September 2010

Breaking Ground on the Future

Dear friends and colleagues,

Dr. Gerhardt G. SchurigWith the start of the fall semester and the beginning of a new school year, we again turn the corner on a new chapter at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. What marks this semester and incoming class as significant - and each is distinctive in its own way - is that the Class of 2014 has arrived at the dawn of a new era for the college. Ground has been broken on the future, and heavy machinery now dots the landscape of VMRCVM's Blacksburg campus. The next page in our college's history has been turned.

In the past month, we began construction on our newest addition to the college: the Infectious Disease Research Facility (IDRF). Planning for and launching construction of the new facility has been no easy feat, and it could not have been possible without the support of our alumni, faculty, and friends. The facility is vital to our growth and will help find solutions to global infectious diseases affecting all species.

Construction of the IDRF is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011. No sooner will we have laid the last brick on the IDRF than we will break ground on another project, the construction of our new Veterinary Medicine Instructional Addition. Recently approved by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, the new instructional building will add 30 to 40 badly needed faculty offices to our main campus. More importantly, the instructional building is intentionally designed to provide larger numbers of students with the highest quality veterinary medical education available.

We are excited to move our college into the future and to enhance our role in addressing global health challenges. These are crucial next steps for VMRCVM, and I thank you all for your ongoing support.

I also thank all of those individuals from across the college and around the university who helped in launching our Master of Public Health (MPH) program last month. The program, administered in collaboration with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, is several years in the making. We are proud to have welcomed our inaugural class of 36 students, and 11 additional veterinary students will begin MPH coursework in the spring.

We continue to enhance our communication with you and hope that you will be part of the conversation online by joining us on social networks. Become part of our Facebook page, follow our Twitter feed, or join our Linkedin group - stay connected and remain an active part of the college community. As always, I look forward to hearing your feedback and input.

Best regards,

Gerhardt G. Schurig, DVM, Ph.D.

Join the conversation:

Find us on Facebook           Follow us on Twitter         Join us on LinkedIn


In This Issue



Featured Stories

New Master of Public Health program launches

MPH Program launches

Virginia Tech has launched a new Master of Public Health (MPH) program to address a critical shortage of trained public health professionals.

Virginia Tech launched a new Master of Public Health program last month as the United States and, in particular, Southwest Virginia and the greater Appalachian region face a critical shortage of trained public health professionals.

The 42-credit professional degree program, which offers concentrations in public health education and infectious disease, integrates and expands public health opportunities at the university. The program is administered through the new Population Health Sciences Department at VMRCVM and was developed in collaboration with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Learn more

back to contents

College receives one of its largest donations ever

This week, VMRCVM booked for its campaign one of the largest gifts ever given to the college. Long-time friends of the college, Cecil "Max" and Shirlee Maxson of Richmond, Va., made a substantial deferred trust gift to the college to honor dean emeritus Dr. Peter Eyre and his wife, Margot.

Mr. Maxson, a 1952 graduate of Virginia Tech, received the university's highest recognition, the Ruffner Medal, in 2001. He is a member of the John N. Dalton Society, the 2007-2008 President of the William Preston Society, three-term member of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors and two-term member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. Mr. Maxson's voice on the board made a critical difference to the college's fortunes during its early years.

Mrs. Maxson is a Westhampton College - University of Richmond graduate and started her career working in a veterinary hospital while in high school. Their life-long love of animals is represented by their veterinary scholarship in memory of Dr. Boo, Esq., a very special cat, and their other beloved pets. VMRCVM is ecstatic to have received this generous gift that almost brings the college to its campaign goal and will be a big boost to the university campaign for the Richmond Regional Campaign. Learn more about giving to the college

back to contents

Summer brings changes to the Equine Medical Center

New members of EMC team

Dr. James A. Brown, clinical assistant professor of equine surgery, Dr. Megan Lamb (center), surgery resident, and Dr. Alicia Foley, internal medicine resident, have recently joined the EMC.

The summer brought many significant changes to the Equine Medical Center. Dr. James Brown joined the faculty, bringing additional expertise in reproduction and dentistry. Two new residents also joined the EMC this summer: Dr. Megan Lamb, the EMC's new surgery resident, and Dr. Alicia Foley, internal medicine resident.

The EMC's Regenerative Medicine Service, based in a full-service molecular laboratory, provides processing for a range of innovative therapies, such as platelet rich plasma and stem cell treatments, which can help horses overcome a diagnosis of lameness. Regenerative medicine played a huge part in the full recovery of a severely lame patient.

Additional clinical services are now available at the EMC. For those needing Coggins tests - especially with a quick turnaround - our Clinical Laboratory is certified to run both the ELISA and agar gel immunodiffusion tests with a 24-hour period. In addition, the EMC has begun implementing a newly developed MRI-guided injection technique that uses the low-field magnet to better treat tendon and ligament injuries with these regenerative medicine therapies.

On the topic of MRI, a mobile high-field MRI (1.5 tesla magnet) is also now available on a monthly schedule at the EMC. This is a mobile unit that provides an image resolution that is superior to the low-field MRI currently used for standing patients.

