Vital Signs
September 2006

A Time of Promise

Dr. Gerhardt G. SchurigDear Friends and Colleagues,
 
The excitement of a new academic year is upon us. Even those of us who have been with the college since the beginning and have now seen 27 such "opening days" feel the energy and sense of renewal that courses through our hallways, classrooms and laboratories.  

Just a few days ago I had the opportunity to brief the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors on the status of the profession, our college and the future of our translational medicine/research programs. This exercise reminded me yet again that there are many good things happening for us. We are making progress in many of our core programs and plans for the future, and we are making progress on the facilities that will support them.  

The Virginia General Assembly appropriated $4 million to support the construction of a new Center for Host Pathogen Interaction (ChoPI) on our Blacksburg Campus, and we await news from Washington about the status of the NIH program we hope will provide the balance of our funding needs. This structure is planned for an area adjacent to our VTH.  

Proposed Facility As you know, this is but one of many new facilities which we must build in the years ahead. We still need to develop more suitable space for faculty and instructional activities, and as envisioned, a major Translational Research Center.  

On the instructional side, we all take pride in the accomplishments of Dr. Marion Ehrich and Dr. Kevin Pelzer, who were each honored at the recent AVMA meeting in Honolulu as the SCAVMA Teachers of the Year. With Dr. Scott Pleasant earning one of these awards last year, this means that VMRCVM faculty-members have earned three of the past four national awards. This is an enormous achievement for these professors and our college, and I think it speaks clearly about the quality of our entire academic program.  

We are also making progress on our research programs. Recent data from Virginia Tech's Office of Sponsored Programs demonstrated that fiscal year 2006 research program awards leaped more than 34% over 2005. This is a result of the focus and hard work of many faculty and staff members in our college. It is a visible and important sign of progress on a goal that we all share. I encourage you all to continue the important work we are doing in building our capacity and our performance in the area of discovery.  

To our incoming class of DVM students, I welcome you to the profession and wish you success in the years ahead. To all others who are part of our college, I welcome you back to a new academic year. These are challenging yet rewarding times for veterinary medicine, and the same can be said for our college. I wish you all luck and success as you pursue the personal quests and achievements that make us all better.  

Sincerely,  


Gerhardt G. Schurig
Dean


Dean Schurig Hosts Visioning Retreat

Dean's Vision Retreat Developing additional private support for the college in the years ahead is considered among its highest priorities.
 
Philanthropic support will play a critical role in the college's abilities to construct the facilities it must, endow faculty positions, provide student scholarships, and support other college initiatives, according to Dean Gerhardt Schurig.
 
With that in mind, Dean Schurig recently hosted a two-day visioning retreat for several of its most significant donors, friends and influentials.
 
During the two-day session, guests enjoyed a mix of informational and social events - all of which were linked to the college's plans for the future and the role private support will play in helping it get there.
 
Dean Schurig opened the event with a Wednesday evening presentation on the forces and trends that are shaping the profession's present and future operating environment. Some of these included a perceived shortage of veterinarians, increased specialty hospitals in private practice, corporate practice ownership, the need for more public practice veterinarians, and the need to increase research productivity across the profession.
 
Schurig's opening talk on the following day focused on the need for the VMRCVM to develop a translational medicine program in the college. He outlined his strategy for using graduate students to serve as catalysts for increased collaboration between basic scientists and clinicians as they develop and rapidly deploy new treatments and technologies for treating disease and injury in both animals and people.
 
Detailed information regarding campaign strategy, including goals, naming opportunities, and strategies for moving the college's campaign were also shared with the guests. During the second day, the group heard comments by Dr. Bill Tyrrell, former president of the college's Alumni Society and a northern Virginia-based veterinary cardiologist; Dr. Steve Escobar, an alumnus, Richmond-based practitioner and former president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association; Dr. Craig Reed, visiting professor, former USDA-APHIS administrator and a member of the Virginia Department of Health; and former VMRCVM Dean Peter Eyre.
 
In the afternoon, Dr. Greg Troy, head of the Department of Small Animal clinical Sciences, made a presentation entitled "High Tech Medical Equipment Saving Lives."
 
