JAVMA News Digest

Zoo veterinarians, behind the scenes and in the field


Dr. Mike Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society, examines Kasha the Amur leopard at Brookfield Zoo. (Photo by Katie Bums)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 78, 8; 10.2460/ajvr.78.8.880

A flurry of activity surrounded Kasha, an Amur leopard, as he lay, intubated and anesthetized, on an examining table.

A veterinary technician cleaned the big cat's teeth, including his long canines. Two veterinarians in training programs took a blood sample from a hind limb. Dr. Mike Adkesson listened to the leopard's heart.

Kasha was undergoing a routine full work-up at the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The zoo has seven veterinarians on staff: Dr. Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates the zoo; three other clinical veterinarians who are specialists in zoological medicine, one also an anesthesiologist; a clinical resident; a post-residency anesthesiology fellow; and a radiologist.

Although the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians dates to 1946, and the American College of Zoological Medicine to 1983, having multiple veterinarians on staff was not common at major U.S. zoos until recently.

“We've seen tremendous advancement in the quality and the standards of care that we're able to provide, compared to where zoo medicine was 20 or 30 years ago,” Dr. Adkesson said.

Zoo veterinarians say their day-to-day work can encompass thousands of individual animals and a multitude of species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. They love the challenge and the diversity.

They see the animals as ambassadors for conservation. Zoo veterinarians also participate directly in conservation projects ranging from breeding programs to a variety of fieldwork, with some veterinarians at zoos focusing on wildlife in the wild.

At Brookfield Zoo, another flurry of activity surrounded Kasha the leopard as he was being prepared to go into the CT scanner. Dr. Adkesson and the zoo's radiologist, Dr. Marina Ivančić, checked on Kasha's positioning. Then everyone left the room, with Drs. Adkesson and Ivančić sitting at computers outside a window into the room.

“Diagnosis: handsome,” Dr. Ivančić said of Kasha, in jest. She is the only full-time, board-certified veterinary radiologist working at a zoo or aquarium in the United States, and she provides a consulting service for other zoos.

Dr. Adkesson, AAZV president-elect, got hooked early on zoo and conservation medicine. He worked at the Scovill Zoo in Decatur, Illinois, throughout high school and college. In veterinary school, he did rotations at zoos. He earned his veterinary degree from the University of Illinois in 2004, completed a small animal internship and a residency in zoological medicine, then joined Brookfield.

“It's incredibly fulfilling work. I think that's what attracts most of us to the specialty and keeps us engaged. And it's ever-changing, too,” he said. “It's a field still full of questions and unknowns that can spark your interest and then allow you to put together a research opportunity to investigate.”

Dr. Adkesson oversees the veterinary staff, daily hospital operations, and health care of more than 3,000 animals at the zoo. Day-to-day duties include tending to the baby reindeer born the previous day as well as tending to animals that have lived long enough with good care to develop conditions ranging from degenerative arthritis to renal failure and cardiac disease. He also participates in a conservation program in Peru for Humboldt penguins, fur seals, and sea lions.

After Kasha's work-up, Dr. Adkesson gave a tour of the hospital at Brookfield Zoo. Outside, visitors walked around the exhibits despite rainy weather.

Even as zoos continue as public entertainment, Dr. Adkesson said their role has pivoted to conservation. He said, “That is really where all of our focus today lies. Our mission today is to inspire conservation leadership for animals and nature.”

Condensed from July 15, 2017, JAVMA News

AVMA names new class of congressional fellows


Dr. Radhika Gharpure

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 78, 8; 10.2460/ajvr.78.8.880

The AVMA in May announced that Drs. Radhika Gharpure, Matt Holland, and Mark Logan had been selected for the 2017–18 AVMA Congressional Fellowship Program.

The AVMA fellowship is sponsored through the American Association for the Advancement of Science to place scientific advisers in congressional offices and on committee staff. More than 65 veterinarians have served as AVMA Congressional Fellows.

