year about 10-12% of VMRCVM students elect that track.
 
About $200,000 in scholarship money is earmarked every year to recruit students from under-represented areas, especially food animal veterinary medicine, to pursue academic work and eventually careers in food animal veterinary medicine.
 
The college operates an active Food Animal Practitioners' Club with strong faculty participation, Turnwald said, and that group fosters career interests in food animal medicine.
 
The club is growing and now has almost 100 members, according to FAPC Secretary Michaela Fry, who believes that more students might become interested in careers in food animal veterinary medicine if they were exposed to the career track while in veterinary college.
 
The college has also been discussing the development of a program with the Virginia Food Animal Academy that would provide DVM's to make presentations on careers in food animal veterinary medicine in high schools.
 
Another way the VMRCVM is indirectly addressing this issue is by training graduates in the area of food safety and regulatory affairs to work for government agencies such as the Food & Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture.
 
More VMRCVM graduates work in the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, for example, than graduates from any other veterinary college.
 


CMMID Renovations, Enhancements Update and Expand Capacities

Horses Graze Outside the CMMID Facility About $1 million in improvements designed to increase capacity and enhance animal housing facilities have been made in the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases (CMMID).
 
An existing BioSafety Level 2 facility was upgraded to BL-3 standards, which means that the extended college and university community now has access to two full-scale BL-3 labs, which are necessary to support research associated with highly infectious pathogens.
 
CMMID has become an integral resource for the university research community. About a dozen VMRCVM researchers, as well as faculty in other colleges at Virginia Tech, the Virginia Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, and Wake Forest University are associated with research underway at CMMID. Total funding of that research is about $22,300,000.
 
Funding for the improvements came from a combination of university and college sources.
 
"We're pleased to make these investments in our facilities," said VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig. "This is critical infrastructure for the future development of the college's infectious disease and immunology programs."
 
In addition to doubling the center's BL-3 capacity, an extensive new security system with biometric scanners was installed, environmental monitoring equipment was added, some additional autoclaves were introduced and other physical plant improvements were made.
 


VVMA, MVMA, VMRCVM Converge for Fall Meeting/Alumni Reunion

Alumni Meet at the Pregame Tailgate Fun, fellowship and continuing education abounded during the annual meeting of the VMRCVM's Alumni Society and the Fall meeting of the Virginia and Maryland Veterinary Medical Associations at Virginia Tech.
 
VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig welcomed the group, commended the practitioner mentors and student mentees for another successful year, and welcomed college alumni and representatives from the state's organized veterinary medical community to the celebration weekend.
 
Virginia Veterinary Medical Association President Dr. Rick Hartigan and Maryland Veterinary Medical Association President Dr. Gregory S. Svoboda then congratulated the several hundred gathered for the success of the college's seventh mentor/mentee program. The breakfast included 54 mentors and 134 students.
 
Dr. Al Henry, past-president of the VVMA presided over the "Veterinary Memorial Fund" program in which several faculty members were recognized for their receipt of VMF research grants.
 
Founded in 1984, the Veterinary Memorial Fund is a program jointly operated by the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA) and the VMRCVM that helps bereaved pet-owners deal with their grief and raises money to improve the quality of healthcare available for future generations of companion animals.
 
Proposals were selected for funding on the basis of contemporary clinical importance by a committee comprised of veterinarians in private practice and VMRCVM faculty-members.
 
Faculty recognized during the presentation included Drs. Ed Monroe, David Panciera, David Grant, Jonathan Abbot, Stephanie Berry and Otto Lanz, all of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences.
 
A panel discussion entitled "The DVM is a Global Degree" was held following the mentor program. Moderated by Dr. Stan Eichelberger and with panelists including Dr. Sara Sheafor, Dr. Julia Murphy ('92), Dr. John Wise, and Dr. Tom Massie ('95), the panel took a broad look at the best and the worst of the modern veterinary profession and considered options for change.
 
