Veterinary Research News

From the AVMA

Physicians' association supports ties with AVMA

The one-health movement continues to gain momentum after the American Medical Association adopted a policy advocating for closer ties between human and veterinary medicine.

The one-health resolution, passed June 24 during the annual meeting of the AMA House of Delegates in Chicago, calls for more educational and research collaborations between the two professions to help with the assessment, treatment, and prevention of cross-species disease transmission.

Additionally, the resolution encourages the national association of physicians to dialogue with the AVMA to discuss strategies for enhancing collaboration between the medical and veterinary medical professions in medical education, clinical care, public health, and biomedical research.

“Many infectious diseases can infect both humans and animals,” said AMA board member, Duane M. Cady, MD, in a statement. “New infections continue to emerge and with threats of cross-species disease transmission and pandemics in our global health environment, the time has come for the human and veterinary medical professions to work closer together for the greater protection of the public health in the 21st century.”

The resolution was submitted by the American College of Preventive Medicine, American College of Occupational and Environmental Health, American Association of Public Health Physicians, and the Academy of Pharmaceutical Physicians and Investigators.

Dr. Roger K. Mahr has dedicated his AVMA presidency to championing the one-health concept, resulting in the formation of a 12-member One Health Initiative Task Force. The task force was charged with articulating a vision of one health that will enhance the integration of animal, human, and environmental health for the mutual benefit of all.

Prior to the vote in the AMA House of Delegates, Dr. Mahr testified before the reference committee considering the resolution. “It is my fervent hope and vision that we as health science professionals, and as professional associations, will assume our collaborative responsibility to protect and promote our immeasurable value, to utilize that value to its fullest, and to make sure that our future is a promising future, a future of even greater value,” Dr. Mahr said.

An article appearing in the June 15 issue of Science magazine examined the burgeoning one-health movement, noting the AVMA and AMA initiatives.

Reports Released

Some veterinarians at increased risk of avian influenza virus infection

Veterinarians who work with birds are at an increased risk for avian influenza infection and should be among those with priority access to pandemic influenza vaccines and antivirals, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

The study, “Infection due to 3 avian influenza subtypes in United States veterinarians,” was published in the July 1 issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, available online at

The researchers, led by Kendall Myers, a doctoral student in occupational and environmental health, and Gregory Gray, MD, a professor of epidemiology, examined blood samples from a group of U.S. veterinarians for evidence of previous avian influenza virus infection. The veterinarians all had occupational exposure to live chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, or quail.

The study showed that, compared with the control group, the veterinarians who worked with birds had substantially higher concentrations of antibodies in their blood against the H5, H6, and H7 avian virus strains, indicating previous infections with these viruses. The infections were likely a result of the mild forms of avian influenza virus that have occasionally circulated among wild and domestic birds in the United States, according to the researchers. The greatest risk factor for infection reported by veterinarians was examining birds known to be sick with influenza.

“While these avian influenza virus infections in veterinarians were likely mild or subclinical, the story might be very different should aggressive avian influenza strains enter the United States like the H5N1 strains infecting domestic birds in Asia,” Dr. Gray said.

News Updates

AAVLD continues to seek samples, case reports

The American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians encourages AAVLD laboratories, along with other laboratories and private practitioners in the United States and Canada, to continue sending samples and reporting cases of nephrotoxicosis possibly associated with adulterated pet food, using the Web-based survey tool it launched in April.

The survey is accessible to AAVLD laboratories on the members-only area of the Web site, Nonmembers can enter case data via the public area by clicking on News and then on AAVLD Pet Food Toxicity Survey.

Dr. Barbara Powers, AAVLD president and director of the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, said that the survey goal is to distinguish true cases of nephropathy unique to this recall, resulting in criteria that define a true case.

“So far, the survey has 486 cases posted, and those data are under review and analysis,” Dr. Powers said. “Considering the many entries, that will take some time. Any cases that do not meet the criteria for further investigation will be excluded.

“A few late occurrences of renal failure have been reported, related perhaps to earlier exposure to the contaminated pet food. It will be valuable to receive any other such reports so that we may document them as possible late effects of pet food-associated nephrotoxicosis.”

The data will be made available to the Food and Drug Administration for its investigations and will form the basis for a retrospective study to be presented at the AAVLD convention in October.

Veterinarians who want to submit relevant samples can go to and click on Accreditation to access a list of AAVLD-accredited diagnostic laboratories, or contact a state veterinary diagnostic laboratory, veterinary teaching hospital, or veterinary laboratory with which they have a professional relationship and inquire about sample submission.

Research in Progress

Researchers study air emissions from animal feeding operations

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the beginning of the first nationwide study of air emissions from poultry, dairy, and swine animal feeding operations.

With EPA oversight, researchers from eight universities will take part in the two-year, $14.6 million study to measure concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter, ammonia, nitrous oxide, volatile organic compounds, and other gases from livestock facilities. The research officially began in June at 24 sites in nine states.

