Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Infectious diseases have shaped the course of history and will continue to do so. Since the beginning of time, viruses, bacteria and other agents have infected people and animals, causing pestilence, disease and famine, and eventually altering economic, social and political systems.
Even today, empowered as we are with science and technology, infectious diseases loom, causing catastrophic damages in developing nations and threatening the same for the entire world.
And so it is entirely appropriate that Virginia Tech present a "Deans' Forum on Infectious Diseases." As many of you know, these major academic symposia illuminate challenges facing society and create new approaches for solving problems through scientific research.
While the urgency of the topic is well understood, perhaps there are some who wonder why Virginia Tech, a university often thought of as an engineering and agricultural powerhouse, is presenting this event.
The answer of course is that the university has emerged as a major biomedical research institution. More than 40 researchers are operating substantial research programs in this area. Consider this list of colleges and centers involved with this effort: the VMRCVM, and the Colleges of Science, Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Natural Resources; the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI), the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS), the Institute for Biomedical and Public Health Sciences (IBPHS), the Fralin Life Sciences Institute and the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease (CMMID).
The university's affiliations with the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, the Virginia Via College of Osteopathic Medicine and the emerging Virginia Tech-Carilion School of Medicine all add critical mass to this effort.
We are fortunate to have a scholar such as Dr. Lonnie King, a veterinarian, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta with us for our keynote event on Sunday night, September 28. The very establishment of his division speaks of the urgency with which the United States government is viewing the threat of infectious diseases and the role a healthy animal population plays in diminishing this threat.
We are also fortunate to have the opportunity to showcase the many different research programs underway at Virginia Tech in a forum that will increase collaboration, build synergies, and promote even greater success in the future.
I would like to publicly recognize the event co-chairs, Dr. Stephen Boyle from the VMRCVM, and Dr. Stephen Melville from the College of Science, as well as their entire organizing team, for mounting this effort.
I would also like to remind us all that the presentation of this forum is a transformational milestone in itself. Excellence in biomedical research, which includes veterinary research, has become an additional defining characteristic of the excellence in scholarship and service that is Virginia Tech.
Gerhardt G. Schurig
In This Issue...
Prominent Infectious Diseases Expert to Open Virginia Tech Deans' Forum
Former Dean Eyre Honored by AVMA, University, and Professional Society
Teaching Hospital Introduces Radioactive Iodine Therapy for Feline Hyperthyroidism
UGA's King (VMRCVM '87) Lauds Laboratory Animal Medicine
Emergency Responder Horse Handling Training is a Success
New Research Lab Opens at EMC
New Interns and Residents Join Veterinary College
Virginia Tech Launches Thisisthefuture.com
Veterinary College to Sponsor Fifth Annual Dog Walk Against Cancer
Veterinary Students to Present Community Dog Wash
Meng receives Virginia Tech's 2008 Alumni Award for Research Excellence
2007 Veterinary Memorial Fund Research Grants Awarded
Hodgson Named Associate Dean of Professional Programs
College Welcomes New Faculty
Zajac, Goodwin Receive National Honors
Vital Signs Launches "Meet our Healthcare Team" Series
From the Bush to the Base to the Classroom
Acupuncture Viable Treatment for Many Animal Ailments
Moore Honored with Veterinary Teaching Hospital 2008 Recognition Award
Informatics Laboratory Welcomes Two New Employees
Equine Ophthalmology Service Introduced at EMC
Equine Medical Center Names Public Relations Coordinator
Class of 2012 admitted during matriculation ceremonies
Equine Medical Center's Horse Ambulance Provides Important Services at Virginia Equine Events
The scientist appointed to lead a major new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiative to combat infectious diseases will present the keynote address during Virginia Tech's upcoming "Deans' Forum on Infectious Diseases." Dr. Lonnie King, senior veterinarian and director of the CDC's National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases (ZVED) in Atlanta, will discuss "One Health" on Sunday, Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in Burruss Hall Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.
The full-day academic symposium that gets underway on Monday, Sept. 29 at 8 a.m. at the Inn at Virginia Tech will feature other visiting experts as well as Virginia Tech faculty-members who will showcase the university's latest research activities and expertise within the area of infectious diseases. The presentations and scientific abstracts will be presented within the four main categories of prevention and control of infectious diseases, infectious disease ecology and epidemiology, molecular pathogenesis, and host-pathogen interactions.
"Infectious diseases have shaped the course of civilization and they continue to do so today," said Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, a noted veterinary immunologist and dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. "Virginia Tech researchers are doing significant work in infectious diseases and in the biomedical sciences in general. Our goal with this forum is to highlight the work and the progress being made and stimulate new approaches that can drive new breakthroughs in the future."
The Deans' Forum on Infectious Diseases is the fourth in a series of forums that are intended to showcase activities within the university targeted at issues of topical interest to society. Previous forums have focused on energy and sustainability; the environment; and health, food, and nutrition.
On Monday, September 29, the Deans' Forum on Infectious Diseases will feature a major address in each of the four topical areas, several presentations focused on major research programs underway at the university, and an extensive series of scientific posters that describe various research programs underway.
"One of our overarching goals with this forum is to foster a more interdisciplinary approach to our infectious disease research," said Dr. Lay Nam Chang, dean of the College of Science, who noted that infectious disease research is a major component of the university's discovery domain. "We have a number of programs underway in different colleges and departments. Through the presentation of this forum and the development of related materials, we hope to increase collaboration among our scientists."
The Molecular Pathogenesis session will feature a talk entitled "Escherichia coli Biofilms, Bottlenecks and Host Responses in Urinary Tract Infections" by Dr. Scott Hultgren of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Peter Palese of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York will present "Pathogenicity of Pandemic Influenza Viruses" during the Host-Pathogen Interaction sequence of presentations. The Infectious Disease Ecology and Epidemiology program will feature a presentation entitled "Ecologic Change and Disease Emergence: Humans as a Reservoir of Disease for Free Ranging Wildlife" by Dr. Kathleen Alexander of the College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech. The final session on Vector/Disease Prevention and Control will feature a lecture entitled "Engineering Pathogen Resistance in Vector Mosquitoes" by Dr. Anthony James of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at the University of California- Irvine's School of Medicine.
A 120-page proceedings book has been published which includes scientific abstracts that describe more than 100 specific infectious disease research projects that are underway at the university.