The fund-raising goal for the VMRCVM's Blacksburg campus is around $30 million, which includes resources for endowed faculty positions, scholarships and facilities.
 
"Our college is fortunate to enjoy a great tradition of private support," said Dean Schurig, noting that the "Campaign for the Veterinary College" in the early 1980's was Virginia Tech's first major capital campaign. "Our first $8 million appropriation from the state came with a matching stipulation from non-state sources."
 
Today, much of the capital construction underway and planned for Virginia Tech is structured upon a combination of public and private resources, he said.
 


VMRCVM researchers invent vaccine for global swine disease

Dr. Meng and Dr. Fenaux Researchers working in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases (CMMID) at Virginia Tech have developed a vaccine to protect against Post-weaning Multi-systemic Wasting Syndrome (PMWS) in pigs, a major threat to the global swine industry.
 
The vaccine has been patented by Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc. (VTIP) and is licensed and being marketed by Fort Dodge Animal Health Inc.
 
PMWS, caused by the Porcine Circovirus Type 2 (PCV2), has plagued the swine industry for almost ten years. By disrupting an animal's immune system, the virus renders the pig susceptible to a range of clinical disorders and severely constrains weight gain and development.
 
The vaccine has been developed by Dr. X. J. Meng, a physician and virologist who is an associate professor in the VMRCVM's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathology (DBSP), and his former graduate student Dr. Martijn Fenaux who is now a postdoctoral associate at Stanford Medical School.
 
Working in the college's Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases (CMMID) for almost seven years in collaboration with scientists from Fort Dodge Animal Health Inc and colleagues at the Iowa State University, Meng and Fenaux have developed a vaccine that is expected to substantially reduce economic losses in the global swine industry.
 
"This new vaccine could save the United States and global swine industry millions of dollars in production losses caused by this virus," said VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig. "The invention of this vaccine is an excellent example of how our rapidly developing translational research programs can create rapid solutions for 'real-world' animal health problems."
 
First identified in the early 1990's, PMWS has been a major problem in Europe and Asia and recent outbreaks of PCV2-associated disease, with mortality rates as high as 30 percent, have been reported in the United States and Canada. The virus can cause significant disease in 30 to 50% of the animals it infects, causing major problems for production agriculture.
 
Working in the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Meng and Fenaux utilized the genomic backbone of a non-pathogenic strain of a related virus known as PCV1 to produce a chimeric virus that expresses the immunogenic antigen of the disease-causing PCV2, thereby conferring immunity but not causing disease.
 
Meng, a physician and Ph.D. virologist, operates one of the world's top laboratories in the investigation of Hepatitis E viruses. In addition to the extensive funding he has received from Fort Dodge Animal Health Inc, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and several other funding agencies to support the PCV2 and PMWS work and his research on several other viruses of veterinary and public health concern, he has been awarded approximately $2 million from the National Institutes of Health to study the Hepatitis E Virus, which is a major threat to people and animals.
 


duPont Scott Equine Medical Center Offers New Treatment for Lameness

A Horse Being Treated at the EMC The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) has begun offering a new therapy for treating lameness associated with osteoarthritis and cartilage damage in horses, a problem that affects all segments of the equine industry.
 
Lameness, which is recognized as an abnormality in the way a horse moves or stands, is typically associated with a painful musculoskeletal condition or a mechanical abnormality that hinders locomotion. In an April 2000 study by the United States Department of Agriculture's National Animal Health Monitoring System, researchers found that one half of U.S. horse farms had reported having at least one horse suffer from lameness in the previous year. Leg, joint and hoof problems are believed to be the most commonly perceived cause of the disease.
 
The new treatment, known as Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein therapy or IRAPT therapy, consists of the injection of an autologous serum sample into the horse's affected joint. The serum contains anti-inflammatory proteins that block the harmful effects of Interleukin-1, an inflammatory cytokine that has been shown to facilitate osteoarthritis by accelerating the destruction of cartilage.
 
