Advertisements for a campaign to increase cat and dog preventive health care began appearing in magazines in October.
The Partners for Healthy Pets program planned advertisements for the Oct. 21 People magazine issue distributed to 10 metropolitan areas, for all editions of the Dec. 2 People Magazine “Sexiest Men Alive” issue, and for the November and December issues of EveryDay with Rachael Ray, Family Fun, Prevention, and O, The Oprah Magazine.
The campaign officials also planned advertisements for websites such as CNN, PetMD, and Yahoo Finance starting in October.
The Partners program, a collaboration by more than 90 organizations, is led by the AVMA, American Animal Hospital Association, and American Veterinary Medical Foundation. Other organizations represent the veterinary profession, for-profit companies, and academia.
The AVMA has committed $1 million toward the program's $5.5 million advertising campaign to promote yearly veterinary clinic visits for dogs and cats.
That advertising campaign is planned to run through 2014.
Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA CEO and chair of the Partners program, said the campaign arrives at a defining moment for the veterinary profession, which has opportunities to transition toward increased preventive care. He said the campaign targets pets’ primary caregivers, who are balancing competing interests, as well as seeks participation from the nation's tens of thousands of veterinary practices, which can use the campaign's tools to increase communication and practice of preventive care.
Brenda Andresen, marketing and projects director for the campaign, said the advertisements will target primarily women in their 30s and 40s whose family household incomes exceed $75,000 yearly and who have a relationship with a veterinarian for their pets, yet are not seeking regular preventive visits. They own an estimated 35 million pets.
The campaign will include development of television public service announcements as well as availability of a veterinary advisory panel for news media for stories on preventive pet health care, Andresen said.
Practices enrolled in the campaign will receive a monthly newsletter about advertisements to the public and content that veterinarians can use on websites, in newsletters, or in discussion with clients, Dr. DeHaven said.
New dental standard required for AAHA accreditation
In a move applauded by the American Veterinary Dental College, the American Animal Hospital Association this August announced it will start requiring AAHA-accredited hospitals to anesthetize and intubate patients undergoing any dental procedures, including dental cleanings.
The AAHA board of directors approved the mandatory dental standard at the summer board meeting. The new mandatory standard will apply to any AAHA practices scheduled for an accreditation evaluation on or after Nov. 1, 2013.
The introduction of the 2013 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, approved and endorsed by the AVDC, prompted the AAHA to update the dentistry section of the accreditation standards. The guidelines state that cleaning a companion animal's teeth without general anesthesia and intubation is unacceptable and below the standard of care.
“The guidelines state that general anesthesia with intubation is necessary to properly assess and treat the companion animal dental patient. Because AAHA practices are expected to practice the highest level of veterinary excellence, AAHA's leadership felt it necessary to update this dental standard so that they reflect best practices outlined in the guidelines,” said AAHA President Kate Knutson.
Like the AAHA guidelines, the mandatory standard was also approved and endorsed by the AVDC board of directors.
General anesthesia with intubation is necessary to remove plaque and tartar from the entire tooth, at least 60 percent of which is under the gum line, according to AAHA. General anesthesia with intubation also facilitates pain-free probing of each tooth and provides the required immobilization necessary to take intraoral dental radiographs. Without anesthesia, a veterinary professional can only partially clean the exposed crown, which is more cosmetic than therapeutic, the association explained.
Human-animal interactions conference comes to U.S.
For the first time, the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations held its triennial meeting in the United States. The event occurred July 20–22 in conjunction with the AVMA Annual Convention in Chicago. A total of 267 attendees came, 140 of them from 22 foreign countries, from Australia to Turkey to Brazil. Many AVMA convention-goers also visited the conference.
The 2013 conference, themed “Humans and Animals: the Inevitable Bond,” gathered veterinarians, scientists, physicians, and others involved in animal-assisted therapy and human-animal bond studies to discuss the latest research in their respective fields.