Following a lunch in the college grove, Dean Schurig made a presentation on the future of the college to open the afternoon sessions. Schurig discussed trends shaping the modern veterinary profession and strategies the college was undertaking to achieve continued success in the future during the event.
 
Dr. John Robertson made a continuing education oriented presentation in the afternoon on brain tumors in dogs and Dr. Michael Leib made a presentation on esophageal obstructions in dogs in the afternoon.
 
Those talks were followed by a presentation on "Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned" by Drs. Al Henry, Sara Salmon, and Douglas Graham.
 
Alumni activities scheduled throughout the remainder of the weekend included an OctoberFest event held at nearby Mountain Lake and a tailgate event held prior to Virginia Tech's Homecoming football game with Georgia Tech.
 


Equine Medical Center Offering Acupuncture Services

Dr. Smith performs acupuncture on a horse Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center has begun offering acupuncture to its patients.
 
The new service, which became available in September 2006, is being provided by Dr. Alison A. Smith, a clinical assistant professor in anesthesia at the Center. Smith, who is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists, completed the Basic Course in Veterinary Acupuncture through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) in March 2006.
 
"I had always had some interest in acupuncture in that it was used to effectively treat one of my own horses," said Smith. "The fact that we can offer acupuncture in conjunction with surgery and other traditional treatments is a real advantage."
 
Acupuncture, an ancient technique that originated from traditional Chinese medicine, is the practice of putting needles in specific points on the body in order to treat disease or relieve pain.
 
"In the grand scheme of things, it is a philosophy of balance and restoring the body to harmony," said Smith. "You can stimulate those points to return the balance of energy in the body."
 
Services to be made available at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center include dry needling, in which small steel needles are used; aquapuncture, which involves injecting fluid into the point; and electroacupuncture, which consists of electrical stimulation being delivered through a dry needle attached to an electroacupuncture machine.
 
According to Dr. Ed Boldt, Jr., executive director of IVAS, acupuncture can have therapeutic value in treating a wide variety of equine diseases and can also be beneficial to horses who do not respond to traditional treatment.
 
"Acupuncture benefits equine patients by helping those horses that we just don't have conventional medical treatments for or that would have negative side effects from conventional medical treatments," said Boldt.
 
According to Smith, acupuncture is most effective in treating conditions in horses that are functional in nature rather than structural. Examples include lameness due to sore muscles, ocular problems, kidney disfunction and liver disfunction.
 
"This alternative therapy can also help patients to be much more comfortable and may reduce the duration of their treatment," notes Smith. "Acupuncture will help many of them to get out of the hospital sooner, thereby reducing the chance of infection and making them happier."
 
Pain management is another area in which acupuncture may be beneficial. "I believe that acupuncture has benefits in many aspects of veterinary medicine but the most common use, and probably the best use, has been for pain management," said Dr. Curry Keoughan, a clinical assistant professor in equine lameness & surgery at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center. "It has often been used for back pain with reports of success where other modalities have not had the desired effect."
 
In most cases, acupuncture will be used in conjunction with traditional medicine. "The acupuncture will be done holistically along with other treatments," said Smith. "In some cases, it may be the only thing that we do, for example, with lameness; but it won't be an either or situation between Eastern and Western medicine."
 
Smith notes that the number and frequency of sessions required will vary depending on the horse's condition and response to treatment. "It's not a one-size-fits-all answer," said Smith. "It is a bit more gradual."
 
Although the number of veterinarians offering acupuncture is growing, it is still relatively rare. According to Boldt, approximately 800 veterinarians from around the globe are currently certified in veterinary acupuncture through IVAS with only an estimated 200 certified members exclusively performing equine acupuncture.
 
Acupuncture is also gaining recognition among traditional veterinary organizations. According to Dr. Kimberly May, medical science writer at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the association considers acupuncture to be a valid modality that is governed by the AVMA Guidelines for Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine.
 