The serum is obtained by drawing a 50 ml blood sample using a special syringe containing glass beads. The blood mixes with glass beads during a 24-hour incubation process. The blood is then spun in a centrifuge to separate the serum from the red blood cells.
 
Once enriched, the serum is divided into three or four doses of four to five milliliters each. It is then injected into the horse's affected joint by the Center's veterinarians once a week for three to five treatments.
 
Because the serum sample is derived from the horse's own blood, it carries minimal risk of adverse reaction. According to a statement released by Arthrex Bio Systems, the company that produces the IRAPT system, the device has been used worldwide by veterinary surgeons for over three years without negative reactions or side effects.
 
"We're please to be offering this cutting-edge treatment to our clients," said Dr. Nat White, the Jean Ellen duPont Shehan Professor and Director of the center. "Lameness is a condition that affects many horses and this therapy is a very promising alternative to traditional treatments."
 


Dr. Lee Pyle Receives ACVIM Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Lee Pyle A veterinary cardiologist on faculty in the college who is considered one of the "founding fathers" of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) was honored with the organziation's "Distinguished Service Award" during their recent annual meeting.
 
Dr. R. Lee Pyle, who was one of the VMRCVM's founding employees and administrators, is a professor in the college's Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. His wife Inge was also honored with him during the ceremonies.
 
The ACVIM, based in Denver, Colorado, is one of the world's leading veterinary specialty organizations. It certifies advanced level practitioners in the areas of cardiology, large and small animal internal medicine, oncology and neurology. The Distinguished Service Award honors ACVIM Diplomates who have provided exemplary and sustained service.
 
Dr. Pyle and his wife Inge, known to many in the organization as "Mr. and Mrs. ACVIM," began operating the association out of a bedroom in their home in 1984. They helped create the ACVIM Forum, which is now one of the world's leading continuing education conferences in veterinary medicine. But it wasn't always so.
 
"At a 1984 board meeting we discovered the ACVIM's checking account was too low to cover the Forum costs and the pre-registered attendees were way below what was needed," said Dr. Jeanne Barsanti, an ACVIM leader who presented the award to Dr. Pyle. "Dr. Pyle said he knew ACVIM was a great organization and knew the veterinarians would come to the convention - he was the originator of 'if you build it, they will come'."
 
Dr. Pyle's vision and steadfast leadership paid off. In 1977, when Dr. Pyle began to serve on the ACVIM Board of Regents, the College had a total of 100 Diplomates. Today there are 1,655 ACVIM Diplomates, and the ACVIM hosted close to 3,000 attendees this year at their annual convention. Much of the success of the College can be attributed to Dr. Pyle's involvement in ACVIM, said Dr. Barsanti during the ceremonies.
 
Established in 1973, ACVIM's purpose is to advance the knowledge of animal health and diseases, and to foster the continued development of specialty veterinary care.
 
Dr. Pyle was one of the college's earliest employees. VMRCVM Founding Dean Richard B. Talbot appointed Pyle Associate Dean - Public Programs. As such, he played a major role in the development and operation of the college's Veterinary Teaching Hospital and decade-long building program.
 
Pyle currently teaches in the DVM instructional program, provides veterinary cardiology services in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and conducts research.
 
Pyle earned a B.S. from Penn State, and VMD and M.S. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the college, he conducted an NIH post-doctoral fellowship at Penn, and served on faculty at Mississippi State University and Colorado State University.
 
He is a member of numerous professional societies and organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA), Phi Zeta, Omega Tau Sigma, and others.
 


College Faculty Claim Both SCAVMA National Teacher of the Year Awards

Dr. Marion Ehrich Two VMRCVM faculty members were honored for excellence in teaching in veterinary medicine during the recent meeting of the American Veterinary Medical Association in Honolulu.
 
Dr. Marion Ehrich, professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology was presented the 2006 Student AVMA Teaching Excellence Award - Basic Science; and Dr. Kevin Pelzer, associate professor and section chief of the Production Management Medicine Field Services Unit, was honored with the 2006 Student AVMA Teaching Excellence Award - Clinical Science.
 