IAHAIO President Rebecca A. Johnson, PhD, RN, said, “Our collaboration with AVMA and the American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians is a primary example of our work in promoting the importance of the interrelationship between the health of humans and animals.”
The IAHAIO began in 1990 when representatives from European, American, Australian, and Canadian human-animal interaction organizations turned their longstanding working relationship into an association, with a South African organization also supporting the initiative.
Before each triennial conference, the IAHAIO board develops a declaration that is subsequently voted on during the general membership meeting. Declarations are meant to motivate member organizations to work with their countries’ policymakers to move the field forward.
This year, the member organizations, including the AVMA, adopted the Chicago Declaration, which declares that IAHAIO members “overwhelmingly embrace” the one-health concept and urges adoption and promotion of the following resolution:
“Companion animals play a key role in one health through the documented health and social benefits of the human-animal bond, through the role of service/assistance animals and through exchanging information on the etiology and treatment of naturally occurring disorders in companion animals and humans. Interactions between companion animals and humans can have a positive influence on human and animal health through similar processes.”
Jaak Panksepp, PhD, who's devoted much of his career to researching animal emotions, delivered the conference keynote address July 21. He is chair of animal well-being science and professor of integrative physiology and neuroscience in the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
The consensus within the scientific community, Dr. Panksepp explained, is that subjective phenomena such as feelings cannot be objectively studied in animals. Dr. Panksepp not only believes animals have emotional behaviors and feelings but also thinks that understanding them will yield deeper insights into such human emotional states as joy and depression.
Dr. Panksepp, famous for demonstrating that rats enjoy being tickled, noted that brain stimulation studies in animals have replicated an array of emotional states, including curiosity, fear, rage, lust, and play.
“Animal emotional states are similar to our own,” he said. “We also know animal pain and human pain are homologous.” These emotional unconscious responses are instinctive, not learned, and a result of the evolutionary process, according to Dr. Panksepp.
The IAHAIO awarded the 2013 Inaugural William F. McCulloch Award for Excellence in Human-Animal Interaction Practice or Education to Dr. Elizabeth Ormerod, a Scottish veterinarian. The new award acknowledges outstanding achievements of practitioners and educators in the field of human-animal relations. Sponsors are the Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation and Zoetis.
Accepting the award, she said, “We now need our governments and professional bodies to implement the IAHAIO resolutions. We also need to encourage more veterinarians and colleagues from the other health and social care professions to join us in this work by expanding veterinary teaching in the bond and by introducing it to the undergraduate curricula of our sister helping professions.”
Dr. Ormerod and her husband, Dr. Edward Ormerod, developed and ran a bond-centered practice for many years. Working with colleagues from the other health and social care professions, she introduced animal-assisted intervention programs to schools, nursing homes, hospitals, psychiatric facilities, and prisons. In the U.K., she is co-founder of Canine Partners, the U.K. assistance-dog program. She is a director of the Society for Companion Animal Studies and a trainer for its AAI courses.
Harold Herzog, PhD, professor of psychology at Western Carolina University, received the Distinguished Scholar Award, sponsored by Waltham. His anthrozoological research has included studies of the psychology of animal activism, the moral thinking of cockfighters, gender differences in human-animal relationships, and the cultural dynamics of shifts in the popularity of pets.
Board addresses membership requirements, other issues
The AVMA Executive Board met Aug. 27–28 to take up an agenda dealing with such issues as AVMA membership requirements and selection of AVMA Council on Education members.
Dr. Thomas F. Meyer of Vancouver, Wash., chaired the meeting, much of which was spent in strategic discussions about the year ahead.
The Executive Board has initiated an AVMA Bylaws amendment that it believes will help remove barriers to AVMA membership.
In June, the board directed the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division to review pathways for becoming an Association member. At its August meeting, the board heard the findings of that review, including the fact that the current bylaws requirement that applicants be endorsed by two AVMA members is more than a century old. Data show a decreasing number of applicants using this route, while an increasing number use their membership in a constituent or allied organization to join the AVMA.
