Vital Signs
September 2007

Investing in the Future of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Gerhardt G. Schurig Dear Friends and Colleagues,

One of our college’s great strengths is its strong heritage of grassroots support. In the 1970’s and early 1980’s, people from throughout the region worked hard to convince lawmakers in Richmond and Annapolis to establish the college. Many supporters also invested in the “Campaign for the Veterinary College,” an $8 million campaign that was Virginia Tech’s first organized capital campaign.  

Today, our college is working more closely than ever with private practitioners and others who care about the future of veterinary medicine. Veterinary medicine faces major challenges, as you know, in both public and animal health areas, and there is much we all must do to strengthen our profession.  

Here in the college, we are in the process of building our translational medicine programs. Our overall goal with this is to increase the relevance and the speed with which we develop and market new products, services and protocols from our college laboratories.  

In order to do this, we must address some pressing space shortages, which are hampering our ability to enhance our programs, teach our students, and house our faculty. We are presently working to solve this problem through a three-phased expansion program, which we will finance from a combination of public and private resources.  

We are facing about $90 million in construction costs in our “immediate” future. We know that state government will not be capable of providing all of the funding that we need and that private support will be essential.  

How can you help? Many of you know clients who have both the philanthropic capacity and the desire to make a difference. Help us reach out to them so that we can speak with them about investing in the future of our noble profession.  

Private sector investment in college programs is a tradition that dates back to our origins. And clearly, it is a tradition that our future depends upon.  

Gerhardt G. Schurig

Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine’s Class of 2011 Admitted in Ceremonies

Class of 2011 The college’s Class of 2011 was formally “admitted” following a “White Coat Ceremony” in which the 91 new students were issued white laboratory coats and administered the “Veterinary Student’s Oath.”
Attended by almost 300 family, friends, and others, the matriculation ceremony followed a week-long orientation program filled with events as varied as leadership and communications training on “ropes” courses in Shawsville’s Camp Altamont to behavioral and personality inventories.
During the ceremony, VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig spoke with the students about the human-quality healthcare people demand for their animals and the profession’s responsibilities in fostering human health.
“Our historic role in public health, though often misunderstood, has become more important than ever,” said Schurig. “Infectious diseases, bioterrorism, food safety, these are all critical areas for veterinary medicine. Much of what is happening in public health today is at the intersection of veterinary medicine and human medicine.”
Dr. Lauren Keating, president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA), and Dr. Jack O’Mara, president of the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), participated in the ceremony.
Dr. Ed Jendrek, the MVMA’s Delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association, presented each of the students with a Littmann stethoscope as a gift from the MVMA, the VVMA and Professional Veterinary Products, Ltd. MVMA Executive Director Ron Sohn also attended the ceremonies.
The ceremony had several highlights, including the introduction of Dr. Larry Giebel, a prominent veterinarian from Gaithersburg, Maryland, whose three daughters have each attended the VMRCVM. Lauren is a member of the incoming class, Erin earned her DVM in 2004, and Meghan earned her degree in 2005.
The Class of 2011 also boasts another first: for the first time the child of a VMRCVM alumnus has been admitted to the college. Keelan Anderson is the daughter of Dr. Arn Anderson, a member of the Class of 1991.
Dean Schurig, Rennie Waldron, Dr. Don Waldron For only the second time in college history, the child of a VMRCVM faculty member was admitted to the DVM program. Rennie Waldron is the daughter of Dr. Don Waldron, a professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (DSACS).
Drs. Waldron and Geibel, as well as Dr. Max Poffenbarger, a veterinarian who is father of Class of 2011 member Hope Poffenbarger, each assisted in the ceremonial presentation of the white laboratory coat to their child.
Admission to one of the nation’s 28 colleges of veterinary medicine is very competitive. Over 914 individuals from 46 undergraduate institutions applied for admission to the VMRCVM’s Class of 2011 and 200 personal interviews were conducted to select the 91 new students.
Incoming students represented 46 different undergraduate institutions, with 35 students hailing from undergraduate programs at the VMRCVM’s parent institutions, Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland at College Park. Those students majored in 22 different academic disciplines, with 62 of them studying either biology or animal science prior to admission. The Class of 2011 also includes an attorney.
The incoming class also included 23 men, which represents a slight increase in male enrollment over recent years. There are more women in practice today than men, and almost 80 percent of the estimated 10,000 students studying veterinary medicine in America’s 28 colleges of veterinary medicine are female, according to the Association of American Colleges of Veterinary Medicine (AAVMC).