"I think this makes a very powerful statement about the quality of our teaching," said VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig in recognizing their accomplishments, noting that Dr. Scott Pleasant, a professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, won the award last year.
 
The national honorees are selected on the basis of nominations presented by students at each of the nation's 28 colleges of veterinary medicine.
 
The basic sciences award recognizes excellence, innovation, and enthusiasm in the field of basic veterinary science and education.
 
Dr. Ehrich, who has taught in the VMRCVM since 1980, teaches pharmacology and toxicology to veterinary and graduate students, and provides service in the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital Pharmacy and in the Toxicology Diagnostic Laboratory.
 
"To be nominated and to receive a national award for teaching is incredible," she said. "Every student I have ever taught, and I have taught all VMRCVM graduates, owns a piece of this award."
 
Dr. Ehrich earned her BS from South Dakota State University, an MS in pharmacology/toxicology from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in pharmacology/toxicology from the University of Connecticut.
 
Dr. Ehrich has served as President of the Society of Toxicology and as Treasurer of the American Board of Toxicology. She was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences in 1999. She plays a major role with several academic journals and societies and also serves on the prestigious National Research Council's Committee on Toxicology.
 
Her primary research activities are associated with the comparative neurotoxicities of antiesterase pesticides, with both in vivo and in vitro models used for study.
 
The clinical sciences award recognizes excellence, innovation, and enthusiasm in the field of clinical veterinary science and education.
 
Dr. Kevin Pelzer Dr. Pelzer earned his DVM from Tuskegee University, worked in private practice, and then studied at the University of California at Davis, where he conducted a residency in Food Animal Reproduction and Herd Health and earned an MS degree in Preventive Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Pelzer earned board certification in preventive medicine by the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine.
 
After working at Iowa State University, he joined the college in 1987, where he teaches and serves as a clinician in the Production Management Medicine section. He has served as a faculty advisor for SCAVMA since 1991, and his academic interests are in public health and food animal medicine.
 
"Good teaching requires a willingness to share one's experiences and knowledge, an ability to present information in a practical and understandable manner, and a sincere interest in the student and his or her success, not only in that particular class, but also in life," he wrote in summarizing his teaching philosophy.
 
Dr. Pelzer has been active in continuing education and outreach, giving more than 100 presentations to both professional and lay groups in Virginia, throughout the United States, and in other countries.
 


Commissioned Tapestry Now Decorates Hospital Lobby

Origins Clients in the college's Veterinary Teaching Hospital may have noticed a new tapestry adorning one of the waiting room walls.
 
This tapestry is named "Origins." The artwork was commissioned for and generously donated to the College by Lynn and Bernard Cosell, who reside in nearby Giles County. Loyal hospital clients, the Cosells depend upon the VTH for excellent healthcare for their sheep, dogs and cats.
 
A California based husband and wife team, Jean-Pierre Larochette and Yael Lurie, created the multi-dimensional tapestry to showcase the coordinating dimensions of veterinary medicine and the natural world.
 
It is woven in the classic French Aubusson style, from the back rather than the front. The composition is harmonious and the color selections draw the observer into the artwork. The piece has many layers of symbolism and meaning.
 
Serpents are especially appropriate for the college of veterinary medicine as they symbolize the vital forces in life and are a long standing symbol of the medical profession. The serpents are entwined to form a double helix, the genetic code of life. Hands represent creativity, compassion and healing - all essential to veterinary medicine. A vast variety of plant and animal life can be noticed throughout the work, tucked away in different layers of the tapestry.
 
Larochette and Lurie have been creating tapestries together for nearly forty years. Their works hang in public buildings, churches, temples and private residences. Origins was commissioned by the Cosells for the College of Veterinary Medicine so that it could be enjoyed by staff, faculty, students and clients.
 


Three Part CE Series in Diagnostic Ultrasound Scheduled

Ultrasound "Three Practical Short Courses for Veterinarians" focused on diagnostic ultrasound will be presented in the weeks and months ahead by the VMRCVM and Virginia Tech's Office of Continuing and Professional Education.
 
