30th Annual Research Symposium: Chronic Disease and Aging

Keynote speakers
The college's 30th Annual Research Symposium was held on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, in Blacksburg.

Each year, the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine hosts a research symposium both to support the college’s mission of educating a diverse population of professional and post-graduate students preparing for careers in veterinary medicine, biomedical sciences, and public health and to showcase the research of its graduate and training programs. The M.S. and Ph.D. degree curriculum operates as a single, multidisciplinary biomedical and veterinary sciences graduate program.

The daylong event features two poster sessions, two oral presentation sessions, and two keynote speakers, followed by dinner and an awards ceremony.

» Photos from the 30th Annual Research Symposium


Keynote Speakers

Dr. Steven Austad, Dr. Ansar Ahmed, and Dr. Timothy M. Fan
Keynote speakers Steven Austad (left) and Timothy M. Fan (DVM '95; right) with Ansar Ahmed, associate dean of research and graduate studies.

Dr. Timothy M. Fan

Assistant Director for Shared Resources and Professor of Veterinary Clinical Medicine
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The Role of Veterinary Medicine in Convergent Science – From Discovery to Impact


Dr. Timothy M. Fan (DVM ’95) completed a small animal rotating internship at the University of Illinois in 1996, followed by a small animal internal medicine residency at Cornell University in 1998, and a medical oncology fellowship at the University of Illinois in 2000. After earning board certification in internal medicine in 2000 and in medical oncology in 2001, he worked in clinical veterinary medicine. Dr. Fan then went on to complete a Ph.D. in tumor immunology from the University of Illinois in 2007, and was named a principal investigator of the nationally recognized Comparative Oncology Research Laboratory in the Small Animal Clinic, Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine. The Fan Lab collaborates with basic scientists to evaluate novel drug therapy for the treatment of cancer. The lab’s most recent collaboration focuses on developing anticancer small molecules and nanoparticle fabrication, new anticancer agents that are promising therapeutics in non-resectable brain cancers in dogs and squamous carcinoma in cats. Dr. Fan’s unique training as both a clinician and a scientist uniquely positions him to conduct translational research with aspirations to apply canine findings to humans.


Dr. Steven Austad

Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Methuselah’s Zoo: What We Can Learn from the Natural World about Extending Healthy Life


Dr. Steven N. Austad is a director of the UAB Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging; scientific director of the American Federation for Aging Research in New York; and a member of the External Scientific Advisory Committee at the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina. After earning a B.A. in English literature from UCLA, he held a range of jobs, including training lions for the film industry, which ignited his passion for biology. He then earned a B.S. in biological sciences from California State University, Northridge, followed by a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Purdue University in 1981. Dr. Austad is perplexed by the idea of aging: “Why can’t nature, which is so successful at producing healthy adults from single fertilized eggs, do the seemingly much simpler task of keeping that adult healthy throughout time?” Today, his research interests are primarily focused on the biology of aging, in which he compares the aging processes of humans to species, such as clams and hydras, that are seemingly more “successful” at aging.

Award Winners

Keynote speakers
Award winners (from left) Brittanie Patridge, Sarah Kuchinsky, Alessandra Franchini, Melissa Mercer, and Blake Everett.

Outstanding M.S. Poster Presentation

Michelle Greer

Diagnostic imaging resident, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
Diffusion Imaging of High and Low Grade Gliomas in the Canine Patients

Kayla Waler

Third-year ophthalmology resident and master’s student, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
Aqueous humor concentration and prostaglandin E2 suppression efficacy of topically applied ophthalmic ketorolac 0.5% and diclofenac 0.1% solutions in dogs with cataract


Outstanding M.S. Oral Presentation

James “Blake” Everett

Third-year resident, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Surgery
Bone Marrow Mononuclear Cell Therapy for Equine Joint Disease


Outstanding Ph.D. Poster Presentation

Brittanie Partridge

Third-year resident, medical oncology; second-year Ph.D student, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences
Temporal Characterization of Blood-brain Barrier Disruption and Immunologic Responses to H-FIRE in the Brain

Melissa Mercer

Resident, clinical pharmacology; Ph.D. student, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences
The Dose-Responsive Effects of Acetaminophen on Equine Mechanical Nociceptive Threshold Testing


Outstanding Ph.D. Oral Presentation

Sarah Kuchinsky

Second-year Ph.D./DVM dual-degree student, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Assessing Usutu Virus (USUV) Pathogenesis in Avian Models

Alessandra Franchini

Ph.D. student, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences
Predictors of Reoccurrence of Congestive Signs in Dogs with Stable American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM)-Stage C Myxomatous Mitral Valve Disease


Outstanding Co-Worker Recognition Award

Catherine Caldwell

Office manager, Research and Graduate Studies, Teaching & Research Animal Care Support Service


Zoetis Award for Veterinary Research Excellence

Michele Borgarelli

Professor of cardiology, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences