Vital Signs: October 2013
Vol. 2, Issue 3
A Message from the Dean
Dear friends and colleagues,
I am penning my inaugural Vital Signs column as I complete my first month as dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. I feel privileged to work with such an outstanding community of learners, teachers, scientists, scholars, clinicians, and support staff. Each day I continue to meet new people and learn more about the impressive educational, research, and service programs of VA-MD Vet Med.
Since my arrival, I have had positive meetings with both veterinary practitioners and leaders from the regional Veterinary Medical Associations. These groups support our college by recruiting students, serving as mentors, referring cases (which are essential for our teaching mission), and assisting with our fundraising efforts.
I accepted the offer to leave a successful program in Oregon and move to Virginia because I believed that this college had an opportunity to be recognized for its reputational excellence in the top quartile of U.S. colleges of veterinary medicine. My experience thus far confirms this view.
Over the next six months, my priority areas will include further developing the partnership involving Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland; supporting faculty in their efforts to design a revised curriculum; expanding clinical education opportunities for veterinary students; advancing research and scholarship in translational medicine/comparative health sciences; and ensuring that the Equine Medical Center has a sustainable budgetary model that can support further development of its missions.
I’m asking for your assistance in advancing these important goals.
Cyril Clarke, Dean
- Veterinary scientists track the origin of a deadly emerging pig virus in the United States
- Brucellosis, rum, and sea turtles: One student’s perspective from Trinidad
- Sarah Krones selected as prestigious international delegate
- Mentor program brings together veterinary students, professionals
- Veterinary researcher focuses on swine disease with U.S. Department of Agriculture postdoctoral fellowship
- Development news: Bronze plaques recognize $1.4 million in recent gifts
Welcome to the College
Around the College
- Running Together or Scaring Together?
- College celebrates National Veterinary Technician Week
- Student ambassadors host Virginia Tech Pre-Vet Club for dinner and tour
- Dr. Cyril Clarke meets with veterinary medical association leaders
- DVM Class of 1988 celebrates 25th reunion
Awards & Activities
Researchers at the veterinary college have helped identify the origin and possible evolution of an emerging swine virus that has already spread to at least 17 states.
A team led by Dr. X.J. Meng, University Distinguished Professor of Molecular Virology, has used virus strains isolated from the ongoing outbreaks in Minnesota and Iowa to trace the likely origin of the emergent porcine epidemic diarrhea virus to a strain from the Anhui province in China. The virus, which causes a high mortality rate in piglets, was first recognized in the United States in May of this year.
Researchers determined not only that the three U.S. strains of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus are most closely related to the Chinese strains of the virus, but also that the U.S. strains likely diverged two or three years ago following an outbreak of a particularly virulent strain in China. They published their findings in an October issue of the American Academy of Microbiology’s journal, mBio.
Dr. Michael Neafsey, a Master of Public Health student who completed his doctor of veterinary medicine degree at the veterinary college in May, had what he describes as “a unique set of experiences and opportunities that could make other students jealous.”
During his fourth-year of veterinary school, Neafsey planned to complete his Master of Public Health capstone in Yellowstone National Park, where he would work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to address brucellosis in bison and elk. That changed after a phone call from Dr. Valerie Ragan, director for the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, drew Neafsey’s attention to a similar project in Trinidad and Tobago.
A second-year student at the veterinary college will be the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) delegate at two international conferences following a competitive national application process.
SAVMA’s International Veterinary Exchange Committee has picked Sarah Krones of Frederick County, Md., a dual degree student in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Public Health programs, for this prestigious position. In her role as delegate, she will participate in both the International Veterinary Students’ Association (IVSA) symposium in Turkey in January 2014 and the IVSA Congress in Indonesia in July/August 2014.
Krones, who is in the college’s public and corporate veterinary medicine track, will accompany SAVMA’s international exchange officers and will be among only 100 international veterinary students and only a handful of U.S. veterinary students at the events. She explained that the opportunity to connect with peers who have received their veterinary training in other countries will help her better understand the similarities and differences in international approaches to veterinary medicine and help her work more effectively in a globalized society.
