Fourth-year veterinary students will begin clinical rotations in the Texas Panhandle in 2020, new students will begin enrolling in veterinary classes at VERO facility to start their first year of veterinary school in 2021
To read the full text of Green’s speech, click here.
CANYON, Texas—Students from the Texas Panhandle won’t have to travel far from home to become Aggie veterinarians thanks to a new 2+2 program announced Thursday morning by West Texas A&M (WTAMU) and Texas A&M universities. Once all the necessary approvals have been obtained, veterinary students will be able to spend the first two years of their veterinary curriculum in Canyon on the WTAMU campus in the Veterinary Education, Research & Outreach (VERO) facility.
During a press conference at the construction site of the $22-million VERO facility being built on the WTAMU campus, WTAMU President Walter Wendler, Texas A&M President Michael Young, and the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M Eleanor M. Green discussed the decade-long plan to bring Texas A&M’s top 4-ranked Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program to WTAMU through the VERO initiative.
Beginning May 2020, veterinary students wanting to work in food animal or mixed animal medicine will have the option of completing a number ofnew clinical rotations in the Texas Panhandle, as part of their yearlong fourth-year clinical rotations.
“Texas A&M University has been committed to extending its nationally-ranked College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences to more effectively reach citizens across the expanse of Texas. An example of this is the VERO facility, funded through our Permanent University Fund,” Young said.
“The 2+2 program extends the reach of both Texas A&M and West Texas A&M, which is especially critical in an area that is home to the largest food animal production region in the nation,” he said. “Bringing excellent faculty here enhances the effectiveness of the college and opens new opportunities for students in the Texas Panhandle to become Aggie veterinarians.”
The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) is in the process of seeking approval for the 2+2 program, with a plan to open the application process in the fall of 2020 and begin offering DVM classes at WTAMU for an initial cohort of 20 first- and second-year DVM students beginning in the fall of 2021.
Through the 2+2 program, veterinary students will be able to take the classes during their first two years of veterinary school through the VERO program, a partnership between WTAMU and the CVM, and then travel to College Station for their final two years.
Those students won’t be gone for long, however; in their fourth year, those students will have the ability to return home for a number ofclinical rotations.
“The new clinical rotations in the Texas Panhandle will offer immediate engagement and additional unique and readily applicable experiences for DVM students who want to pursue food animal and production medicine as a career path,” Green said.
“These clinical rotations will provide students the opportunity to spend time in rural-practice settings with both private practitioners and Texas A&M faculty members,” she said. “Rotations will offer a chance to gain experience in the most important aspects of the industry in West Texas—including rotations through feedlots, dairies, and cow/calf, swine, and other livestock operations. Beginning in the spring 2021 semester, food animal students will also have the opportunity to spend clinical rotations in the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL), located in Canyon, where they will learn about diagnostic laboratory medicine, which is of critical importance to production animal health.”
In preparation to begin offering classes at WTAMU, the two universities have begun putting to use funds appropriated by the Texas Legislature during its 86th session by announcing the hiring of additional faculty members to teach in the program at the VERO facility.
“Over the next two years, at nearly $2 million a year, eight to 10 faculty will be hired through the legislative appropriations process to support new graduate student assistantships in the 2+2 program at West Texas A&M University,” Wendler said. “These students will seamlessly dovetail into the DVM program at Texas A&M University, which is one of the best in the nation.
“This program is twofold,” he continued. “It will prepare graduates for the food animal industry in one of the most concentrated meat and dairy production areas of the world, and it will train veterinary students to serve rural communities in support of WTAMU’s generational plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World. Currently, our pre-vet program has more than 50 students.”
These faculty and graduate student additions to the CVM’s DVM program are just two of many rural and food animal-oriented programs the CVM has initiated over the past 10 years.
The Texas A&M University System has committed $90 million to the state agriculture industry on the WTAMU campus, including funds for the 22,000-square-foot VERO facility, which will house the 2+2 DVM curriculum, serve as a learning space to supplement the existing DVM externship programs and the new clinical rotations in the Texas Panhandle, as well as a regional veterinary teaching center that will facilitate collaborative, multidisciplinary research among scientists from across the region.