The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine’s Schurig Elected Treasurer of National Veterinary Organization

Dean Gerhardt Schurig Dean Gerhardt Schurig has been elected treasurer of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), a Washington, D.C. based organization that represents academic veterinary medicine in North America.
As treasurer, Schurig will serve on the AAVMC Board of Directors and preside over the financial affairs of the organization.
“I’m honored to be elected and I’m looking forward to serving,” said Schurig. “The AAVMC is providing strong leadership for the profession during a very critical time in the history of veterinary medicine.”
The AAVMC seeks to improve the quality of life for people and animals by advancing veterinary medical education, improving animal health and welfare, strengthening biomedical research, promoting food safety and food security, and enhancing environmental quality.
The organization coordinates the affairs of all 28 United States veterinary medical colleges, four Canadian colleges of veterinary medicine, the United States departments of veterinary science and comparative medicine, animal medical centers, and three international veterinary schools. The association represents more than 4,000 faculty, 5,000 staff, 10,000 veterinary students, and 3,000 graduate students at these institutions.
The AAVMC has been actively working with the American Veterinary Medical Association to develop federal government support for the Veterinary Public Health Workforce Expansion Act of 2007, legislation that would provide $1.5 billion over ten years to build programs and infrastructure at United States colleges of veterinary medicine.
Schurig was appointed dean of the VMRCVM in June 2004. Prior to his present position, Schurig served as associate dean for research and graduate studies, as director of Virginia Tech’s new Institute for Biomedical and Public Health Sciences (IBPHS), and as a senior researcher and former director of the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases (CMMID).
Schurig, a professor and veterinary immunologist in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP) who joined the faculty in 1978, is internationally renowned for his work in developing vaccines against bovine brucellosis, a zoonotic disease that causes reproductive problems in cattle and undulant fever in humans.
Schurig earned his DVM degree in 1970 from the University of Chile. After earning M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in immunology from Cornell University, Schurig spent two years working in the Department of Veterinary Science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Pierson Appointed Interim Director of Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Dr. Bill Pierson Dr. F. William “Bill” Pierson has been appointed interim director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) at Virginia Tech. Dr. Pierson fills the vacancy left by Dr. Robert Martin who has returned to full-time faculty status after fourteen years in the position.
“Dr. Pierson has distinguished himself as a capable and effective professional who has worked closely with the poultry industry, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and other organizations,” said VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig. “He has provided important leadership in establishing and managing our college's biosecurity programs and I am confident in his ability to step into this key leadership position.”
In his new position, Dr. Pierson will be responsible for developing and implementing VTH policy and procedure, insuring state-of-the-art care for patients, and providing a dynamic and continually improving clinical environment that promotes scholarly and educational activities.
Prior to his appointment as interim director, Pierson served the college as an associate professor of biosecurity and infection control and a clinical specialist in avian medicine in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. He received his DVM as a member of the VMRCVM’s charter class in 1984 and his Ph.D. in avian medicine from Virginia Tech in 1993. He is board certified as a diplomate by the American College of Poultry Veterinarians and is a member of the American Association of Avian Pathologists, the Association of Avian Veterinarians, the Poultry Science Association, the North Eastern Conference on Avian Diseases, and Phi Zeta.

