October 2009


A New Opportunity

Dr. Gerhardt G. Schurig Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As I write this, I find it hard to believe October has already come and gone. It has been quite a busy and exciting month for us at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine! We have had a month full of activities and were so pleased to have many of you join us for these events.

Despite the dreary weather, I enjoyed my time with many of our Northern Virginia colleagues and friends at the Morven Park Steeplechase Races and then again at the 25th Anniversary of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center.

The support we receive from the Virginia and Maryland Veterinary Medical Association continues to impress me. We were happy to have so many from these organizations—many of them our own alumni—join us for our mentor/mentee breakfast and fall awards ceremony.

We were also honored to welcome close to 300 guests to our campus as we dedicated the Virginia Law Enforcement K-9 Memorial on October 16. That same weekend, our Veterinary Teaching Hospital also hosted its first Large Animal Practitioners Forum. Close to 30 of our referring veterinarians joined us for seminars related to the profession and to learn more about our hospital. I also traveled to our University of Maryland campus with Dr. Mark Crisman for the first of a series of continuing education seminars for Maryland and D.C. area practitioners.

As I have talked with many of you during these events, a prevailing topic of conversation has been the Memorandum of Agreement our college recently signed with the American University of Antigua, which opens the possibility of our college accepting transfer students from their newly formed School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

While our college is very excited about this opportunity, it has become clear there is confusion on what exactly this partnership means. Therefore, I share the following information in an attempt to answer any questions and to clarify any misunderstandings:

I hope this information clarifies our relationship with AUA. However, please do not hesitate to contact Christy Jackson, our college’s interim director of public relations and communications, at cljacks@vt.edu or (540) 231-7239 if you have any further questions.

As always, thank you for your ongoing support of our college and its programs.

With kind regards,

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


In This Issue

 

 

Featured Stories


College dedicates Virginia Law Enforcement K-9 Memorial

Virginia Law Enforcement K-9 Memorial

The Virginia Law Enforcement K-9 Memorial was dedicated on October 16, 2009 on the campus of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Participating in the dedication ceremony were (left to right): Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the veterinary college; Bill Mims, attorney general of the Commonwealth of Virginia; John Hoover, chairman of the Virginia Law Enforcement K-9 Memorial committee; Larry Bechtel, sculptor; and Dr. Charles W. Steger, president of Virginia Tech.

On October 16, 2009, braving chilly weather and an overcast sky, a crowd of nearly 300, including current and former law enforcement officers, gathered outside of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine to dedicate the Virginia Law Enforcement K-9 Memorial.

Virginia’s hundreds of law enforcement dogs work to locate drugs, alert to explosives, and help apprehend criminals. They stand ready to put their lives on the line to protect those of their handlers and the citizens of the commonwealth. Over the past 47 years, twelve dogs have died in the line of duty.

“The most common image of a dog is as a companion animal and beloved member of the family,” says Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the veterinary college. “While this is certainly true, we must also remember the many contributions they make to society as working and service animals. Veterinary medicine plays an important part in this process by ensuring the health of these animals. We are honored to partner with Virginia’s law enforcement community on this memorial.”

After the presentation of colors by the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and welcoming remarks from Schurig, John Hoover, a deputy with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department K-9 unit who spearheaded the efforts to create the memorial, recalled the five-year journey from the memorial’s inception to its installation. Blacksburg artist Larry Bechtel, the sculptor of the memorial named "Ready to Serve," then amused the crowd with stories of his research, including the less-than-pleased reaction of Virginia Tech police dog “Boris” to having his measurements taken as the sculpture’s model.

Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger then expressed how pleased the university is to house this memorial and offered gratitude to Virginia Tech’s own K-9 team and the expanded law enforcement community for their support of the university.

Virginia Attorney General Bill Mims offered the ceremony’s keynote address, stressing the important role these animals and their handlers play in the safety of the citizens of the commonwealth. He also expressed his hope "Ready to Serve" would inspire other states to create similar memorials.