The series kicks off October 6-7, 2006 with "Applied Ultrasonography Laboratory," a course specially designed to help veterinary practitioners already performing cardiac and abdominal ultrasounds in small animal practice improve their skills. Registration for this event is $975.
 
The following weekend, October 13-14, 2006, "Introductory Echocardiography" will be offered. This course's purpose is to offer a basic understanding of small animal echocardiography to veterinary practitioners. The cost for this event is $850.
 
The series concludes November 17-19, 2006, with "Advanced Echocardiography." This more advanced course is for veterinary practitioners who already have experience in small animal cardiac scanning, but would to like to expand their skills to include pulse wave Doppler, continuous wave Doppler, color flow Doppler, special measurements and calculations and applying the Bernoulli equations to clinical cases. The registration fee for this course is $1495.
 
Each course contains both lecture and laboratory components. The series is being taught by Drs. Lee Pyle, Colin Carrig, Jonathan Abbott, and Christopher Paige. Advanced registration and payment is required and should be completed no later than two weeks prior to the course.
 
The registration fees for the courses include all lectures and laboratories, reception and dinner, lunch, breakfast (first two courses), handouts and CE certificates. For additional information or to register online, please visit www.conted.vt.edu or contact Anne Cinsavich at 231-5261 or aclapsad@vt.edu.
 


VMRCVM continues tradition of week-long orientation with class of 2010

Matriculation Ceremony In the late 1990's, academic leaders in veterinary medicine began to recognize that veterinarians were long on technical and scientific training and short on communications and business skills.
 
In recognition of that fact and with the encouragement of college friends like Dr. Bob Brown, an Arlington, Virginia based practitioner and well-known consultant, the college began offering a more comprehensive orientation experience for first-year veterinary students and making some curricular modifications.
 
"We thought it was important that we provided a solid transitional experience for these students who are beginning their medical education," said Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Grant Turnwald, who speaks frequently at national meetings on the role of communications in the veterinary curriculum.
 
So this year, consistent with the desire to produce the most well rounded and professional veterinarians possible, the college once again welcomed first-year veterinary students with an in-depth week-long orientation prior to the commencement of fall classes.
 
The class of 2010 participated in a variety of activities designed to help them prepare for their chosen career path, get to know one another, and have some fun as well. Representatives from the Virginia and Maryland Veterinary Medical Associations, the D.C. Academy of Veterinary Medicine, the college's Alumni Society, and corporations working in the veterinary profession also participated in the orientation event.
 
The orientation program included dozens of community-building presentations and activities, ranging from personality assessment inventories to bonfires and scavenger hunts, according to Director of Student and Alumni Affairs Lynn Young.
 
To help them understand themselves and others better, they began their week with a session led by Dr. Bob Brown, owner of Cherrydale Veterinary Clinic and a noted practice management and organizational development consultant. That exercise was intended to help the students analyze their behavior skills and review their emotional intelligence.
 
Orientation Ropes Course During the week, they also participated in an all day ropes course, an experience that was designed to help students improve upon team-building, leadership, self-confidence, and communication skills.
 
Other highlights included a review of professional standards by Dr. Grant Turnwald, associate dean of academic affairs, and a presentation on "Survival Tips" for the years ahead by Dr. Ludeman Eng, head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology (DBSP).
 
Dr. Rick Hartigan, president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, and Dr. Greg Svoboda, president of the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, were each on hand during part of the week to welcome the new students and talk with them about the profession.
 
The week concluded with a "White Coat" matriculation ceremony where each of the first-year students was presented with their first lab coat. While now common at many schools, the VMRCVM is believed to be the first college to begin this welcoming ceremony.
 


VMRCVM's Lindsay Elected Vice-President of American Society of Parasitologists

Dr. David S. Lindsay Dr. David S. Lindsay, a professor in the college's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP) who is widely recognized for his expertise in veterinary and human parasitology, has been elected vice-president of the American Society of Parasitologists (ASP) for this year. He will serve in this position concurrently with his term as president of the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists.
 
