Dear friends and colleagues,
This month, the veterinary college welcomed the newest member of our senior leadership team, Alison Wainwright Davitt, who has joined us as assistant dean for advancement. She brings over two decades of fundraising and communications experience that includes senior positions at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Maryland Institute College of Art, and the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Her experience with professional degree programs and high-level campaign planning, and her passion for animals make her well suited to lead the college’s advancement efforts and secure new resources in support of our ambitious vision for the college.
The newly created assistant dean for advancement position provides strategic oversight of the college’s development, communications, and alumni relations efforts, including those benefitting Blacksburg’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) and the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) in Leesburg. Ali Davitt will serve on the college’s Executive Board and is the first assistant dean of advancement at Virginia Tech under the university’s new advancement model. She oversees a staff of nine and, in addition to reporting to me, has reporting lines to the associate vice president of development for colleges and the senior associate vice president for university relations.
In 2015, Virginia Tech began transitioning to a new advancement model involving the merger of alumni relations, development, and university relations under the leadership of Charles Phlegar, the university’s first vice president of advancement. Adoption of this model enhances our ability to communicate the college’s accomplishments and aspirations with our internal constituents and external stakeholders, thus promoting engagement of the college community, alumni, referring veterinarians, and donors in securing philanthropic support for our programs.
The college already has ramped up its advancement efforts and is very appreciative of the response received from friends of the college, who have stepped forward and generously committed deferred and current-use gifts. Moving forward, we are in the process of refining our strategy and prioritizing our funding needs and opportunities in preparation for Virginia Tech’s next comprehensive campaign. Included among our goals is the need to expand and restructure grateful client programs in partnership with the VTH and EMC.
Our continued success depends on philanthropic support from individual, corporate, and foundation donors, engagement with our more than 2,900 alumni, and communication efforts that effectively position and enhance our reputation and brand. My hope is that our early adoption of the advancement model will help us develop new resources and partnerships to move these initiatives forward as we continue to make progress on the college’s strategic priorities.
Dr. Cyril Clarke, Dean
Sir Ian Wilmut to speak Oct. 6 on his 20-year legacy with Dolly the cloned sheep
Sir Ian Wilmut, who in 1996 led the team that cloned the first mammal using an adult cell, will present “The Dolly Experiment: The First 20 Years” on Oct. 6, at 4 p.m. at The Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg.
An embryologist and chair of the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, Wilmut will speak about the legacy of his work to clone a Finnish Dorset lamb named Dolly. The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (IGEP) in Regenerative Medicine, and the Department of Science and Technology in Society.
“Before Dolly, most scientists — including me — were convinced that an adult cell could never be ‘reprogrammed’ to an embryonic state and then give rise to a clone,” said Will Eyestone, research associate professor of reproductive biology at the veterinary college. “Dr. Wilmut and Dolly proved us wrong and in the process revolutionized our understanding of biology. Since then, cloning and cellular reprogramming have evolved into fields unto themselves, have provided an important tool for agricultural and biomedical research, and have helped to breathe real life into the new and promising field of regenerative medicine.”
Veterinary college’s diagnostic laboratory earns provisional accreditation
The diagnostic laboratory at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine is now the first in Virginia to earn provisional accreditation from the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD).
Virginia Tech Animal Laboratory Services (ViTALS), a full-service veterinary diagnostic laboratory housed at the veterinary college, conducts more than 40,000 tests each year for veterinarians at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and other animal clinics throughout the country, plus 1,200 tests for researchers.
“This is a prestigious accolade among veterinary diagnostic laboratories,” said Tanya LeRoith, clinical associate professor of anatomic pathology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology and director of ViTALS. “Not only are we the first such laboratory to receive this recognition in Virginia, but there are no AAVLD-accredited veterinary diagnostic laboratory in our neighboring states of Maryland or West Virginia.”
According to Jen Rudd, quality manager for ViTALS, faculty and staff began making changes to policies and procedures to prepare for accreditation in 2012. The college formally applied last November and underwent a site visit this May.
The diagnostic laboratory offers a wide range of specimen analysis in the several service sections, including anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, clinical microbiology, clinical immunology, and clinical parasitology. It also prepares veterinarians for careers in either veterinary clinical pathology or anatomic pathology through a residency program.
