Vital Signs

October 2010


Meeting the needs of an international profession

Dear friends and colleagues,

Chilean Group

A delegation from the Universidad Austral de Chile visited the college's Blacksburg campus on October 22.

Our profession is increasingly international in its size and scope. Veterinarians are more mobile and global than ever – and so are the diseases that we are treating and researching. To anticipate the demands of a world where livestock, pets, and zoonosis cross borders with increased frequency, our college is at the forefront of incorporating international ideas and providing experiential opportunities overseas for our students and faculty. We have had faculty and students involved in programs and courses on almost every continent, and we continue to expand our reach.

Last month, I traveled to Chennai, India, with Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan, professor of bacteriology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology, to meet with faculty members from the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS). Our college signed a memorandum of understanding with TANUVAS in 2007 that facilitates mutual student and faculty exchange, clinical internships at TANUVAS, and clinical training. We continue to work with our partners in India to provide enhanced opportunities for faculty members and students from both VMRCVM and TANUVAS.

Another key partner for our college is the Universidad Austral de Chile, which entered into a memorandum of understanding with us in 1996 for student and faculty exchange, and which operates the Center for Science and Global Sustainability with Virginia Tech. We were honored to meet with a delegation from the Universidad Austral de Chile on our Blacksburg campus last week. Among the visitors were Dr. Victor Cubillos, President of the university, and Dr. Néstor Tadich, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science. Our meetings, held in conjunction with Virginia Tech Outreach and International Affairs, also included the deans of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Natural Resources and Environment, and the College of Science. We look forward to our partnership with our peers at Virginia Tech and in Chile.

Beyond India and Chile, our students and faculty participate in international education and research opportunities ranging from courses on food production and agriculture in Italy to externships in the Dominican Republic and outreach in Eastern Europe. These opportunities provide students with experience in the global arena and increase the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the future leaders of the global veterinary community.

As always, I look forward to hearing your feedback and input.

Best regards,

Gerhardt G. Schurig, DVM, Ph.D.
Dean
 

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In This Issue

 

 

Featured Stories


VMRCVM holds high-level meetings in India

India

Dean Gerhardt Schurig and Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan traveled to Chennai, India, in September.

Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, VMRCVM dean, and Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan, professor of bacteriology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology, traveled to Chennai, India, in September to hold high-level meetings at Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) and to observe livestock health in the region.

The trip helped expand the ongoing memorandum of understanding between Virginia Tech and TANUVAS for student and faculty exchange. In meetings with the Vice Chancellor of TANUVAS, Dr. Palanimuthu Thangaraju, Dr. Murali Manohar, Director, Center for Animal Health Studies, Dr. R. Prabhakaran Dean, (Now Vice-Chancellor) and others at TANVUS, the delegation discussed putting the collaboration on permanent footing by establishing a one credit clinical training course in veterinary medicine curriculum of the two universities.

The VMRCVM delegation also met with the animal care committee of TANUVAS and discussed the proposal of performing a preclinical trial using nanoparticles load with gentamicin developed at Virginia Tech to treat brucellosis in cattle at TANUVAS. Negotiations are continuing to obtain final approval from their animal care committee to perform this preclinical trial in their isolation facilities in Chennai. Learn more

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VMRCVM partnership with TANUVAS continues to grow

India

Dr. Elankumaran Subbiah led eight VMRCVM students on a clinical training program this summer at Tamil Nadul Veterinary and Animal Sciences Univeristy (TANUVAS) in Chennai, India.

As part of the exchange program between VMRCVM and Tamil Nadul Veterinary and Animal Sciences Univeristy (TANUVAS) in Chennai, India, eight students from the college underwent a clinical training program this summer at the various campuses of TANUVAS, including field visits to exotic animal farms, wild life sanctuaries, and elephant reserves. During the six-week training program, the DVM students attended clinical rotations in small and large animal internal medicine and surgery, and specialty clinics, including cardiology, at Chennai and Namakkal veterinary schools.