“We are grateful to the Texas legislators for investing in this program bound to be the best of its kind, as it advances the livestock industries, veterinary medicine, career opportunities for young people, and local economy,” Green said. “Our VERO team, which includes renowned food animal faculty members who are embedded at WTAMU, have strengthened our ‘Serving Every Texan Every Day’ initiative by facilitating the recruitment of veterinary school applicants with a mixed animal and large animal interest, doing impactful research, providing education, and serving the food animal industry.”
Team VERO and the Serving Every Texan Every Day memoranda of agreement with WTAMU has resulted in 23 DVM students in the CVM’s entering classes of ’21 and ’22 having been recruited from rural communities, many of whom came from the Texas Panhandle and West Texas A&M University.
In addition, Texas A&M graduates the highest number and percent of rural and mixed animal veterinarians in the nation, with 33 percent of the class of 2017 and 40 percent of the class of 2018 working in food animal and mixed animal practices in rural communities.
“We also are excited about the new DVM fourth-year clinical rotations and the new 2+2 program that will be offered in the Texas Panhandle and what these programs will bring to veterinary students in all four years of their curriculum; they will have exceptional opportunities to gain hands-on experience in rural and livestock veterinary medicine in the livestock epicenter of our nation,” Green said.
These new opportunities will dovetail nicely into existing livestock veterinary programs, like the long-standing Food Animal Production Tour, which recently reached a milestone of introducing its 100thstudent to these industries through an activity that showcases all of what the Texas Panhandle has to offer. In addition, the Food Animal & Rural Practice Summer Internship Program, initiated in 2017, has brought dozens of CVM students to the Panhandle to spend the summer gaining hands-on experience in the cattle, swine, and dairy industries, as well as in rural veterinary practices.
Finally, a $243,500 grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) received by VERO director Dr. Dee Griffin in 2018 has allowed for the development, initiation, and support of seven veterinary-centered programs for veterinary students who travel to the Texas Panhandle for these opportunities.
For more information, contact the VERO program at 806-651-2292.
Inspired by her late daughter-in-law’s lifetime of generosity, Linda Holsey has endowed the Michelle Lynn Holsey Scholarship in Biomedical Sciences to provide financial assistance to a student who plans to pursue a medical degree.
When Michelle Lynn Holsey was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer in 2003, she told her family that she wouldn’t let the disease stop her from helping others.
Her family recalls their days traveling from Crockett to Houston’s M.D. Anderson and how Michelle would always stop to talk to people in the waiting room. She had an especially soft heart for the parents of small children who were also going through their own cancer battles or those who had to miss weeks of work to receive care.
Michelle always went out of her way to strike up conversations and form lasting relationships with the people she met. They’d begin their treatments as strangers, but Michelle easily earned their friendship.
After numerous surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments—including traveling to Germany for an innovative treatment—her cancer persisted and, sadly, in 2006, Michelle passed away.
“Throughout the entire process, Michelle maintained an attitude of confidence and fought a valiant battle the same way she lived her life with faith, hope, and dignity,” said Linda Holsey, Michelle’s mother-in-law.
Inspired by Michelle’s lifetime of generosity, her family was determined to continue her legacy and ensure that her giving spirit lives on, establishing the Michelle Lynn Holsey Foundation shortly after her passing to assist those battling cancer and other debilitating diseases, while funding innovative treatments and supporting education.
“The foundation has monthly grant meetings at which time qualifying grant applicants are awarded funds to meet their needs, and yearly scholarships are given to graduating seniors in both Houston and Brazos Counties,” Linda said. “The foundation continues to grow and help those in need with the help of various yearly fundraisers and the generosity of the community and friends across the nation.
“Our largest fundraiser is the annual five-day National Cutting Horse Association-sanctioned event held the first week of October, currently at the Brazos County Expo Center, with a steak dinner, live and silent auctions, and a concert on Saturday night of the cutting week,” she said.