The ceremony concluded with the name of each K-9 killed in the line duty read aloud by Mims as a flower was placed at the foot of the statue, followed by the song "Amazing Grace" performed by members of the Virginia Highlands Pipes and Drums Band.

Located adjacent to the main entrance of the college’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, the memorial consists of a life-size bronze German Shepherd law enforcement dog installed upon a granite base that denotes the names of the dogs that have lost their lives in the line of duty.

View a photo gallery of the dedication ceremony.

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The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center celebrates its 25th anniversary

EMC 25th Anniversary

Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger addresses guests during the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center’s 25th anniversary celebration. With him on the platform party are (left to right): Shelley Duke, a member of Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors and chairperson of the EMC Council; Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the veterinary college; Dr. Nat White, Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and director of the EMC; and Dr. Jennifer Barrett, assistant professor of surgery at the EMC.

On the actual date of its 25th anniversary – October 14, 2009 – the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center hosted a special event, featuring a number of honored speakers, facility tours, a treadmill demonstration, and a festive reception.

The silver anniversary of the EMC was used to not only look back on the many important accomplishments of its faculty and staff, but also to outline how the center is working to improve the quality of equine medical care for the future while advancing equine health care through research and teaching.

Addressing the guests were Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger; Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine; Dr. Nat White, Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and director of the EMC; Dr. Jennifer Barrett, assistant professor of surgery at the center, who also runs the molecular research laboratory on the center’s campus; and Shelley Duke, a member of Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors and chairperson of the EMC Council.

Special guests included State Senator Mark Herring, Delegate Joe May, other members of Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors, EMC Council members, and Dr. Jack Howard, a Leesburg veterinarian who supported the center from its earliest days.

The absence of two very important individuals was also noted. Jean Ellen duPont Shehan, Marion duPont Scott’s niece and a tireless supporter of the EMC, was unable to attend the event, and Dr. Fred Fregin, the EMC’s founding director, was also missed. The dedication and commitment of each was gratefully acknowledged.

The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center was created in 1984 through a gift from the late Marion duPont Scott, the donation of 200 acres of land at Morven Park from the Westmoreland Davis Memorial Foundation, and contributions from the private sector for equipment purchases. Located in the heart of Virginia thoroughbred country, it has since become a premier full-service equine hospital that offers advanced specialty care, 24-hour emergency treatment and diagnostic services for all ages and breeds of horses, seeing over 2,500 patients annually.

Please visit the photo gallery of the night’s celebration.

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The Power of Giving: The Maria Garst Memorial Fund for Cancer Research

Dr. Elankumaran Subbiah, Dr. John Rossmeisl

Dr. Elankumaran Subbiah (left), an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, and Dr. John Rossmeisl (right), an associate professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, will use the newly established Maria Garst Memorial Fund for Cancer Research to continue their study of gliomas, a deadly form of brain tumor.

For the past several years, Dr. Elankumaran Subbiah, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, and a team of researchers at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine have been conducting innovative research that seeks to develop a treatment for cancer from a common avian virus. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program of the Department of Defense, recognizing the potential of this research, have provided major funding for Subbiah’s work, which focuses on creating a cancer therapy from genetically altered Newcastle disease virus (NDV). Now, this innovative work will continue thanks to a pledge from Robert Garst, in memory of his wife, Maria, who lost her battle with cancer in June.

This gift will allow the researchers to build upon existing work that focused on the use of altered NDV to treat various types of cancer through reverse genetics, which creates a virus tailored to the specific cancer cells. Normal, healthy cells have an antiviral system that activates upon infection with NDV, thereby preventing the virus from replicating. Cancer cells, however, have defective antiviral systems, and NDV utilizes these defects to replicate specifically within the diseased cells. The replication of NDV generates apoptosis - also known as programmed cell death or cell suicide- in the diseased cell.

This type of therapy, called oncolytic virus therapy, has gained much attention recently as a result of the progress in understanding virus-host interactions and because currently available radiation and chemotherapy treatments are not entirely satisfactory for several reasons, including the possibility of an individual’s development of resistance to drugs, the destruction of surrounding healthy tissue and, immune system suppression, nausea, and extreme discomfort.

The Maria Garst Memorial Fund for Cancer Research will enable Dr. John Rossmeisl, an associate professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, to take Subbiah’s work on brain tumors called gliomas, from the research laboratory into the clinical setting. A veterinary neurologist, Rossmeisl has been working with Wake Forest University Medical Center researchers to develop better therapeutic approaches for managing these very serious brain tumors. Rossmeisl will work closely with Subbiah and a cluster of scientists and physicians at Wake Forest University, and with veterinary pathologist Dr. John Robertson, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology and director of the VMRCVM’s Center for Comparative Oncology, on the project. The veterinary college is a participating institution on this major translational research initiative.

Through the power of the Maria Garst Memorial Fund for Cancer Research, the veterinary college will potentially save the lives of beloved pets, and have far-reaching implications for the treatment of cancer in humans as well.

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News in Brief


In memoriam: John E. Strauss

John E. Strauss

The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine mourns the passing of John Strauss, who died Tuesday, October 27, 2009, at the age of 67.

The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine mourns the passing of John Strauss, who died Tuesday, October 27, 2009, at the age of 67.

Strauss was employed by the college for many years, most recently as supervisor of the Clinical Research Laboratory before his retirement in 2004.

Strauss was a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology. He served for 32 years as a medical corpsman in the United States Navy, earning a Purple Heart during the Vietnam conflict.

He is survived by his wife, Betty Ann Snidow Strauss; one son, John Chapman Strauss and wife, Michele, and grandchildren, Melissa Catherine, John Chapman Edison and Christopher Adam; one daughter, Nancy Ann Strauss Metcalf and her husband, Jesse, and grandchildren, Jesse and Crystal; one special niece, Colleen Eyles; and several nieces and nephews; special friends, Susan Bibb, Diane Bibb Johnson, Dr. Tom Caceci, George Anderson and wife, Louise Baker, and many friends.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society and the Riner Rescue Department.

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Importance of understanding large animal veterinarian shortage discussed during agribusiness meeting

During a recent town hall meeting of the Virginia Agribusiness Council, Delegate Jim Shuler, of Virginia’s 12th District, mentioned the importance of large animal veterinarians to the commonwealth’s economy and the significance of understanding this problem.

The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine was recently directed by the Virginia General Assembly to complete a study that examines the perceived shortage of food animal veterinarians in the commonwealth, looking specifically at the potential causes and potential solutions. The study is being led by Dr. Terry Swecker, associate department head and professor of production management medicine and nutrition in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, and is ongoing.

“We are very appreciative of the support of Delegate Shuler and other Virginia lawmakers as we analyze and address this shortage,” said Dr. David Hodgson, head of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, who attended the meeting. “Ensuring the health of livestock is, indeed, incredibly important to Virginia’s economy and public health, and our college is dedicated to this cause.”

The Virginia Agribusiness Council has held several regional Town Hall meetings across the state. The sixth of these meetings, sponsored by First Bank & Trust Company, was held at Virginia Tech. In addition to Shuler, Delegate David Nutter, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Todd Haymore, and Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Joe Maroon were also present for the discussion.

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Alumni tailgate at UMD vs. VT game

UMD vs. VT pre-game tailgate

A pre-game tailgate will be held on November 14 at the Riggs Alumni Center in College Park, Md. as Virginia Tech faces off against the University of Maryland.