"We recognize that those treatments are growing in popularity and that there is increased interest in these practices," said May. "We would like to see more scientific evidence used and we'd like to see these practices held to the same standards as traditional medicine, but by accepting that they exist, the AVMA is saying that there is a place for these treatments in veterinary medicine."
 
As far as how acupuncture will affect the future of veterinary medicine, Boldt believes that client demand for this and other alternative therapies will increase. "We're already seeing it help in multiple areas and we're seeing some of the uses expanding as more research is conducted," said Boldt.
 
May also sees an opportunity for the practice to increase in popularity over time. "There are clients who are opposed to traditional therapies," said May. "This can provide an alternative to traditional therapy as well as a complement to it."
 
Equine acupuncture services have been offered through the Blackburg-based Veterinary Teaching Hospital for several years under the leadership of Dr. Mark Crisman, a professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.
 


Vet Med Students to Present Community Dogwash

Students Participate in the Community Dogwash Veterinary students enrolled in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine will present a community "Dogwash" on Saturday, October 14 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.
 

Tonya Sparks - President-elect of the National VBMA
VMRCVM Student to Lead National Veterinary Business Organization

A DVM student from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine has been elected president-elect of the Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA), a national organization of veterinary students focused on the business side of the profession.
 
Tonya Sparks, a member of the class of 2009 and existing president of the VMRCVM's 120-member chapter, will assume leadership of the national association next year. That organization includes 1700 members and operates chapters at 22 of the 28 colleges of veterinary medicine in the country.
 
The VBMA is a student driven organization dedicated to advancing the profession through increased business knowledge, creating networking opportunities and empowering students to achieve their personal and professional goals, according to Dr. Robert Martin, faculty advisor to the college's chapter.
 
The VBMA is the fastest growing organization of veterinary students in the United States, said Martin, a professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and hospital director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
 


New Digital Radiology System on Line in VTH

Dr. Carrig and the New Digital Radiology Equipment The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Teaching Hospital has completed the installation of a $750,000 digital radiology system that will enable clinicians to view radiographs more rapidly, provide greater utility in their evaluation, and reduce anesthesia needs and risks for the patient.
 
"Technical errors that required repeat exposures are no longer a problem, as the digital system can correct these," according to Dr. Martha Moon-Larson, section chief of radiology. This reduces the amount of radiation a patient and the clinicians are exposed to benefiting both animal and human.
 
Whereas conventional radiographs require development through a chemical-based automated photographic development process, the digital radiology system can produce high-definition, extremely refined images in as little as three seconds using advanced computer technology.
 
These images can then be transmitted over the college's wireless network to one of 13 mobile monitoring stations that can be easily moved to examination rooms, operating rooms, seminar rooms, and wherever they are required in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. In addition, thanks to a picture archiving communication system (PACS), digital images can be stored and later retrieved for future patient visits and treatment.
 
The digital radiography system also produces images more inexpensively than conventional radiographs, according to Hospital Administrator Dr. Rick Hiller. Clinical faculty members can now order the production of as many images as they wish without worrying about production time and cost, and they can digitally manipulate the images to enhance evaluation.
 
Images can also be transmitted to remote sites outside of the college for evaluation, stored more easily, and retrieved more quickly.
 


College Park Campus Research Program Soars

Dr. Daniel Perez The VMRCVM's College Park campus has strong traditions in infectious disease research productivity and the program continues to barrel along.
 
Almost $11 million in new research funding was awarded to Avrum Gudelsky Center researchers during the second quarter of 2006, according to VMRCVM Associate Dean Dr. Siba Samal.
 
Dr. Daniel Perez, who is leading one of the nation's leading research programs in avian influenza, received about $4.4 million in additional funding. That included a $1.8 million NIH grant for "Live attenuated vaccines for epidemic and pandemic flu," and a $400,000 NIH grant entitled "Avian influenza vaccines for pandemic preparedness."
 