Because of Michelle’s experience with some very hardworking doctors, Linda decided to honor Michelle in her own way, by establishing an endowed scholarship in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) undergraduate program to help a future medical student.
Giving to Texas A&M is also special to the family because two of Michelle’s daughters—Hannah Lynn Holsey Craycraft and Holly Ann Holsey, as well as son-in-law Clint Craycraft—are Aggie graduates.
“Michelle gave unconditional love and loyalty to everyone she met. She was a source of wisdom, an exemplary role model, a loving mother and wife, and a tireless volunteer to many causes. She unknowingly blessed everyone she came in contact with simply by being herself,” Linda said. “I wanted to create this scholarship to help soon-to-be medical students pay for their education and get off on the right track.”
The BIMS program in the CVM is one of the largest degree-granting majors at Texas A&M, and students in the program explore many aspects of applied biology related to health and disease. Students in the program frequently go on to careers or post-secondary education in fields like medicine, veterinary medicine, or dentistry.
The Michelle Lynn Holsey Scholarship in Biomedical Sciences is one of 12 endowed scholarships in the program.
“The Biomedical Sciences program is very thankful to the family of Michelle Lynn Holsey for this scholarship. Her story is inspirational and many of our students decide to pursue medicine because of patients such as Michelle,” said Dr. Elizabeth Crouch, CVM associate dean for undergraduate education. “The award to be made in her name will assist an undergraduate who has many years of education for which to pay and, when they hear her story, I know they will be further motivated to work hard and succeed both academically and professionally.”
Because the scholarship is endowed, it will provide annual awards to aspiring medical students in perpetuity. The scholarship will be awarded to its first recipient in the fall of 2019.
While dogs may have the reputation for being the friendliest of the companion animals, cats actually outnumber dogs in U.S. households.
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), more than 86 million cats, compared to 78 million dogs, reside with families in America, yet dogs seem to receive more consistent and regular veterinary health care than their feline counterparts.
To make the Texas A&M Small Animal Hospital (SAH) more comfortable for all of our (sometimes) furriest friends, SAH staff members have worked over the past five years to implement changes to make the hospital more “cat friendly.”
For their work, the SAH was recently recognized with a gold standard designation as a Cat Friendly Practice by the AAFP.
“Whether it’s a routine checkup or special visit, the staff at the Small Animal Hospital is committed to ensuring that cats get the best care. To further its dedication, the hospital recently implemented the Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) program to offer pet owners more at every phase of the cat’s health care process,” said Dr. Jonathan Levine, professor and Helen McWhorter Chair in Small Animal Clinical Sciences (VSCS). “Through their work, the hospital staff has distinguished themselves as one of only a few teaching hospitals in the United States to earn the gold level designation.”
The Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) program was pioneered by the AAFP to provide a framework for creating a positive practice environment for cats, including medical care that supports the cat’s unique needs and knowledgeable staff members who understand feline-friendly handling.
The Gold Standard status is awarded to practices that have incorporated the optimum level of Cat Friendly Criteria.
Practices that aspire to achieve “cat friendly” status create a “cat friendly” environment by completing a CFP checklist outlining required guidelines and submitting an online application for review by the AAFP.
The SAH has worked to achieve the designation by creating separate waiting areas for cats and dogs, as well as separate ward areas and cat housing, all of which reduces feline stress.
At a CFP-designated clinic, the veterinary staff incorporates cat-friendly features into the physical environment of the practice including special waiting rooms or waiting accommodations, feline-sensitive examination rooms and ward facilities, and equipment appropriate specifically for cats.
Staff members also approach cat care in a different manner. The staff learns how to understand the needs of the cat such as how to interpret a cat’s facial expression and body language.
Furthermore, the staff is well-trained in alternate techniques to calm an anxious cat and ensure that exams and procedures do not escalate anxiety.
“Texas A&M has a long-standing history of focusing on feline issues,” said Dr. Audrey Cook, associate professor and internist at the SAH. “Achieving AAFP Gold Standard recognition just builds on our commitment to providing excellent care to cats.”