Daniel Joins the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Greg Daniel Dr. Greg Daniel, a noted veterinary radiologist, has joined the college as the head of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (DSACS). He most recently served as professor and director of radiological services at the University of Tennessee's College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville.
"We're very pleased to recruit an academic leader of Dr. Daniel's caliber to this important leadership position in our college," said Dean Gerhardt Schurig. "In addition to the vision and leadership capacity he will bring to the department, the college and the university, he will also bring additional depth to our already impressive clinical programs in diagnostic imaging."
Daniel earned an undergraduate degree in animal sciences from the University of Kentucky, the DVM degree from Auburn University, and a M.S. degree in veterinary medical science from the University of Illinois. He is a diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Radiology.
Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Tennessee, Daniel conducted an internship in small animal medicine and surgery and a residency in nuclear medicine and radiology at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. He has also served as a visiting professor of radiology at the University of Prince Edward Island's Atlantic Veterinary College.
Daniel is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including the Pfizer Award for Research Excellence, the University of Tennessee Chancellor's Award for Research Excellence, the Dean's Special Citation Award, among others.

Wilcke Elected to Global Medical Informatics Organization

Dr. Jeff Wilcke Dr. Jeff Wilcke, the MetCalf Professor of Veterinary Informatics in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP), has been elected to represent the United States on the Content Committee of the Copenhagen, Denmark based International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization (IHTSDO).
The 12 nations participating in the consortium seek to improve the health of people around the world through the development and implementation of a semantically accurate and interoperable system of health terms.
Wilcke is one of the nations leading medical informaticists and leads the college’s Veterinary Medical Informatics Laboratory, which develops information technology to create efficient systems for managing vast amounts of medical and health data.
“I’m honored to serve in this capacity,” said Wilcke, whose nomination was supported by the National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine. “This makes a statement about the credibility of our program.
Among other programs, VMIL has managed the on-line version of the Food & Drug Administration’s “Greenbook,” a database of all of the pharmaceuticals approved for use in animals.

Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine Recognizes Hospital Employees

VTH Awards Three Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) employees were recently recognized for their contributions to the hospital during the 2007 VTH Awards Ceremony in the VMRCVM College Center.
After opening remarks by Dr. Robert Martin, hospital director, and presentation of certificates of completion for outgoing residents and interns, Rick Hiller, hospital administrator, announced the nominations for the VTH 2007 Staff Recognition Award.
Individuals are nominated for this award by their peers based upon criteria that include a professional attitude, excellent skills and performance, a willingness to help and cooperate with coworkers, and superior efficiency and organization. The faculty, staff, and students working in the VTH then vote on the nominees to determine the winner.
This year twenty-one employees were nominated, and for the first time in the history of the award there was a three-way tie.
Jill Kormendy has been with the hospital as an administrative assistant since 2001. Commonly known as the one to go to when no one else knows what to do, she was honored for her willingness to always maintain “a positive attitude and go the extra mile.”
Laila Kirkpatrick is a clinical laboratory technician in the VTH’s laboratory services. Kirkpatrick “is extremely knowledgeable and well rounded and has used her organizational skills to make central lab receiving more than merely a starting point,” wrote the individual who nominated her for the award.
Christy Lowry served the college as a veterinary services support technician in communications. According to her appreciative co-workers, Lowry was always friendly, helpful, and smiling while demonstrating accuracy and meeting important deadlines.
All three women received a plaque and monetary award in appreciation of their outstanding dedication to the hospital and to the college.