Tenacious terrier Charlie Spillman beats brain cancer
Don’t let that teddy bear face fool you — Charlie Spillman is a fighter. The tenacious terrier survived two brain surgeries, countless procedures, and two different clinical trials while battling a brain tumor. His most recent clinical trial took place at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.
“An MRI scan in July 2015 showed that Charlie had a golf ball-sized tumor on the left hemisphere of his brain,” explained owner Tony Spillman of Nashville, Tennessee. Charlie had a meningioma, the most common type of brain tumor in dogs, which can grow quickly, putting pressure on the brain and threatening the patient’s life. In a tiny dog like Charlie, the brain is smaller than a tennis ball, so when a meningioma of that size showed up, quick action was needed to save his life.
An initial surgery at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital wasn’t able to remove the entire tumor, so Charlie’s owners, Richard Deese and Tony Spillman, pursued enrollment in a clinical trial at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.
Anne Zajac earns national parasitology honor
A faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology has been awarded the 2016 AAVP-Merial Distinguished Veterinary Parasitologist Award by the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP), the organization’s highest honor.
Anne Zajac, professor of parasitology, is the first female recipient of this award, which recognizes the outstanding contributions of an AAVP member to the advancement of veterinary parasitology. Previously, Zajac received the association’s 2008 Distinguished Service Award and served as its first female president from 2001-2002. She has also authored two editions of the standard diagnostic manual Veterinary Clinical Parasitology in conjunction with the organization.
Collaborative Research Network adds two new members
The Collaborative Research Network, which was established in 2014 to enable specialty practices in Virginia and Maryland to build unique partnerships with researchers at the college, has expanded with two new members: CVCA Cardiac Care for Pets and Bush Veterinary Neurology Service. Both of these specialty practices have locations throughout Virginia and Maryland.
With its partners, the Collaborative Research Network has undertaken a number of groundbreaking projects, including a first-of-its-kind database to serve as a reference library about dogs with mitral valve disease and a comprehensive study on radioiodine dosing to treat hyperthyroid cats.
Other members of the Collaborative Research Network include VCA Veterinary Referral Associates in Gaithersburg, Maryland; The LifeCentre in Leesburg, Virginia; The Hope Center in Vienna, Virginia and Rockville, Maryland; and Dogs and Cats Veterinary Referral and Emergency in Bowie, Maryland.
Tom Inzana produces textbook on bovine pathogen
A faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology has published a reference textbook for veterinary practices and investigators studying bacterial pathogenesis on one of the leading causes of bovine respiratory disease.
Thomas J. Inzana, the Tyler J. and Frances F. Young Chair in Bacteriology, served as editor for “Histophilus somni: Biology, Molecular Basis of Pathogenesis, and Host Immunity,” which was published earlier this year. The book reviews the current understanding of the taxonomy, genetics, biology, and pathogenic factors of Histophilus somni, a bovine pathogen.
Inzana also authored one chapter of the textbook entitled “The Many Facets of Lipooligosaccharide as a Virulence Factor for Histophilus somni” and co-authored the chapter “Exopolysaccharide Production and Biofilm Formation by Histophilus somni” with Briana Petruzzi, a graduate student in Inzana’s laboratory.
Veterinary students to offer Community Dog Wash on Oct. 1
Veterinary students will hold their biannual Community Dog Wash on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg.
The dog wash will be held at the rear of the veterinary college complex on 245 Duck Pond Drive, on the side closest to Southgate Drive. Ample parking will be provided behind the building.
Southgate Drive will be closed on Saturday, Oct. 1 between U.S. 460 and Beamer Way. Visitors to the Community Dog Wash who are traveling on U.S. 460 should take the Prices Fork exit (toward downtown), turn right onto West Campus Drive, turn right onto Duck Pond Drive, travel straight at the four-way stop at Washington Street, and take a right into the second veterinary college entrance. Visitors traveling from downtown can take Washington Street to Duck Pond Drive.
Presented by Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) students enrolled in the college, the dog wash is always a popular community event. The cost of the dog wash is $10, and for an additional $5, customers can have their dogs’ nails trimmed and ears cleaned.
Animals will be washed on a first-come, first-served basis, and no appointments are necessary. Dogs will be washed while owners wait. Dogs must be on a leash and be at least 5 months old with current vaccinations. Please provide proof of rabies vaccination upon arrival at the dog wash.