The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) recognized six alumni for their commitment, service, and leadership in the veterinary and biomedical sciences fields, as well as to their communities.
The annual Outstanding Alumni reception and dinner, held on April 26 at the Doug Pitcock ’49 Texas A&M Hotel & Conference Center, honored 2019 Outstanding Alumni Award winners Anmarie Macfarland, Sydney Moise, D. Phillip Sponenberg, Nicole Thompson Stoneburg, Peggy T. Tinkey, and Rising Star Award Winner Cassandra Tansey.
“We are honored and privileged to recognize our former students and the impact of their work on our college, our state, our nation, and the world,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King dean of veterinary medicine. “These alumni are ambassadors for the CVM, and we are proud of their commitment to service, education, and leadership.”
Dr. Anmarie Macfarland ’90
Dr. Anmarie Macfarland has devoted her career to both veterinary medicine and paving a path for women to lead in the field.
At the age of 10, Macfarland knew she was going to become a veterinarian, but, at that time, there were not many women in the profession to serve as role models for young girls.
Through hard work and determination, however, she realized her vision, graduating with biomedical sciences and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from Texas A&M.
Not long after beginning her professional career, several veterinarians with whom Macfarland worked saw her potential as a future leader.
Despite the fact that there were not many female veterinarians serving in professional leadership roles at that time, Macfarland, again, rose to the challenge, anticipating both the role she could play within organized veterinary medicine, but also the impact her leadership might have on other female veterinarians who came behind her.
In 2008, she became the third woman to serve as president of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) and in 2015 became the first woman president of the Southwest Veterinary Symposium’s (SWVS) Board of Managers.
“Dr. Macfarland was an excellent TVMA president. She is the type of executive committee member who was known by her ‘let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work’ attitude,” one nominator said. “Her presidency was defined by her work ethic; she took on the colossus task of reviewing the internal procedures of TVMA and assisted in the completion of rewriting the TVMA’s bylaws.”
In addition to her hard work and her reputation for service—garnered through years of committee membership and leadership in both TVMA and SWVS—she also developed a reputation for bringing people, and groups, together.
“I stand in awe of all the outstanding accomplishments of this great veterinary leader,” the nominator said. “I am impressed by her extreme work ethic for our profession, her ability to forge relationship between groups, and her outstanding reputation as a veterinary practitioner.”
During this time, Macfarland, a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, worked as a partner at Loop 410 Veterinary Hospital in San Antonio, where she remains responsible for half of the caseload, mainly comprising of geriatric medicine and chronic disease management for dogs and cats, as well as wellness care.
For all of this work, she was recognized in 2017 as the TVMA Companion Animal Practitioner of the Year and as the recipient of the Southwest Veterinary Symposium Visionary Award.
“Dr. Macfarland has long been recognized as a progressive practitioner and leader in the field of veterinary medicine,” another nominator said. “She began working at Loop 410 Veterinary Hospital in 1984 while an undergraduate at Texas A&M. Even back then, I knew her future in veterinary medicine was bright because she was focused, had an exceptional work ethic for someone her age, an outstanding personality, and lots of enthusiasm.”
Dr. Sydney Moise ’77
Dr. Sydney Moise has poured her heart into canine cardiology.
An internationally recognized scholar and educator who earned her bachelor’s and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from Texas A&M, Moise has devoted her career to cardiac rhythms and cardiovascular defects in dogs.
For more than 30 years, she has served at Cornell University, now as a professor of medicine in its College of Veterinary Medicine and an affiliated bioengineering faculty member in its bioengineering program.
She has received more than a million dollars in funding to study canine ventricular arrhythmias, sinus node dysfunction, the mechanisms of degeneration of the mitral valve, and the patterning and beat-to- beat heart rate variability of normal and abnormal rhythms.
“Dr. Moise’s accomplishments, since joining the Cornell faculty in the mid- 1980s, deserve special acknowledgement. She is talented in all aspects of clinical cardiology and is responsible for the development of interventional cardiology and echocardiography at the Cornell University CVM over the past 30 years,” one nominator said. “She is world-renowned for her expertise in electrocardiology and is one of the few veterinary cardiologists who have championed the utility of electrophysiology in clinical practice.
