Honoring the Dogs of 9/11
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the search-and-rescue dogs that were guided by their handlers across the piles of destruction were a welcome comfort amid the carnage.
When the country marked the 10th anniversary of the attacks, special tribute was paid to these canine SAR teams. Sadly, few of these highly trained dogs remain today. The median age of the dogs at 9/11 was 5 years, and soon they all will be gone. They are a testament to the power of the human-animal bond and a reminder of their ability to serve mankind, both body and soul.
Prior to 9/11, the public knew little about SAR dogs and their capabilities, according to Dr. Cindy M. Otto, director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
That changed, once the news media seized on the dogs as one of the few positive narratives they could tell.
The Finding One Another project is an anniversary tribute started by the Tails of Hope Foundation to honor the centennial of the canine SAR teams that served in 9/11. The AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams participated in the memorial ceremony at Liberty State Park in New York City last month.
Finding One Another is creating a historical registry with the names of the dog teams and has compiled 950 so far. Once complete, the registry will be presented to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at ground zero.
Linda Blick, project co-chair, considers the teams unsung heroes and hopes to reverse the trend of canine SAR teams receiving less public attention in recent years.
“Most SAR teams are entirely volunteer,” said Penny Sullivan, who served at the World Trade Center with Quest, her late German Shepherd Dog. “They give freely of their time and service so that others may live.”
It is intended that Finding One Another will be a mechanism of ongoing support for the canine SAR community by underwriting veterinary expenses, public education campaigns, and a White House conference on the subject.
Dr. Otto is part of a team of researchers trying to determine whether exposure to environmental contaminants at the World Trade Center and Pentagon caused the dogs any ill health effects.
Read more, including the story of 9/11 dog Kaiser and his owner, Tony Zintsmaster, by going to www.avma.org, clicking on JAVMA news and selecting the Sept 15, 2011, issue and then “Honoring the Dogs of 9/11.” Then, learn how training and collaboration are mitigating future disasters by reading the next story, “From 9/11 to now: Disaster preparedness and response evolves.” See more photos of the SAR dogs of 9/11 at www.avma.org by clicking on JAVMA News Photo Galleries.
Congress could intervene over modified salmon
Members of Congress are pushing the Food and Drug Administration in opposite directions over whether the agency should finish investigating an application to allow the use of a genetic construct in growing salmon.
The FDA has been considering whether the genetic modification in Atlantic salmon produced by Aqua-Bounty Technologies should be approved as an animal drug. The agency is considering the rDNA construct with gene-coding sequences from ocean pout and Chinook salmon as a drug because it is intended to alter the structure or function of the AquAdvantage salmon. AquaBounty claims its salmon can grow to market weight in half the time of naturally spawned fish.
In July, eight senators urged FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, to stop her agency from further considering approval of the construct. Their letter expresses concerns about potential human, environmental, and economic harm; argues that the genetic manipulation is not a veterinary drug; and alleges that the approval process lacks transparency. The letter also indicates the Senate could concur with a measure by the House of Representatives that would prevent approval of the drug application. In approving the Agriculture Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2012, the House of Representatives passed an amendment that would prohibit appropriation of FDA money toward approving use of the genetic modification.
The letter was signed by Sens. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Mark Begich of Alaska, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Patty Murray of Washington, and Jon Tester of Montana.
In August, three Massachusetts representatives urged Commissioner Hamburg to let the FDA continue its scientific investigation. In their letter, Reps. Barney Frank, Edward J. Markey, and James R McGovern indicated they were not taking a position on the merits of AquaBounty's application.
The representatives' letter states that the FDA has spent 15 years working with AquaBounty to collect health, safety, and environmental data; sought consultation and expertise from other federal agencies; and evaluated the safety and effectiveness of the genetic modification. The letter indicates the FDA found that food from the salmon is safe.
A pair of bills, H.R. 521 and S. 230, introduced early this year would define the genetically engineered fish as unsafe. Both bills were referred to committees, and no actions have been taken since winter. The AVMA has taken a position of nonsupport of the bills.
In the Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee's Aug. 2 letter to congressional leaders, 38 organizations, including the AVMA, expressed concern about the amendment, which they indicated could disrupt the FDA's congressional mandate to base assessments on science and diminish the agency's credibility domestically and internationally.
Ronald L. Stotish, PhD, Aqua-Bounty's president and CEO, announced after the House of Representatives amendment was approved that the “outrageous'’ action ignores results of scientific review and undermines science-based safety and health protection systems. In response to the senators' letter, he warned that it would be wasteful to abandon science-based regulation because of economic fears or subjective and emotional arguments.
Study finds gut loops predictable
Differing growth rates between the mesentery and gut tube cause predictable looping patterns of gut tubes in vertebrates, according to recent findings.
A scientific article published in the Aug 4, 2011, issue of the journal Nature states that the patterns observed in animals including chicks, quails, finches, and mice can be devised through a mathematic theory and a computational model. The number and size of loops can be predicted on the basis of the geometry, relative growth rates, and mechanical properties of the tissues.
In addition, the general pattern can be reproduced by sewing a rubber tube to the edge of a stretched latex sheet.
The study was conducted by researchers with Harvard University. Officials from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences announced Aug. 10 that the findings could be used to improve understanding of how the gut has evolved to accommodate changes in diet. The research team found that the gut tube grows uniformly faster than the mesentery to which it is attached. The mesentery stretches as the gut is compressed, causing the gut tube to buckle and coil.
The article, “On the growth and form of the gut,” is available in Nature (2011;476:57–62).
NAVMEC ready for implementation
Save for some last-minute editing, work on the final report of the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium has wrapped up.
The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges board of directors gave its approval July 17 during its summer meeting. The NAVMEC board had voted in favor of the document earlier this year. The five strategic goals of the report are as follows:
• Graduate career-ready veterinarians who are educated and skilled in an agreed-upon set of core competencies.
• Ensure that admissions, curricula, accreditation, and testing and licensure are competence-driven.
• Strive for a veterinarian's education that is maximally cost-effective.
• Ensure that an economically viable system for veterinary medical education is sustained.
• Stimulate a profession-wide sense of urgency and focus on action.
After some tweaking, the core competencies are multispecies knowledge and clinical competency in one or more species or disciplines; one health, looking at health across animals, humans, and the environment; and professional competencies, such as communication, collaboration, management, leadership, lifelong learning, and diversity.
The report will be available at www.aavmc.org in coming weeks.
The report lays out a number of recommendations for the AAVMC, AVMA, AVMA Council on Education, and National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and for others that will play coordinating roles in implementing the recommendations. The AAVMC will, before the end of the year, convene a meeting to bring these groups together to discuss all the recommendations, some of which will require substantial contributions and investment from across the profession to put them into action, said Dr. Marguerite Pappaioanou, AAVMC executive director.
In addition, the AAVMC will conduct a survey, which will include obtaining input and assessments from employers of veterinarians, to collect baseline data regarding veterinary education, accreditation, and testing and licensure.
Additional surveys will be done on an ongoing basis to measure how well the groups progress in meeting the NAVMEC recommendations.
LSU researcher aims to predict emerging viruses
An associate professor at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine has received a multimillion-dollar award from the National Institutes of Health to lead a project to investigate and predict the transmission and potential for emergence of various arthropod-borne viruses, particularly dengue virus.
Christopher Mores, ScD, associate professor in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences, is the principal investigator for a project titled “Predicting vector-borne virus transmission and emergence potential.” The award will provide more than $3 million over the next five years for Dr. Mores and his consortium of researchers from LSU, Tulane University, and the University of New Mexico.
As part of the award, the researchers will join the NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences' Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study. This research network uses computational modeling techniques to better understand the spread of contagious diseases and to calculate the potential impact of public health measures.
The aim of Dr. Mores' project is to use mathematic modeling to more accurately forecast the transmission of dengue and other viral diseases, specifically in the U.S. Of particular interest are the factors that affect transmission in vector and human populations separately, and then how these factors combine to affect overall transmission of the virus, according to an LSU press release.
Dr. More's team will first concentrate on establishing the factors that drive the spread of dengue and on assessing the impact of community-based and international intervention strategies, according to the release. They will then seek to apply their findings to modeling the spread of other insect-borne diseases. These include chikungunya and Rift Valley fever.
Student loan subsidy's end raises concerns
Next year, the federal government will no longer subsidize the interest on Stafford student loans for graduate and professional students still in school.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 that President Obama signed Aug. 2, just hours before the U.S. would have defaulted on its debt, raised the nation's debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion. The compromise legislation agreed to by the House and Senate contained a number of cost-cutting measures aimed at curbing federal spending over the long term and included a provision eliminating the student loan subsidy.
The subsidy meant students pursuing an advanced degree were not charged interest on the principal of their educational loans until six months after graduation. But starting July 1, 2012, the loans will begin accruing interest while the students are still in school. Students are not required to start making payments on the interest or the principal until after graduation.