As a result of the various findings, the Executive Board has sent the AVMA House of Delegates a recommendation for a bylaws amendment deleting the following membership requirement options: endorsement by two AVMA members; membership in a recognized veterinary organization or specialty college; or endorsement of the organizations represented in the Student AVMA.
The board has also proposed eliminating from the bylaws the associate member category and member reinstatement policy and ending legal residence as a requirement for the voting and affiliate membership categories.
The HOD is expected to consider the proposed AVMA Bylaws changes at its winter session this January in Chicago.
An American version of the annual Spanish tradition of the running of the bulls presents animal welfare concerns and human safety risks, the AVMA says about an event promoted as “the adrenaline rush of a lifetime.”
Organizers describe The Great Bull Run as an opportunity for “up to 1,000 adrenaline junkies” to be pursued by two dozen bulls down a quarter-mile course. “By participating in the run, you accept the risk that you might be trampled, gored, rammed or tossed in the air by a bull,” organizers warn.
The first U.S. running of the bulls was held this past summer in Virginia. Additional runs are scheduled in cities throughout the year and in 2014.
The AVMA Animal Welfare Committee Management Subcommittee recommended that the Executive Board take a position of nonsupport for the event. The subcommittee explained that, in addition to the unnecessary human risks, the U.S. running of the bulls is inconsistent with AVMA policies regarding the use of animals for human purposes and the protection and assurance of animals’ good welfare. As examples, the subcommittee cited the AVMA Animal Welfare Principles and the policies “Animals Used in Entertainment, Shows and For Exhibition” and “Livestock Handling Tools.”
In compliance with a recent AVMA Bylaws amendment, the Executive Board has approved formation of a new selection committee as part of a revised process for appointing AVMA Council on Education members.
Council member appointment will now be shared among the new AVMA COE Selection Committee (appointing eight members), the COE (appointing three public members), the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (appointing eight members), and the Canadian VMA (appointing one member).
The AVMA COE Selection Committee will include one member elected by the House Advisory Committee, two former COE members (private practitioners preferred) elected by the Executive Board, and two Executive Board members elected by the board to serve three-year, staggered terms.
The selection committee will be responsible for appointing COE members as current members complete their terms and rotate off the council. These positions include one at-large member, six members in private clinical practice, and one nonprivate practice, nonacademic member.
The AVMA HOD approved the bylaws amendment this past July in response to concerns that the previous member appointment process could be perceived as the AVMA exerting inappropriate influence on the council's accreditation of veterinary colleges.
The board amended a recommendation from the AVMA/National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America Executive Board Liaison Committee to say the AVMA will explore ways of supporting NAVTA by opening discussions with the association.
The AVMA and Federation of Veterinarians of Europe have issued a joint statement describing the veterinary profession as a global public good. Both the AVMA Executive Board and FVE board of directors approved the statement in August. The latest of three joint statements, it is titled “The Essential Role of Veterinarians in Protecting Animal, Human, Public, and Environmental Health—A Global Public Good” and highlights the work of veterinarians caring for animals and in nontraditional career fields.
The FVE and AVMA have pledged to promote all aspects of veterinary medicine through public outreach campaigns and political advocacy. In so doing, both organizations are committed to working together to ensure that necessary resources are available to advance the veterinary profession on a global level.
New welfare specialty certifies diplomates
The American College of Animal Welfare certified three diplomates following the college's first certification examination held this past July in Raleigh, N.C.
The new members are Drs. Larry G. Carbone of San Francisco, Lori A. Gaskins of the Cayman Islands, and Stacy L. Pritt of Dallas.
The mission of the American College of Animal Welfare is to advance animal welfare through education, certification, and scientific investigation. ACAW diplomates are veterinarians with advanced training in all aspects of animal welfare science, including ethics. As animal welfare specialists, diplomates can offer the public, general veterinary practitioners, and other stakeholders accurate information and advice on animal welfare.
The AVMA Executive Board granted the specialty college provisional recognition in August 2012. ACAW is one of four organizations in the world that certify animal welfare specialists. With the latest certifications, the number of ACAW diplomates has grown to 30, including 27 charter diplomates. They are involved in a broad range of fields, including consulting practice, not-for-profit organizations, academia, and industry, according to ACAW President Bonnie V. Beaver.
“We are extremely pleased with the breadth of knowledge and expertise within the group. We are very pleased with the interest that's been expressed by veterinarians wanting to become board-certified as well as organizations that are looking for that expertise,” said Dr. Beaver, a professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
For more information about the college and its credentialing process, go to www.acaw.org.
Open insurance enrollment under way
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the initial enrollment period for purchasing health insurance for 2014 will run from Oct. 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014. For coverage to take effect Jan. 1, carriers must receive completed applications by Dec. 15, 2013.
The AVMA Group Health & Life Insurance Trust will no longer offer medical coverage after 2013. Insurance can be purchased through new public exchanges or private exchanges such as the AVMA GHLIT CARE, the Trust's exchange designed for veterinarians. To access GHLIT CARE, go to www.avmaghlit.org and choose “Click to quote” and then “Click to chat with advisor,” or call toll free, (877) 473-6017.
Nearly $250,000 going to student chapters of the AVMA
Veterinary students will get more direct support starting this year as a result of a joint initiative involving the AVMA, the AVMA PLIT, and the Student AVMA.
The program is called ALL for Students, with ALL being an acronym for Achieving, Leading, Learning.
The AVMA and AVMA PLIT are each contributing $100,000 in 2013. SAVMA is kicking in $33,000 this year. That means each of the 32 student chapters of the AVMA and the one associate organization in the SAVMA House of Delegates will receive $7,000 this year.
Checks were presented at the SCAVMA Leadership Conference, Sept. 20, at AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill.
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation will distribute the funds this fall, and Dr. Derrick D. Hall, AVMA assistant director for student affairs, will coordinate the program.
Dr. Janet D. Donlin, CEO of AVMA PLIT, said her organization believes SAVMA has done an excellent job in preparing students for success in their careers, particularly in terms of leadership development for the profession.
“So this is a way to help formalize our thoughts and provide them this visible support at what can be a challenging time with sponsorship dollars for the organizations,” Dr. Donlin said.
Student chapters of the AVMA will be expected to submit an annual report detailing how they spend the money, among other stipulations. The main categories for use of funding are community outreach events, professional development events, wellness, and leadership. This pilot program may be extended, contingent on evaluation results of the program.
Lawrence “Al” Claiborne, SAVMA treasurer, said one positive aspect of the initiative is that it allows each student chapter to decide where its focus needs to be, as each campus and community is different.
Claiborne anticipates the funding will have a positive impact on the chapters by supplementing activities that benefit not only veterinary students but also their campuses and communities.
Dr. Ted Cohn, AVMA presidentelect, said the funding sends a message of support for students, who are the future of the Association and the profession, “to let them know we believe in them.”
“This helps them at a time when costs are going up and corporate funding has decreased,” he said.
Chapters are getting less direct support from multiple sources, Dr. Hall confirmed. “With the downturn in the economy, industry is not giving them as much in sponsorship. Fundraisers are not working as well, also due to the slow economy. And some schools have implemented policies where industry cannot give direct funding to the students and SCAVMA, and must follow more regulations when interacting with students.”
Veterinary student scholarships available
Applications are being accepted for the Zoetis/American Veterinary Medical Foundation Veterinary Student Scholarship Program.
Now in its fifth year, the program annually provides $2,000 scholarships to up to 300 second- and third-year veterinary students. Zoetis funds the scholarships, and the AVMF administers the program.
Dr. Christine Jenkins, U.S. chief veterinary medical officer for Zoetis, said the program is one way the company shows its commitment to the future of the veterinary profession.
Recipients will be selected on the basis of traditional scholarship selection criteria, such as academic excellence and financial need. In addition, the scholarship will focus on meeting the ongoing needs of the veterinary profession: increasing diversity among practitioners in ethnic heritage, gender, socioeconomic background, and professional aspirations; and improving the availability of veterinarians to serve in areas of the profession that have increased demand.