“In fact, Dr. Moise is one of the few veterinarians to have contributed meaningfully to discovering mechanisms of naturally occurring, lethal arrhythmias affecting dogs, the molecular basis of rhythm disturbances, and development of clinical applications for arrhythmia management,” the nominator continued.
“She learns continuously from each clinical case and uses that knowledge to improve compassionate care for each pet,” one nominator said. “(And) Many of her research studies are directly relevant to electrophysiologic characteristics of the same arrhythmias in humans.”
As a scholar, Moise has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, has served as an editor-in-chief and associate editor for the international Journal of Veterinary Cardiology, and has given presentations around the world, including in the United Arab Republic, Europe, Thailand, Brazil, China, and Russia, among many others.
For her work, she has been awarded the American Veterinary Medical Association research award for arrhythmia studies and the Bourgelat Award for international contribution to the clinical practice of veterinary medicine.
In addition, Moise is a beloved mentor and educator, having received the Norden Teaching Award, presented by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges for distinguished teaching.
“Sydney possesses a highly scientific mind that allows her to analyze in detail the complex natural phenomena concretizing them with diagnostic methods for all the levels of knowledge,” another nominator said. “She is a fantastic human being, full of initiative and able to motivate people to human and professional growth.”
Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg ’76
The words “rare” and Dr. Phillip Sponenberg go hand-in-hand, both in describing him as a person and his academic focus on conservation.
Sponenberg, a professor in Virginia Tech’s Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine’s (VMCVM) Department of Pathobiology, earned his bachelor’s and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees at Texas A&M before completing his Doctor of Philosophy in veterinary medicine from Cornell University.
Even as an undergraduate, he stood out among his peers, according to one nominator.
“During our conversations, it became readily apparent that Phil was very bright and had already thoughtfully envisioned his veterinary career focused on reproductive pathology and conservation genetics of domestic animals; in particular, he was intrigued by the genetics of equine hair coat color,” the nominator said. “Subsequently, Dr. Sponenberg fulfilled that vision with a long and exceptionally distinguished professional career in research, teaching and service.”
That distinguished career at VMCVM, which began in 1981, has been marked by his being the youngest faculty member to have been promoted to the rank of full professor and by his serious commitment to service across all dimensions of academic activity.
“Phil’s academic career has been a relatively even mix of research, service, and teaching. This is a mix that is becoming increasingly rare as faculty are currently hired to emphasize mostly one of these missions,” another nominator said. “He has received recognition for excellence in all three of these missions.”
While his teaching efforts include decades of instruction in pathology, reproduction, necropsy and veterinary genetics—making positive impacts on hundreds of veterinary students—his service to his students and field span performing advisory roles for student groups, as well as a host of university and association advisory and service committees.
“As superb as Phil’s teaching and service are, his work in international and national conservation genetics and livestock breeds conservation eclipse those career accomplishments,” the nominator said.
Within his academic interests—which include reproductive pathology, conservation principles, conservation genetics, and coat color—he has produced 431 publications for the lay public, 109 scientific journal articles, 13 major books, 31 book chapters, and 174 invited presentations for breed associations.
“Phil’s contributions to the conservation of livestock genetic resources have filled a void in the United States, where he is a leader in this effort to assure a secure and viable future for food production,” a nominator said. “He is unique among academicians in North America with this interest and with his long contributions to this area.”
For these efforts, Sponenberg has been recognized extensively at VMCVM, including the Teaching Hospital Lifetime Service Award and Excellence in Outreach Award; as the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s 2017 Distinguished Virginia Veterinarian; and as an honorary member of the American College of Theriogenology, among many others.
“Clearly, Professor Sponenberg has left his indelible mark on the future world-wide conservation of domestic animal species,” a nominator said.