The law also ended an incentive program for all students making on-time loan payments. According to the Congressional Budget Office, eliminating the graduate and professional in-school interest subsidy and direct loan repayment incentives would yield a total savings of $21.6 billion from 2012–2021. Of that, $17 billion is being redirected into the Pell Grant program, with the remainder going toward deficit reduction.
In a statement, the AVMA said the organization recognizes the need for reducing federal spending in light of the growing national debt but worries about the unintended consequences of ending the student loan subsidy.
“Eliminating educational financing for graduate and professional students who rely on student loans to fund their education, such as veterinary school, will ensure higher education is out of reach for many,” said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of the AVMA Governmental Relations Division.
The Student AVMA says the measure will make the already high cost of veterinary education even higher. “Without this financing, many veterinary students already faced with sky-rocketing tuition rates may find veterinary education out of reach. With average veterinary student loans greater than $130,000, and average salaries of $65,000, eliminating the in-school interest subsidy will result in thousands of dollars in extra costs to veterinary students,” the SAVMA said in a statement.
The AVMA and SAVMA are now working with members of Congress to restore the loan subsidy.
Inclusion is catalyst for diversity
Dialogue at the 7th Annual Veterinary Diversity Symposium moved beyond diversity itself to an equally important part of the equation: inclusion.
Diversity consultant Kay Iwata was the keynote speaker at the July 18 event, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health and held during the AVMA Annual Convention in St. Louis. She described diversity as an array of characteristics that define how people personally identify themselves and the life experiences that shape their world view.
Diversity doesn't mean you must be of a certain culture but that you must be sensitive to other cultures and dimensions of diversity, Iwata said. Some of the conditions for success are authentic listening to understand, extreme intellectual and emotional curiosity, and respect for “multiple truths.”
Iwata suggested that people take Harvard University's Implicit Association Test, which gauges prejudicial attitudes or beliefs about certain groups of people, at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/. She also recommended reading “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell, a book about rapid cognition and the few seconds it takes one's mind to draw a series of conclusions when first meeting someone.
This year's theme was diversity and inclusion as valuable business assets in veterinary practice. Dr. Larry M. Kornegay, 2010–2011 AVMA president, told those gathered, “There are so many unrealized economic opportunities for our profession.”
Iwata said that even if a practice reflects diversity, if the diversity is unmanaged, it won't offer advantages. Her ABCs of diversity and inclusion leadership are awareness, bias management, and development of cultural competence.
“You can have diversity and not have inclusion, and you won't have the benefits,” Iwata said. “Inclusion is a work environment that fully engages and motivates a diverse workforce and meets the needs of a diverse marketplace.”
Iwata shared some inclusion “best practices.” Be intentional and proactive. Have a simple but clear statement of practices and policies that is communicated to all employees. Build a network of support and sharing. Set a tone for openness, respect, inclusion, and demonstration of multicultural competencies.
In the final hour of the symposium, a panel of four talked about how they leveraged diversity and inclusion in their practices and overcame barriers. Panel members were Drs. Earl Rippie, Pensauken, N.J.; Ana Ortiz, Orlando, Fla., David A. Rickards, Cleveland; and Evan M. Morse, Cleveland.
Iwata said, “Each one of you can spin a web of influence with dialogue, whether it is to invite a young person to think about being a veterinarian or whether it's about trying to get your colleagues to become more engaged around diversity and inclusion work for the Association.
“You only need 15 percent of the people in an organization wanting to go in any direction together to make change happen.”
Student scholarships awarded; more available
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation announced July 17 during its board of directors meeting in St. Louis the 26 recipients of scholarships it handed out this year through its 2011 Veterinary Student Scholarship program. Each student won $1,000.
The recipients and their career interests are as follows:
• Anna Altobelli (KSU ‘14), large animal medicine or laboratory animal science.
• Kathryn Sharbrough Bass (TUS ‘11), shelter animal medicine.
• Courtney Blake (ISU ‘12), large animal medicine.
• Matt Brewer (ISU ‘12), food animal medicine.
• Lynn Brockway (MO ‘14), food animal medicine.
• Vanessa Wen-Xi Chen (CAL ‘14), emerging infectious disease research.
• Kari Chesney (MO ‘14), veterinary pathology and research.
• Dana Franzen (WIS ‘13), zoo animal and wildlife medicine.
• Lauren Habenicht (COL ‘13), medical research.
• Kathryn Hooper (ORS ‘12), shelter animal medicine and public health.
• Carrie Muller (WES ‘14), small animal medicine and research.
• Amelia Naher (WSU ‘13), food animal medicine.
• Melissa Nashat (COR ‘13), infectious disease research.