“Throughout my life, I have lived and traveled in many countries including Germany, Tanzania, and Israel, while working and serving a variety of different communities,” said Krones, who also has experience closer to home as a community organizer helping Baltimore residents establish and maintain community gardens. “I highly value opportunities to make those connections and be a bridge between cultures as we develop our global understanding of each other and our needs.”
An active member of several student organizations, Krones is the vice president of the Integrative Veterinary Medicine Club, secretary of Veterinary Students as One In Culture and Ethnicity, and co-chair of the Bob Duncan Memorial 5K. After graduation, she hopes to practice large animal medicine in a One Health setting with marginalized or underserved populations.
The veterinary college once again teamed up with the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association and the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association for the annual mentor workshop on Oct. 17-18.
The workshop brought 64 veterinarians to the college representing a wide variety of private and public practices, industry, and academia. Students and mentors were paired together based on area of interest and location. More than 150 students participated in the annual program that provides an opportunity to explore their anticipated career path as well as other aspects of veterinary medicine.
These conversations continue after the workshop for many of the participants, and some of them even schedule visits to the mentor’s practice or reconnect at veterinary conferences. In total, 131 veterinarians are signed up for the program and participate in mentorship opportunities like this one throughout the year. Many, but not all, of the mentors are alumni of the veterinary college.
The mentor program, which was one of the first successful such programs, has been a model for similar programs in other states.
Veterinary researcher focuses on swine disease with U.S. Department of Agriculture postdoctoral fellowship
A researcher at the veterinary college seeks to better understand the cause of a global swine disease that has caused significant economic losses since its first discovery in the late 1990s.
Shannon Matzinger, postdoctoral associate in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, received a two-year, $150,000 postdoctoral fellowship grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate how porcine circovirus type 2 depletes the lymphatic system and causes inflammation in pigs.
“Although this is arguably one of the most economically important pig viruses, we still do not fully understand the mechanism for how it causes disease,” Matzinger said. “If we can identify the underlying mechanism that causes the disease, we can design better control and prevention strategies against the virus.
This month, students, faculty, staff, and visitors may have noticed a few changes around the college. There are now 11 bronze plaques naming various rooms around the building. The plaques represent gifts totaling $1.4 million received during a recent campaign.
The gifts, which provide funds toward the college’s proposed Translational Medicine Complex, name existing rooms:
- Community Practice Rounds: Dr. Elizabeth Kirby Pridgen (DVM ’84) and Thomas H. Pridgen (Virginia Tech ’79) in honor of her parents James T. and Pearl R. Kirby who taught by example the importance of good business sense, good work ethic, and a generous nature
- Electro-Diagnostics: Dr. William D. Tyrrell, Jr. (DVM ’92), Jennifer G. Tyrrell (Virginia Tech ’91), Dr. Bonnie K. Lefbom (DVM ’91), and Larry Lefbom (Virginia Tech ’84) and Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates
- First Year Student Lounge: Freda Bullington Johnson and W. Stuart Johnson (Virginia Tech ’52)
- Teaching Hospital Director’s Suite: William M. Thornton (Virginia Tech ’56) and Rita Thornton
- Small Animal Anesthesia and Surgical Prep: Dr. James B. Bostic, Jr. (Virginia Tech ’52) and Lois Diehl Bostic
- Small Animal Radiology Exam and Reading Rooms: Stephen Wesley Michael (Virginia Tech ’73) and Donna W. Michael
- Small Animal Treatment 1: Dr. Gary D. Knipling (Virginia Tech ’65)
- Small Animal Treatment 2: Butch and Ludi Webber (Virginia Tech ’63) in honor of their daughter, Dr. Dawn Webber, Cardiology Resident OKL
- Small Animal Ultrasound: Dr. Kristen Decker Hitt (DVM ’06) in honor of Dr. Martha Moon Larson
- Small Animal Recovery: The Beller Family in honor and memory of Dr. Jerome Beller, honorary member of VMRCVM Alumni Society
- “A” Barn – Stall #1: William M. Thornton (Virginia Tech ’56) and Rita Thornton in memory of Samuel H. Thornton
Welcome to the College
Dr. Jeffrey Ruth of Lafayette, Ind., has joined the college as an assistant professor of radiology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. He comes to the college from Purdue University, where he completed a residency in veterinary radiology at the College of Veterinary Medicine.