Applications will be reviewed by the Foundation initially with consideration to those criteria. The final decisions will be made by the AVMF on the basis of the total amount of scholarship dollars available for disbursement to each college, based on second- and third-year enrollment.
The scholarship winners will be announced in March during the 2014 Student AVMA Educational Symposium at Colorado State University.
Organizations asked to donate their time
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation is offering members of the veterinary profession the opportunity to give back to their community by hosting an Our Oath in Action event.
Through this volunteer-driven outreach program, the AVMF coordinates veterinary-related service projects across the country.
The Foundation is seeking project plan proposals from organizations and individuals for the 2014 Our Oath in Action program. State VMAs, veterinary colleges, veterinary technician groups, and others associated with the profession are invited to submit project proposals.
Sample project ideas would be a shelter cleanup event, pet health fair, or the launch of a pet food pantry.
Six projects will be selected. Representatives from the six selected projects will attend a special training event where they will be provided with professional assistance in planning, promoting, and coordinating their events, which will take place on Make a Difference Day in October 2014.
Proposals will be taken until Dec. 31; submissions should be sent to Cheri Kowal, AVMF program manager, at email@example.com. For more information, she can be reached at 847-285-6691.
Web series created for recent grads
The AVMA debuted a video series for members in early October called “Simple Answers to Tough Questions.” Specifically, it's geared toward recent graduates, those who are one to five years out of school.
The show is shot in a video blog format with a webcam and features two recent veterinary graduates, Drs. Mary Gardner (KSU ‘11) and Dani McVety (FL ‘09).
Each episode focuses on a specific question. Some of the topics in the series will be how to handle children in the examination room, dealing with breeders, and the emotional impact of performing euthanasia.
In August, the American Association of Feline Practitioners made public the 2013 AAFP Feline Vaccination Advisory Panel Report, endorsed by the International Society of Feline Medicine, and published in the September issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.
The report was developed by the advisory panel of the AAFP to provide practical recommendations to help clinicians select appropriate vaccination schedules for their feline patients on the basis of risk assessment.
Recommendations in the report rely on published data as much as possible, as well as the consensus of a multidisciplinary panel of experts in immunology, infectious disease, internal medicine, and clinical practice.
Topics include vaccinating cats in trap-neuter-return programs, shelter-housed cats, and cats housed in breeding catteries. Feline herpesvirus 1, feline immunodeficiency virus, rabies, and Chlamydophila felis are among several pathogens addressed in the report.
The AAFP produced the first set of vaccination guidelines in 1998. They were updated in 2000 and again in 2006. Each version has offered a comprehensive review of the literature and has provided recommendations for vaccine protocols based on known science, along with some extrapolation between studies and between species when feline studies were not available. This latest report has used the same criteria.
A recently discovered circovirus is no longer suspected as a cause of illnesses and deaths among dogs in Ohio.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture has been investigating possible connections among at least 12 dogs that developed similar clinical signs, including four that died, since August, in the Cincinnati and Akron areas. The department received reports that clinical signs included vomiting and diarrhea connected with vasculitis, weight loss, and lethargy.
Department investigators considered research published in April (Emerg Infect Dis 2013;19:534–541) that describes a novel circovirus first found in a dog in California that had hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, necrotizing vasculitis, and granulomatous lymphadenitis. The article, “Circovirus in tissues of dogs with vasculitis and hemorrhage,” indicates it is unclear whether the circovirus causes disease, but it should be considered in dogs with unexplained vasculitis.
Officials with Michigan State University announced in October that the circovirus had been found in two dogs that were coinfected with other organisms. One was coinfected with parvovirus, and details on the second dog were not immediately available.
Erica Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, said samples from 12 to 15 dogs considered to be part of the potential outbreak in Ohio were tested for the presence of the circovirus, and only two were positive. She noted that the scientific article published in April indicated the circovirus has been found in healthy dogs.