The newest class will serve for one year in Washington, D.C., starting this August. During their tenure, fellows will advise federal policymakers on a range of issues, including food safety, public health, animal welfare, research, and small-business concerns.


Dr. Matt Holland

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 78, 8; 10.2460/ajvr.78.8.880

Dr. Gharpure is a 2016 graduate of the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and recently completed a master's in public health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dr. Holland is a former Student AVMA president and 2017 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Logan spent 34 years in small animal practice since receiving his VMD degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1983. He is a past president of the New Jersey VMA and has served on the New Jersey Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners since 2002.


Dr. Mark Logan

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 78, 8; 10.2460/ajvr.78.8.880

Learn more about the AVMA Congressional Fellowship Program at in Advocacy under “Get Involved.” Application forms for the 2018–19 program will be available online this fall, with completed applications due Feb. 9, 2018. Questions should be emailed to

Condensed from July 15, 2017, JAVMA News

ABVT marks 50-year milestone

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology, the first professional organization to certify toxicology experts.

Since the AVMA granted provisional status to the fledgling specialty in 1967, the ABVT has certified more than a hundred diplomates, most of whom still work in academia and for veterinary diagnostic laboratories, poison control centers, government agencies, industry, and private consulting firms.

For a half-century, ABVT diplomates have educated the public, private practice veterinarians, and veterinary students about toxicological hazards to pets, livestock, wildlife, and the environment. Fifty years is a major milestone that reflects the extraordinary energy and vision of the founders of ABVT, according to Dr. Val Beasley, a professor of veterinary, wildlife, and ecological toxicology at Pennsylvania State University, and an ABVT diplomate since 1982.

“By then,” Dr. Beasley said, “the organizers and those who followed had already established ABVT's reliable pathway to ensure breadth and depth of expertise among veterinarians whose careers were going to focus on diagnosing, offsetting, and preventing important toxic impacts of a constantly changing sea of chemicals that come to us in our air, water, and food as well as in home, farm, ranch, and wilder environments.”

Drs. Wayne Binns, James Dollahite, and Rudolph Radeleff were charter diplomates of the ABVT when the organization was awarded provisional status in 1967. The AVMA granted full recognition as a veterinary specialty to the ABVT in 1970.

Learn more about the ABVT and its history at

Condensed from July 15, 2017, JAVMA News

Animal welfare, veterinary capacity on global agenda

Delegates from 180 countries that are members of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) met this May in Paris and voted to develop international animal welfare standards based on research, ethical considerations, and practical experience. It was the 85th General Session of the World Assembly of the OIE. The OIE already is working on standards for producing pigs and slaughtering farmed reptiles.

The OIE also plans to use its flagship program, the Performance of Veterinary Services Pathway, to improve animal welfare by increasing the capacity of veterinary services and education for those providing animal care.

Among other changes, OIE delegates provided guidance on reducing the burden of Salmonella organisms in bovine and pig production and the risk of human illness, and gave recommendations on managing the risk of international transmission of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. Delegates also received analysis of global antimicrobial resistance activities, using survey responses from 135 countries.

In Paris, the OIE started a campaign to keep the memory of rinderpest alive to help prevent reemergence of the disease. The campaign advocates vigilance until materials containing the virus are destroyed or transferred to a holding facility approved by the OIE and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The OIE advocates for keeping rinderpest in the veterinary curriculum and for veterinarians maintaining their knowledge for surveillance.


Dr. Monique Eloit, director general of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and Dr. Jean-Philippe Dop, deputy director general, during the 85th General Session of the World Assembly of the OIE (Courtesy of OIE)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 78, 8; 10.2460/ajvr.78.8.880

The OIE's 2016 annual report, published during the meeting, indicates OIE leaders see reinforcing and harmonizing veterinary education as being at the heart of lasting progress for veterinary services.