That work is underway in the VMRCVM, and the Colleges of Science, Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Natural Resources; it is also being conducted in research centers that include the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI), the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS), the Institute for Biomedical and Public Health Sciences (IBPHS), the Fralin Institute of Biomedical Sciences and the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease (CMMID). More than 40 Virginia Tech faculty members are profiled within a bibliography of infectious disease researchers posted on the university's web site.
Globalization and international trade, increased interaction between humans and animals, and changes in the environment are factors that have increased infectious disease threats for people and animals in the modern world.
As a result of this, according to Schurig, the human and animal medical communities have been working more closely together in recent years. For example, in his final address to the American Medical Association's House of Delegates in June 2008, retiring President Dr. Ronald M. Davis reminded the group that about 60 percent of the estimated 1500 diseases that affect people result from multi-host pathogens that move across species, and he called for greater collaboration between physicians and veterinarians and expressed support for a "one health" concept.
Malaria remains a global health problem that affects hundreds of millions of people and kills an estimated 1,000,000 a year, according to the CDC. In the United States alone, food borne pathogens are responsible for 76 million illnesses a year, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths, according to CDC experts.
Government officials view infectious disease agents as major bioterrorism threats as well. About 70 percent of the CDC's list of Category A bioterrorism agents are zoonotic infectious disease agents such as anthrax, plague, tularemia and hemorrhagic agents.
Advancements in molecular biology over the past few decades have illuminated the complex processes associated with the transmission and development of disease and helped biomedical scientists better understand the interrelationships between microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and other infectious agents with their intermediary vectors and hosts.
This has led to significant advancements in immunology and fostered a "systems" based approach to understanding and battling infectious diseases, one that is structured upon the examination of humans, animals and plants as they interact within a constantly changing natural environment. Such is the organizing concept behind the CDC's National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne and Enteric Diseases, which was created in 2007 and is responsible for bioterrorism preparedness, epidemiology, applied research, disease surveillance and outbreak response for infectious diseases.
Before assuming his new post at the ZVED, King, a veterinarian, served as the CDC's first director of the Office of Strategy and Innovation. Prior to that, he served as dean of the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine for 10 years. He also spent almost 20 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which culminated in his serving as the agency's administrator for four years. During that period, he also served as the country's chief veterinary officer for five years and worked extensively in global trade agreements and protecting the nation's plant and animal resources.
Dr. Peter Eyre, the former dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, was honored with an "AVMA President's Award" for exceptional service to the profession of veterinary medicine during opening ceremonies of the American Veterinary Medical Association's national convention in New Orleans.
Eyre has also been honored for service and achievement by a major Canadian university and a distinguished scientific professional society over the past several months.
"The AVMA President's Award is unquestionably one of the most prestigious and coveted honors in the veterinary profession," said Eyre, who served as dean of the VMRCVM from 1985 to 2003. "I am deeply honored and very grateful."
During the presentation, AVMA President Dr. Greg Hammer praised Eyre for the major contributions he had made to the profession of veterinary medicine through his extensive career in veterinary education and research.
In recognition of the major contributions Eyre has made to the field of pharmacology over his career, the University of Guelph has established "The Peter Eyre Prize in Pharmacology" to recognize exceptional student achievement in that field. Eyre helped build that university's pharmacology and toxicology programs in the late 1960s, 1970's, and early 1980's. From these beginnings, a BSc (undergraduate) degree program in Biomedical Sciences developed, which is housed in the Ontario Veterinary College, and attracts some 200 students each year.
Finally, the American Academy of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics has honored Eyre with the designation of Emeritus Fellow.
"If I can claim anything remarkable about my career, it is that it was unpredicted and unordered," said Eyre, who continues to teach pharmacology at Virginia Tech and has been very active in the Virginia Governor's School for Agriculture's academic programs. "My life's work has resulted from a combination of intense personal interests with a series of fortunate opportunities that included exceptional colleagues and mentors, and outstanding academic institutions."
Eyre served as the second dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, and is credited with leading a series of initiatives that consolidated the operating partnership between Virginia and Maryland, fortified the college's political and economic foundations, and developed its programs.
He has served on the board of directors and as president of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). He also served on the American Veterinary Medical Association's Council on Government Relations, and provided leadership for many other professional associations.
Prior to assuming the deanship of the VMRCVM, Eyre served as chairman of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College in Ontario, Canada, where he also served as associate director of the Canadian Centre for Toxicology.
After earning the BVMS degree and the MRCVS diploma in veterinary medicine, Eyre earned B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in pharmacology, all from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
As a biomedical researcher, Eyre was responsible for the acquisition and completion of over $1.2 million in sponsored grants and contracts, and authored 350 scientific publications, including more than 200 in refereed journals.
The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Teaching Hospital has introduced a new radioactive iodine therapy for an endocrine disorder that commonly affects older cats.
Feline hyperthyroidism is caused by a "benign goiter" of one or both thyroid glands that causes an elevation of thyroid hormones, according to Dr. David Panciera, a professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (DSACS).
Cats suffering from feline hyperthyroidism may eat, drink and urinate more than normal, lose weight, be hyperactive, suffer coat quality issues, have an elevated heart rate and other clinical signs, said Panciera.
"This is one of the more common disorders we see in geriatric cats," said Panciera, who is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. There are both medical and surgical approaches to managing the problem, he said, but there can be side-effects and complications from each. The medical therapy is generally quite effective; however, compliance issues often undermine the medical approach.
"It can be quite difficult to get owners and their cats together and agree on whether or not they should be taking their medications," quipped Panciera.
Radioactive iodine therapy is an extremely effective treatment for treating feline hyperthyroidism, Panciera notes. As a low dosage of radioactive iodine is administered to the patient through a single subcutaneous injection, the agent is accumulated and concentrated in the abnormal parts of the thyroid glands. The iodine destroys the diseased tissue, while healthy thyroid tissues are not affected.
Clinicians have had a very high success rate with the treatment, and only infrequently do patients sustain complications where too much thyroid tissue is compromised and thyroid supplementation must be considered.
Candidates for the radioactive iodine therapy should be relatively healthy cats that have been off their feline hyperthyroid medications for at least two weeks, Panciera said, and the treatment usually involves hospitalization for three or four days.
Upon admission, patients are provided with a comprehensive health evaluation and a thyroid scan is done to ascertain the extent of the problem and to develop a therapeutic approach.
Once the agent is injected, the patient must be kept in isolation for three or four days while the radioactive agent is cleared from the body.
College animal holding and treatment facilities renovated as the result of a gift from the late Joanne O’Brien have proven to be a perfect place to support the operation of the new clinical program, according to Dr. Panciera.