Perez also received a $1.5 million supplement to the major USDA avian influenza consortia project he is leading, $300,000 in funding from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to study "Mechanisms of Influenza A virus transmission in ferrets" and a $375,000 USDA grant to study "Modified live vaccines against HPAI."
 
Dr. Samal was awarded a $4.1 million NIH grant to study "Development of Avian Paramyxovirus vaccine vectors" and Dr. X. Zhu was awarded almost $2 million in NIH funding to study "Immunogenicity of subunit vaccine delivered by FcRn" and "Transcytosis of IgG in genital infections."
 
Also, construction and renovation of a Biosafety Level-3 facility is finished, the USDA has completed an inspection and officials are awaiting final approval and sanction, according to Dr. Samal, which will enhance their capacity to work with highly pathogenic poultry viruses.
 
An avian influenza diagnostic kit developed by several faculty members is being marketed by Symbiotics Corporation and has been licensed in several countries, according to Dr. Samal, and negotiations continue with Mexico-based pharmaceutical company AVIMEX on the development and marketing of a combined recombinant vaccine for Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease Virus using NDV as the vaccine vector.
 


By Dr. David Grant, DACVIM
Assistant Professor
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences

Those Doggon' Stones

Urolithiasis Images Urolithiasis is a common problem affecting an estimated 0.5-1% of the canine population. There is an ongoing increase in the proportion of stones consisting of calcium oxalate. In a report by Lulich et al analysis of 77,000 stones revealed only 5% were calcium oxalate (CaOx) in 1981 versus 35% in 1997. Rarely is a cause for their formation found, but there are definite breed predispositions with 58% of CaOx occurring in the miniature schnauzer, lhasa apso, shih tzu, Yorkshire terrier, bichon frise, and miniature poodle. These stones cannot be dissolved and have a high recurrence rate, around 48%.
 
Treatment for stones that cannot be dissolved or otherwise must be removed has traditionally been open surgery. There are alternatives to surgery for some dogs! This may be particularly suited for recurrent stone formers to avoid repeated surgeries.
 
The first of these is voiding urohydropulsion. It is an under-utilized technique that can remove many small bladder stones. Voiding urohydropulsion is performed under general anesthesia. A catheter is used to maximally distend the bladder with sterile saline and then removed. The urethra is pinched to prevent urine leakage, and the patient held vertically or strapped to a levering table. The bladder is then agitated, shaking the stones into the bladder neck and proximal urethra. Simultaneously, as the pinched fingers are released from the urethra the bladder is forcefully expressed until empty. This added pressure maximally distends the urethra and forces the stones out. It is repeated until all stones are removed. Complications can include hematuria, stranguria, and lodging of stones in the urethra. Retrograde hydropulsion can be used to retropulse them into the bladder. The largest stones I have removed relative to body size are a 5 mm stone from a 10 kg male neutered dog and numerous 4 mm stones from an 8 kg female spayed dog. This also an effective way to get a stone sample for quantitative analysis. Try it sometime!
 
Holmium:YAG laser lithotripsy is a new procedure with fewer than 10 veterinary facilities having experience with it. It has been used for removal of bladder and obstructive urethral stones. The patient undergoes general anesthesia and cystoscopy is performed. A laser fiber is passed through the endoscope, placed in contact with the stone, and Holmium:YAG laser energy is then applied causing fragmentation. The procedure is repeated until all stone fragments are small enough to be extracted via endoscopic baskets or voiding urohydropulsion. Learn more and view a video of the procedure.
 
We perform laser lithotripsy at the VMRCVM and have successfully removed all urethral and bladder stones from 10 of 12 dogs, with weights ranging from 6 to 42 kg. Successful removal of all stones may be limited by dog size. Contacts at other universities have had similar success. Currently, I am conducting a clinical trial to evaluate its efficacy and safety. Additionally, we have successfully performed laser lithotripsy in both a male and female horse. Next time you see a dog or a horse with lower urinary tract stones think about laser lithotripsy as an alternative to surgery!
 