Virginia Tech Signs MOU with Chonbuk National University in Korea

Virginia Tech recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Chonbuk National University (CBNU) in Jeonju, Korea that will establish an exchange program and help CBNU create a zoonotic disease research center to investigate animal diseases that can spread to humans.
Virginia Tech University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Mark McNamee and Chonbuk National University President Geo-suk Suh signed the MOU.
The MOU will support the development of a variety of collaborative programs designed to benefit each university’s educational and research initiatives through the exchange of faculty, students, scientific information and other material.
Drs. Stephen Boyle and Nammalwar Sriranganathan, both professors in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine’s (VMRCVM) Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP) at Virginia Tech, and Dr. Byeong-Kirl Baek, dean of the newly established Korean Zoonoses Research Institute at CBNU, will serve as the key contacts for facilitating the opportunities outlined in the MOU. In addition, Drs. Boyle and Sriranganathan will serve as scientific consultants for the Korean institute as they begin to establish their zoonotic research program.
“We truly have one of the unique opportunities in the world to make disease prevention more comprehensive and effective in terms of educating veterinarians, physicians and scientists in the pursuit of novel and improved diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics,” said Dr. Boyle.
The development of the Korean Zooneses Research Institute and MOU with Virginia Tech was prompted by a recent brucellosis endemic in Korea and subsequent visit from Dr. Baek to the VMRCVM to study the RB51 vaccine. That vaccine, now being used widely around the world, was developed by current VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig, Boyle, and Sriranganathan after years of research in the college’s Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease (CMMID).
Brucellosis is a zoonotic disease that causes reproductive problems in cattle and other ruminants and undulant fever in humans. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta (CDC) considers brucellosis a Category A bioterrorism agent. As a result of the development and implementation of the RB51 vaccine, brucellosis has been essentially eradicated from the U.S. cattle population; however, it is still a major problem in Korea and in other countries around the world. RB51 is currently being tested in Korea as is a second generation of the vaccine known as RB51x which will protect against additional zoonotic diseases.
“The development of an improved RB51 vaccine, in principal, protects additional animals and humans,” said Boyle. “This is one of the many benefits of two extremely developed countries collaborating to utilize technologies to tackle disease.”
While the initial plans for collaboration are primarily between the VMRCVM and the Korean Zoonoses Research Institute, it is expected the MOU will eventually be expanded to encompass other exchange programs throughout both universities, said Boyle.

Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine Restores Dermatology Service

Dr. Sandra Diaz With the addition of Dr. Sandra Diaz as an assistant professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (DSACS), the college is again offering dermatological services for its clients. These services were temporarily suspended following the departure of a former faculty member.
Skin disorders are some of the most common problems that affect animals and they often manifest themselves in much the same way for very different underlying reasons, according to Dr. Diaz. Allergic reactions are the most frequent cause for a dermatological reaction in pets. Animals can suffer from environmental allergies or even allergies to their food. Symptoms of an allergic reaction or other dermatological problems include year-round itching, consistent licking of feet and other parts of the body, and reoccurring skin and ear infections.
“While skin disorders are rarely life-threatening, we can dramatically improve the quality of life for the animal with proper diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr. Diaz.
Dr. Diaz will offer numerous dermatology procedures to VMRCVM patients including video otoscopy and deep ear flushes, formulation of short and long term diets for food allergies, punch, wedge and excisional biopsies, interpretation of dermatohistopathology, and therapeutic bathing. She will also offer treatment and management of a variety of disorders including food, flea and contact allergies, chronic ear infections, and skin tumors.
“We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Diaz,” said Dean Gerhardt Schurig. “Her knowledge and expertise in dermatology allows us to further expand the quality care and treatment we give to our patients.”
Dr. Diaz received her Bachelor in Veterinary Sciences degree in 1994 and her DVM in 1996 from the Universidad Santo Tomas in Santiago, Chile. She received her Master of Science degree in 2006 from the University of Minnesota where she also completed her residency. Prior to joining the faculty of the VMRCVM, she was on staff at the NYC Veterinary Specialists and Cancer Center in New York, New York.