The college's VTH is ready to provide the service and looks forward to referrals from community practitioners throughout the region, according to Panciera.
When Dr. Chris King ('87) completed a NIH Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Lab Animal Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine in 1992, he thought he was headed for a job in industry.
On the verge of a promising position with a major pharmaceutical firm in New Jersey, King accepted an invitation to interview with the University of Georgia in Athens.
"It was like driving into Oz," recalled King of his introduction to the verdant, colorful spring-time campus of Georgia's flagship land-grant university. "I fell in love with the place."
Since then his career has blossomed. King accepted the position he was offered as director of animal resources of Georgia's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Today, as the university's assistant vice president for research and university director of animal care and use, King is responsible for the welfare of all animals used in UGA's teaching and research programs - an enterprise that includes 13 major biomedical research facilities and 30 extension sites located around the state.
"It's a serious responsibility," said King, who earned board certification from the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine in 1993. "We protect the institution, we protect the animals, and we do high quality research."
King has also been deeply involved with millions of dollars in upgrades to the infrastructure of the University of Georgia's animal care facilities, including the multi-million dollar state-of-the art Coverdell Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences.
Twenty years ago, King was tracking toward a career in zoo medicine. He credits Dr. Stuart Porter, who leads the veterinary technician training program at Blue Ridge Community College in Weyer's Cave, Virginia, with piquing his interest in lab animal medicine.
"Porter advised King that lab animal medicine would provide him with the opportunity to practice high quality veterinary medicine with a broad variety of species, he could work in an intellectually stimulating university or biomedical research community, there would be many opportunities for continuing education and professional enrichment, and many other benefits to the career track.
All have proved true, King said, who has become extremely active in his profession and recognizes his responsibility to mentor the rising generation of DVM students about the important responsibilities and abounding opportunities that have arisen since the major revisions of the federal Animal Welfare Act in the 1980's.
"As I tell our veterinary students, if you want to really enhance animal welfare, if you want to be an animal welfare advocate, there is no better veterinary specialty," said King, who notes that the very language of the "Veterinarian's Oath" is an eloquent endorsement of the specialty.
King estimates that about 20 percent of the positions in laboratory animal medicine are open right now and says there is enormous demand for qualified candidates. The salaries and opportunities are excellent.
He acknowledges that government regulations and reporting protocols designed to ensure the responsible use of laboratory animals in teaching and research have burgeoned over the past 20 years. "We have legal obligations," said King, adding that there is also increased activism on the part of the animal rights community. "But I think our ethical obligations to do the right thing are much more compelling."
King is extremely active in the laboratory animal medicine professional community and frequently works with the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AALACS) as an examiner and site reviewer.
In fact he met his wife, Dr. Susan Sanchez, who works with the University of Georgia's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, at a meeting of the American Association of Laboratory Animal Sciences in Buffalo, New York.
King remembers his time at the VMRCVM as a lot of fun and a lot of work. "I have a lot of fond memories of Blacksburg, the college and my classmates. It played a huge part of shaping my life."
The Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center (MARE Center) recently welcomed emergency responders from four Northern Virginia counties to its basic and intermediate emergency responder horse handling programs. The program was offered as a joint effort by the MARE Center and the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg.
In attendance for the basic program were 20 emergency responders; course content included basic horse handling and safety. An important topic covered in the basic program is what to do until a veterinarian arrives on the scene of an emergency.
The intermediate program consisted of 18 participants and included an array of topics for those who possessed more advanced horse-handling skills or had completed the basic course. Subjects covered in the intermediate session included additional horse handling skills, an overview of different types of horse trailers, and how to load and unload horses. In addition, a segment on first aid taught participants how to check a horse's vital signs, bandage application techniques, and other first aid topics for use in an emergency.
"We wanted to offer an intermediate level of training for emergency responders because there was clearly a demand for it," noted Dr. Jennifer Brown, clinical assistant professor in equine surgery at the EMC. "We heard back from people who had taken the seminar we offered for beginners. Those people said they really wanted to add to their skills.
"We divided the intermediate training session into two segments: first, we discussed each of our topics in great detail," Brown said. "Then, during the next few hours, we put everything into practice," she continued. "We try to do a lot of 'hands-on' practice at our sessions; that's the best way to learn this material."
According to Shea Porr, interim superintendent for the MARE Center and equine Extension agent, one participant remarked that it was "an excellent program." Another stated, "I thought the class was fun and well worth the drive. I would recommend it to anyone who may be an emergency responder, whether paid or volunteer."
"The MARE Center was happy to host another valuable community event such as this one," Porr stated.
While Porr and Brown directed the day's programs, two additional veterinarians assisted the students as they worked toward learning this aspect of equine emergency care that will help them both professionally and personally. All program participants will receive a certificate from Virginia Cooperative Extension.
The Marion DuPont Scott Equine Medical Center's advanced referral services and scientific research - has always distinguished it as a leader in equine medical care. Pioneering research conducted by EMC faculty members in the area of equine ulcers, equine protozoal myelitis and musculoskeletal diseases, for example, has led to the development of new treatments and commercial products.
But the EMC's growing stature as a research center has taken a significant step forward with the construction of a major new laboratory building, one that is equipped to explore the molecular aspects of disease and trauma. The research laboratory is expected to generate treatments that will improve healthcare - and not just for horses.
"Given the spaciousness of the lab, the equipment it holds, and the world-class expertise of the EMC faculty, the opening of this laboratory brings us onto the national stage in research," noted Dr. Jennifer Barrett, assistant professor of surgery at the EMC. "And the results of our research here will not only make a critical difference in improving equine health, they could help improve the health of other animals-and possibly extend to improving human health," she said.
"In addition," Barrett continued, "this new lab offers a location for training future scientists. That's an enormous benefit to the veterinary medical community."
The 2,400 square foot lab is set up for bench-top research, which includes growing stem cells for study and clinical application as well as identifying inflammatory proteins and molecules associated with numerous diseases and injuries. All of these methods are needed to help understand complex medical problems and to develop new treatments.
"One of our first projects focuses on tendon and ligament regeneration," Barrett said. "This involves gathering adult stem cells from bone marrow as well as progenitor cells (cells that are partially specialized) from tendon. Because these tendon progenitor cells have some of the characteristics of stem cells and they are still in a form that is easily manipulated, they could be helpful in improving healing.
"Once we have progenitor cells, we subject them to various growth conditions," Barrett continued. "We examine the results and decide which cells will provide new growth in an injured tendon.