Dr. Thomas P. Mullaney, acting director of the Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, said merely finding the circovirus told investigators nothing about the cause of the disease. The diagnostic center planned further investigations using in situ hybridization, through which investigators can look for the virus in microscopic lesions.
Dr. Mullaney said coinfection with the novel circovirus and other pathogens may cause disease in dogs in the same manner that coinfection with porcine circovirus type 2 and other pathogens can cause disease in pigs.
The university announced that, once more common disease causes are excluded, veterinarians should consider circovirus to be a possible factor in dogs with clinical signs including vomiting, diarrhea, ascites, pleural effusion, hypovolemic shock, bicavitary hemorrhage, and disseminated intravascular coagulation.
Young scholars gain insight into research careers
Nearly 450 veterinary student researchers had a chance to hear renowned speakers discuss vaccine development, laboratory animal medicine, one health, retinal gene therapy, infectious diseases, and genes and genomes during the 2013 Merial–National Institutes of Health Veterinary Scholars Symposium. The event was held Aug. 1–4 at Michigan State University. This year's theme was “Comparative Medicine: Meeting Global Needs.”
Dr. Marc Bonnefoi, head of the North America Research and Development Hub for Sanofi, gave a talk about the substantial research and development efforts by pharmaceutical companies with their public (universities and academic researchers) and private (biotech) partners, and how that has been essential in responding to unmet health needs and delivering innovative treatments to patients.
Since 1989, the Veterinary Scholars Program has provided an opportunity for veterinary schools to introduce first- and second-year U.S. students to conducting biomedical research in a laboratory and clinical setting during the summer. Doing so has allowed them to experience firsthand the process of research and help them understand potential pathways for establishing a research career.
In recent years, the program has expanded to include the veterinary schools of France and The Netherlands. Seminars and discussion groups on careers in science are part of the experience, which culminates with the symposium. The program works with the participating veterinary schools, Merial, the NIH, AVMA, and several other institutions to attract a talented pool of veterinary students who are interested in biomedical research and comparative medicine.
MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Christopher Brown's advice to the veterinary scholars was to find good mentors.
Winners of the 2013 Young Investigator Award, co-sponsored by the AVMA and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, also were announced during the weekend. The Young Investigator Award is given to graduate veterinarians pursuing advanced research training through doctoral or postdoctoral programs who presented their research at the symposium. The top three finalists were as follows:
• Dr. Debra Tokarz of North Carolina State University, who took first place with “Zebrafish larvae reveal a novel mediator of the mammalian innate immune response.”
• Dr. Timothy Kurt of the University of California-San Diego, who won second place for “Investigating human susceptibility to cross-species transmission of CWD prions.”
• Dr. Sara Thomasy of the University of California-Davis, who took third place with “Elastic modulus of the rabbit cornea as measured by atomic force microscopy in health and disease.”
Other awards included the 2013 Merial Veterinary Scholars Award, given to Yuki Nakayama (TUF ‘14) for her research project, “Utilizing antibody titers to gauge vaccine efficacy and humoral immunity to upper respiratory tract disease in shelter cats.” Dr. Famke Aeffner (HAN ‘07) was given the 2013 Merial Veterinary Research Graduate Award for her research project, “Aerosolized nucleotide synthesis inhibitor therapy for influenza A (H1N1) infection in mice.” She is a doctoral candidate in The Ohio State University Department of Veterinary Biosciences.
During the 2013 Merial–National Institutes of Health Veterinary Scholars Symposium, held Aug. 1–4 at Michigan State University, the AVMA and American Veterinary Medical Foundation conferred awards on three individuals for their efforts in advancing veterinary research. Following are some key achievements of these award recipients.
AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research Award
This award recognizes a veterinary researcher on the basis of lifetime achievement in basic, applied, or clinical research.