Sandy Hancock Named First Recipient of National Scholarship

Sandy Hancock Long time laboratory professional Sandy Hancock was recently honored by the Society of Quality Assurance (SQA) as the first recipient of the University Specialty Section scholarship. This scholarship helped to defray the costs of Hancock’s attendance at the 2007 SQA Annual Meeting that was held in Austin, Texas.
The SQA meeting allows quality assurance officers from all over the world to come together to network, continue their education, and share ideas for advancing their profession. A quality assurance officer is responsible for assuring laboratory tests are conducted properly in both industry and academic laboratories.
Hancock, who has been with the college for eighteen years, serves as the quality assurance officer for the VMRCVM's Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) Program.
"This award is well deserved," said Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies Roger Avery. "Sandy's dedication to her job is evident to all of her colleagues in the VMRCVM. Her commitment to quality assurance continues to strengthen and advance the college's Good Laboratory Practice Program."
Good Laboratory Practice is a set of principals set forth by the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency for non-clinical studies involving products that will affect humans, animals, or the environment. The principals outline how a study is planned, preformed, monitored, recorded, reported, and archived. These principals help increase the validity and credibility of a study. While it is not mandatory, the inclusion of a GLP program can be very beneficial to a college.
GLP allows colleges to perform contracted work for outside projects. “Our GLP program demonstrates we are serious about our research program and serious about bringing resources into our college,” said Hancock . The program also gives students the opportunity to be exposed to the lab standards that are commonplace in industry laboratories, she added.
In addition to her work as a certified quality assurance professional, Hancock serves as the lab manager for the Laboratory for Neurotoxicity Studies in the VMRCVM. She holds BS and MS degrees in biology from the University of Dayton and specializes in electron microscopy.

Dr. David Hodgson Leading DLACS

Dr. David Hodgson Dr. David Hodgson has joined the college as the head of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS). He comes to the VMRCVM from the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia where he served as professor and head of the Faculty Horse Unit.
“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Hodgson,” said Dean Gerhardt Schurig. “He brings with him an impressive combination of clinical and academic experience as well as a very strong record of accomplishment in equine research. I am confident he will provide exemplary leadership and vision for the department.”
Hodgson earned a B.V.Sc. and a Ph.D. from the University of Sydney. He is a diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) and a Fellow in both the Australasian College of Biomedical Scientists and in the American College of Sports Medicine.
In addition to his immediate past position, Dr. Hodgson also served as head of the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences and veterinary hospital director at the University of Sydney. He has also held positions at the University of Pretoria in South Africa and Washington State University.
Hodgson has published numerous academic papers and has received many awards for his work, including the Ian Clunies Ross Medal which is awarded by the Australian College of Veterinary Surgeons for contributions to veterinary research during the honoree’s first decade after graduation.

New Interns and Residents on Board

Thirteen new veterinarians have been hired by the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) as residents and interns.
Internships and residencies are advanced clinical/educational programs pursued by DVM’s seeking advance training and/or eventual board certification by organizations like the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, the American College of Veterinary Radiology, or the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology.
There are nine new residents and interns in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (DSACS).

Dr. Louisa Ho
Dr. Louisa Ho has joined the college as a small animal intern. She received her B.V.Sc. from the University of Sydney in Australia in 2004. She has been employed at a rural mixed animal practice in Goulburn, Australia. Dr. Ho is interested in surgery and endocrinology.


Dr. A. Gascho Landis
Dr. A. Gascho Landis, who received her DVM degree from The Ohio State University in 2007 and a B.A. degree in biology and English from Goshen College in 1999, has joined the college as a small animal intern. Dr. Landis is interested in surgery.


Dr. Sarah Lyles
Dr. Sarah Lyles has joined the college as a small animal intern. She received her DVM degree from Louisiana State University in 2007 and a B.S. degree in biological sciences from the same institution in 2003. Dr. Lyles is interested in neurology and neurosurgery.


Dr. Jared Rodgers
Dr. Jared Rodgers who received his DVM degree from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2007 and a B.A. degree in philosophy from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1990, has joined the faculty as a small animal intern. Dr. Rodgers is interested in neurology.