The EPA concluded in the late 1990s that it did not have sufficient air emissions data for animal feeding operations, which made it difficult to determine the compliance status of the operations with existing air emissions requirements.

Ultimately, the EPA developed a voluntary consent agreement with the industry for farmers to participate in a monitoring study. More than 2,600 agreements were signed, representing approximately 14,000 swine, dairy, and egg-laying and broiler chicken farms.

The universities participating in the study are Purdue University, University of California-Davis, Cornell University, Iowa State University, University of Minnesota, North Carolina State University, Texas A&M University, and Washington State University.

For more information about the study, visit the EPA online at

Proposals Invited

Call for human-animal bond research proposals

The American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians and WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, a pet care and nutrition research facility in the United Kingdom, are collaborating on a research program to explore the nature of the humananimal bond.

The two organizations have issued a call for proposals for investigations into areas of human-animal interaction that have not been explored or that need further examination. The AAH-ABV and WALTHAM are particularly interested in questions regarding the impact of pets on the physical well-being of children, such as immunity, allergy, and obesity; how pets affect the quality of life of elderly people; and how culture impacts the human-animal bond. Proposals must be submitted by Sept. 1, 2007.

For an application form, visit AAHABV online at

The Veterinary Community

Homeland Security appoints two-year director for Plum Island

The Department of Homeland Security has selected Dr. Lawrence Barrett to serve for two years as director of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.

The Homeland Security Department plans to select a site in October 2008 to build a facility to replace the center on Plum Island. At press time, 18 sites were under consideration for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. The department was about to announce a shorter list of potential sites. The facility will not be operational until 2013 or 2014.

At the Plum Island center, Dr. Barrett has served as the interim director since October 2006. He also is an expert in foreign animal and zoonotic infectious diseases with the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Previously, Dr. Barrett headed the Division of Food, Drug, and Radiation Safety within the California Department of Health Services and was the state veterinarian for public health. He has served on active duty in the Air Force as a base veterinarian and public health officer, and he is now a Reserve colonel public health officer.

Dr. Barrett received his veterinary degree from Oklahoma State University in 1981.

WesternU appoints Nelson as dean

Western University of Health Sciences appointed Dr. Phillip D. Nelson as dean of the veterinary college, effective June 11. He succeeds Dr. Shirley Johnston, founding dean, who has accepted the position of vice president for university advancement.


Dr. Phillip D. Nelson

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 68, 8; 10.2460/ajvr.68.8.803

Most recently, Dr. Nelson was executive associate dean for preclinical programs at the WesternU veterinary college.

He also is a member of the AVMA Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates. He serves as a consultant on diversity for the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and as a member of the AAVMC Multicultural Affairs Committee.

Dr. Nelson's research has focused on feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus infections in cats as biological models for HIV infections in humans and also on the development of lymphocytic immunity in dogs and cats.

Previously, Dr. Nelson served as an associate dean at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He also was acting head of the Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Nelson graduated from Tuskegee in 1979.

WesternU graduates first veterinary class

Eighty-one members of the charter class of Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine graduated May 11. The college is the 28th veterinary program in the United States, the second in California, and the first in Southern California. It is the first to open in the nation in more than 20 years.

The college's founding principles are student-centered learning, clinical education through the private sector, and a reverence for life in the teaching of veterinary medicine.

During the first two years, students participated in wellness clinics where clients brought in pets. In the third and fourth years, the students completed clinical rotations at private practices rather than a teaching hospital.

WesternU graduates have gone on to a variety of positions. Dr. Shirley Johnston, the founding dean, said the college is very proud to help meet the growing national need for veterinarians.

“Our graduates have accepted positions in practices, internships, and residencies to provide care for pets, horses, food animals, and laboratory animals,” she said. “I am confident that they will serve society with excellence as advocates and champions for animals throughout their careers.”

Graduates are completing internships in states from California to Florida to New York. Some will complete residencies in laboratory animal medicine at the University of Michigan and the University of California-Los Angeles.

Many graduates have accepted positions at practices among the rotation sites currently serving as the college's “teaching hospital.” As third- and fourth-year students begin clinical rotations this August, a number of them will find alumni as their mentors. The mentors will be familiar with the college's teaching model.

“The graduates' actions will prove that the vision of those who worked to establish the college was on the mark,” Dr. Johnston said.

Auburn, Colorado State veterinary colleges turn 100

Veterinary colleges at two universities—Auburn and Colorado State—have been celebrating their centennials all year with a generous dose of history.

Dr. Charles M. Hendrix, AVMA vice president and an Auburn professor, spoke about the milestone at Auburn when he delivered the commencement address for the class of 2007.

Dr. Hendrix said Auburn established the first veterinary college in the South. Dr. Charles Allen Cary founded Auburn's Department of Veterinary Science in 1892 and College of Veterinary Medicine in 1907. The first Auburn veterinary class, with six students, graduated from a two-year program of study.

