Veterinary Research News

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From the AVMA

Executive Board meets

The AVMA Executive Board met May 31-June 1 in Schaumburg, Ill., chaired by Dr. James O. Cook, District V, Lebanon, Ky. Full coverage of the meeting—including Proposed Amendments to the AVMA Bylaws and the 2007 resolutions, which will be considered by the House of Delegates in July—are posted at; click on JAVMA News, then July 1, 2007. Some other highlights follow.

In compliance with the Bylaws, the board determined that the 2007 annual meeting of AVMA voting members will be held in conjunction with the AVMA Annual Convention Opening Session, at 7 a.m. in the Washington (D.C.) Convention Center.

Each year, the board elects or reelects the AVMA's executive staff officers. In June, the board reelected Dr. Bruce W. Little, who is retiring as CEO, as executive vice president, effective from July 14-Aug. 8. Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, who was named Dr. Little's successor by the board in March, was elected in June to serve as EVP from Aug. 9, 2007, to July 2008.

The board approved revisions to the AVMA Practitioner Research Award to permit the nomination of veterinarians who contributed the major portion of their research and published the results while engaged in full-time private practice, even though they have changed their professional focus or are retired.

The board approved $3,000 in funding to co-sponsor the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Educational Symposium titled “Assessing outcomes of clinical veterinary medicine,” to be held in March 2008 in Washington, D.C. An enhanced understanding of outcomes assessment would help faculty and administrators better ensure the clinical competence of future veterinary graduates.

The board supported the AAVMC taking the lead in developing a process to bring together representatives from the AVMA, AAVMC, and American Association of Veterinary State Boards to begin a dialogue on issues related to veterinary curricula, accreditation, and licensure. This was recommended by the AVMA/AAVMC Joint Committee, which considers this the first step in facilitating stakeholder meetings to discuss these issues.

CDC director to headline AVMA Opening Session in D.C.

Julie L. Gerberding, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the keynote speaker at the Opening Session of the 144th AVMA Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Gerberding will discuss why veterinarians are key to achieving optimal public health and why the CDC has listed zoonotic diseases as a top priority. The CDC director will also touch on why now, more than ever, veterinary medicine is important to the well-being of the United States and the world.

Before becoming CDC director and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry administrator, Dr. Gerberding was acting deputy director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases. There she played a major role in leading CDC's response to the anthrax bioterrorism events of 2001.

Dr. Gerberding joined the CDC in 1998 as director of the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at NCID, where she developed the agency's patient safety initiatives and other programs to prevent infections, antimicrobial resistance, and medical errors in health care settings.

In addition to her duties at the CDC, Dr. Gerberding is a clinical professor of medicine at Emory University and an associate professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco.

The Opening Session is Saturday, July 14, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in the Washington Convention Center Ballroom. Doors open at 7 a.m., and seating is on a first come, first served basis.

Education council schedules site visits

The AVMA Council on Education has scheduled site visits to schools/ colleges of veterinary medicine at four institutions for the remainder of 2007.

Site visits are planned for University College Dublin Veterinary School, Ireland, Sept. 16-20; Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 7-11; Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 20-25; and University of Utrecht Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, the Netherlands, Nov. 4-8.

The council welcomes written comments on these plans or the programs to be evaluated. Comments should be addressed to Dr. Donald G. Simmons, Director, Education and Research Division, AVMA, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360. Comments must be signed by the person submitting them to be considered.

Funding Announced

Morris Animal Foundation, AVMF fund influenza research

The Morris Animal Foundation and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation have partnered to fund research to help prevent canine influenza and avian influenza from becoming international pandemics. The research will look at virus transmission, monitoring, and containment.

Based in Denver, the MAF is dedicated to funding research that protects, treats, and cures diseases of companion animals and wildlife. Established in 1948, the foundation has funded more than 1,300 humane animal health studies with funds approaching $50 million.

Dr. Cynda Crawford, a veterinary immunologist at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, is the lead researcher in the MAF/AVMF study of canine influenza.