• Ravi Padte (COR ‘12), public health.
• Timothy Perano (CAL ‘12), large animal medicine.
• Alexander Piazza (MSU ‘12), surgery.
• Megan Pozza (OSU ‘13), public health.
• Cari Rasmussen (IL ‘14), shelter animal medicine.
• Rochelle Reddig (KSU ‘12), mixed animal medicine.
• Jose J. Rivera-Rivas (WIS ‘13), host-pathogen interaction research.
• Carolina Salter (GA ‘12), oncology research.
• Kate Schoenhals (ORS ‘12), large animal medicine.
• MaryThurber (WIS ‘14), epidemiology research.
• ChristopherTorre (UP ‘12), emergency and shelter animal medicine.
• Laura Willard (MIN ‘14), disaster medicine.
• Melissa Yu (TUF ‘13), nutrition and small animal medicine.
ChristopherTorre (UP ‘12), was awarded a scholarship from the Mildred C. Sylvester Scholarship Fund.
Dr. Jody L. Gookin is the 2011 recipient of the AVMF/Winn Foundation Excellence in Feline Research Award. It is accompanied by $2,500 cash.
The award is paired with a matching scholarship by the AVMF to a veterinary student interested in feline medicine. This year's scholarship was awarded to Dr. Jessica L. Balter (COR ‘11) in the amount of $2,500. The two awards are designed to promote and encourage feline health studies by established veterinary research scientists and those entering this field of study.
Finally, the Foundation announced Kimberly Hitt (MIS ‘12) and Emily Meyer (NCU ‘12) as the winners of a scholarship award made possible through a partnership with the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation and the AVMF. Each will receive $3,000.
In other scholarship news, the Pfizer Animal Health Veterinary Student Scholarship Program is accepting applications once again.
The program, now in its third year, annually provides $2,500 scholarships to up to 300 second- and third-year veterinary students studying at AVMA-accredited schools. Pfizer funds the scholarships, and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation administers the program.
The scholarships are used as a way to promote food animal practice and diversity in the veterinary profession.
Applications will be initially reviewed by the Foundation. The final decisions will be made by the AVMF on the basis of the total amount of scholarship dollars available for disbursement and each college's enrollment.
The Pfizer scholarship application will be available Oct. 1. Application forms may be downloaded at www.avmf.org, and completed applications are due by Nov. 30.
The scholarship winners will be announced in March during the 2012 Student AVMA Educational Symposium at Purdue University.
Leininger wins AVMAPAC award
This summer the AVMA Political Action Committee presented Dr. Mary Beth Leininger with the 2010 Russell Anthony Award for her longstanding commitment to the organization's PAC.
In addition, the AVMAPAC policy board named Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota winner of the 2011 Advocacy Award for his support of legislation promoting the veterinary profession and animal health. Johnson was unable to attend the PAC event and will receive the award at a later date in Washington, D.C.
The Russell Anthony Award is given to an AVMA member who has worked to further the strength of the AVMAPAC and to advance issues important to veterinary medicine and the profession. Dr. Leininger received the award July 17 during the AVMAPAC luncheon in St. Louis.
Dr. Leininger was the AVMA's first female president and has been an active member of the AVMAPAC for more than two decades.
Education council schedules site visits
The AVMA Council on Education has scheduled site visits to five schools and colleges of veterinary medicine for the remainder of 2011.
Comprehensive site visits are planned for the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 2–6; Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 16–20; University of Prince Edward Island Atlantic Veterinary College, Oct. 23–27; and University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Nov. 5–10.
A consultative site visit is planned for the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 23–27.
The council welcomes written comments on these plans or the programs to be evaluated. Comments should be addressed to Dr. David E. Granstrom, 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.
Survey examines decline in patient visits, potential solutions
Companion animal practices in the United States have opportunities to increase patient visits, according to new survey results, despite a decline in the frequency of visits per pet that began before the current economic downturn.
Fifty-one percent of a sample of companion animal practices reported a decrease in total patient visits in the past two years, while 34 percent reported an increase, according to the second phase of the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study.
The Bayer study's second phase, like the first phase, examined both the problem as well as potential solutions. Bayer Animal Health, Brakke Consulting Inc., and the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues released the results of the study's second phase July 18 at the AVMA Annual Convention.
Various studies have identified decreases in how often pet cats and dogs see a veterinarian and, more recently, how many cats and dogs each practice is seeing. The Bayer study's second phase found that many practices also have seen a decrease in revenues recently. Forty-two percent of practices reported a decrease in revenues from 2009–2010, although 47 percent reported an increase.