Lt. Col. Nicole Thompson Stoneburg ’96
Lt. Col. Nicole Thompson Stoneburg has dedicated her life to the U.S. Air Force and the health of our nation through deployment, disaster response, and daily military nursing needs.
A Texas A&M biomedical sciences graduate, Stoneburg has always had a strong desire to help others. She began her nursing career in 1998 at Houston’s Herman Memorial Children’s Hospital; in 1999, she was compelled to serve her country by joining the U.S. Air Force, serving first as a clinical nurse for the U.S. Air Force Academy before moving up the ranks to her current position as Inspector General for the 11th Wing at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.
With years of leadership experience, Stoneburg now oversees the daily operations for the 11th Wing Inspection and Complaints departments. She puts great emphasis on resolving complaints, protecting the rights of all personnel, and ensuring the members of the 11th Wing are ready to execute both in-garrison and deployed missions.
“Lt. Col. Nicole Stoneburg is a superb military officer, skilled medical professional, distinguished combat veteran, and a top-tier leader,” one nominator said. “She is demonstrating the powerful combination of hard work, initiative, adherence to values, and a superb educational foundation.”
Stoneburg showed bravery and leadership directing crews in providing life-saving medical care while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as while serving in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
“Nicole is always ready to save lives and care for those in need,” another nominator said. “She has continually distinguished herself as a leader and innovator as she made positive differences in the lives of thousands across the world.”
In addition to her nursing experience, Stoneburg has taken charge on several initiatives to standardize military medical care and evidence collection to ensure the best treatment for sexual assault victims.
In 2012, Stoneburg was one of 23 Air Force officers, and the only Air Force nurse, to be selected to serve as a legislative fellow in the U.S. Congress and military advisor to former California Sen. Barbara Boxer.
“As a Congressional Fellow, Nicole drafted legislation to improve military medical treatment for victims of sexual assault,” a nominator said. “Later signed into law as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, her tenacious efforts have improved treatment for sexual assault victims across the entire Department of Defense.”
A parent herself, Stoneburg has also dedicated much of her life to improving child care at the Child Development Centers at Joint Base Andrews. She has volunteered hundreds of hours to teach emergency child medicine and serve on the Parent Advisory Council.
Throughout the years, Stoneburg has earned many awards and medals, including the Air Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Flight Nurse Instructor of the Year Award.
“The foundation of being an excellent nurse is a fundamental care and understanding of people’s needs in hopes to make their lives better,” one nominator said. “She has continually exemplified those traits and proven her desire to use her skills to improve her patients’ health and the nursing field.”
Dr. Peggy Tinkey ’83
While Dr. Peggy Tinkey was an accomplished private practice veterinarian for many years, her decision to join the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center allowed her to truly impact the efforts to “Make Cancer History.”
Retiring in January, Tinkey served at MD Anderson for 25 years as a professor, and eventually chair, in the MD Anderson Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery’s Division of Basic Science Research.
In this role, she served as a valued resource for technique development and administration of the animal care and use program for the research community, which included 10 faculty
veterinarians and 148 staff and also oversaw a budget of more than $14 million in support of the research activities of more than 300 principal investigators.
“Dr. Tinkey is an outstanding leader who has directed a very large animal care program at one of the largest academic medical centers in the country,” one nominator said. “In her role as the attending veterinarian at MD Anderson, she has represented veterinary medicine in a very complex academic research environment, and she directed an animal care program that is viewed as exemplary by her veterinary colleagues across the country.”
Her work with the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International also has helped raise the standard of veterinary care at institutions across the United States and in other countries.
“Through her service on (AAALAC) Council on Accreditation, Dr. Tinkey has positively impacted the welfare of thousands of animals of diverse species,” a nominator said. “She embraces the principle of providing a high standard of professional leadership through active service, both within her own institution and the broader community. She clearly has a heart for service to the scientific community and the welfare of animals.”
Tinkey’s passion for, and long track record of, sharing her knowledge and love of medicine led her to play an instrumental role in the development of the Gulf Coast Consortium (GCC) Veterinary Clinical Residency in Laboratory Animal Medicine—a collaborative endeavor between MD Anderson, Baylor College of Medicine, and UTHealth–which went on to successfully win a $500,000 National Institutes of Health R25 veterinary training grant that provided funding for a three-year veterinary residency program for three residents.