Dr. Gustavo D. Aguirre (UP ‘68) obtained his undergraduate, veterinary, and graduate training at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also completed a residency in ophthalmology in the School of Veterinary Medicine before serving as a postdoctoral fellow at the Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 1973, Dr. Aguirre joined the faculty at Penn, where he rose to hold joint professorial appointments in the veterinary and medical schools. From 1992–2004, he was at the James A. Baker Institute of Cornell University as the Caspary Professor of Ophthalmology. He is currently professor of Medical Genetics and Ophthalmology at UPenn's veterinary school. His research has been directed at identifying the genetic causes of inherited blindness, identifying the mechanisms linking mutation to disease, and developing treatment approaches to these diseases. He has led pioneering studies in dogs, in which many breeds are affected by a variety of inherited photoreceptor diseases.
American Veterinary Medical Foundation/Winn Foundation Excellence in Feline Research Award
This award honors a candidate's contribution to advancing feline health through research.
William Murphy, PhD, completed his doctorate at Tulsa University in Oklahoma. He then became a postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute. In 2004, he joined the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. His studies have encompassed comparative analysis of many genomes, including those of domesticated and wild animals, and study of evolutionary relationships and population genetics of wild cats. His work on feline genome mapping and structure has provided the foundation for localization of many genes of interest, ranging from coat color genes to mutations that cause diseases. His recent analysis of feline sex chromosomes and genetics of infertility in hybrid cat breeds has led to identification of cat-specific genes that regulate male fertility and reproductive isolation.
American Veterinary Medical Foundation/American Kennel Club Achievement Award in Canine Research
This award honors a candidate's long-term contribution to the field of canine research.
Dr. Kenneth W. Simpson (EDN ‘84) completed his doctoral studies at the University of Leicester in England. He obtained his residency training at The Ohio State University and received diplomate status from both the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. He is currently a professor of animal medicine at Cornell University New York State College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Simpson Gastroenterology Research Laboratory. His research has been focused on bacterial-host interactions in the gastrointestinal tract. Major areas of research have included the role of Helicobacter species in gastrointestinal disease in dogs and cats, employing the study of both naturally acquired and experimental infections, and focused on defining the role of inflammatory cytokines. The other major focus of the laboratory is inflammatory bowel disease.
VaTech awarded hepatitis E funding
The National Institutes of Health has awarded a four-year grant totaling nearly $1.6 million to a virologist with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine to study the genetic elements that allow hepatitis E virus to transfer from animals to people.
X.J. Meng, MD, is the principal investigator in the NIH award to identify the virus gene or genes that enable the animal hepatitis E virus strains in pigs and rabbits to infect humans, the university announced this past July. His laboratory in the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease is one of the leading international research centers on hepatitis E virus, which causes liver infections in an estimated 20 million people each year.
“We are trying to pinpoint the genetic elements in the virus genome responsible for cross-species infection,” Dr. Meng said. “If we can understand what viral gene or genes allow the virus to transfer from one animal species to another, then we can design better strategies to fight cross-species virus infection.”
Researchers will not only look for the gene or genes that allow the virus to spread from one species to another but also will study the host-immune factors that help defend against hepatitis E virus.
Dr. Meng's laboratory has been studying hepatitis E virus for decades. His research group discovered two novel hepatitis E viruses: swine hepatitis E virus from pigs in 1997 and avian hepatitis E virus from chickens in 1999. Two years ago, one of Dr. Meng's graduate students identified the first strains of the virus from rabbits in the United States.
The laboratory will use primarily the swine and rabbit strains of the virus as well as the human hepatitis E virus to study the mechanism of cross-species infection.
American College of Theriogenologists
The American College of Theriogenologists welcomed the following nine new diplomates following successful completion of the certification examination:
Julie Cecere, Blacksburg, Va.
Elizabeth Coffman, Columbus, Ohio.
A. Jacques Fuselier, Baton Rouge, La.
Klibs Galvao, Gainesville, Fla.
Jennifer Noelle Hatzel, Fort Collins, Colo.
Renee Jaklitsch, Starkville, Miss.
Catherine May, Onderstepoort, Republic of South Africa.