Founded in 1924, the American Society of Parasitologists is made up of over 1500 scientist from diversified professional backgrounds that are interested in parasitology. ASP's members make contributions not only in their discipline, but across many areas of science.
 
Lindsay has been a major figure in international parasitology research for more than two decades. Much of his work has involved the examination of the protozoal parasites causing diseases like cryptosporidiosis, coccidiosis infection in pigs, and toxoplasmosis.
 
In the 1990's, Lindsay was part of a USDA funded team that made a major breakthrough in the understanding of an economically significant parasitic disease afflicting cattle. Working in the college's Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease (CMMID), Lindsay and colleagues demonstrated that the dog is a "definitive host" for Neospora caninum, a single-celled parasitic organism that causes pregnant cows to abort their fetuses.
 
Lindsay worked at Auburn University and with the American Parasitology Institute at Beltsville, Maryland prior to joining the Virginia Tech faculty in 1997.
 
Promoted to full professor in 2003, Lindsay became the first member of the VMRCVM to receive the University's Alumni Award for Research Excellence in 2003.
 
Among numerous professional honors and awards, Dr. Lindsay was presented the Henry Baldwin Ward Medal in 2000 from the American Society of Parasitologists. He has also been twice awarded the Pfizer Award for Research Excellence, once in 1996 and again in 2002.
 
Dr. Lindsay has been active in parasitology research since 1978. He has published over 310 papers, 21 book chapters, one book, and co-edited one book.
 


Walters, Students Enjoy AVMA Leadership Experience

Veterinary Leadership Experience Dr. Bettye Walters, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine on the College Park Campus, and three VMRCVM students recently attended the American Veterinary Medical Association Veterinary Leadership Experience in Spokane, Washington and Post Fall, Idaho.
 
The leadership training was focused on the concept of the "servant-leader" model, which is grounded in "emotional intelligence" theory and includes the development and expansion of self-awareness, self-management, and interpersonal relationship skills, according to Dr. Walters.
 
Registrants were administered the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator as part of the program and were encouraged to use reflective journaling for personal and professional awareness and growth. There were also a number of presentations on successful communications strategies and the "Habits of Highly Successful Veterinarians" during the program, she said.
 
Many small group activities and exercises designed to build trust, team-building skills, encourage risk, and challenge individuals to look beyond their long-established comfort zones were held. Outdoor and recreational activities such as high ropes, swimming, karaoke, rock climbing, and special meal functions rounded out the program, according to Dr. Walters.
 
"For me, the most valuable part of the experience was chatting with students and faculty from other colleges and finding out how we do things similarly and, at times, very differently from college to college," she said. "I highly recommend it for any student and especially faculty who is willing to go. I believe it really can change your perspective in a lot of different areas of your life - both personal and professional."
 
Themed "Helping Tomorrow's Leaders. TODAY" and sponsored this year by the AVMA and Hill's, the Veterinary Leadership Experience brings together faculty and students from North American and Caribbean colleges of veterinary medicine. The goal of the program is to develop future leaders for the profession and life skills for the individuals.
 
Dr. Walters represented the VMRCVM faculty, and student participants included Tonya Sparks, Stacie Boswell, and Melinda Cep.
 


Dye Study

By Dr. Jonathan Abbott, Associate Professor, DSACS
 
Cardiac catheterization refers to the art and science of manipulating purpose-designed catheters within the cardiovascular system. Initially, this technique was used only for diagnosis but cardiac catheterization has broadened to include methods of treatment such as balloon dilation, transvenous pacing and more recently, coil occlusion of patent ductus arteriosus (PDA).
 