As a new member of the college’s radiology team, Ruth will use his experience in small animal radiology to provide diagnostic imaging support for clients at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and train and supervise veterinary students. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in canine and feline practice and the American College of Veterinary Radiology.
Around the College
Awards & Activities
Dr. Martha Larson, professor of radiology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences has been selected for this year’s Association of American Veterinary Medical College’s Distinguished Teacher Award by Zoetis.
Dr. Kendra Freeman, a surgery resident at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, has been awarded the EQUUS Foundation Research Fellow Scholarship. The purpose of the scholarship is to emphasize the importance of equine research and to reward researchers for their contributions. Freeman’s research project is part of her master’s degree program and evaluated the effects of two different suture patterns on tendon blood flow. The results may help equine veterinarians to treat tendon lacerations, which can be life-threatening and career-ending to a horse.
Dr. Noah Pavlisko, an anesthesia resident at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, received the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists Resident Abstract Award at the recent ACVA meeting for the best abstract presented by an anesthesia resident.
Dr. Nathaniel Tablante, associate professor and poultry extension specialist at the College Park, Md. campus, was selected to serve as a Congressional Fellow, sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association, in the office of Representative Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA). Tablante will advise policymakers on the development of legislation with a focus on agriculture and poultry issues and will serve for one year.
Maryann Cline, anesthesia technician in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, recently passed boards and is now a Veterinary Technician Specialist in Anesthesia.
Dr. William “Terry” Swecker, professor and associate department head of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, was appointed to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Council on Education Selection Committee. Swecker recently completed serving a six-year term on the AVMA’s Council on Education.
Tony Huffman, support technician in the Equine Field Service, was chosen as the college’s Staff Member of the Month in October.
Dr. Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, traveled to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to meet with the rector of the Kyrgyz National Agriculture University as well as the dean and a number of faculty members from the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine . The purpose of the trip was to explore the possibility of developing a veterinary college twinning program with a focus on creating a curriculum for training veterinarians for national veterinary service, and was initiated by a request from the World Bank. While there, Ragan also met with the chief veterinary officer for Kyrgyzstan, as well as a member of the Kyrgyzstan Parliament to discuss the potential project.
Dr. Valerie Ragan traveled to Yerevan, Armenia as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture funded project for assistance with animal health and veterinary infrastructure and capacity building in the country. Ragan met with numerous Armenian Ministry of Agriculture officials to discuss a recent anthrax outbreak as well as the continuation of protocol development for animal health programs, and the training of veterinarians.
Dr. Valerie Ragan participated in an anthrax workshop with a delegation of officials from Armenia and the Republic of Georgia, who also attended the United States Animal Health Association/American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians annual meeting in San Diego. The Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine also coordinated the participation of 25 veterinary students from a dozen veterinary colleges at the annual meeting, with travel funded by the organizations. Six students from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine participated and were able learn about “hot topics” under discussion by state and federal veterinarians. They were also able to attend the National Association of State Animal Health Officials’ annual gathering of state veterinarians from all 50 states.
The Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine conducted its 5th Career Transition Workshop on Sept. 27-28 with 16 veterinarians from seven states providing career guidance and background from a variety of corporate and public practice perspectives. Veterinarians from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Army, Maryland State, corporate veterinary medicine, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), AVMA Congressional Fellows, and others outlined their personal career paths and the opportunities existing within the profession and their organizations. Next year, the center will be presenting a Global Career Transition Workshop at the AVMA convention in Denver.
Dr. Gary Vroegindewey of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine represented the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges at the AVMA Committee for International Veterinary Affairs in October.
Dr. Gary Vroegindewey of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine presented on Early Warning Systems for Food Safety at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome in October. Graduate Lindsey McCrickard joined him in working groups designed to evaluate and improve FAO’s food safety programs.
Dr. Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, has been invited to speak at the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association BIG Ideas Forum in Colorado Springs, Colo. The conference will be addressing the supply-side issues of veterinary medicine. Ragan has been asked to speak about the center’s expansion and public practice opportunities for veterinarians.