Former VMRCVM Citizen's Committee, VVMA President Noffsinger Passes Away

Dr. Glenn Noffsinger The college community mourns the passing of Dr. Glenn Noffsinger, a prominent Virginia veterinarian and philanthropist. Noffsinger, 81, died September 1 at Georgetown University Hospital.
 
Dr. Noffsinger earned a B.S. degree in Dairy Science with honors from Virginia Tech in 1950 before earning a DVM in 1957 from the University of Georgia and serving in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps.
 
Dr. Noffsinger became involved with the VMRCVM in the early 1970's. While serving as president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association in 1975-76, he was a strong supporter of the college. Dr. Noffsinger also served on the executive board of the "Citizens' Committee for the Veterinary College," the historic grassroots-based lobbying organization that is credited with founding and developing the college in its early years.
 
He was a member of the President's Club of Virginia Tech's Ut Prosim Society, he served on the college's Campaign Steering Committee during the "Making a World of Difference" capital campaign in the 1990's, and he was also a member of the campaign steering committee for the capital campaign scheduled to kick off in 2007.
 
He practiced for 45 years and owned hospitals in Springfield, Alexandria and Woodbridge before retiring to raise Thoroughbred horses and Angus cattle at his farm in Middleburg.
 
According to one newspaper report that chronicled his passing, Dr. Noffsinger's desire to help the dispossessed was so strong that he once paid the tuition for a young woman to attend medical school in Niger, Africa so she could return to her village and care for the sick.
 
"He was a great friend of veterinary medicine and a great friend of this college," recalled Dr. Frank Pearsall, the college's director of development. "He was hard-working, extremely humble, very compassionate, and he will be missed by many."
 


Hugo Veit 1938-2006

Dr. Hugo Veit Dr. Hugo Veit, a former faculty member in the college's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, passed away on September 17 following a lengthy battle with cancer.
 
Veit, who joined the college in 1977, was one of the first faculty members hired. He earned his undergraduate degree and his DVM degree from Cornell University, and he earned a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, where he also conducted a residency in veterinary pathology.
 
"Hugo was a part of us from the beginning and he made many important contributions to the college over his career," said Dean Gerhardt Schurig.
 
With major research interests in the pathophysiology and immunology of the mammalian respiratory system, environmental and nutritional factors related to livestock diseases and other areas, Dr. Veit taught pathology and necropsy technique in the college's DVM programs. He also taught pathology in the graduate degree programs.
 
During the early years of the college's history, Dr. Veit collaborated extensively with colleagues in Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. In recent years, Dr. Veit collaborated with Dr. Michael Furey, a professor in Virginia Tech's College of Engineering who has conducted extensive research on joint wear and friction.
 
Dr. Veit was a member of numerous professional organizations and honor societies, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, the the Comparative Respiratory Society, Alpha Zeta, Omega Tau Sigma, Phi Zeta, and Sigma Xi.
 
Diagnosed with myeloma in the 1990's, Dr. Veit squared himself against the challenge and lived his life with vitality and a penchant for conversation and social interaction that spoke of his enduring love for people and animals.
 
Dr. Veit retired from Virginia Tech on March 15, 2004 and was granted "Associate Professor Emeritus" status by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
 
Shortly after earning his DVM degree, Dr. Veit spent a year working as a veterinarian in Haiti, which began a life-long interest in the impoverished island nation and the relief work being accomplished there by groups such as Heifer International.
 
Dr. Veit worked with Heifer on a number of occasions and enthusiastically spoke with students about international service opportunities available through the Little Rock, Arkansas based organization that seeks to mitigate global poverty through the development of sustainable agriculture programs. In 1984, he became the advisor for a student internship program with Haiti, a post he held throughout his association with the college.
 
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