Dr. Jessica Westling
Dr. Jessica Westling has joined the college as a small animal intern. She received her DVM degree from the University of Tennessee in 2007 and B.A. degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Asheville in 2001. Dr. Westling is interested in internal medicine, cardiology and oncology.


Dr. Kristin Cameron
Dr. Kristin Cameron received her DVM degree from the University of Florida in 2006 and a bachelor of music degree from Vanderbilt University in 2002. She has just completed a small animal rotating internship at Cornell University Hospital for Animals. Dr. Cameron will be joining the college as an internal medicine resident.


Dr. Jessica Gentile
Dr. Jessica Gentile received her DVM degree from Kansas State University in 2006 and B.S. degree in animal sciences from Cornell University in 2002. She has just completed a small animal medicine and surgery internship at Oregon State University. Dr. Gentile will be joining the college as a cardiology resident.


Dr. Kelly Johnson
Dr. Kelly Johnson has joined the college as a small animal surgery resident. She received her DVM degree from Michigan State University in 2006 and a B.S. degree in biology from University of Richmond in 2002. She has just completed an internship at The Hope Center for Advanced Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, VA.


Dr. Luis Gonzalez
Dr. Luis Gonzalez received his DVM degree from Universidad De La Salle in Bogota, Colombia in 2000 and a M.S. degree in veterinary surgery from Sao Paulo State University in Brazil in 2003. His small animal medicine and surgery internship was at Kansas State University. Dr. Gonzalez will be joining the VMRCVM as a surgery resident.

There are four new residents and interns in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. (DLACS)
Dr. Hollie H. Schramm

Dr. Hollie H. Schramm has joined the college as an intern in food animal ambulatory and production management medicine. She received her B.S. in biology in 2002 from Central Michigan University and her DVM in 2007 from St. George’s University.


Dr. Trevor Ferguson
Dr. Trevor Ferguson received his B.S. in biology in 2003 from Eastern Oregon University and his DVM in 2007 from Oregon State University. He has joined the college as an intern in Equine Field Services.


Dr. Jamie G. Wearn
Dr. Jamie G. Wearn, a 2007 graduate of the University of Sydney with a B.V.Sc. will join the college as a resident in large animal medicine.


Dr. Erik Noschka
Dr. Erik Noschka will join the college as a resident in large animal surgery. He received his DVM from the University of Leipzig and, in 2007, completed his Ph.D. at the University of Georgia.



New Faculty Member at Equine Medical Center to Focus on Molecular Research

Dr. Jennifer Barrett Dr. Jennifer G. Barrett has joined Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center as an assistant professor of equine surgery. In this tenure track appointment, Barrett will be utilizing the center’s newly constructed molecular research lab and directing investigations into tendon and ligament healing and repair. She will also serve as a practicing surgeon at the hospital and as an instructor for the center’s veterinary and graduate students.
“Dr. Barrett is an expert in the area of tissue regeneration — specifically involving tendons, ligaments, and cartilage — and will be conducting research in that area,” said Dr. Nat White, Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and Director of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center. “We are pleased with the experience and enthusiasm that she brings to this new initiative and look forward to the discoveries that we can bring back to the hospital for direct application to these problems.”
Prior to joining the Equine Medical Center, Barrett, who earned a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and a doctorate in molecular biology from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, conducted a residency in equine surgery at the University of Illinois’ Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana. She held a postdoctoral research position in the University of Wisconsin’s Comparative Orthopaedics Research Laboratory in Madison and completed an internship in equine medicine and surgery at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky.
Barrett was honored in 2006 with both the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Research Fellow Scholarship and the American College of Veterinary Surgeons’ Resident Research Presentation Award. Her work has been published in various prestigious scientific publications including the Journal of Orthopaedic Research, the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the Journal of Cell Biology, and she has lectured at several universities including the University of Illinois and Yale University.
“I am excited about this position because it gives me an opportunity to perform research and practice in an area where there is a high population of performance horses. It is like bringing the lab right to the patients,” said Barrett. “I will be using what is currently known in molecular biology to develop tissue engineering techniques to help treat problems that are important to both horses and people, including tendon injuries and osteoarthritis.”