Practices that saw an increase in patient visits had certain attributes. They were more likely to arrange for clients to see the same veterinarian for every visit. Owners of such practices tended to believe that wellness examinations are one of the practice's most valuable services and that marketing and advertising are a key part of the business strategy. Also associated with an increase in patient visits was active use of social media such as Facebook.
Additional information from the Bayer study is available at http://bayerah.com/news.cfm.
New specialty college issues certification requirements, sets exam date
The American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation is accepting applications for board certification in canine and equine sports medicine and rehabilitation.
This past August, the newest of the veterinary specialty colleges published application requirements and announced that the initial examination for board certification in the two areas of specialization was scheduled for May 2012.
The ACVSMR has been in the works for more than a decade. Interest in a veterinary rehabilitation and sports medicine specialty started to gain momentum in 1999 after the 1st International Symposium on Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy was held in Corvallis, Ore.
The college expects ACVSMR membership will increase to more than 200 over the next several years as the demand for veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation continues to grow.
Credentials applications for ACVSMR board certification, qualifications required for certification, and additional details about the examination are available at www.vsmr.org. Applications must be received by Oct. 15, 2011. For additional information, email the ACVSMR secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
USDA accreditation training available
The National Veterinary Accreditation Program's first four supplemental training courses became available in July, and another five courses were expected to become available in September.
The Department of Agriculture is adding the supplemental training as part of its updates to the NVAP, through which veterinarians can gain federal accreditation that lets them perform some work for the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The department announced in December 2009 that veterinarians who wanted to continue being accredited would need to participate in a new, tiered program that requires continuing education and renewals. It replaced a system that had lifetime accreditation without separate categories.
One of the two accreditation categories allows veterinarians to perform some APHIS-related work on companion animals, while the second allows veterinarians to perform such work on all animals. Veterinarians accredited under the first category need to complete at least three units of APHIS-approved supplemental training every three years to renew their accreditation, and each course provides one unit. Veterinarians accredited under the second category need to complete six units. Each training course is expected to require about one hour of work.
APHIS officials also announced plans to make four more training modules available in March 2012 and five more in September 2012.
More information on the supplemental training is available at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/nvap.
Sites offer help with waste issues
Two sites are providing guidance for veterinarians on waste storage and removal.
The AVMA has published guidance intended to help veterinarians learn about environmental and legal considerations for waste management and disposal. Information on hazardous and medical waste and federal and state regulations are available at www.avma.org/wastedisposal.
The information is part of an educational campaign on hazardous substances and wastes that was recommended by the AVMA Task Force on National Hazardous Waste Product Database and contributed to largely by the AVMA Committee on Environmental Issues.
The Veterinary Compliance Assistance site created by the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, with contributions from the AVMA, includes information on pollution prevention, compliance with state and federal laws and regulations, identification and risks of hazardous materials, identification and management of medical waste, and guidance on carcass disposal. That site is at www.vetca.org.
Award winner recognized for forward thinking
Dr. Ilaria Capua is director of the Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie in Legnaro, Italy. It hosts the National, Food and Agriculture Organization, and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Reference Laboratory for avian influenza and Newcastle disease, and the OIE Collaborating Centre for Diseases at the Human-Animal Interface.
About a decade ago, her Italian laboratory helped turn the tide in the fight against the spread of H5N1 avian influenza.
In 2000, Dr. Capua and her team devised the DIVA (Differentiating Infected from Vaccinated Animals) strategy, based on heterologous vaccination, to combat avian influenza. Until that time, vaccination for avian influenza was verboten, especially for countries that have an export market. DIVA showed the international community that vaccination can be successful in controlling and eradicating avian influenza infection, provided it is used in combination with other measures.
Coincidentally, around this time the spread of the Asian H5N1 virus was starting to incite global fears.
“When H5N1 hit the fan, my group was one of a few in the world that had managed a real outbreak of avian influenza. We knew a lot about outbreak management and about the virus itself. We were involved in an international task force that was in place to try and manage the epidemic,” Dr. Capua said.
Not long after, she served as the catalyst for greater information sharing among laboratories, particularly between the animal health and public health disciplines.
In February 2006, her laboratory characterized the Nigerian H5N1 strain. At the time, no one knew how the virus was spreading, making the first isolate from Africa important scientifically.
The World Health Organization asked her to deposit the sequence of a sample from Nigeria in a closed-off compartment of a flu database at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, to which fewer than 20 laboratories have access. If she shared her sequence, WHO scientists said, she would have access to the rest of the restricted Los Alamos data.