She also co-edited the book “Patient Derived Tumor Xenograft Models: Promise, Potential and Practice,” which presents the results of the first ever global survey on standards of patient derived xenograft development and usage in academia and industry.
Her dedication to educating the next generation of doctors led to her return to her alma mater, Texas A&M—from which she earned bachelor’s and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees—to serve a dual appointment as an associate professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Pathology.
“One of her greatest attributes is her ability to mentor colleagues in the research field,” a nominator said. “Through all her years of practice, animal welfare has been her top priority, with human welfare a close second.”
Dr. Cassandra Tansey ’15 (awarded in absentia)
As a senior clinical veterinarian for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Cassandra Tansey works to ensure both humans and animals are safe from zoonotic diseases.
Working at the CDC since she completed her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Texas A&M, Tansey now serves as an expert on global zoonotic disease surveillance and epidemiology and oversees the CDC’s veterinary medicine clinical care program, among other responsibilities.
“I continue to be impressed by her work ethic, thoughtfulness, and ambition,” one nominator said. “She frequently assists scientific investigators in our High Containment Laboratory, a remarkable accomplishment in gaining researchers’ trust in an environment where small accidents can become life-threatening.”
As a primary responder for the CDC’s Global Rapid Response Team— designed to increase the CDC’s capacity to respond to global health threats— Tansey served as the CDC Emergency Operations Center epidemiologist during the Zika virus outbreak and was one of the first veterinarians deployed during the Seoul Hantavirus outbreak that affected 17 people in 11 midwestern states.
“This (Seoul Hantavirus) outbreak was especially challenging due to the coordination required with local and state health departments and the huge amount of public education and communication necessary,” another nominator said. “Dr. Tansey’s actions, along with other key staff members, provided valuable information necessary to address this potential public health concern.”
In her scholarly pursuits, Tansey has accrued four publications and 11 professional presentations, including contributing to the sixth edition of the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories, which serves as a cornerstone of world-wide biosafety practice and policy.
In the midst of all of this, Tansey has remained steadfast in her commitment to service on a number of national and international committees; as a World Veterinary Association (WVA) Councilor for North America, she is leading the effort to develop a policy statement on the role of veterinarians in food security that will likely be adopted this year.
She also serves as a mentor to students rotating through their program, gives tours to local students visiting the CDC, and is a Girl Scout troop leader.
“Last year, her troop engaged in a service project for sustainability and successfully encouraged restaurants in the greater Atlanta area to reduce their use of plastic,” another nominator said. “Her involvement with the Girl Scouts will assuredly foster a love of the STEM disciplines in these young women. I would not be at all surprised to see a Girl Scout troop member follow the model that Cassandra has set.”
All of these accomplishments have led Tansey to receive three CDC recognitions, including the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases Director’s Recognition Award and Honor Award Certificate, as well as the Office of the Director’s Certificate of Appreciation.
“Dr. Tansey has distinguished herself as an extremely capable leader, superb clinician, experienced biocontainment manager, and a very dedicated and resourceful mentor,” a nominator said. “Her knowledge base, management capabilities, and leadership skills are second to none.
At the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), veterinarians are working to educate pet parents about the recent outbreak of canine influenza in Georgia and Florida that could affect dogs in Texas.
Just like humans, pets can be affected by strains of influenza and experience flu-like symptoms. The strains of influenza that affect dogs are highly contagious and spread through particles in the air. However, the disease is typically not life-threatening when treated and is not transmissible to humans.
“The most common symptoms of canine flu include coughing and lethargy, as well as decreased appetite and fever,” said Dr. Stacy Eckman, clinical assistant professor at the CVM. “In some cases, the infection can progress to pneumonia, especially when the flu is complicated by other respiratory bacteria or viruses.”