The students were also trained in biomedical research at the Department of Animal Biotechnology and necropsy procedures. During field visits, they were trained in handling, restraint, and treatment of wild animals and attended a mass contact program in a tribal village.

Additionally, five senior DVM students from TANUVAS attended clinical training at VMRCVM from August to September. These students were trained in animal medicine, large animal clinical sciences, small animal surgery, cardiology, anesthesiology, and necropsy. They also underwent a one-week rotation in biomedical research in the laboratory of Dr. Elankumaran Subbiah.

The collaboration between VMRCVM and TANUVAS has also helped launch four international conferences, including two clinical case presentation conferences, which were jointly conducted with overwhelming participation from scientists and students.

VMRCVM co-hosted an international seminar, “Frontiers of Stem cell and Biotechnology,” in Chennai, July 15-16. The conference was inaugurated by Bryan W. Dalton, acting Consul General, U.S. Embassy, and included scientists from Yamanashi University Hospital, Japan, and VMRCVM, including Dr. Elankumaran Subbiah, Dr. Willard Eyestone, and Dr. Jennifer Barrett. One visiting faculty member from TANUVAS, Dr. Murali Manohar, director of the Center for Animal Health Studies, was on a three-month exchange fellowship sponsored by VMRCVM and American Society for Microbiology.

With support from Dr. Jennifer Hodgson, VMRCVM's associate dean for professional programs, and Dr. Jacque Pelzer, VMRCVM's director of admissions and student services, efforts are underway to convert the summer clinical internship in India and VMRCVM into a credit course. Dr. Ansar Ahmed, professor of immunology and head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology, is also exploring the possible exchange of diagnostic histology materials and academic content between these two institutions. Learn more


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Professor assists with conservation guidelines in international workshop

Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg

Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg participated in an international workshop in Como, Italy, in June to develop breed conservation guidelines for the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg, professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology at VMRCVM, participated in an international workshop in Como, Italy, in June to develop breed conservation guidelines for the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Sponenberg’s team consisted of six people from around the globe, including India, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and the United States. Participants were specifically invited based on theoretical genetic credentials and participation in government and privately owned farms.

The team goal was to provide a sound framework for effective conservation decisions by governments and other entities involved in breed conservation. Sponenberg’s role was to determine the best approach to field situations with private breeders and breed associations. Sponenberg’s effectiveness in engaging private individuals and organizations in breed conservation was recognized and appreciated.

The first draft of the FAO guidelines has now been completed and is in the process of final revisions and approval. Sponenberg’s team's approach should be seen as a validation of previous approaches and successes over the last few decades. Aspects of their approach can be used as an example for others internationally. Learn more

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College students study food systems in Italy

Study abroad in Italy

Dr. Jacque Pelzer led a group of veterinary students on a culture and agriculture course in Italy over the summer.

As part of VMRCVM's ongoing international outreach and collaboration with other universities, Dr. Jacque Pelzer, VMRCVM's director of admissions and student services, led a group of veterinary students on a course in Italy over the summer.

This is the second year that Pelzer has led the 16-day course, Culture and Agriculture of Italy, which included 29 Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State University (OSU) students. She collaborated with Dr. Leon Spicer at OSU, who has lead eight classes to Italy in the past nine years.

The purpose of this trip, which departed in May, was to expose veterinary students to sustainable agriculture methods used in Italy, to evaluate differences in each country’s approach to veterinary education, and to compare American and Italian agricultural systems. Additionally, the students were able to take in the remains of the Roman Empire and the artistry of the Renaissance while learning about the economic and political systems in modern Italy.

The students will return to Italy during their senior year for clinical rotations.