Dr. Capua chose to refuse the WHO's offer. Instead, she deposited H5N1 strains from Nigeria and Italy in GenBank for the entire world to see. The incident sparked international debate and action on transparency issues on pathogens that impact public health.
For her efforts in these areas, Dr. Capua was honored with the 2011 Penn Vet World Leadership Award. The unrestricted award of $100,000 is given annually to a veterinarian who has dramatically changed the practice and image of the profession and substantially influenced the lives and careers of others.
Vet student developing database software
Jonathan Lustgarten is a third-year student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine who enjoys working with computers and learning about human and animal medicine.
He recently was named the 2011 Penn Vet Student Inspiration Award winner for combining his interests by creating a program designed to help veterinarians better handle record keeping out in the field, especially during disaster-response situations.
It's called the Relief and Emergency Computerized Veterinary Records system.
In essence, the computer software program has the ability to centralize mounds of data and allow veterinarian to record and observe their findings quickly and efficiently, making the process easier and more accurate.
It's a mobile operating system that works in the cloud. Therefore, anywhere in the world, users can recover the information by simply using a hand-held device or computer with the appropriate software.
RECOVER can be used for more than disasters, insists Lustgarten, including surveillance. For example, researchers tracking a virus such as avian influenza can take pictures of animals, record their location, and send the information to a central database. The information is received in real time to give a faster picture of what's happening on the ground. Animals that have already been captured will have immediately recoverable information on where they were last found and where they were released.
Lustgarten will use the money from the award to build the beta version. Tri-State Bird Rescue has agreed to try out the system first. This should happen sometime this fall, complete with a mobile phone application.
Program continues to foster young researchers
The 2011 Merial-National Institutes of Health Veterinary Scholars Program Symposium once again educated attendees about the latest in research and recognized future leaders in the field.
This year's event was held August 4–6 at Disney's Yacht Club Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. It drew about 450 people, including 337 students from 31 programs in the U.S., Canada, France, and The Netherlands, all of whom presented posters. The theme of the symposium was “Conservation Medicine and Human Health.”
Two keynote addresses were given. On Aug. 5, Lyle L. Moldawer, PhD, vice chairman of research at the University of Florida College of Medicine, gave a talk entitled, “Harnessing the power of the genome to better understand the immunological response to injury: future implications and applications.”
Peter A.V. Anderson, PhD, of the UF Whitney Laboratory for Marine Biosciences, spoke the next day, giving the lecture, “Biomedicine from the Sea.”
Concurrent with the symposium, the Burrows Wellcome Fund put on a Young Investigator Program for new faculty. Seventeen speakers provided insights into navigating an academic research career for 10 new faculty selected from veterinary schools and colleges around the country.
The symposium again featured the Young Investigator Award Competition, sponsored by the AVMA and American Veterinary Medical Foundation. The top three winners were as follows:
• Derek M. Foster, of North Carolina State University, who won first place for “NFκB mediated expression of XIAP inhibits enterocyte shedding to defend barrier function in Cryptosporidium infection.”
• Carrie J. Finno, of the University of California-Davis, who took second place with “Molecular basis of neuroaxonal dystrophy in Quarter Horses.”
• Margaret M. Brosnahan, of Cornell University, who took third place with “Interleukin 22 is expressed by the chorionic girdle cells of the equine trophoblast.”
In other awards, Dr. Stephen W. Barthold, a professor of veterinary and medical pathology at UC-Davis, received the Inaugural 2011 Merial-Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Excellence in Research Award. Dr. Barthold researches the interaction between infectious disease agents and their hosts.
New vet dean for UC-Davis
Dr. Michael D. Lairmore, a veterinarian, cancer researcher, and administrator at The Ohio State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, has been named the new dean of the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, following a nationwide search.
Dr. Lairmore's expertise bridges multiple disciplines to address basic questions related to viral causes of cancer and the biology of retroviruses. Among his accomplishments is the development of one of the first animal models of AIDS-associated pediatric pneumonia.
At Ohio State, Dr. Lairmore served as associate dean for research and graduate studies at the veterinary medical college and as associate director of the university's Comprehensive Cancer Center. He also held two academic appointments there: professor of veterinary biosciences in the veterinary college and an adjunct appointment in molecular virology, immunology, and medical genetics in the College of Medicine.
Prior to working in academia, Dr. Lairmore headed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Human T-lymphotropic Virus Reference Laboratory in Atlanta. While there, he focused on the linkages among human T-cell leukemia viruses and specific diseases, including some forms of cancer.
He joins UC-Davis on Oct. 24.