Finally, expanded services now include a dynamic endoscopy that records horses' upper airway movements during normal exercise - including while they are being ridden. The high-speed treadmill remains available for airway and performance testing. Learn more about the Equine Medical Center

back to contents

VMRCVM alumna shares policy experience with students

Dr. Melinda Cep ('09)

Dr. Melinda Cep ('09) returned to VMRCVM to share her public policy experience with current students.

Shortly after completing a year-long AVMA Congressional Fellowship, Dr. Melinda Cep ('09) returned to the VMRCVM to share her experience with students enrolled in the Veterinary Public Policy course. Cep presented an overview of the legislative process describing the intricate procedures required for a bill to become a law and pointing out that only about two percent of the almost 10,000 bills introduced each year find their way into law.

As an example of successful legislation, she discussed the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, which required both authorizing and appropriating legislation. The authorizing legislation, the National Veterinary Medical Service Act, was signed into law in 2003, but the spending bill appropriating money to fund the program did not pass until 2006. The first of the payments is scheduled to be awarded this fall.

Cep's interests in public policy and food safety led her to track the Public and Corporate curriculum. Following her Congressional Fellowship, she accepted a position in the office of Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut to work on matters related to agriculture, food safety, and public health as well as appropriations. Learn more about the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine

back to contents

Dr. Katherine Wilson

Dr. Katherine Wilson has joined the VMRCVM as a clinical instructor in large animal medicine.

Dr. Katherine Wilson joins college

Dr. Katherine Wilson has joined the VMRCVM as a clinical instructor in large animal medicine. She comes to the college from Steeles Tavern, Va., where she worked as an associate veterinarian and an internal medicine specialist at Mountain View Equine Hospital.

In her new role, Wilson will provide veterinary services for local large animals and manage patient care through the Large Animal Medicine and Surgery Service of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Additionally, she will help mentor veterinary medical residents and students in the large animal medicine track of the college's veterinary program. Learn more

back to contents


Awards & Honors

Awards & Accolades Roundup

Dr. Jennifer Barrett, assistant professor of surgery at the EMC, is now serving on the Founders' Committee for the North American Regenerative Society.

Travis Burns, VMRCVM college farrier, participated as an official farrier at the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Ky. Burns was part of an onsite team providing services to the world's best eventing riders.

Anne Dewar ('11), Jenny Miller ('12), and Sarah Brauning ('12) became national champions at the American Association of Bovine Practitioners Quiz Bowl competition. The VMRCVM students beat out 23 teams from the United States and Canada at the AABP Convention last month.

Dr. Sandra Diaz, assistant professor of dermatology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, recently achieved diplomate status with the American College of Veterinary Dermatology (ACVD).

Dr. Larry Freeman, associate professor of anatomy in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, recently chaired a scientific session at the European Association of Veterinary Anatomists in Paris.

Dr. Judi M. Lynch, director of special initiatives in the Office of the Dean, was named by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell to the Longwood University Board of Visitors.

Dr. Harold McKenzie, associate professor of medicine at the EMC, was appointed by Gov. McDonnell to serve a four-year term on the Virginia Horse Industry Board.

Dr. Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, was appointed by the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association to serve for one year as Director-at-Large.

Dr. Kathryn A. Simmons ('84) was selected as a 2010-2011 AVMA Congressional Science Fellow. Dr. Simmons graduated with the college's charter class in 1984. This is the second year in a row that a VMRCVM alum has been selected for the prestigious fellowship!

Dr. Terry Swecker, associate department head and professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, was named Virginia Tech Scholar of the Week by the Office of the Vice President for Research for his studies in forage-based beef production.

back to contents

VMRCVM faculty members honored with emeritus status

Drs. Blodgett and Boyle

Dr. Dennis Blodgett and Dr. Stephen Boyle of the Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology were conferred emeritus status by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

Read next month's Vital Signs for more announcements of faculty members who recently received emeritus status.

Dr. Dennis Blodgett, associate professor of biomedical sciences and pathobiology at VMRCVM, has been conferred the "associate professor emeritus" title by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. Learn more

Dr. Stephen Boyle, professor of biomedical sciences and pathobiology and director of the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the college, has been conferred the "professor emeritus" title by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. Learn more

back to contents

Former dean Dr. Peter Eyre receives top honor from University of Edinburgh

Dr. Peter Eyre

Dr. Peter Eyre signs the University of Edinburgh's Sponsio Academica (Registry).

Dr. Peter Eyre, professor and dean emeritus of VMRCVM, has been awarded one of the University of Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies' highest honors, receiving a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery - honoris causa, for his contributions to veterinary medicine.

Eyre received the honorary degree during a graduation ceremony held in Edinburgh in July. He presented the graduation address and was invited to sign the University of Edinburgh's Sponsio Academica (Registry), joining a small number of individuals who received similar distinctions since the university's founding more than 400 years ago. Learn more

back to contents

EMC receives U.S. Park Police Horse Mounted Patrol Award of Excellence

USPP Horse Mounted Patrol

The U.S. Park Police Horse Mounted Patrol in formation during a presidential inauguration.

The United States Park Police (USPP) Horse Mounted Patrol recently presented an Award of Excellence to Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center "for the truly exceptional veterinary services received from this nationally-recognized equine health care facility."

The award further states that, "for decades, this premier equine hospital has provided both intensive and critical equine health care services for the U.S. Park Police horses." Learn more

back to contents


Upcoming Events

For questions or additional information about Vital Signs, email