A pre-game tailgate will be held on November 14 (two and a half hours prior to kickoff) at the Riggs Alumni Center in College Park as Virginia Tech faces off against Maryland. Over 100 alumni and friends have registered for the event sponsored by Merial. Football tickets have sold out; however, registrations for the tailgate are still being accepted. For more information, please email Lynn Young at youngl@vt.edu.

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Parrish honored by the World Equine Veterinary Association

Heather Parrish

Heather Parrish (left), administrative assistant in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, receives a commemorative plaque from Dr. Gary Norwood, then-president of the World Equine Veterinary Association. Parrish was recently honored by the association for her efforts in organizing their conference in Brazil.

Heather Parrish, administrative assistant in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS), was recently honored by the World Equine Veterinary Association (WEVA) for her outstanding contributions in the organization of their 11th conference in Brazil. Dr. David Hodgson, head of the DLACS, was program chair of the association for the meeting.

"Much of the success of this conference—our biggest yet—can be directly related to Heather’s hard work and persistence," said Hodgson. "She assisted in the invitation and coordination of the speaking arrangements for the 50 invited speakers, most of whom had extensive international reputations and who had to travel long distances to the congress in Brazil. It would have been much more difficult for me had Heather not provided her great support and skill to this process."

To show their appreciation, WEVA provided for Heather’s attendance at the conference and presented her with a commemorative plaque.

WEVA was founded in 1985 as a branch of the World Veterinary Organization. The mission of WEVA is to promote equine welfare by providing information and training related to modern equine veterinary medicine in emerging and less-developed areas of the world.

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Kaur to be featured on the Research Channel

Chimps

A program entitled "Chimps," featuring the work of Dr. Taranjit Kaur, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, will debut on the Research Channel Wednesday, November 4, 2009.

A program entitled "Chimps," featuring the work of Dr. Taranjit Kaur, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, will debut on the Research Channel Wednesday, November 4, 2009.

The program, part of the "Discovery @ Virginia Tech" series, focuses on research done on respiratory illnesses of chimpanzees by Kaur. The interview program includes footage of her working with chimps during a year in which she lived in a solar-powered laboratory in the mountains of Tanzania.

The program will air on the Research Channel November 4, at 1 a.m., 7 a.m., 1 p.m., and 7 p.m. EDT.

The Research Channel is available on Channel 9400 of the Dish Network. It is also available on Virginia Tech Cable Channel 47.

Additionally, you can view the program online at http://www.researchchannel.org/prog/displayevent.aspx?rID=30278&fID=345

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College to host 21st Annual Research Symposium

21st Annual Research Symposium

The VMRCVM's 21st Annual Research Symposium will take place on Friday, November 20, 2009 on the Virginia Tech campus. The annual event showcases the college’s student and faculty research.

The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine will host its 21st Annual Research Symposium on Friday, November 20, 2009 on the Virginia Tech campus. The event showcases VMRCVM student and faculty research. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology and the recipient of the 2009 Pfizer Award for Research Excellence. His presentation, "Nanomedicine: Drug Delivery Against Intra-Cellular Pathogens," will be at 11 a.m.

During the research symposium, graduate students who are engaged in their last year of study will present their research in fifteen-minute time slots. All other students will participate in poster sessions. Prizes will be awarded for the best presentations and the best poster sessions in both Basic and Clinical Science categories.

All attendees must register for lunch online by Friday, November 13 at 5 p.m.

For more information, please visit http://www.vetmed.vt.edu/research/symposium.asp.

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Important notice to all alumni using vt.edu 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. PID@vt.edu).

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 PID@vt.edu mailbox to the PID@vt.edu 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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Did you know that you can give to the veterinary college using your life insurance?

The Campaign for Virginia Tech

There are various ways to support the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine with an outright gift of life insurance.

There are various ways to support the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine with an outright gift of life insurance:

There are other ways to make a gift of life insurance that do not involve transferring ownership of the policy:

If you would like to give using an insurance policy or have any questions regarding this method of giving, call the Office of Development at 540-231-4716.

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