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AVMA board approves Panel on Euthanasia report

The AVMA Executive Board approved the content of the 2011 update of the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia during a Sept. 27 conference call.

The AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia are recognized by government regulators and the animal care and use community as the gold standard for acceptable procedures and agents for euthanizing a broad spectrum of animal species.

The guidelines were undergoing final edits and were to be published in an upcoming issue of JAVMA as well as on the AVMA website.

This latest edition of the AVMA euthanasia guidelines, the eighth since they were first published in 1963, is approximately three times the length of the previous, 2007 report. The number of animal species covered is more extensive, with both vertebrate and invertebrate species included.

The guidelines also feature a flowchart to aid veterinarians in making ethical decisions regarding euthanasia.

The effort to update the guidelines began in earnest in 2009 with the formation of 11 working groups consisting of more than 70 representatives from veterinary medicine, animal science, animal control, animal agriculture, wildlife, and other relevant fields. Each group was responsible for identifying and assessing research pertaining to technique- or species-specific topics. Also included on the panel for the first time was a schooled ethicist.

The working groups are a departure from earlier formats. For example, just more than a dozen individuals oversaw the revisions resulting in the 2000 version of the guidelines.

During the Executive Board conference call, Dr. Steven L. Leary, chair of the current AVMA Panel on Euthanasia, noted how the groups allowed the panel to compile a credible and comprehensive report. And, as a living document, the guidelines can be updated as new data become available, Dr. Leary added.

Before submitting its report to the AVMA board, the panel took into account more than 300 AVMA member comments elicited by a draft version of the guidelines posted online.

Unlike previous editions of the euthanasia guidelines, humane slaughter and depopulation are not covered in this latest report. The AVMA will address those two topics in separate guidance documents likely due in 2012–2013.

A table of contents, glossary, and index are intended to make the euthanasia guidelines more reader friendly.

St. George's accredited by COE

St. George's University School of Veterinary Medicine was granted full accreditation status by the AVMA Council on Education.

The school, located in Grenada, West Indies, received the notification during the COE's meeting Sept. 18–20 at AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill. The decision is retroactive to the date of the council's comprehensive site visit; that is, all students graduating after April 21 are considered graduates of a COE-accredited institution.

Currently, about 500 DVM-degree students are enrolled, distributed over the four years of the veterinary curriculum. Eighty-five percent, approximately, are from the United States, with the remaining 15 percent coming from other countries, including Canada. Over the past decade, SGU students have come from 22 countries.

Students in the four-year DVM-degree program study basic veterinary medical sciences during the first two years. Third-year students go on to the introductory stages of their clinical work. The fourth year consists of 48 weeks of off-site clinical training at another veterinary school or college divided into 18 weeks of instruction in six core subjects and 30 weeks of electives. St. George's is affiliated with 23 U.S. veterinary schools and colleges, two schools in the United Kingdom, and schools in Canada, Ireland, and Australia.

The school, founded in 1999, submitted a self-study report to the COE in 2006, and the council conducted a consultative site visit Feb. 18–22, 2007. A council site team paid a comprehensive site visit to the island April 17–21, 2011.

St. George's is the second Caribbean school to become fully accredited this year; Ross University earned that distinction this past spring. SGU is the 17th foreign institution accredited by the council, including five in Canada.

AVMA Congressional Science Fellows get to work on Capitol Hill

The AVMA announced that Drs. Matthew Doyle of Plymouth, Mich.; Reid Harvey of Gaithersburg, Md.; and Richard Smilie of Stayton, Ore., had been selected as the 2011–2012 AVMA Congressional Science Fellows.

By October, Dr. Matthew Doyle had joined the staff of Rep. Rosa De-Lauro of Connecticut; Dr. Reid Harvey accepted a position with New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; and Dr. Richard Smilie is spending his fellowship year in the office of Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.

The AVMA fellows are assisting and advising the members of Congress and their staffs on issues ranging from food safety and agriculture to emergency preparedness and response and the 2012 farm bill.