Dr. Cary, the founding dean, wrote that “ample space is given in the agricultural college building for the teaching of veterinary science. The college has a well-equipped veterinary hospital in which a free clinic is held Saturdays, and hundreds of cases are treated annually.”

Dr. Hendrix noted that Dr. Cary made no mention of diseases of the dog or cat. Now, the Auburn small animal teaching hospital cares for thousands of patients annually.

The veterinary campus has continued to change in recent years. The college has dedicated a new large animal teaching hospital, opened a new diagnostic laboratory and an amphitheater for educational programs about birds of prey, and renovated the library and other facilities.

Colorado State University has been celebrating the centennial of its veterinary college this year with events, a new scholarship, and a short movie, “Hope Care Cures.”

The Colorado State Board of Agriculture established the Department of Veterinary Sciences in 1907. The first class, with 27 students, graduated in 1910.

In 1967, the Department of Veterinary Sciences became the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Biomedicine, as it relates to disease prevention, is part of a multidisciplinary approach to global health problems.

Priority research areas include oncology, infectious diseases, neurosciences, reproductive biology and genetic engineering, orthopedics, and the bond between humans and animals. The college also has been a pioneer in teaching veterinary medical ethics.

All year, the college is highlighting its accomplishments at professional meetings. A March open house featured historical displays about how veterinary equipment, facilities, and knowledge have changed in the past century. In December, the college will announce the recipient of the Imagine the Possibilities 100 Year Anniversary scholarship.

Galantino-Homer named laminitis senior research investigator

Dr. Hannah Galantino-Homer was appointed as the senior research investigator of the new laminitis research initiative at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, effective July 1. The goal of the initiative is to enhance work currently being done at Penn in the area of equine disease research, which is funded in part by donors to the Laminitis Research Fund.

Dr. Joan C. Hendricks, dean of the veterinary school, said Dr. Galantino-Homer's appointment is the college's first step in focusing on and investing more time and funds in answering the fundamental questions of what causes laminitis and how it can be treated.

Previously, Dr. Galantino-Homer was a lecturer and researcher in the Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research at Penn's New Bolton Center.

Dr. Galantino-Homer received her VMD degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. She is a diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists.

ACVIM honors researchers

The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine honored several researchers at its annual convention, June 6-9 in Seattle. Dr. T. Douglas Byars, an ACVIM diplomate in the Specialty of Large Animal Internal Medicine, received the Robert W. Kirk Award for Professional Excellence. Dr. Byars is an equine consultant for Byars Equine Advisory LLC.

Several researchers received the Resident Research Award, as follows: Cardiology—Drs. Sara Bordelon, Washington State University, for “Novel plasma markers of platelet activation in the feline population”; and Jonathan Goodwin, Purdue University, for “The pharmacodynamics of clopidogrel in the dog”; Endocrinology— Drs. Lawren Durocher, The Ohio State University, for “Ketosis in diabetic dogs is not related solely to serum insulin concentration”; and Samuel Hurcombe, The Ohio State University, for “Vasopression, ACTH, and cortisol concentrations in septic foals: Correlates with survival and non-survival”; Gastroenterology—Dr. Jennifer Johnson, University of Minnesota, for “The effects of oral omeprazole on third compartment pH in healthy male alpacas”; Hematology—Dr. Marie-Claude Blais, Tufts University, for “Incidence of serum alloantibody in dogs with a known history of pregnancy”; Infectious disease—Drs. Maureen Anderson, Ontario Veterinary College, for “Evaluation of prevalence and risk factors for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus colonization in equine veterinary personnel”; and Beth Hanselman, Ontario Veterinary College, for “Evaluation of coagulase positive Staphylococcal colonization of people and their household pets”; Nephrology/Urology—Dr. Jessica Larson, Michigan State University, for “Epidemiology of feline calicivirus urinary tract infection in cats with idiopathic cystitis”; Neurology—Dr. Edward MacKillop, North Carolina State University, for “Incidence of urinary tract infection in dogs following surgery for thoracolumbar intervertebral disk extrusion”; Nutrition/Metabolism—Dr. Karen Kalck, University of Tennessee, for “Glucose dynamics during the development phase of oligofructose-induced laminitis in horses”; Oncology—Dr. Andrea Sotirakopoulos, University of Minnesota, for “Evaluation of microsatellite instability as a diagnostic test for transitional cell carcinoma of the lower urinary tract in dogs”; Pharmacology—Dr. Derek Foster, North Carolina State University, for “Evaluation of two colostrum replacer products in dairy calves;” Respiratory—Dr. Nicolas Berryessa, University of California–Davis, for “The role of Bartonella spp. in feline chronic rhinosinusitis.”

One hundred veterinarians completed the requirements for board certification by the ACVIM in 2007. Of the 100, 10 were certified in cardiology, eight in neurology, 18 in oncology, 21 in internal medicine (large animal), and 43 in internal medicine (small animal).