Welcome to the College
Alison Wainwright Davitt joins college as assistant dean of advancement
Alison Wainwright Davitt of Baltimore, Maryland, has joined the college as assistant dean of advancement. In her new role, Davitt will provide oversight of the college’s development, communications, and alumni relations efforts. She is the first assistant dean of advancement at Virginia Tech under the university’s new advancement model.Davitt previously served as vice president for principal gifts for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in Silver Spring, Maryland and as associate vice president for development and constituent relations at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. She also has experience at the University of Maryland, where she was director of major gifts at the School of Pharmacy and director for development for special gifts and programs.
Krista Estell joins college as specialist in equine medicine
Krista Estell of Woodland, California, has joined the college as clinical assistant professor of equine medicine at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia.Estell comes to the college from the University of California at Davis, where she completed a large animal internal medicine residency and served as a primary care clinician for the Equine Medicine Service. She completed her doctor of veterinary medicine from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009 and was an intern at the Equine Medical Center of Ocala, Florida.
Krystina Stadler joins college as assistant professor of radiology
Krystina Stadler of East Lansing, Michigan, has joined the college as an assistant professor of radiology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences.After earning a doctor of veterinary medicine from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Stadler completed a small animal internship at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul and a diagnostic imaging residency at Michigan State University. Her research interests include neuroimaging and intracranial disease.
Jeff Wilson joins college as clinical instructor of emergency and critical care
Jeff Wilson of Malvern, Pennsylvania, has joined the college as clinical instructor of emergency and critical care in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences.Wilson comes to the college from Hope Veterinary Specialists and the Veterinary Cyberknife Cancer Center, where he served as an anesthesia and pain management specialist. Previously, Wilson was an anesthesiologist at the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston and a clinical instructor at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He completed a doctor of veterinary medicine from North Carolina State University and an internship and residency at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Vanessa Wallace joins college as anatomic pathology resident
Vanessa Wallace of Blacksburg, Virginia, has joined the college as an anatomic pathology resident in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology.Wallace recently completed her doctor of veterinary medicine from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. During her time as a student, she was secretary of the DVM Class of 2016 and vice president of the Pathology Club. Wallace also completed the Summer Veterinary Student Research Program in 2013. She is one of 11 new residents at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
Master of Public Health alumna Ashley Taylor helps keep infants alive in Malawi
In summer 2015, Ashley Taylor of Fort Chiswell, Virginia, who was pursuing master’s degrees in public health and mechanical engineering, was on a transatlantic flight home from her third trip to Malawi. She was unable to rest, still thinking about what she had seen.
While touring the neonatal ward at Domasi Rural Hospital in southern Malawi, her group had discovered that doctors faced a big problem in keeping infants alive — keeping them warm.
Lack of reliable, consistent electricity meant that some babies died during cold nights in the neonatal unit. Blankets often disappeared, as mothers took them home to keep their children warm.
Knowing that mechanical engineering principles could underpin a solution, Taylor, who completed her master of public health degree from the veterinary college in May, had a thought: A group of undergraduate students could tackle the issue of neonatal hypothermia.
Around the College
Awards & Activities
Faculty, staff complete diversity certificates
Several faculty and staff members in the veterinary college completed certificates through the Diversity Development Institute offered by University Organizational and Professional Development.
- Irving Coy Allen, assistant professor of inflammatory disease in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Ally Certificate
- Clayton Caswell, assistant professor of bacteriology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Ally Certificate and Advocate Certificate
- Kemba Clapp, assistant professor of radiology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Ally Certificate and Advocate Certificate
- Lynett Cruise, human resources generalist, Ally Certificate
- Heather Parrish, administrative assistant in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Ally Certificate
- Maureen Perry, pharmacy supervisor at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Ally Certificate
- Doris Tickle, laboratory technician at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Ally Certificate
Clay Caswell recognized as Teacher of the Week
The Virginia Tech Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research recognized Clay Caswell, assistant professor of bacteriology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, as a Teacher of the Week.
The award recognizes Caswell for championing graduate education at Virginia Tech. Caswell serves as the chair of the Integrated Microbiology Program, an interdisciplinary graduate program for students in the microbial sciences, and in this role, he facilitates interactions between faculty and students across the University. In the laboratory, Caswell mentors and trains graduate students in the practical elements of microbiology, and in the classroom, he educates students about the fundamental principles of how bacteria cause disease.