Dr. Lairmore is a member of the Institute of Medicine and is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.
He is board certified in two veterinary specialties—anatomic pathology and virology and immunology. He has a doctorate in experimental pathology from Colorado State University and received his DVM from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1981.
Colorado lab devastated by fire
Fire heavily damaged parts of Colorado State University's Equine Reproduction Laboratory on the Foothills Campus early July 26.
Firefighters found flames shooting through the roof of the building. The blaze impacted only the office building, which housed some laboratories.
Dell Rae Moellenberg, CSU senior media and community relations coordinator, said that no people or horses were injured in the fire, and it did not touch any barns or stock areas. Twenty to 30 horses in the immediate area were moved into pens away from smoke during the fire but were not in any danger.
The CSU Equine Reproduction Laboratory is a teaching, research, and service facility connected to the CSU Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory. Work there includes veterinary reproductive research and services such as artificial insemination. The facility's staff pioneered reproductive techniques such as semen collection and AI, equine embryo recovery and transfer, and the shipping of cooled semen and embryos.
The Poudre Fire Authority estimates the fire caused a loss of $9 million to $15 million. As of early September, the origin was listed as undetermined and the cause as under investigation.
During the salvage and rebuilding of facilities, the ERL will continue to offer clinical services to clients. Some laboratory clients may have had semen, oocytes, or embryos stored at the facility; however, not all client samples were stored in the building that was damaged by the fire. Staff will need to assess the viability of each sample recovered from the facility, a process that could take weeks, according to the university.
“Impact will be minimal to the daily activities,” Moellenberg said. “The long-term impact on research data is yet to be determined.”
Wildlife center joins international coalition protecting animal and public health
The U.S. Geological Survey in July announced the agency's National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., had been designated by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as a Collaborating Center for Research and Diagnosis of Emerging and Existing Pathogens of Wildlife.
The OIE is an intergovernmental organization headquartered in Paris and responsible for improving animal health worldwide. Its objectives include ensuring transparency in the global disease situation; collecting, analyzing, and disseminating veterinary scientific information; and promoting veterinary services.
A critical component of the OIE's scientific expertise is the organization's international network of collaborating centers. These are centers of expertise in a specific designated sphere of competence relating to management of animal health issues. Collaborating centers assist the OIE by providing their expertise internationally.
Other U.S. animal health and research facilities named as OIE collaborating centers include the Institute for International Cooperation in Animal Biologics at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Ga.
“International recognition for the USGS National Wildlife Health Center by the World Organisation for Animal Health could not be more prestigious or more timely,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “As with all great honors, this one bears great responsibilities: to be ever watchful for the next outbreak and work internationally to stop it in its tracks.”
Located in Madison, Wis., the NWHC provides information, technical assistance, training, and research on domestic and international wildlife health issues.
In addition, the NWHC announced it will be creating a consortium with the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Center, which is based at the University of Saskatchewan and is an OIE Collaborating Center for Wildlife Disease Surveillance and Monitoring, Epidemiology, and Management.
Veterinarians join global disaster congress
Dr. Gary Vroegindewey said veterinarians are vital for disaster management, response, and planning, and a global conference this past summer gave an opportunity to increase understanding of that role.
He said nearly every disaster has a veterinary component such as animal care, use of animals in search and rescue, or protection of the food chain.
Fifteen veterinarians gave presentations on disaster preparedness and response May 31-June 3 in Beijing during the 2011 World Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine, the 17th congress over 35 years and the first with representatives of veterinary medicine.
Dr. Vroegindewey, who led efforts to assemble veterinarians for the conference, is director of global health initiatives for the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. He expects the profession's roles and involvement in disaster response, planning, and training will evolve.
Paul Arbon, PhD, president of the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine and a professor and dean at the Flinders University School of Nursing and Midwifery in Adelaide, South Australia, said effective, efficient disaster preparedness and relief require input and cooperation among medical professions. Veterinarians provide important contributions to WADEM, through which they benchmark, compare, and share best practices and experiences with other health care professionals.
Health care providers in human medicine particularly need the expertise of veterinarians when addressing zoonoses such as the pandemic H1N1 influenza outbreak and when addressing emerging diseases, Dr. Arbon said. He also indicated that management and care of pets during mass evacuations and management of farm animals and affected wildlife are among concerns for disaster responders.
Dr. Heather Case, director of the AVMA Scientific Activities Division, said veterinarians' presentations at the congress focused on topics that cut across human and veterinary medical fields. She thinks recognition of the one-health concept of interconnected health across species is increasing and that the congress helped increase recognition of the role of veterinarians during emergencies.