Condensed from July 15, 2017, JAVMA News

NAVTA ready to start veterinary nurse effort

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America announced May 15 the formation of the Veterinary Nurse Initiative Coalition to pursue legislative changes in all 50 states to establish the credential of registered veterinary nurse. NAVTA's board approved the action to unite the profession under a single title, credentialing requirements, and scope of practice. The coalition is defining the legislative strategy and targeting 2018 for the initial legislative reform efforts to begin in a handful of states.

Currently, a patchwork exists throughout the United States. For example, 11 states privately credential via their state VMA or veterinary technician association, and in each of those cases, credentialing is not mandatory. Utah is the only state that does not require any credentialing. When it comes to titles, 15 states use registered veterinary technician, 19 use certified veterinary technician, 14 use licensed veterinary technician, and only Tennessee uses licensed veterinary medical technician.

While the full impact of the changes on the veterinary technology profession remains to be seen, what is clear is that simplifying things will be anything but simple. The process could take years of hard, patient work. That said, NAVTA's leaders say much of what they are proposing to change addresses many of veterinary technicians' biggest issues.

“Through the standardization and public awareness of the registered veterinary nurse credential, the entire profession will make significant strides towards better recognition, mobility, and elevated practice standards,” said Kara M. Burns, president-elect of NAVTA, in a press release. “All of this will lead to better patient care and consumer protection.”

Condensed from July 1, 2017, JAVMA News

At a year, AVMA database amassing clinical studies

At a year, the AVMA Animal Health Studies Database has seen success in amassing clinical studies in veterinary medicine. July marked the one-year anniversary of the public launch of the database as a resource for researchers seeking animals to participate in clinical studies and for veterinarians and animal owners exploring options for treatment.

As of late May, the database listed 279 studies and had averaged about 2,500 searches per month since the public launch. There are studies in every state, the District of Columbia, and two provinces in Canada. There are studies in 17 primary fields of veterinary medicine or species, from agricultural animals to soft-tissue surgery. There are studies recruiting dogs, cats, horses, and cattle—and even one study recruiting rabbits.

Mindy Quigley, coordinator of clinical trials at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, is enthusiastic about the AVMA project getting off the ground. She said the database is a great resource for animal owners, who often spend a lot of time going through practice or university websites.


Todd and Teresa Pratt were referred to the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine after an aggressive glioblastoma was diagnosed in Jake, their 5-year-old Shepherd mix. Jake participated in a clinical trial led by Dr. John Rossmeisl, professor of neurosurgery. (Photo by Alison Elward)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 78, 8; 10.2460/ajvr.78.8.880

“Having one place rather than a number of different scattered sites will eventually be a transformative thing for owners and veterinarians who are interested in clinical research,” Quigley said. “Probably the biggest barrier to enrollment is just getting the information into the hands of the people who need it, so any tool that we can have that casts a wider net is definitely something that is going to help the entire field.”

The AVMA Animal Health Studies Database is at

Condensed from July 1, 2017, JAVMA News

Grants available for veterinary pharmacology research

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation is partnering with the Veterinary Pharmacology Research Foundation to fund research projects geared toward advancing animal health.

Specifically, investigators are encouraged to submit proposals that focus on research to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of treatments for veterinary species, explore new drug treatments for animals, develop and validate models of animal diseases or conditions, or ensure that a safe food supply is not compromised by drug treatment. These areas focus exclusively on unmet needs in veterinary medicine that are often overlooked by other funding sources. The program is intended to encourage studies with direct clinical application, according to the application form.

Criteria used in considering proposals will involve the potential of the study to enhance the treatment or prevention of disease in animals, relevance to existing scientific knowledge, the feasibility of the study, qualifications of the investigators, and the potential to enhance collaboration among veterinary pharmacologists and AVMA members.

The Veterinary Pharmacology Research Foundation has funded pharmacology research grants for eight years as a way to encourage more discoveries in this area. Dr. Jane G. Owens, president of the VPRF, said her organization is excited about the new partnership with the AVMF.