Fall Meeting Attracts Alums, Organized Veterinary Medical Community

About 120 VMRCVM alumni and family members gathered in Blacksburg September 14-15 for the annual alumni meeting. The alumni gathering also coincided with the annual fall meeting of the Virginia and Maryland Veterinary Medical Associations in Blacksburg and the 2007 Student Mentorship Program.
Mentorship Breakfast Festivities began on Friday morning with the annual mentorship breakfast. About 60 of the 105 practitioners who are participating in the mentorship program were on hand to meet and spend time with their student mentees during the event.
Begun eight years ago, the mentor program seeks to provide veterinary students with advice and insights from practitioners about the “real-world” of veterinary medicine.
Dean Gerhardt Schurig congratulated those assembled for making the collaborative programs such a success and commended the event for providing practitioners, students, alumni and college faculty and staff members with an opportunity to network and exchange ideas.
Following welcoming remarks from Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA) President Dr. Lauren Keating and Maryland Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) President Dr. Greg Svoboda, Dr. Richard Hartigan, past-president of the VVMA, then recognized college faculty members who had been awarded 2007-08 Veterinary Memorial Fund research grants (see story below).
Next, a panel discussion entitled “DVM Degree- Now What?” was presented. A variety of experts shared information about the multi-faceted world of modern veterinary practice during that event. Alumni Tailgate
Participants included Dr. Steve Karras, moderator and president-elect of the VVMA, Cave Spring Veterinary Clinic, Roanoke; Dr. Richard Hartigan, Pfizer Animal Health; Dr. Keating; Dr. Tom Massie, vice-president of the VVMA, Rose Hill Veterinary Practice, Washington, Va.; Dr. Julia Murphy, Virginia Department of Health; Dr. Valerie Ragan, Agworks Solutions, LLC, Washington, D.C.; Dr. Sarah Sheafor, SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Center, Fairfax, Va.; and Dr. John Wise, Westwood Animal Hospital, Staunton, Va.
On Friday evening, an alumni dessert reception was held at the Inn at Virginia Tech. On Saturday morning, about 150 gathered for a “tailgate” barbecue held prior to the Virginia Tech/Ohio University football game.

2007 Veterinary Memorial Fund Research Grants Awarded

Veterinary Memorial Fund Over $110,000 in clinical research grants have been awarded to six principal investigators in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) through the 2007-08 distribution of Veterinary Memorial Fund research grants, an increase of over $20,000 from the previous year.
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 cope 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.
“This program serves as a good example of the translational medicine/research programs we are building throughout the college,” said VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig. “Working closely with practitioners in the field to identify current animal healthcare challenges, we are able to focus the power of university research in a way that produces solutions… quickly and effectively.”
Professors and grant requests that have been funded include the following:
Dr. David Panciera, professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (DSACS),” Effect of Phenobarbital Administration in Dogs with Seizure Disorders on Adrenal Function,” $14,896.
Dr. Ian Herring, associate professor, DSACS, “Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Levels in Aqueous Humor of Normal Dogs with Intraocular Disease,” $14,240.
Dr. Otto Lanz, associate professor, DSACS, “Comparison of In Vitro Pullout Strength of Positive Profile End-Threaded Pins, Self-Tapping Cortical Bone Screws, and Cancellous Bone Screws Implanted in the Canine Caudal Cervical Spine,” $13,986.
Dr. Michael Leib, professor, DSACS, “Effects of Prednisone Alone or Prednisone with Ultralow-Dose Aspirin on the Gastroduodenal Mucosa of Healthy Dogs,” $20,584.
Drs. Tisha Harper, assistant professor, DSACS, and Peter Shires, former VMRCVM professor, “Effect of Post Surgical Rehabilitation on TTA and TPLO Stabilized Canine CCL Deficient Stifles,” $14,982.
Dr. Don Waldron, professor, DSACS, “Evaluation of Epidural Morphine and Incisional Bupivacaine for Analgesia Following Hemilaminectomy in the Dog,” $20,442.
Dr. Panciera was also awarded second year funding for “Efficacy and Safety of Iopanoic Acid for Treatment of Experimentally-Induced and Naturally-Occurring Hyperthyroidism in Cats,”$11,608.
One of the principal benefits of the Veterinary Memorial Fund is it links community veterinarians around the state with college researchers in a way that directly serves animals and their owners, Schurig noted.
When a companion animal passes away, the practitioner makes a financial donation to the fund. The dean of the VMRCVM then sends a letter of condolence announcing the memorial to the bereaved.
Then a team of private practitioners and college researchers work together to identify the kind of research that needs to be done to address urgent veterinary healthcare issues in the field, proposals are evaluated and funded, and the work is completed, Schurig said.
The fund is one of the oldest such funds in the nation. Since it’s inception, the fund has raised almost $1 million that has been used to fund more than 100 clinical research programs.