Dr. Doyle is a 2008 graduate of the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine and was employed as a small animal practitioner prior to the AVMA fellowship. Dr. Harvey is a 2010 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Prior to coming to Washington, D.C., he was a small animal intern at a 24-hour emergency and referral hospital. Dr. Smilie is a 1989 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and owns a mixed animal practice in rural Oregon.

For more information about the AVMA Congressional Science Fellowship and the requirements, or to apply, contact Dotty Gray, associate director in the AVMA Governmental Relations Division, at (800) 321-1473, Ext. 3209. The application deadline for the 2012–2013 fellowships is Feb. 12, 2012.

Veterinary editors added to AVMA publications staff

Drs. Christopher R. Byron and Roxanne B. Pillars joined the AVMA Publications Division staff in September as assistant editors for the JAVMA and AJVR.

Dr. Byron is a 1998 graduate of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. After completing an internship at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., he went on to a combined equine surgery residency and master's degree program at Michigan State University.

A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, Dr. Byron spent six years as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois and, most recently, was working at a private equine referral center in New York state.

Dr. Byron has authored and co-authored research articles in several peer-reviewed publications, including the JAVMA and AJVR.

Dr. Pillars comes to the AVMA from the University of Idaho's Caine Veterinary Teaching Center. There, she taught students from Washington State University and performed research related to dairy production medicine.

Additionally, Dr. Pillars worked for the Michigan State University Extension Service and College of Veterinary Medicine and has held positions in various private practices focusing on mixed animal and dairy medicine.

Dr. Pillars is a 1996 graduate of the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where she also earned her master's and doctoral degrees.

Learning under the influence

A few veterinary schools and colleges have implemented policies that emphasize transparency and eliminate corporate giveaways and free lunches. The University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine are two such examples of institutions that have recently adopted more stringent ethics policies. The catalyst for change at both came from university-wide efforts to limit the influence of pharmaceutical, medical supply, and other companies on students, faculty, and staff.

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges has given further momentum to these changes with its approval this past July of an ethics document that provides guiding principles for schools looking to develop their own policies. Areas the guidelines touch on range from continuing education to use of generic versus brand names in student instruction to maintaining intellectual independence of individuals and the institution. The Colorado State University Professional Veterinary Medical Program, led by associate dean Dr. Peter Hellyer, is developing ethical standards specific to the program, governing corporate gift giving, that will be consistent with the AAVMC guidelines. Dr. H. Michael Chaddock, deputy executive director of the AAVMC, said he hopes others will follow.

The Student AVMA decided to weigh in this past summer after chapter presidents asked the organization to do something about the matter of influence at their institutions. SAVMA House of Delegates members voted July 18 to create a Task Force on Corporate Funding. It will seek to address the extent and appropriateness of corporate funding at veterinary schools and colleges. Then, task force members will develop recommendations for the SAVMA HOD. SAVMA President Joseph M. Esch said sometimes decisions get made at academic institutions without student input. He's hoping whatever guidelines or recommendations come from the task force will be considered by individual schools or, at the very least, that schools will solicit student input when creating their own policies.

Companies, for their part, say they appreciate the intent and importance of the AAVMC's new guidelines and don't believe any new ethics guidelines at any of the schools would present new challenges or further constrain how they already operate.

Partnership launches cat health initiative

The Cat Health Network approved funding for several research projects to be conducted at U.S. and foreign laboratories this year. The investigators, and their research projects, include the following:

  • • Stephen O'Brien, PhD, National Cancer Institute, “Dense physical linkage map using SNP array for rigorous assembly of the feline genome sequence.”

  • • Tosso Leeb, PhD, University of Bern, Switzerland, “Genetic analysis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in Maine Coon cats” and “Genetic analysis of polycystic kidney disease in Maine Coon cats.”

  • • Leslie A. Lyons, PhD, University of California-Davis, “Genomewide association studies of brachycephaly in domestic cats”; “Construction of a high-resolution map for assisting cat genome sequence assembly”; “Genomewide association study for hypokalemic polymyopathy in Burmese cats”; and “Genomewide association studies for progressive retinal atrophies in cats.”