“This study will determine the prevalence of influenza virus infections in shelters, and identify the factors associated with (their) introduction and spread,” Dr. Crawford said. “We hope to develop effective guidelines for managing respiratory infections.”

While researchers believe canine influenza currently affects only dogs, the H5N1 avian influenza virus has spread throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, affecting wild and domestic birds as well as other species, including humans. Persistence of the virus in aquatic habitats is a critical component in the transmission of avian influenza virus among wild birds, and from wild birds to domestic poultry.

Dr. Justin Brown, a graduate research assistant at the University of Georgia, is studying the ability of avian influenza virus to persist in water. As an MAF fellowship training grant recipient, Dr. Brown will receive mentorship from Dr. David Stallknecht, associate professor in the Department of Population Health at the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. The project is part of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the veterinary college.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation is committed to partnerships that further research in animal health issues. A charitable gift to the foundation may be designated specifically to the Animal Health Studies Fund to ensure its use in the area of research. To learn more, visit

To learn more about Morris Animal Foundation, or to make a donation, phone (800) 243-2345, or visit

Regulatory Actions

Food safety agency invites comments on melamine decisions

The public is being asked to comment on a food safety agency's decision-making process that led the agency to conclude that the feeding of pet food scraps containing melamine and melamine-related compounds to swine and poultry is unlikely to pose a human health risk.

The decisions of the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, detailed in the May 30 Federal Register and posted at FRPubs/2007-0018.pdf, were based on the best available scientific data and information, according to the agency.

In the same Federal Register, the Food and Drug Administration issued a notice of availability of an interim safety/risk assessment related to melamine.

On the basis of currently available data and information, this safety/risk assessment indicates that the consumption of pork, poultry, eggs, and domestic fish products produced when animal feed was contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds is unlikely to pose a human health risk. The safety/risk assessment is available at

Comments to the Federal Register associated with the FSIS issuance must be received by Aug. 28, 2007. Submissions must include the agency name and docket number FSIS-2007-0018. Comments may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at; by mail, to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 300 12th St. SW, Room 102 Cotton Annex, Washington, DC 20250; or

Comments will be posted on the FSIS Web site at

Research Results

Treatment at Iowa State helps blind dogs see

In April, two dogs were successfully treated for sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome by a research team at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The experimental treatment is the first to restore sight to dogs in which SARDS is diagnosed, according to a statement from the college.

“Although the dogs won't be catching any Frisbees, they can navigate and not bump into objects,” said Dr. Sinisa Grozdanic, a veterinary ophthalmologist at ISU who led the research team.

The dogs were treated intravenously with immunoglobulin. Dr. Grozdanic said the key factor was finding that the molecular profile of SARDS in eyes was similar to immune-mediated retinopathy in humans. Immunemediated retinopathy in humans was not treatable until about 10 years ago when intravenous use of immunoglobulin was determined to induce results in some patients.

Dr. Grozdanic said his team was still in the process of researching how long the treatment would be efficacious in the dogs.

Test may eliminate debilitating skin disease in horses

Researchers at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine recently identified a gene mutation and developed a diagnostic test that may eliminate hereditary equine regional dermal asthenia.

Findings from the study on the genetic cause of the debilitating, degenerative skin disease, which affects primarily Quarter Horses, were reported online in the journal Genomics by veterinary geneticist Dr. Danika Bannasch and other UC-Davis researchers. A patent on the newly developed test is pending.

“Identification of the gene enabled us to develop a DNA screening test to help horse breeders avoid producing horses with this disease,” Dr. Bannasch said. “Equally important, the test should prevent the unnecessary destruction of young horses that actually have less serious skin irregularities, which can be mistaken for the early stages of HERDA.”

This research represents the first time a scan of the whole horse genome has been used to identify a novel disease gene in the horse, according to a UC-Davis statement.

Funding for the research was provided by the American Quarter Horse Foundation and the Center for Equine Health at the UC-Davis veterinary school.