The 2013 International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Nov. 2 will feature presentations from Dr. R. Scott Pleasant, associate professor and director of the Equine Podiatry Unit in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, and Travis Burns, college farrier. Pleasant will be speaking about veterinarian-farrier team management of horses with chronic laminitis and Burns will offer “how to” case presentations for managing the laminitic hoof.
Dr. Michael Leib presented at the Great Smokies Veterinary Conference, North Carolina Academy of Small Animal Medicine, in Asheville, N.C. in October 2013. He addressed a Diagnostic approach to chronic vomiting, Helicobacter gastritis, Acute pancreatitis in dogs, Diagnostic approach to chronic diarrhea, Chronic large bowel diarrhea: What’s new?, Giardia and Tritrichomonas foetus, Drug therapy of GI disease, and Dietary management of GI disease.
Bettencourt AE, Panciera DL, Larson MM, Tyson R, Were S, Daniel GB. Evaluation of Thyroid to Background Ratios in Hyperthyroid Cats. Annual Scientific Conference of the American College of Veterinary Radiology, Savannah, Ga. Oct. 8-11, 2013.
Neelis DA, Daniel GB. Optimizing Gamma Camera Configuration for Measuring of Radioactivity in Tube Samples. Annual Scientific Conference of the American College of Veterinary Radiology. Savannah, Ga. Oct 8-11, 2013.
Dr. Bess Pierce presented Identifying and Treating Common Sporting Injuries in Working Dogs – Part I and II at the International Working Dog Conference in San Antonio, Texas on Oct. 14-16, 2013.
J. Walters, R. Evans, T. LeRoith, N. Sriranganathan, A. McElroy, and F. W. Pierson, 2014. Experimental Comparison of Hemolytic and Non-Hemolytic Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale Field Isolates In Vivo. Avian Diseases (accepted).
Loftis, AD; Kelly, PJ; Freeman, MD; Fitzharris, S; Beeler-Marfisi, J; Wang, CM. Tick-borne pathogens and disease in dogs on St. Kitts, West Indies. Veterinary Parasitology, 196 (1-2):44-49; 2013
Jones, JC; Tucker, TJ; Tan, JC; Pierce, BJ; Foxworth, JL; Long, B; Harper, TAM; Moreno, D. Improving understanding of early behavioral indicators of lumbosacral disease in working dogs using 3D visualization of skeletal movements during working tasks: Feasibility study. Journal Of Veterinary Behavior-Clinical Applications And Research, 8 (5):309-315; 2013
Debinski, W; Dickinson, P; Rossmeisl, JH; Robertson, J; Gibo, DM. New Agents for Targeting of IL-13RA2 Expressed in Primary Human and Canine Brain Tumors. PLOS ONE. Oct 2013, Vol 8, Issue 10, e77719.
- November 8 – 10 — Potomac Regional Veterinary Conference
- The Greenbrier Resort — White Sulphur Springs, WV
- November 16 — VA-MD Vet Med Homecoming Tailgate
- VA-MD Vet Med Oak Grove — Blacksburg, VA
- November 21 — Pet Therapy Study Break with VT Helping PAWS
- Virginia Tech Newman Library — Blacksburg, VA
- December 1 — Pet Portraits with Santa Claus
- VA-MD Vet Med Building, Classroom 125 — Blacksburg, VA
- December 7-11 — AAEP Convention
- Nashville, TN
- December 9 — VA-MD Vet Med Alumni Reception, AAEP Convention
- Nashville, TN
- December 21 — End of Fall Semester
- Virginia Tech & University of Maryland
For More Upcoming Events…
Vital Signs is published throughout the year by the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.
- Dean: Dr. Cyril R. Clarke
- Produced By: Office of Public Relations and Communications
- Director: Sherrie Whaley
- Content Editor: Michael Sutphin
- Web Editors: Alison Elward, Jesse Janowiak
- Contributors: Alison Elward, Michael Neafsey, Frank Pearsall, Michael Sutphin
- Photographers: Alison Elward, Michael Sutphin, Logan Wallace, Sherrie Whaley