"The application of this research will improve the ongoing use of stem cell injections to treat tendon and ligament injuries. Specifically, we aim to reduce the turnover time for treating injuries and to optimize growth conditions of the cells prior to applying them to the injured area," she said. "The overall goal is to help tendon and ligament heal quickly and effectively back to their original strength and elasticity."
This is just one example of the research capabilities offered by the new laboratory. Other projects will involve isolating cells not only from bone marrow, but also from cartilage, fat, muscle, and tendon, then running tests to see how these cells perform under various conditions. In addition, researchers will be able to prepare platelet-rich plasma, which can then be used to treat injuries to soft tissue or orthopedic injuries.
"Now with our in-house research capabilities, the cohesive, integrative approach we take at the EMC is greatly enhanced," Barrett noted. "Our new cell and molecular research laboratory adds to our existing state-of-the-art facilities and equipment-a standing MRI, ultrasound equipment, a treadmill, video equipment, echocardiography, lasers, etc. Add to this our world-renowned faculty, and the result is that we are now at a new level in equine medical care," she said.
The ability to incorporate new areas of research and testing in-house offers an array of benefits that all point to savings-in time, effort, and cost. "We can address clinical problems directly by conducting the appropriate tests in the lab, reporting the results, and bringing solutions to the patient-all in an incredibly efficient way," said Dr. Martin Furr, Adelaide C. Riggs Chair in Equine Medicine at the EMC. "With test results available more quickly, treatments may be started in a more timely way, which could lead to successful outcomes sooner," he added.
"Fortunately," Furr said, "we were able to fund this new lab through a variety of sources, including private donations, monies allocated from pari-mutuel activities, and through two of Virginia Tech's Colleges: the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Going forward, we will need to retain those funding sources, but also increase funding through grants offered by foundations or government agencies, or from private donors.
"Now that we have made this great stride," Furr concluded, "we want to keep up the momentum."
Fifteen 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 10 new residents and interns in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (DSACS).
Dr. Karanvir Aulakh has joined the college as an intern in DSACS. He received his B.V.Sc. and A.H. from Punjab Agricultural University of India in 2003 and M.S. degree in Microbiology & Immunology from University of Louisville in 2006. In 2007, he completed an externship with Banfield Hospital of Portland.
Dr. Bryan Bottorff has joined the college as a small animal intern. He received his DVM from Purdue University in 2008 and his B.A. from Hanover College in 2002.
Dr. Filipe Gomes has joined the college as an intern in the DSACS. He received his DVM from Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro University in Portugal in 2002. He was a small animal intern at Animal Medical Center in Manchester, UK and an international surgical fellow at Michigan State University from 2007 to 2008.
Dr. Allison O'Kell has joined the DSACS as an intern. She received her DVM from University of Saskatchewan in 2008. She finished a neurology externship at Canada West Veterinary Specialists and Critical Care Hospital.
Dr. Mackenzie Ostmeyer has joined college as an intern in the DSACS. She received her DVM degree in 2008 and her B.S. in 2004 from Kansas State University.
Dr. Katie Belz has joined the college as a resident in internal medicine. She received her DVM in 2007 and her B.S. in 2003 from Texas A&M University. She completed a small animal rotating internship at University of Florida.
Dr. Daniel Binder has joined the VMRCVM as an ophthalmology resident. He received his DVM from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 2007, his Ph.D. degree in neuroscience from the University of Virginia in 2003 and his B.S. degree in psychobiology from Binghamton University in 1998. He has completed a small animal rotating internship at North Carolina State University.
Dr. Theresa Pancotto has joined the college as a neurology resident. She received her DVM and M.S. from Tufts University in 2007 and her B.S. in 2002 from Duke University. She has completed a rotating internship at Affiliated Veterinary Specialists in Florida.
Dr. Diane Saulnier has joined the VMRCVM as a resident in radiology. She received her DVM degree from Ross University in 2003 and her B.S. in 1999 from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Her small animal rotating internship was at Boston Road Animal Hospital.
Dr. Brian Ward has joined the college as a surgical resident. He received his DVM from Auburn University in 2007 and his B.S. from the University of Kentucky in 2003. He completed a small animal rotating internship at North Carolina State University.
There are four new residents and interns in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. (DLACS)
Dr. Olivia Schroeder has joined the college as an Equine Field Service intern. She received her VMD in 2008 from the University of Pennsylvania and her B.S. in chemistry in 2004 from the College of William & Mary.
Dr. Martin Vicek will join the college as a Production Management Medicine intern in October.
Dr. Leeah Chew has joined the college as a theriogenology resident. She received her DVM from the University of Tennessee and her B.S. from the University of Notre Dame.
Dr. Megan Shepherd has joined the college as a resident in veterinary nutrition. She received her B.S. in biology from Virginia Tech and her DVM from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.
One new resident has joined the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP).
Dr. Ellen Binder has joined the college as a resident in clinical pathology. She received her B.S. from the University of Virginia in 1998 and her DVM in 2008 from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.
Virginia Tech has launched ThisIsTheFuture.com, a new user-generated website that highlights how the university's innovative research, high-quality educational and outreach programs have impacted the daily lives of Virginians.
"The ThisIsTheFuture.com campaign is an innovative approach unlike anything we've done before," said Cecelia Hovis, brand marketing manager at Virginia Tech. "We hope to capture the attention of Virginians across the state using unusual marketing techniques. Once we have their attention, we want people to share their stories of how they impact the lives of Virginians, just as Virginia Tech does every day."
The goal of the campaign is to show how Virginia Tech serves Virginians through teaching, research, and outreach. Recognizing that individuals around the state also make a difference in their own communities, the university is asking people who visit ThisIsTheFuture.com to share the impact of those projects happening where they live and work.
"The campaign will run throughout the fall, and will be directed toward alumni and key opinion leaders," said Hovis.
Members of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine community are encouraged to visit www.thisisthefuture.com and share their stories.
For the fifth year, the Center for Comparative Oncology (CeCO) and the Animal Welfare Club in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech will sponsor a Dog Walk against Cancer. The event will be held rain or shine on Saturday, October 11, 2008 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the front lawn of the college on Duck Pond Drive and is open to the public and their pets.
Highlights of the event include a kick-off informational session on cancer in animals at 10:00 a.m. and a survivor and remembrance walk around the flowers in The Grove at 1:00 p.m. to honor and remember all two- and four- legged cancer survivors and victims.
The event seeks to raise funds to support student cancer research and increase public awareness about cancer, according to Dr. John Robertson, a professor in the college's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP) and director of CeCO, a research center that studies cancer in animals and people.
"Cancer is a major disease problem in dogs, just as it is in people," said Robertson, who estimates that as many as 40 percent of middle-aged and elderly dogs will eventually contract cancer. "Our goal is to learn as much about prevention, treatment and cure as we can."
Individuals participating in the event are asked to acquire sponsors for each owner/dog team and present those funds to organizers on the day of the event. There is a minimum of $25.00 in total donations required per human participant. People participating in the event are asked to only bring dogs that get along well with other dogs and other people in crowded conditions. In addition, all dogs must have up-to-date vaccination records and must be kept on a leash and under the control of their walker at all times.
All money raised during this event will directly go to support the Student Cancer Research Fellowships in the CeCO.
Chartered in 2002, CeCO is an academic center for basic and clinical research on cancer. The center is based at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia. The mission of CeCO is to study the development of cancer in animals and in people, to develop new ways to diagnose cancer and to find new treatments to control and cure it.
For more information or to download the registration and donation forms, please visit www.vetmed.vt.edu/research/ceco/index.asp
Veterinary students enrolled in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine will present a community "dog wash" on Saturday, October 18 from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. on the campus of Virginia Tech.
The community dog wash event will be held at the rear of the veterinary college complex. Signs on Southgate Drive and Duck Pond Drive will help guide dog wash participants to the event.
Presented semi-annually by DVM students enrolled in the college, the dog wash 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 dog wash is sponsored by the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA), a professional organization for DVM students, the Class of 2011 and the Class of 2012.
Dr. X.J. Meng, of Blacksburg, Va., a professor of molecular virology in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) at Virginia Tech, was one of two recipients of the university's 2008 Alumni Award for Research Excellence-the highest research award given at the university.
The Alumni Award for Research Excellence was established by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association to recognize university faculty who have made outstanding contributions in research. Nominations for the award are made by alumni, faculty, staff, and students, and the recipient chosen by a selection committee.
"Dr. Meng's research accomplishments are extraordinary," said Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the veterinary college. "The important work he is doing in virology has world-wide implications. We are very proud to have him in our college and university."
Meng's research focus is on emerging and reemerging viral diseases that impact public health. He is widely considered one of the world's leading scientists in hepatitis E virus, type 2 porcine circovirus, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus. Meng recently developed a vaccine to protect against type 2 porcine circovirus infection and Post-weaning Multi-systemic Wasting Syndrome in pigs, a major threat to the global swine industry. The vaccine, Suvaxyn ® PCV2 One Dose ™, has been patented by Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc. and is licensed and being marketed by Wyeth Inc and Fort Dodge Animal Health Inc. Meng's group also recently discovered two new viruses: swine hepatitis E virus from pigs which is closely related to the human form of hepatitis E virus and avian hepatitis E virus from chickens. These discoveries open up the possibility of new animal models to study human hepatitis E and its treatments that have never been possible before.
Meng serves on the Editorial Board of three international journals and he serves as a reviewer on 29 more. He is a permanent member of the National Institutes of Health's Drug Discovery and Mechanisms of Antimicrobial Resistance Study Section, and has also served on other NIH Study Sections including the NIH-NCRR Comparative Medicine Study Section. He has served as a panel member of the Viral and Rickettsial Diseases panel and as chair of the Viral Hepatitis Section (Annual Report Review) for the United State's Department of Defense's Military Infectious Disease Research Program. He is currently the secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture's NC-229 Committee and he is chair of the Hepeviridae Subcommittee of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.
Meng was also recently recognized by Thomson Scientific as being ranked in the top 1 percent of highly-cited scientists in the world in the field of microbiology (www.in-cites.com/scientists/XJMeng.html). He has published more than 155 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Since joining Virginia Tech, Meng has brought in over $7 million in research funding on projects where he has been the principal investigator and has also been the co-investigator or consultant on other research funding totaling over $21 million.
Almost $70,000 in clinical research grants have been awarded to four principal investigators in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine through the 2008-09 distribution of Veterinary Memorial Fund research grants.
Founded in 1984 by the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA) and the VMRCVM and recently joined by the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), the Veterinary Memorial Fund is a program 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.
"This program serves as a good example of the translational medicine research programs we are building throughout the college," said VMRCVM Drean 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. Natalia Henao-Guerrero, assistant professor, DSACS, received $19,800 for her proposal "Development of a ventilator protocol for thoracic CT exams in cats."
Dr. Ed Monroe, professor, DSACS, received $15,223 for his proposal "The effects of illness on plasma and urine concentrations of catecholamines and their metabolites in dogs."
Dr. Otto Lanz, associate professor, DSACS, received $19,767 for his proposal "Effect of Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy and Medial Meniscal Release on Internal Rotation of the Stifle."
Dr. Jonathon Abbott, associate professor, DSACS, will receive $14,228 for his proposal "Echocardiographic Assessment of the Canine Right Heart: Reference Intervals and Repeatability."
One of the principal benefits of the Veterinary Memorial Fund is the way 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 its inception, it has raised almost $1 million that has been used to fund more than 100 clinical research programs.
Dr. Jennifer L. Hodgson, an associate professor of microbiology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP), has been named the associate dean for professional programs in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. In her new role, Hodgson will oversee the curriculum and administration of the DVM program in the college. She will also continue her teaching responsibilities in veterinary microbiology.
"Dr. Hodgson's leadership in the college has been exemplary since she arrived," said Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the veterinary college. "She successfully led the college through a very important accreditation process and she has proven herself to be a strong advocate for the students and for veterinary education. I have full confidence in her ability to lead our professional programs and I look forward to working with her in this new capacity."
Prior to joining the VMRCVM in 2007, she was the associate dean of learning and teaching in the University of Sydney's Faculty of Veterinary Science where she had many of the same responsibilities. "I have a great love of working with students," said Hodgson, "and a real interest in ensuring the veterinary curriculum meets the needs of the veterinary profession."
Those needs vary and are ever changing, according to Hodgson. Issues such as mounting student debt and the requirement to produce graduates that fulfill the diverse needs of society as well as others must now be considered when designing the curriculum for a professional DVM degree.
While the demands on the profession continue to evolve, Hodgson believes the VMRCVM is well equipped to meet them head-on.
"The faculty and staff at the VMRCVM take great pride in our veterinary students and the individual qualities these young professionals bring to the CVM," she said. "All involved in the instructional mission of the college work very hard to ensure we produce high quality veterinarians who will positively contribute to the profession."