  • • Robert Grahn, PhD, University of California-Davis, “Genome-wide association study for congenital muscular dystrophy in Sphynx and Devon Rex cats.”

  • • Bianca Haase, PhD, University of Sydney, Australia, “Bodyweight: Investigation of genetic aspects in an experimental cat population.”

  • • Dr. Kathryn M. Meurs, Washington State University, “Genomewide association of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the Sphynx cat.”

  • • Dr. Niels C. Pedersen, University of California-Davis, “Genetic susceptibility to feline infectious peritonitis.”

To assist them in their research, the investigators will receive samples of feline single nucleotide polymorphisms. SNPs are small variations from the common feline DNA sequence that can be used as markers to track down genes responsible for genetic diseases. Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. donated the SNPs, valued at around $1 million, to the Morris Animal Foundation in 2008 in an effort to jump-start the research initiatives. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation, Winn Feline Foundation, and American Association of Feline Practitioners will provide a total of approximately $100,000 annually to fund these approved studies.

The MAF, the Winn Feline Foundation, the AAFP, and the AVMF comprise the Cat Health Network, which is part of the Animal Health Network.

The AHN was started in early 2011 to bring together like-minded groups to facilitate greater research in a collaborative effort. The first initiative was the species-specific CHN, a pilot effort launched in response to cats falling behind dogs when it comes to visits to the veterinarian.

Genetic markers could help avoid cattle disease

Cattle owners may eventually use a genetic marker to breed cattle resistant to bovine respiratory disease, pinkeye, and foot rot.

Findings from the Agricultural Research Service of the Department of Agriculture indicate a genetic marker found on bovine chromosome 20 is connected with resistance to those diseases, according to an article in the September 2011 issue of Agricultural Research. The article indicates more research is needed, however, to confirm the connection.

The article states that bovine respiratory disease, or pneumonia, causes about 75 percent of cattle feedlot deaths and about 70 percent of all cattle deaths, costing cattle owners more than $1 billion annually in losses through deaths and illnesses. It also estimates that pinkeye costs producers about $150 million annually, and the disease is highly contagious among cattle. Total figures for foot rot were not immediately available.

“What's interesting about the markers on chromosome 20 is that they are in very close proximity to other markers related to other diseases,” ARS geneticist Eduardo Casas, PhD, said in the USDA publication. “That particular region may have a significant effect on the general health of animals.”

More information is available in the September 2011 issue of Agricultural Research, which is available at www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR.

FDA outlines goals, strategy

Improving animal models to consider the influence of disease progression, increasing the efficiency of clinical trials, and increasing access to government-collected clinical data are among the dozens of goals described in a strategy plan published by the Food and Drug Administration.

The agency published in August its Strategic Plan for Regulatory Science, which is intended to direct agency actions to improve the drug and medical device approval processes, increase food safety, and give health care providers increased access to information. The plan indicates that available resources will be used both within the FDA and to work with private and public partners to achieve the plan's goals.

Vicki Seyfert-Margolis, PhD, senior adviser for science innovation and policy for the FDA Commissioner's Office, said in an agency podcast that the FDA plan is intended to improve the process from basic research to delivery of new medical products. The changes should help patients through development of the next generation of medical products, she said.

Such products include innovations arising from research on the human genome, products developed through the use of nanotechnology, and increasingly complex biologics, she said.

The FDA plan also calls for the agency to encourage innovation in personalized medicine and to help people and professionals in health care make informed decisions about regulated products.

The plan is available at www.fda.gov/ScienceResearch/SpecialTopics/RegulatoryScience/.

Sutureless procedure can rejoin blood vessels

A team of researchers has developed a new sutureless procedure to rejoin blood vessels.

In animal studies, researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine used a polaxamer gel and surgical glue rather than a needle and thread to rejoin blood vessels. Results of the research appeared online Aug. 28 in the journal Nature Medicine.

The gel in the sutureless procedure is solid and elastic above body temperature but dissolves harmlessly into the bloodstream below body temperature. Researchers heated both ends of a severed blood vessel with a lamp and injected the gel to distend the openings. They then used Dermabond to rejoin the two ends of the blood vessel.