Amanda Carbonello named September Staff Member of the Month
Amanda Carbonello, laboratory technician, joined the veterinary college in August 2015 and immediately made herself an integral and valuable veterinary college team member. Her nominator described how “Amanda graciously undertook rapidly learning and cross-training in Laboratory Central Receiving (LCR) in order to fill an unexpected staff vacancy. Normally serving as our molecular diagnostic testing technician, she has ‘taken the bull by the horns’ and excelled at learning all the subtle, crazy details of the LCR window in a super short amount of time.”
Carbonello also “has taken great care to ensure that sample quality is maintained from the time it hits the LCR window until it given to the various lab sections for testing,” her nominator explained. Carbonello’s consistently sunny disposition also does not go unnoticed. Her nominator said, “She is always positive and pleasant to work with and is always smiling. We are so lucky to have her as a member of the laboratory team!”
More Awards & Activities
Virginia Tech held a kickoff luncheon for the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC), a workplace-giving program that allows state employees to designate a financial gift to more than 1,000 participating charities. Last year, more than 1,500 Virginia Tech employees raised $319,000. Veterinary college faculty and staff have been strong supporters of CVC in the past. At the luncheon, the college received a Significant Achievement Award for meeting the college’s monetary goal while having a greater than 25 percent participation rate. Only a third of Virginia Tech’s senior management areas reached these milestones last year.
Four veterinary student placed second overall out of 26 teams in a national quiz bowl competition at the American Association of Bovine Practitioners conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. The four team members in the college’s Food Animal Practitioners Club were fourth-year students Jared Risser, Sara Martucci, and Erica Izer and third-year student Kendal Smith. Over 1,000 bovine veterinarians from around the world attended the conference where the quiz bowl was held.
Several staff members completed certificate programs through University Organizational and Professional Development:
- Sharon Carbaugh, purchasing account coordinator, Leadership Excellence Certificate
- Deborah Coley, laboratory technician with the Veterinary Medicine Experiment Station, Customer Service Excellence Certificate
- Allison Price, glassware technician with the Veterinary Medicine Experiment Station, Leadership Excellence Certificate
- Angie Roberts, multidiscipline laboratory specialist, Costumer Service Excellence Certificate
Kaja Abbas, assistant professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences, collaborated on the publication of “Measuring the health-related Sustainable Development Goals in 188 countries: a baseline analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015,” in The Lancet. The study by the international Global Burden of Disease Study collaboration analyzed each country’s progress toward achieving health-related SDG targets by creating an overall SDG Index score. Countries were then ranked by their scores to show which nations are closest to achieving the targets. Read more about the study.
Tom Kerkering, professor of internal medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and adjunct professor in the college’s Department of Population Health Sciences, received the Medical Society of Virginia Foundation’s Salute to Service Award for International Service. The Salute to Service Awards recognize the outstanding efforts by a physician, medical student or resident that have substantially improved patient care, both locally and abroad. The award will be presented on Oct. 15.
Donna McWilliams (DVM ’02), veterinarian at My Pet’s Animal Hospital in Lakeland, Florida, was voted “Best of the Best” Veterinarian in Polk County’s 2016 Official People’s Choice Awards.
- October 1, 2016 — Community Dog Wash
- VA-MD Vet Med, Blacksburg, VA
- October 6, 2016 at 4 p.m. — “The Dolly Experiment: The First 20 Years” featuring Sir Ian Wilmut
- The Lyric Theatre, Blacksburg, VA
- October 13–14, 2016 — Mentor Weekend
- VA-MD Vet Med, Blacksburg, VA
- October 15, 2016 — Hokie BugFest
- Inn at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
- October 28–29, 2016 — Reunion for the Classes of 1986, 1991, & 2001
- Mountain Lake Lodge, Pembroke, VA
- November 4–6, 2016 — Potomac Regional Veterinary Conference
- Washington, D.C.
For More Upcoming Events…
Vital Signs is published throughout the year by the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.
- Dean: Cyril R. Clarke
- Assistant Dean for Advancement: Alison Davitt
- Managing Editor: Michael Sutphin
- Web Editor: Alison Elward
- Assistant Editor: Kelsey Foster
- Contributors: Alison Elward, Kelsey Foster, Melissa McKeown, Mindy Quigley, Michael Sutphin
- Photography: Clare Cline, Alison Elward, Kelsey Foster, Jill Kormendy, Megan Quesenberry, Mindy Quigley, John Rossmeisl, Carling Sitterley, Michael Sutphin, Ashley Taylor, Helen Zhang, The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)