Hodgson fills the vacancy left by Dr. Grant Turnwald who completed his tenure as associate dean for academic affairs. The position title was changed to accurately reflect the job duties of the associate dean in overseeing the administration of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree-a professional academic program.
During her tenure, Hodgson hopes to focus her efforts on further strengthening the college's curriculum and fostering support programs for teaching.
Hodgson received her B.V.Sc. from the University of Sydney and her Ph.D. from Washington State University. She is a diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Microbiology and a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
Each of the college's three departments has recently welcomed a new faculty member.
Dr. Nicole M. Weinstein has joined the college as an assistant professor of clinical pathology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP).
She comes to the college from the University of Pennsylvania where she completed a residency in clinical pathology.
Weinstein received her B.S. in biochemistry and veterinary science in 1997 from the University of Arizona and her DVM in 2001 from Colorado State University. In addition to her residency, she also completed a transfusion medicine fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and a small animal residency at Tufts University. She is a member of the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology.
Dr. Lauren Kleine has joined the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS) as a clinical assistant professor of surgery.
She comes to the college from Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine where she completed a residency in large animal surgery with an equine emphasis.
Kleine received her DVM in 2003 from Mississippi State University, where she also completed an internship, and her B.S. in animal science from Cornell University in 1999. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
Dr. Reid Tyson is the newest faculty member of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (DSACS). He joins the college as an assistant professor of radiology.
Tyson comes to the college from Corvallis, Ore. where he was in practice at Northwest Veterinary Imaging Consultants, P.C. Prior to that he was an assistant professor and radiology section head at Oregon State University.
He received his DVM in 2000 and his B.S. in animal science in 1996 from North Carolina State University. He also completed a radiology residency at Central Florida Veterinary Radiology.
He is a diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Radiology. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Radiological Society of North America.
A faculty member and student in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech were recently honored by the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP).
Dr. Anne Zajac, of Blacksburg, Va., an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, was named the recipient of the association's 2008 Distinguished Service Award. David Goodwin of Kingston, N.H., a graduate student in the college, was named the first recipient of the AAVP-Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) Graduate Student Award in Zoonotic Disease.
Zajac was honored for her many contributions to the association and to the field of parasitology. She has been active in the association for over 20 years and served as its first female president. She has also authored two editions of the standard diagnostic manual Veterinary Clinical Parasitology, which is published under the auspices of the AAVP. Zajac also conducts research and educates futures generations of parasitologists.
"I greatly enjoy teaching students about parasites and working on new ways to provide effective control of parasitic infections," said Zajac.
She received her DVM in 1982 from Michigan State University and her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 1986 at which time she joined the VMRCVM. In addition to the AAVP, Zajac is a member of the American Society of Parasitologists, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Helminthological Society of Washington.
Goodwin was honored for his contributions to the parasitology field in the investigation of two zoonotic parasites.
Naming Goodwin as the first recipient of this award was an excellent choice, according to Dr. David Lindsay, a professor of parasitology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, who serves as his advisor. "David has worked with two different zoonotic parasites, Encephalitozoon cuniculi and Toxoplasma gondii, and he has published his finding in several parasitology journals," said Lindsay.
Goodwin is a Ph.D. student in Lindsay's laboratory and is expected to graduate in 2009. He is a 2000 graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in animal science and a 1996 graduate of Berwick Academy in South Berwick, Maine.
Zajac and Goodwin were both formally presented with their awards during the 53rd AAVP Annual Meeting held recently in New Orleans, La.
Whether they know it or not, by the time a patient and client check out of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, chances are multiple people have had a hand in their care.
"Our hospital's ability to provide top-quality care to our patients is a result of the hard work of many individuals," said Dr. Bill Pierson, director of the hospital.
There are, of course, the highly trained and board-certified veterinarians, residents, and interns who oversee the care of all patients and there are the fourth-year students who serve as an interface between veterinarian and client. However, this is only part of the healthcare team.
There are many departments, offices, and individuals, many behind the scenes, who play an indispensible role in making sure everything runs smoothly. The front-office staff greets each client and patient and serves as the first point of contact for appointments, information, and billing. The diagnostic services staff works diligently to provide prompt and accurate testing to ensure clinicians have the information necessary to make a diagnosis. Licensed veterinary technicians provide nursing care to both large and small animals and provide critical support to veterinarians.
It is the responsibility of the pharmacy staff to see each patient receives the right medication and in the proper dose. The animal husbandry staff makes sure each patient is housed in a clean and comfortable environment.
The list goes on and on.
"Every unit and every department in this hospital is dependent on the other," said Pierson. "Every job is important to our mission of providing expert, compassionate care for both patient and client."
With this in mind, the Office of Public Relations and Communications in collaboration with the Office of the Hospital Director will be highlighting a new area every month in a Vital Signs series called "Meet our Healthcare Team." The first installment will begin in October with the hospital's many dedicated licensed veterinary technicians and will continue through the school year.
"We hope this series will teach everyone something they didn't know about both the individual and collaborative efforts that go into every aspect of our hospital's operation," said Pierson.
A high school science teacher from Roanoke County public schools recently spent the summer doing research in the laboratory of Dr. Taranjit Kaur in the VMRCVM with the intent of taking what she learned back to her students.
Over the course of six weeks, Sara Cann, of Roanoke, Va., did DNA sequencing on 10 plant samples sent to her from Kaur deep in the bush of Tanzania. Cann was trying to determine exactly what the plants were, so Kaur and her colleagues could determine why chimpanzees were eating them.
"For example, if the plants had an anti-nausea component, then the chimps may be eating it to sooth an upset stomach," explains Cann. This type of information is useful to Kaur as she continues her study of the endangered chimpanzee population of the Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania.
After studying chimpanzees in the wilds of Tanzania for the past year as part of a National Science Foundation grant, Kaur and her team have produced powerful scientific evidence that chimpanzees are becoming sick from viral infectious diseases they have likely contracted from humans. Scientific establishment of that linkage could affect the eco-tourism industry, which is an important source of economic development in the region.
The information is also useful to Cann as she prepares to use the knowledge she garnered this summer in her lesson plans for this school year. She hopes to develop her research and experiences into "Read It Modules" for her own high school classroom. She also plans to make the modules adaptable for other teachers to use across all levels of education and plans to present her suggestions at the Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST) conference in November.
"The Read It Modules allow for real world examples to be brought into the classroom," said Cann. "I can incorporate my research over the summer into a variety of subjects including ecology and the study of endangered species. I hope to use this as a way of sparking enthusiasm for science in my students."