A call for proposals for the grants was posted in July, and the deadline for submissions is Sept. 15; recipients will be announced in November.

Condensed from July 1, 2017, JAVMA News

New Texas veterinary school plan still alive

Plans for a Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo got a boost this spring with money allocated by state lawmakers, although it's not enough to fully fund the project. The university now is poised to start building a program and fill in the blanks along the way.

At the start of the legislative session, the Texas Tech veterinary school was “on pause.” Then, nearly $4.2 million in funding was included in the state's two-year budget, which passed both chambers of the Texas Legislature on May 27 and was approved by Gov. Greg Abbott on June 12.

That number is down about $1.5 million from the House's initial proposal. It's also short of the $16.75 million that the university initially requested from lawmakers to build the school. Texas Tech officials have estimated the total cost at $80 million to $90 million.

As far back as the 1970s, the Legislature has debated establishing a second school in Texas in addition to the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. In recent years, Texas A&M has said it is responding to state reports of a chronic shortage of rural large animal veterinarians by expanding its facilities and forming innovative partnerships with regional Texas A&M University System colleges.

Tech officials argue that because the veterinary school would have a distributive clinical education model rather than an on-site teaching hospital, students would get clinical experience in Texas Panhandle veterinary practices and be more inclined to stay in the region.

Condensed from July 15, 2017, JAVMA News

Speakers invited for AVMA Convention 2018

The AVMA is accepting abstracts from veterinary professionals and others who would like to present a session or poster at AVMA Convention 2018, July 13–17 in Denver.

Potential speakers should visit to submit a topic by Sept. 30, 2017. The Convention Education Program Committee will review the topics and select applicants to continue the process. For more information, email

From July 15, 2017, JAVMA News

Mizzou's dean heading to St. George's

St. George's University in Grand Anse, Grenada, announced May 17 the appointment of Dr. Neil C. Olson as the new dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Olson is currently dean of the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. On Aug. 15, he will take over the position from St. George's current dean, Dr. Timothy H. Ogilvie, who is stepping down after three years. He plans to assist in the leadership transition in the coming year.

At Mizzou, Dr. Olson orchestrated a 60 percent increase in professional enrollment, which provided about $4 million a year in new tuition revenue for the veterinary college; hired more than two dozen new faculty; and oversaw the establishment of a new animal radiation oncology and imaging facility in a suburb of St. Louis, according to his biography on the university's website.

Prior to his appointment at Missouri in 2007, Dr. Olson spent nearly 25 years at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in a variety of administrative and professorial roles, including senior associate dean for research and graduate studies and director of the Centennial Biomedical Campus.


Dr. Neil C. Olson

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 78, 8; 10.2460/ajvr.78.8.880

Dr. Olson obtained his DVM degree from the University of Minnesota in 1975 and earned a doctorate in physiology from Michigan State University in 1982.

Dr. Carolyn Henry will become the interim dean of Mizzou's veterinary college Aug. 1. A national search will begin in the fall to find a permanent dean.

Condensed from July 1, 2017, JAVMA News

Education council schedules site visits

The AVMA Council on Education has scheduled site visits to six schools and colleges of veterinary medicine for the remainder of 2017.

Comprehensive site visits are planned for the University of Prince Edward Island Atlantic Veterinary College, Sept. 17–21; the University of Saskatchewan Western College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 1–5; Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 8–14; Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 29-Nov. 2; and Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Nov. 5–9.

A consultative site visit is scheduled for the University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science in Nottingham, England, Dec. 3–7.

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

From July 1, 2017, JAVMA News

One Health Day returns in November

One Health Day, which debuted in 2016, will again be held Nov. 3. The One Health Commission, One Health Initiative team, and One Health Platform Foundation are calling on individuals and organizations to begin planning one-health education and awareness projects. Go to