PDA is one of the most common cardiovascular defects observed in the dog. The ductus arteriosus provides a communication between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. In the fetus, the duct serves to divert blood away from the lungs but in most puppies, the ductus closes immediately after birth. In some dogs, the ductus remains open (or is patent); these dogs have a "PDA". The PDA causes the heart to "recycle" blood resulting in heart enlargement and potentially, fluid accumulation in the lungs. Occasionally, the PDA is sufficiently small that correction is not necessary; however, in the majority, closure of the PDA is required to prevent death due to congestive heart failure. The PDA can be corrected in one of two ways. Traditionally, the ductus has been ligated (tied off) after a surgeon makes an incision in the chest. More recently, a technique of transcatheter coil occlusion has become routine. Essentially, a metal, Dacron-tufted, loop-forming wire is passed into the ductus through a catheter inserted through an artery in the groin. Dacron is a synthetic "body-friendly" material that causes clots to form. The coil (or in some cases coils) are deployed in the PDA under observation by fluoroscopy. In most cases, the PDA closes over in ten to fifteen minutes. The success of the technique is critically dependent on the shape of the ductus; when the PDA is tubular, rather than funnel-shaped, it is not possible to seat the coil. Dilation of Pulmonic Stenosis
 
While surgery remains an appropriate approach, coil occlusion provides a minimally-invasive alternative that is suitable for many affected patients. Transcatheter coil occlusion and other interventional catheterization techniques including balloon dilation of pulmonic stenosis and transvenous cardiac pacing are offered by the clinical cardiology service of the VTH.
 


New faculty members join VMRCVM

Seven new faculty members have joined the college's Blacksburg campus and the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) in both tenure-track and clinical positions. All of these candidates were recruited after extensive searches and bring important new expertise and capacity to the college's programs.
 

duPont Scott's Newest Faculty Member to Focus on Emergency Care and Surgery

Dr. Sarah Dukti Dr. Sarah Dukti has joined the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) as a clinical assistant professor. Dukti will focus on emergency medicine and critical care at the hospital.
 
"We're pleased to be able to recruit a veterinarian like Dr. Dukti and pleased to welcome her to our team," said Dr. Nat White, the Jean Ellen duPont Shehan Professor and Director of the center. "Dr. Dukti's background in emergency medicine will allow her to make a significant contribution to our care of critical patients."
 
Dukti earned her DVM degree from The Ohio State University in 2002. Prior to accepting the position at the EMC, she conducted an internship at the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, and a residency with a focus on surgery and emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
 
In 2005 and 2006, Dukti was honored with both the New Bolton Center's William B. Boucher Award for Outstanding Teaching and the School of Veterinary Medicine Excellence in Teaching Award.
 

Dr. Tisha Harper Harper Joins DSACS

Dr. Tisha Harper has joined the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences.
 
She obtained her DVM degree in 1995 from The School of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine, Trinidad West Indies.
 
Following graduation, she worked at the Small Animal Teaching Hospital as a clinician, and then as an Assistant Lecturer with UWI.
 
In 2000, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to complete her masters degree in veterinary clinical sciences at VMRCVM and was also accepted to do a residency in Small Animal Surgery.
 
She completed her masters degree and residency in 2003 and returned to the School of Veterinary Medicine, UWI as a lecturer in surgery.
 
Dr. Harper gained board certification from the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2005 and returned to the VMRCVM in July 2006 when she accepted her new position.
 

Dr. Iveta Becvarova Becvarova joins DLACS

Dr. Iveta Becvarova has joined the college faculty as a clinical nutrition instructor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences after completing her residency in nutrition at VMRCVM.
 
Dr. Becvarova earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1999 from the University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Czech Republic. She earned her M.S. in Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences from VMRCVM in 2006 and she has also done graduate studies at East Tennessee State University.
 
In 2004, Dr. Becvarova was the primary investigator of the VMRCVM residents' research grant project entitled: "Vitamin E enrichment to parenteral admixtures diminishes oxidative stress-induced cell damage in cats. "
 

Dr. Ondrej Becvar Becvar joins DLACS

Dr. Ondrej Becvar has joined the college as a clinical instructor of production management medicine in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.
 
Dr. Becvar received his DVM in 1999 from the University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Czech Republic. He completed his internship, residency, and master's degree in food animal production management medicine at VRMCVM. He was awarded his M.S. in July of 2006.
 
During his residency, Dr. Becvar served as the primary investigator of the resident research project investigating the effect of housing system and nutrition on claw horn growth, abrasion and sole surface area in beef steers.
 