Cann, a native of Charlottesville, Va., is a two-time graduate of Virginia Tech. She received her B.S. in biology and chemistry in 1995 and her MA.Ed. in curriculum and instruction in 2002.
Needles are often equated with pain and discomfort; however, for a horse named Gypsy the tiny sharp objects brought about much needed relief as Dr. Mark Crisman, a professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS), administered acupuncture therapy.
Gypsy had an infection in her ankle and Crisman was using acupuncture, along with traditional therapy, to help strengthen her bones and immune system, and provide pain relief.
Acupuncture, which has its roots in eastern countries, is a technique of inserting and manipulating very fine needles into specific points on the body with the intention of relieving pain and other therapeutic purposes. This ancient practice has long been used among human patients and, over the past few decades, has gained popularity and recognition in veterinary medicine.
"Acupuncture has proven to be a safe and relatively painless treatment for a variety of illnesses in animals," said Crisman who has been practicing the therapy for over a decade on equine patients and now teaches others who desire certification.
The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Teaching Hospital offers this therapy to both large and small animals. Conditions that respond well to acupuncture range from skin disorders to musculoskeletal issues to neurological problems.
"While pain and osteoarthritis are common conditions we treat with acupuncture in small animals," said Dr. Bess Pierce, an associate professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (DSACS) who is leading the hospital's community practice, "we certainly provide therapy for a multitude of problems."
Veterinarians who wish to practice acupuncture most undergo an additional training process. With the recent completion of her certification, Dr. Beverley Purswell, a professor in the DLACS, brings the total of certified veterinary acupuncturists in the college to four.
"Acupuncture certainly does not replace traditional veterinary medicine," said Purswell who plans to use the therapy in her work in theriogenology, the specialized field of veterinary medicine that focuses on reproduction. "It can, however, compliment the therapies we already use."
In addition to Crisman, Pierce, and Purswell, Dr. Scott Pleasant, associate professor in the DLACS, is also a certified acupuncturist.
For more information on the hospital's acupuncture service, please visit www.vetmed.vt.edu/vth/la/acupuncture.asp
Andrea Moore, the manager of the Intensive Care Unit in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH), was recently recognized for her contributions to the hospital during the 2008 VTH Awards Ceremony in the College Center.
After opening remarks by Dr. Bill Pierson, hospital director, and presentation of certificates of completion for outgoing residents and interns, Rick Hiller, hospital administrator, announced the nominations for the VTH 2008 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.
According to many of her co-workers, Moore was an obvious choice.
"Andrea is extremely deserving of recognition for going above and beyond in her job duties," wrote one in her nomination letter.
Another colleague wrote, "She has taken the role of manager in stride and made a seamless transition from co-worker to manager."
Moore received a plaque and monetary award in appreciation of her outstanding dedication to the hospital and to the college.
The Veterinary Medical Informatics Laboratory (VMIL) at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) has welcomed two new employees. Maureen Fallon and Dr. Gareth Moore will both serve as editors of the Veterinary Adaptation™ of SNOMED-CT®.
Fallon graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in animal science and a M.S. in vocational-technical education, and is currently pursuing a M.S. in special education. Her experiences include high school agriculture education, Americorps service, technical duties in the microbiology lab and pharmacy of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and preschool administration.
Moore obtained a DVM from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph and completed a residency in clinical pharmacology at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where he also obtained his M.S. Moore has many years of veterinary practice experience both in the private sector and at the VMRCVM, where he served as a clinical instructor in the Department of Large Animal Sciences from 1985-1990, and as an assistant professor from 1990-1996. In addition, Moore has participated in VMIL activities over the past four years as a contracting editor of both the printed version and online database of FDA's Green Book.
The Veterinary Medical Informatics Laboratory, under direction of Dr. Jeff Wilcke, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, provides terminology services to the United States Department of Agriculture (APHIS, Veterinary Services, and the National Animal Health Laboratory Network), the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The lab holds a SNOMED® license through which they acquire and maintain a legal namespace. Using this license, VMIL is developing the Veterinary Adaptation™ of the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine - Clinical Terms (SNOMED-CT®). This adaptation combines a limited (veterinary useful) subset of the SNOMED-CT® core and an integrated extension of this content which will have applications in electronic medical records, hospital systems and electronic drug labels, among others.
For more information about VMIL activities, visit http://informatics.vetmed.vt.edu/
It's been just a few months since board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Gwendolyn Lynch became affiliated with Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center. But, in this short time, Lynch has provided many patients with much-needed specialized eye care, using equipment not available elsewhere in Northern Virginia.
"Because the EMC houses such state-of-the-art equipment, we can do procedures there that are just not available anywhere else in this area," Lynch said. "Clients would have to travel to North Carolina, Pennsylvania, or Blacksburg, Virginia to have some of the treatments available at the EMC," she noted.
Lynch is based out of Eye Care for Animals at the LifeCentre in Leesburg, and sees patients at the EMC on a weekly basis. To diagnose horses with ocular problems, Lynch utilizes a handheld biomicroscope to obtain a detailed look at the front half of the eye, an ophthalmoscope to look at the back of the eye, special stains to highlight corneal problems, a tonometer to test for glaucoma, an ocular ultrasound to look for retinal detachment, and an electroretinogram to test for retinal function. Specialized surgical equipment includes an operating microscope, lasers, and a cryotherapy unit.
"Having such a specialized service available can only improve the quality of care that horses receive," Lynch stated. "In collaborating with the EMC, I can already see that we are able to provide a valuable service in the Mid-Atlantic region," she added.
Dr. Nathaniel White, director of the EMC, agrees. "Our goal is to offer the best medical care for horses. Dr. Lynch provides an extra level of expertise for our patients that need this type of specialized care," he said.
Attesting to this is Georgia Corey, owner of Elvis, a 12-year old Pinto Saddlebred. Lynch treated Elvis recently for a cancerous tumor discovered in his right eye by his veterinarian, Dr. Valerie Babcock.
"I noticed that Elvis' eye was bloodshot, and I just thought that he had brushed against a branch," Corey said. "But then it remained bloodshot, so when we saw Dr. Babcock, she identified it right away as a squamous cell carcinoma-one that she said would grow very quickly," she continued.
"Fortunately, Dr. Babcock was aware that Dr. Lynch was now seeing patients at the EMC," Corey said. "So, in very short order, we had an appointment with Dr. Lynch. I brought Elvis in for an exam and a biopsy.