During the course, students visited several northern Italian cities known for their agricultural traditions, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Padova, Verona, and Turin. In Pelzer’s view, by offering the course in Italy instead of the United States, students were able to learn first-hand about successful small-scale production of food, which is a very different approach from the food production methods commonly used in the United States. Learn more

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CPCVM director engaged in projects in Republic of Georgia, Brazil

Republic of Georgia

Dr. Valerie Ragan traveled to the Republic of Georgia in July as part of a team from the University of Maryland working with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

Dr. Valerie Ragan, director of the college’s Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine (CPCVM) in College Park, Md., traveled to the Republic of Georgia in July as part of a team from the University of Maryland working with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

The team evaluated the success and impact of a pilot project involving the development of several Regional Veterinary Service Units (RVSU) supported by USDA. The team met with veterinarians and farmers in a number of villages throughout the country as part of the assessment process.

The program theory behind the pilot project was that RVSUs would serve as a center of regional knowledge transfer about animal disease detection and treatment, thus improving regional animal health outcomes and leading to increases in regional farm productivity and profitability.

A delegation from the Republic of Georgia subsequently traveled to the United States and met at the Gudelsky Center in College Park, where Ragan presented her findings. USDA officials from the Foreign Agriculture Service and the National Agriculture Statistics Service, as well as University of Maryland faculty, also participated in the meeting.

Ragan also traveled to Belo Horizonte in Brazil in September as an invited speaker at the Brazilian National Seminar on Brucellosis and Tuberculosis. The seminar was held at the Veterinary College of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, and participants included animal health officials from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and New Zealand. Ragan spoke on the US Brucellosis and Tuberculosis programs, focusing on lessons learned and mechanisms to address challenges to the success of those programs.

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Dr. James F. Miller to provide keynote address during research symposium

Dr. James F. Miller

Dr. James F. Miller will be the keynote speaker at VMRCVM's 22nd Annual Research Symposium on Friday, Nov. 19.

One of our nation’s leading immunology researchers will highlight the VMRCVM's 22nd Annual Research Symposium on Friday, Nov. 19, on the Virginia Tech campus. The event will also showcase VMRCVM student and faculty research.

The keynote speaker, Dr. James F. Miller, is a professor at the University of Rochester’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, specifically in the Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology.

Miller has conducted extensive research on T cell activation. He has served on a number of academic committees, including Immunology, Developmental Biology, Cancer Biology, and Cell Physiology. From 1999-2002, Miller served as Chair of the Committee on Immunology at the University of Chicago.

During the research symposium, graduate students who are engaged in their last year of study will present their research in 15-minute time slots. All other graduate students will participate in the research symposium with some selected to present in posters. Prizes will be awarded for the best oral presentations and the best poster presentations in masters and Ph.D student categories.

Registration for the symposium begins at 7:30 a.m. at the college on the morning of the event. Learn more

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Awards & Honors


Awards & Accolades Roundup

Dr. Jennifer Barrett, assistant professor of surgery at the EMC, was named Virginia Tech Scholar of the Week by the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Dr. Bonnie Brenseke-Chastain, anatomic pathology resident and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology, achieved diplomate status with the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (Anatomic Pathology).

Dr. Ludeman A. Eng, associate professor in cell biology and anatomy in the Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology, traveled to Antigua in March 2010 and delivered 25 lectures in biochemistry in the DVM curriculum at the American University of Antigua.

Terry Lawrence, graphic designer in the Office of Public Relations & Communications, was chosen as VMRCVM's Staff Member of the Month for October 2010.

Dr. Michael S. Leib, C.R. Roberts Professor of Small Animal Medicine Internal Medicine in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, gave a continuing education lecture at the Central Veterinary Conference in Kansas City, Mo. in August. He also gave a continuing education lecture at the Southern European Veterinary Conference in Barcelona, Spain, this month.

Ruth Meade, administrative assistant in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, was chosen as VMRCVM's Staff Member of the Month for September 2010.

Dr. Bess J. Pierce, associate professor of community practice in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, was promoted to Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve Veterinary Corps.

Dr. John H. Rossmeisl, Jr. spoke at the post-congress session of the 2010 European Society of Veterinary Endocrinology (ESVE), which is part of the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Congress, in Toulouse, France, in September. The ESVE post-congress session is focused towards and attended by experts in the field of veterinary endocrinology from across the globe.

Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg, professor of pathology and genetics in the Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology, published the chapter Criollo Sheep Breeds in the book Sheep Biodiversity in Iberia and the Americas.

Dr. Nathaniel White, Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and director of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, spoke at the Federation of European Equine Veterinary Associations’ 2010 European Equine Meeting of the Year in Debrecen, Hungary, in May. He also moderated a session at the British Equine Veterinary Association’s 2010 Congress held in September in Birmingham, England.

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VMRCVM faculty members honored with emeritus status

Drs. Jortner, Lee, and Meldrum

Dr. Bernard Jortner, Dr. John Lee, and Dr. Blair Meldrum (left to right) of the Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology were conferred emeritus status by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

Dr. Bernard Jortner, professor of biomedical sciences and pathobiology in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the “professor emeritus” title by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. Learn more

Dr. John Lee, professor of biomedical sciences and pathobiology in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the “professor emeritus” title by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. Learn more

Dr. Blair Meldrum, professor of biomedical sciences and pathobiology in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the “professor emeritus” title by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. Learn more

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VMRCVM team scores quiz bowl championship

Quiz bowl champs

Anne Dewar ('11), Sarah Brauning ('12), and Jenny Miller ('12) (left to right) won the AABP national quiz bowl competition held in Albuquerque, N.M. on Aug. 20.

Three students from the VMRCVM clicked, buzzed, and answered their way to victory, winning the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) national quiz bowl competition in Albuquerque, N.M., last month.

The college team, comprised of Sarah Brauning of Finksburg, Md., Class of 2012; Anne Dewar of Potomac Falls, Va., Class of 2011; and Jenny Miller of White Hall, Md., Class of 2012, defeated 23 other veterinary colleges in the day-long event held on Aug. 20. The competition, the first of its kind held by the AABP, was part of the association’s annual conference.

Two college alumni, Drs. Arn Anderson ('91) and Leo Vranich ('08), were also involved in design and implementation of the quiz bowl through their participation in the AABP membership committee.

Dr. William S. “Terry” Swecker, Jr., professor and associate department head in the college’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, said the students’ ability to answer the questions with little prior information underscores the quality of students at the college and instruction in the curriculum. Learn more

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Out & About


Alumni activities update

Homecoming

More than 200 alumni, faculty, staff, and students attended the pre-game tailgate during VMRCVM's Homecoming weekend.

Homecoming weekend was held on Oct. 15-16 for the classes of ’85, ’90, ’95, ’00, and ’05. More than 100 VMRCVM alumni, faculty, staff, and students attended Oktoberfest at Mountain Lake on Friday. On Saturday, a picture-perfect autumn day was the backdrop as more than 200 VMRCVM alumni, faculty, staff, and students attended the pre-game tailgate. Hospital director, Dr. Bill Pierson (’84), led a tour of the college prior to the tailgate. Merial (platinum) and PetsDx (gold) Veterinary Imaging were sponsors of this annual event.

More than 40 alumni and their families attended the VMRCVM Family Day at the National Aquarium held in Baltimore on Sunday, Sept. 26 from 1-4:30 p.m. Antech Diagnostics hosted a reception for the group at Mex Restaurant.

Please send updated e-mails and addresses to Lynn Young at youngl@vt.edu.

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Annual VVMA/MVMA mentor program held

VVMA/MVMA Mentor Program

The Annual VVMA/MVMA mentor program was recently held in Blacksburg.

Seventy-six veterinarians from Virginia and Maryland recently came together in Blacksburg for the Annual VVMA/MVMA mentor program. The program kicked off with a barbeque and volleyball at VMRCVM on Thursday evening, Oct. 14. Friday began with the mentor breakfast, followed by small group discussions between mentors and students to share views of life and veterinary medicine. The program also included a mentor swap and a question-and-answer session. Thanks to Merial and the South Hampton Roads Veterinary Medical Association for supporting this year’s program.

The VVMA/MVMA mentor program has grown each year since its inception 10 years ago. Currently, 135 mentors and 340 students participate in the program.

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