Dr. Becvar is a member of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and currently serves as a member of the committee on lameness. In addition, he was a founder and lecturer of the Claw Trimmers Association in the Czech Republic and continues to serve as a veterinary consultant to the organization.
 

Paramadhas joins DBSP

Dr. Ruby Paramadhas has joined the faculty in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP).
 
Dr. Paramadhas earned her B.V.Sc. in 1984 from the Madras Veterinary College of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Madras, India. In 1999, she completed her Ph.D. in Veterinary Pathobiology at Madras Veterinary School where her dissertation focused on a histopathological survey of shrimp diseases.
 
Prior to accepting this new position, Dr. Paramadhas served as a research associate at VMRCVM's University of Maryland-College Park's campus.
 
In 1998, she was a co-principal investigator in a grant obtained from the Government of India for the establishment of primary cultures of the hepatopancreas of Penaeus monodon.
 

Subbiah joins DBSP

Dr. Elankumaran Subbiah has joined the faculty in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP). Dr. Subbiah brings a wide range of expertise to the college, including experience in the investigation and diagnosis of foreign animal diseases and extensive BioSafety level-3 experience.
 
Dr. Subbiah received his B.V.Sc. in 1984 and his Ph.D. in 1996 in Veterinary Microbiology from the Madras Veterinary College in Madras, India. He was a research assistant at VMRCVM's University of Maryland-College Park's campus prior to accepting this new position.
 
In 1998, Dr. Subbiah was named to Marqui's "Who's Who in Science and Engineering." In addition, in 2000, he was a finalist for the Invention of the Year Award in Life Sciences for his work on dermal immunization of chickens with a unique plasmid DNA.
 

O'Rourke joins DBSP

Dr. Laurie O'Rourke Dr. Laurie G. O'Rourke has joined the faculty in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP) as a clinical associate professor of pathology. She brings with her to VMRCVM a wide range of valuable professional experience.
 
Dr. O'Rourke received her D.V.M. from Purdue University in 1977 and her Ph.D. in Comparative Pathology in 1991 from the University of California-Davis. Prior to accepting this new position, she was a lecturer in clinical pathology in the Department of Veterinary Pathology at the University College of Dublin School of Veterinary Medicine in Dublin, Ireland.
 
Dr. O'Rourke is board certified as a diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and the European College of Veterinary Clinical Pathologists. During her career, she has also served as a reviewer for Emerging Infectious Diseases, the Journal for Society of Toxicologic Pathologists, and Veterinary Clinical Pathology.
 


VMRCVM's Jones in Gobble de Art

Delbert Jones and his Hokie Statue Chicago had its cows, Norfolk had its mermaids, and now Blacksburg has its.. er.. Gobble de Art?
 
Students returning to Virginia Tech and the VMRCVM were greeted by 75 five-foot tall fiberglass statues of the "Hokie Bird" artistically interpreted in everything from tuxedos to coveralls.
 
Sponsored by the Blacksburg Partnership and installed in prominent places all over town, the iconic statues have kicked off the new academic year with an extra dose of Hokie Pride.
 
And some of that was delivered by the VMRCVM's own Delbert Jones, who produced a specially customized "Van Gogh Hokie Bird."
 
"Van Gogh is my favorite artist," said Jones, a laboratory supervisor in the research division who has worked at Tech for 27 years. "And I'm an avid Hokie Fan."
 
Delbert Jones and his Hokie Statue The creative muse fueled by those two passions emerged in the form of a Hokie Bird based upon two of Van Gogh's most famous paintings: "Starry Night" and "Sunflower."
 
Jones' interpretation, however, was "Starry Night over Burruss Hall," and he painted a very respectable version over the fortress-like administration building. "Sunflower" is expressed on the front.
 
His concept was selected and he was commissioned to participate in the program though a process that began in late 2005.
 
Jones' painting has been installed at the corner of Washington Street and Draper Avenue in downtown Blacksburg.
 
In October, the Hokie Birds will be auctioned off.
 


VMRCVM home VMRCVM Home