News of the Profession

Colleges decide whether to partner with Banfield

One veterinary college is completing construction on a Banfield teaching hospital, while another college has abandoned plans to operate a community practice in conjunction with a Banfield pet hospital.

The Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine in Pomona, Calif., began building its Veterinary Clinical Center in late 2006. The center will feature the Banfield, The Pet Hospital and Wellness Center. In 2007, the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine discontinued discussions regarding an affiliation with a new, nearby Banfield animal hospital.

The Maryland VMA distributed a statement from Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the Virginia-Maryland college, about the Banfield talks.

The statement outlined reasons for considering the collaboration. The college needed to establish a clerkship in community practice for fourth-year students. Practitioners in the area had been consulting with the college about the need to establish an afterhours and weekend emergency clinic. The teaching hospital had a backlog in certain specialty services. The college also was attempting to address the need to develop capital support to expand instructional, research, and clinical facilities.

When the college invited input, some stakeholders expressed strong opposition to a formal collaboration with the new Banfield hospital. One of the most common concerns involved the idea of students undertaking a mandatory clerkship at a Banfield hospital. Many private practitioners expressed concerns that the college could create a perception that it endorsed a brand or type of practice.

Dr. Schurig wrote that the Virginia-Maryland college will establish the clerkship in community practice at the veterinary teaching hospital, despite limitations on space—while some students probably will complete externships at the Banfield animal hospital. Dr. Schurig wrote that the Banfield hospital likely will be open around the clock and operate a specialty practice.

Dr. Shirley Johnston, founding dean of the WesternU veterinary college, said at the time of the ground-breaking on the Veterinary Clinical Center there that she is grateful for donors' investment in the education of future veterinarians. Banfield and other donors funded the center, which will showcase an 8,000-square-foot Banfield teaching hospital.

According to a release from WesternU, Banfield's vision of providing affordable and quality health care for pets has been an important match with principles of the veterinary college such as student-centered learning and clinical education through strategic partnerships. Students currently complete off-campus clinical rotations.

According to the WesternU release, the Banfield clinic will offer students access to more than 260 Banfield Learning Center teaching modules and a psychomotor-skills area for mastering clinical skills.

The WesternU veterinary college isn't the only one to partner with Banfield. In 2005, the National Autonomous University of Mexico opened a veterinary teaching hospital in cooperation with Banfield.

The Veterinary Community

Louisiana appoints Haynes as dean

Dr. Peter F. Haynes was named dean of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, effective June 1. Dr. Haynes had served as interim dean of the school since July 2006 after the retirement of then dean, Dr. Michael Groves.

Dr. Haynes began his academic career in 1970 as an instructor of large animal surgery at Colorado State University, where he received his DVM degree the preceding year. He also taught equine ambulatory medicine at CSU from 1971-1974.

In 1974, Dr. Haynes joined the LSU faculty. There, he held various positions over the years, including section chief of the Large Animal Clinic, professor of veterinary surgery, assistant director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and Clinics, and co-director of the Equine Veterinary Research Program.

In addition, Dr. Haynes was interim associate dean for research and advanced studies, associate dean for research and advanced studies, associate dean of administration, and executive associate dean from 2000-2006.

Veterinarians receive recognition for technology transfer

The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer recently recognized a number of veterinarians for excellence in technology transfer through their work with the Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.

The FLC recognized Dr. Luis Rodriguez, an ARS research leader, and his team for inventing a special lancet for drawing blood from laboratory mice with little pain to the animal.

An ARS team including Dr. Margaret Oeller, of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine, received recognition for finding that the antimicrobial tylosin can be safe and effective in controlling American foulbrood disease of honeybees.

An ARS team including Drs. Billy Hargis and Guillermo Tellez, of the ARS Center of Excellence in Poultry Science, received recognition for creating a technology to test and identify potentially beneficial bacteria to be used for treating poultry to reduce human foodborne pathogens.

Dr. David E. Swayne, director of the ARS Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, received recognition as a director of the year.

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