The team found that the technique was five times as fast as the traditional method and could work on extremely narrow blood vessels.

The study authors wrote that other sutureless methods that use microclips, staples, or magnets are traumatic to blood vessels—leading to failure rates similar to those seen with suturing.

After losing weight, nearly half of dogs regain the pounds

A small study found that about half of all dogs eventually regain weight after a period of weight loss, but that long-term use of a weight management diet can limit regain in the follow-up period.

In an article appearing online May 12 in the Veterinary Journal, researchers at the University of Liverpool in England reported on a study of 33 obese dogs that lost weight and were then put on a maintenance regimen. Median duration of follow-up was 640 days.

Fourteen dogs maintained their weight during the follow-up period, three dogs lost more than 5 percent in additional weight, and 16 dogs gained more than 5 percent in weight. Dogs on a weight loss diet regained less weight than did dogs on a standard maintenance diet.

Tufts, IFAW sign partnership agreement

Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine signed a memorandum of understanding Sept. 20 with the International Fund for Animal Welfare. The agreement is meant to encourage collaborative research, teaching, and student opportunities between New England's only veterinary school and the internationally recognized group, which is dedicated to assisting animals in crisis.

Signed by Cummings School Dean Deborah T. Kochevar and Azzedine Downes, IFAW's executive vice president, the agreement acknowledges mutual areas of interest between Tufts and IFAW and lays out intentions to work together and to share training opportunities for staff and students.

The international components of the partnership will enhance an already strong International Veterinary Medicine program at Cummings. The program consists of a core course as well as electives, selectives, a certificate program, and international experiences in places such as Nepal, South Africa, Bhutan, Indonesia, and Uganda.

Several Cummings School students already have worked on IFAW-sponsored projects. Plus, four students from Tufts' Master of Science in Animals and Public Policy program have completed externships with IFAW.

IFAW also is represented at the instructional level, as the group's representatives teach in the veterinary school's curricula, both for the DVM degree and the master's program.

With the agreement signed, Tufts and IFAW have already begun investigating many more opportunities for collaboration and hope to roll those out within the next year, said Tufts spokesman Thomas Keppeler.

IFAW is headquartered in Yarmouth, Mass. With more than 1.2 million supporters worldwide, IFAW works to engage communities, government leaders, and like-minded organizations around the world to achieve lasting solutions to pressing animal welfare and conservation challenges.

Oklahoma State's new dean gets to work

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Dr. Jean E. Sander

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 72, 12; 10.2460/ajvr.72.12.1562

The Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences' new dean arrived on campus Aug. 1 and has gotten off to a busy start.

Dr. Jean E. Sander, in addition to running the college, began teaching pathology starting this fall semester. She also addressed students during their student chapter of the AVMA meeting in late September.

Dr. Sander had been at The Ohio State University, where she served as the associate dean for academic and student affairs at the College of Veterinary Medicine and as a professor in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. She was selected as Oklahoma's new dean this past April. OSU's Center for Veterinary Health Sciences includes the veterinary college, the Oklahoma Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, and the Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

The search for a new CVHS dean began following the announcement of the retirement of Dr. Michael D. Lorenz in October 2010. Dr. Lorenz had served as dean since 2004.

Dr. Sander received her DVM degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1987. Prior to Ohio State, Dr. Sander was a professor at the University of Georgia, where she received a master's in avian medicine in 1989. Her research interests are commercial poultry preventive medicine and pathology. She is a diplomate of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians.

Colorado professor takes over as NC State dean

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Dr. D. Paul Lunn

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 72, 12; 10.2460/ajvr.72.12.1562

Dr. D. Paul Lunn will become dean of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine effective Feb. 15, 2012. Provost Warwick A. Arden announced the appointment Sept. 26. Dr. Arden was previously dean of the college before becoming provost and executive vice chancellor of NC State in December 2010.

Dr. Lunn comes from Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, where he has been professor of equine medicine and head of the Department of Clinical Sciences since 2003.

He is an expert in equine immunology and infectious disease; his laboratory researches equine influenza and equine herpesvirus infection.