Equine Medical Center Prominently Featured at Saratoga Races and Virginia Derby

Saratoga Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center was prominently featured during two recent high-profile horse racing events – the Saratoga Races and the Virginia Derby – giving the hospital and university visibility among thousands of racing enthusiasts.
“Both the Saratoga Races and the Virginia Derby are highly significant events within the equine industry and we are honored and grateful for having had the opportunity to be represented at each of them,” said Dr. Nat White, Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and Director of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center.
On Monday, August 6, during the 2007 Summer Meet at the Saratoga Race Track, in Saratoga Springs, New York, the fifth race on the card was named for the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in thanks to the generous support of EMC Council Member Beverly R. "Peggy" Steinman. Steinman, White, and Virginia Tech President Dr. Charles Steger were interviewed from the paddock by the Saratoga Race Course’s commentator concerning equine programs and healthcare at Virginia Tech. In addition, a three-minute video highlighting the center’s technologies for treating injuries and improving performance in equine athletes was played on the jumbotron, the official event bugler played the Virginia Tech fight song and the announcers dressed in the university’s colors of maroon and orange.
Although the New York Racing Association (NYRA) is extremely involved with many charitable organizations, the visibility given to the hospital at this event was unique according to NYRA Communications Director John Lee.
“We were extremely pleased to give an extra round of support to Virginia Tech during this time and to Peggy Steinman, who is immensely important to the racing community and is very dear to our hearts,” said Lee.
Saratoga Race Course has maintained its character and elegance for 139 years. The 350-acre racetrack has captured the hearts of millions who have passed through its entrance gates and stepped back into an era of Victorian sophistication and glamour, set amidst the vibrancy and exuberance of hoof-pounding, heart-thumping Thoroughbred racing.
The Virginia Derby was held at Colonial Downs in New Kent County on Saturday, July 21. White served as the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) On Call spokesperson for the hour-long telecast of the derby which was aired for the first time on CBS. AAEP’s On Call program is an innovative media-assistance campaign developed to provide accurate veterinary information to the broadcast and print media during live network races. In addition, a 60-second commercial for the hospital was played on the jumbotron during the event.
The Virginia Derby is an American Thoroughbred horse race that has been held annually since 1998. A Grade 11 event, it is raced on turf at a distance of 10 Furlongs and is open to three-year-old horses. The Virginia Derby currently provides a purse of $1 million and is the second leg of the Grand Slam of Grass which offers a $2 million bonus for any horse who wins all four races.

Vet Med Students to Present Community Dogwash

Community Dogwash Veterinary students enrolled in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) will present a community "dogwash" on Saturday, October 6 from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. on the campus of Virginia Tech.
The 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 location.
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 and for an additional $5 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, and the Classes of 2010 and 2011.