"The biopsy revealed that Elvis not only had a tumor, but the tumor was malignant-and it was located on his eyeball, not on his eyelid or a membrane. That scared me," Corey noted. "My greatest fear was that he might lose his eye," she said. "But, my worries were unfounded; everything worked out great."
Elvis underwent his surgical procedure, which included the removal of the tumor as well as freezing the surrounding area, and Corey took him home the next day. "Since his surgery," Corey said, "he has not slowed down at all," she related. "He's still a live wire-lots of fun. It was amazing to me that-not long after his surgery-we were out riding again. We've even done some new and different things together, which has been wonderful," Corey said.
"Of course I was very pleased with the treatment that Elvis received, but the convenience factor is also noteworthy," Corey said. "The fact that I could bring Elvis to Leesburg to obtain this type of specialized care was just so great. To not have to travel hours away for these kinds of treatments helps tremendously," she added.
For more information about veterinary ophthalmologic care, visit Eye Care for Animals at www.eyecareforanimals.com. Dr. Lynch can be reached through her office at The LifeCentre in Leesburg at 571-209-1190.
Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center has named Kate Lee public relations coordinator. In her new role, Lee 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, Lee will be responsible for leading external and internal public relations efforts for the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center.
Lee joins the center with a diverse background in communications; previously she served as public relations director at a hospital in Southern California, advertising manager at a helicopter manufacturer, and most recently, she was the assistant editor of an international arts magazine.
"We are pleased to have Ms. Lee's expertise in helping communicate timely information about the Equine Medical Center to the public in general-and horse owners in particular," said Dr. Nathaniel White, Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and EMC Director. "Because the staff at the center is involved in several important and interesting endeavors, we have many stories that will interest both local and national audiences. Ms. Lee will be instrumental in bringing attention to those stories," he said.
Lee received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Connecticut and completed post-graduate work in the corporate and political communications program at Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT. Lee moved to Virginia six years ago, after living and working in many parts of the U.S. She lives with her family in Leesburg.
The college's Class of 2012 was formally "admitted" following a "White Coat Ceremony" in which the 90 new students were issued white laboratory coats and administered the "Veterinary Student's Oath." While now common at many schools, the VMRCVM is believed to be the first college to begin this welcoming ceremony.
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 to behavioral and personality inventories.
During the ceremony, Dean Gerhardt Schurig spoke with the students about the promising opportunities and unique challenges facing the profession.
"You have picked a wonderful time in history to pursue your dream of becoming a veterinarian," said Schurig. "Our profession has never been able to do so much for so many. At the same time, the world has never asked so much from veterinary medicine."
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.
Admission to one of the nation's 28 colleges of veterinary medicine is very competitive. Over 800 individuals applied for admission to the VMRCVM's Class of 2012.
Incoming students represented 49 different undergraduate institutions, with 33 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 19 different academic disciplines ranging from neuroscience to civil engineering. Sixty-three studied either biology or animal science prior to admission.
The incoming class also included 22 men. 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).
They travel up to five hours one way to staff an event - hoping the whole time that their services won't be needed when they get there.
But the five-member ambulance crew from Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center always know that when they are needed, the need is urgent. The crew and their well-equipped rig provide emergency care and transport services to horses that incur injuries in Steeplechase and Point-to-Point events which will take place throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.
The ambulance - the only vehicle of its kind in Virginia - is on hand during numerous equine events during the spring and fall seasons."If a horse is injured during an event, we have the ability to triage and transport him, under the guidance of a veterinarian, to a nearby site where the veterinarian can examine him further," said John Dashiell, who oversees the equine medical center's ambulance service.
Like any ambulance, this rig is designed and equipped to be of enormous use in an emergency situation. "In configuring and stocking the ambulance, we went about things very methodically" Dashiell explained.
"The trailer, for instance, started off as standard issue equipment," Dashiell noted, "but even before we obtained it, we had plans for adding structural reinforcement and adjustable breast bars, electrical outlets, a winch capable of pulling up to 8,000 pounds, and work-area lighting," he said. "We customized it so it better serves veterinarians" and injured horses' needs."
As an example, the adjustable breast bar allows for a variety of configurations. The center partition and bars can be moved to separate two adult horses or allow a mare and her foal to stay together. Or, the bars can be shifted to one side so an injured horse has additional support. The bars can also be removed to accommodate a recumbent horse.
"In stocking the ambulance, we did our research," Dashiell said. "We asked veterinarians what they needed most, and put those items on board. One of the most important items we carry is water - and lots of it. Every time we go out," he noted, "we have 170 gallons of water, which we primarily use to cool horses down if they've become overheated."
Other supplies include various sizes and types of splints, bandage materials, high-volume fans, and a misting unit. "We also carry a strong, lightweight skid that we can use to move or transport a horse even if he's unable to walk on his own," Dashiell said.
The need for the ambulance service increases every year, and Dashiell, who has received formal instruction in search and recovery as well as emergency responder training, would like to see it at even more events, carrying additional equipment and supplies, and crewed by a staff that has undergone more formal training. But he says he knows that time and funding are limited.
"The thing is, we wouldn't be able to do this at all if it weren't for private donations made by a generous clientele and members of the equine community; they're the ones who provided the funds to purchase this equipment," he explained. "And, bear in mind, this is not a profit center; the charges for our services only cover our costs to maintain and operate the ambulance."
When the ambulance is put to use, the crew says they find that horse owners are very appreciative. "The feedback we get is extremely positive," said Dr. Nathaniel White, equine medical center director. "John takes a great deal of pride in the ambulance service, and because of this dedication, the race committees and veterinarians now depend on having a dedicated team to help injured horses. Our goal is to make sure we provide optimal care for the horses.
The accolades are great, but all credit for the program should really go to everyone who is involved with it - from the ambulance crew to the donors who helped purchase the equipment, to horse owners, to veterinarians who provide their services at equine events, to riders and trainers, and to event officials. All successes hinge entirely on the combined effort of everyone involved," Dashiell said. "It's truly a team effort."
Though Dashiell stresses the teamwork that goes into operating the ambulance service, in 2006 he was singled out for a prestigious award for his outstanding contributions as a volunteer on behalf of the Virginia Point-to-Point. He was presented with the Virginia Huntsman Award, "which was just a tremendous honor," Dashiell said.
Speaking with Dashiell, the passion and enthusiasm he has for the equine medical center ambulance service is evident. "We're the only ones within hundreds of miles who can provide this type of service," he noted. "When we support an event, it's very likely that at least one of our donors will be attending. On that day, when they see us there, I hope they are as proud of this team and this service as they were on day one."