From 2000–2003, Dr. Lunn served as associate dean for clinical affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and director of Wisconsin's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. He was a professor at the school from 1991–2000.

Dr. Lunn was born in Wales and received his BVSc degree at the University of Liverpool in 1982. He earned a master's in veterinary medicine from the UW-Madison in 1988 and his doctorate from the University of Cambridge in 1991. Dr. Lunn is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Wisconsin's second veterinary dean to retire

Dr. Daryl D. Buss will step down as dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine after three decades of academic leadership.

He plans to retire from both his administrative and faculty appointments in June 2012.

Dean Buss has served as dean since 1994, when he left the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine after 15 years as chair of the physiological sciences department. He is just the second dean in the Wisconsin veterinary school's history.

In a university press release, Dean Buss said he counts among his successes the considerable growth in research expenditures at the veterinary school and increased caseload at the veterinary teaching hospital.

Dean Buss received his DVM degree from the University of Minnesota in 1968 and both his master's and doctoral degrees from UW-Madison in 1975.

An authority on the circulation of blood to the heart, Dean Buss will teach his final cardiovascular physiology course this year.

Veterinary research fellowships awarded

In September, it was announced that Drs. Siddra Arielle Hines and Shawn M. Zimmerman had been awarded Pfizer Animal Health–Morris Animal Foundation Veterinary Fellowships for Advanced Study.

Dr. Hines' fellowship will be conducted at Washington State University, where she will investigate why a particular tick-borne parasite is resistant to treatment in horses. Dr. Zimmerman will work with three mentors at the University of Georgia on understanding the role of Mycobacterium species in animal disease.

Pfizer Animal Health–Morris Animal Foundation Veterinary Fellowships for Advanced Study are intended to address a critical shortage of veterinary scientists. Fellows are provided with mentored research activities focusing on basic or applied research benefiting companion animals, horses, or wildlife.

Each fellow receives $60,000 annually for four years—provided equally by Morris Animal Foundation, Pfizer Animal Health, and the student's academic institution—to cover living expenses and tuition. Graduates must commit to staying in animal health research for at least four years to help fill a much-needed gap in the veterinary research field.

Learn more about the fellowship program by going to www.morrisanimalfoundation.org and entering “Pfizer fellows” in the search field.

Winn calls for feline research proposals

The Winn Feline Foundation has issued a call for 2012 research grant proposals.

The foundation seeks to enhance the relationship between cats and humans by fostering improvements in feline health through research and education. In 2011, Winn funded eight grants totaling $140,324 in areas such as stem cells, feline infectious peritonitis, diarrhea, oral cancer, feline genetics, and drug therapies.

The application deadline is Dec. 12, 2011. Applicants may be faculty veterinarians, postdoctoral fellows, veterinary practitioners, or veterinary students. The maximum grant amount is $25,000; projects should have achievable goals within that limit. Multiyear proposals totaling more than $25,000 will not be considered. Additional funds may be available for breed-related studies.

Studies applicable to all cats are encouraged, although Winn is particularly interested in projects addressing issues in nutrition and behavior. The foundation also has dedicated funds for research in feline infectious peritonitis and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Continuation of grants awarded in 2011 will be considered.

To apply for a Winn Feline Foundation grant, submit an electronic proposal as a single complete Microsoft Word document to grants@winnfelinehealth.com by Dec. 12. Proposals submitted in separate pieces will not be reviewed. Awards will be announced in February 2012.

Go to www.winnfelinehealth.org for more information.

University to establish mouse research center

The University of California-Davis is establishing the new Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center with a $3.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The center will provide scientists worldwide with complete physiologic characterizations of mice that have been genetically altered for metabolic studies. It will be one of only six such centers in the United States, according to a university press release, and the only one that can create the mice for researchers.

“Funding for the new center allows us to apply our expertise in mouse biology to specifically address the causes and effects of disease in multiple organ systems that are involved in metabolism, endocrinology, obesity, and appetite regulation,” said Dr. Kent Lloyd, the grant's lead researcher. “The detailed mouse model assessments that we will provide through the new center will save significant time in launching new studies focused on developing treatments for these diseases.”

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