Topics touched on during presentations by veterinarians at the congress included their response to the January 2011 earthquake in Haiti, concerns for refugees, and disaster-related education and training, Dr. Vroegindewey said. For example, his presentation addressed the use of social media during the response to the earthquake in Haiti, a topic he thinks provided information applicable across health professions.
Dr. Vroegindewey said veterinarians can help develop disaster response plans that take more holistic approaches beyond patient recovery and include social, economic, and psychological recovery. He thinks the veterinary profession needs more published information on actions taken and lessons learned regarding disasters as well as increased knowledge that can be presented to other health care professions.
Agriculture department funding climate, environmental studies
Researchers will receive about $53 million in federal grants to help agricultural industries prepare for climate changes, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and sequester carbon.
The Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced in late June that the money will be given through 13 grants to 10 universities and the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The grants will fund multiyear projects connected with plant and animal agriculture; they will be provided through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and will be administered through NIFA.
The initiative is a competitive grant program established through the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, USDA information states.
The grants connected with livestock include about $5 million to the University of Arkansas to evaluate how swine operations can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, $4.7 million to the University of Delaware to consider how chicken producers can lessen their industry's environmental impact, and $4.3 million to the University of Nebraska to help extension services give animal agriculture producers science-based climate resources.
One-health approach key to UN wildlife task force
The increasing threat from emerging infectious diseases has led to the creation of a United Nations task force responsible for devising an integrated approach for managing the health of ecosystems, wildlife, livestock, and people within a one-health framework.
The Scientific Task Force on Wildlife Diseases was formed this past June during a meeting in Beijing attended by UN agencies, professional associations, research organizations, and several government representatives, including the representatives from the United States.
The multinational task force will identify diseases that affect domestic and migratory wildlife that have major implications for food security, sustainable livelihoods, and conservation. In addition, the group will identify ways of bridging the gaps between wildlife managers and health practitioners.
By adopting a one-health approach, the task force will promote information sharing among government sectors, wildlife managers, nongovernmental organizations, and relevant United Nations agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization, and UN Environment Programme Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals works for the conservation of a wide array of endangered migratory animals worldwide through the negotiation and implementation of agreements and action plans. At present, 116 countries are parties to the convention.
Modeled after the Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds, which was established in 2005 and served as a world resource of recommendations on how to cope with avian influenza, this newest UN body will present a report at the next CMS conference this November in Norway.
ACVIM honors researchers
The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine honored several researchers at its annual convention, June 15–18 in Denver. Dr. Dennis O'Brien, an ACVIM diplomate in the Specialty of Neurology, received the Robert W. Kirk Award for Professional Excellence. Dr. O'Brien is a professor of neurology at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Individuals receiving the Resident Research Award included the following: Drs. Jenna Burton, Colorado State University, for “Low-dose cyclophosphamide selectively depletes regulatory T cells and inhibits angiogenesis in dogs with soft tissue sarcoma”; James Campbell, North Carolina State University, for “Assessment of cord dorsum potentials from caudal nerves in clinically normal dogs”; Ryan Garcia, University of California-Davis, for “The use of blood and urine galactomannan antigen test for the diagnosis of canine systemic aspergillosis”; Ruth Gostelow, Royal Veterinary College, for “Plasma free metanephrine and normetanephrine concentrations are elevated in dogs with pheochromocytoma”; Karin Kruger, North Carolina State University, for “Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of quinapril in horses”; Brian Maran, Washington State University, for “Identification of two deletion polymorphisms within the canine beta-1 adrenoceptor gene”; Rosie Naylor, Royal Veterinary College, for “Influence of allele copy number on skeletal muscle histopathology in horses with type 1 polysaccharide storage myopathy”; Valerie Parker, Iowa State University, for “Association between body condition and survival in dogs with acquired chronic kidney disease”; Davin Ringen, University of Missouri-Columbia, for “Epidemiology of mastitis pathogens in heifers on a grazing dairy”; and Nicole Smee, Kansas State University, for “Investigations into the effect of cranberry extract on the bacterial adhesion to canine uroepithelial cells”
One hundred thirty veterinarians completed the requirements for board certification by the ACVIM in 2011. Of the 130, 15 were certified in cardiology, 10 in neurology, 18 in oncology, 27 in internal medicine (large animal), and 60 in internal medicine (small animal).
The article “American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology” in the September 2011 issue of AJVR listed four individuals as being certified by the ACVCP as new diplomates in 2011. Dr. Brian V. Lubbers, Manhattan, Kan., is the only new ACVCP-certified diplomate this year.