The canine flu should be treated as soon as possible. If you are worried your pet is experiencing symptoms of the canine flu, contact your veterinarian before going in to their office. This allows the veterinarian to prepare for the visit and potentially decrease exposure to other pets.
If you live in an area where the canine flu has been reported, consider keeping your dog away from other dogs by staying clear of the dog park or kenneling your dog.
Canine influenza is a relatively new virus in dogs, but there are vaccines available to help protect your pet. The vaccine does not prevent your pet from getting infected or spreading the virus, but it may reduce your pet’s symptoms.
“The vaccine is recommended for pets that go to dog shows, including hunting and agility; are kenneled or boarded; visit grooming salons or doggie day cares regularly; or are around a high number of dogs that visit these areas,” Eckman said.
If your pet becomes infected with the canine flu, a veterinarian can provide supportive care and medications to make the pet feel better. In the meantime, consider your options for preventing your pet from facing this illness again in the future, such as with a vaccine.
As a pet parent, it is important to provide your dog with excellent healthcare. Talk with your veterinarian about reducing the chances of your dog being impacted by canine influenza.
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We all know that smoking is bad for our health, but what might surprise many pet-owners are the dangerous effects that same smoke can have on their four-legged loved ones after some time.
“There are studies that show that dogs exposed to large amounts of second-hand smoke have significant changes to their lung tissue over time,” said Heather Wilson-Robles, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science (CVM). “These changes range from fibrosis, or scarring of the lung tissue to precancerous and even cancerous lesions.”
A case report published in 2012 showed a cat developing a tracheal carcinoma after being exposed to large amounts of second-hand smoke in the home, and another study in 2002, published by the group at Tufts, showed that second hand smoke may double the risk of lymphoma development in cats.
Many veterinarians also feel that symptoms in their patients with respiratory diseases such as asthma or bronchitis improve if the owner’s quit smoking. For those that do smoke, there are a few ways to tell if your habit is affecting your pet’s health.
“For animals with asthma, allergic lung disease, or bronchitis you might see a dry hacking and progressive cough,” said Wilson-Robles. “Asthma patients may have more frequent asthma attacks and their symptoms may be more difficult to manage medically. Animals with allergic lung disease will often have more severe symptoms if they live in a smoking household and these symptoms may persist all year round rather than being seasonal.”
Disposing of your tobacco may also prove hazardous to the wellbeing of your pet if they tend to be nosy or like to dig in the trash. “Ingestion of tobacco products may cause gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased salivation and trembling,” said Wilson-Robles. “High doses of nicotine may lead to excitement, constricted pupils, odd behavior, seizures and even death. Cigarette butts are especially dangerous as they contain 25% of the nicotine found in the cigarette.”
While the most efficient way to treat second-hand tobacco problems with your pet is for the owner to quit using the substance, there are other ways to keep your pet safe and keep your habit.
“Pet-owners need to immediately quit smoking around the animal and wash their hands thoroughly after smoking before touching the pet or anything it may come in contact with,” said Wilson-Robles. “If your dog or cat eats a cigarette, chewing tobacco, cigar, etc. call an emergency clinic nearby for directions on how to treat this toxicosis. In most cases the tobacco will induce vomiting by itself, but if not vomiting should be induced to clean the stomach out and prevent systemic and possibly even lethal nicotine toxicosis.”
If you believe your pet is suffering from tobacco-related issues of any kind schedule an appointment with your local veterinarian immediately.
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Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to email@example.com.
Many people see their pet as their own child, but what do you do when you find that your little one will soon be having children of their own? Knowing how to care for your pet during pregnancy and after childbirth is essential for any responsible pet owner.
So how do you tell if your pet is expecting? “Some telltale signs to watch for in a pregnant dog is lethargy, not wanting to eat as much, not playing as much as usual and enlarged nipples,” said Jean Laird, veterinary technician at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM). “These are attributed to a change in hormones and milk production. Even if you are sure there is no way a dog has gotten in your yard, it is best to take her to the veterinarian to confirm if she is pregnant. Intact male dogs are surprisingly persistent when a female is in heat. While there is a pregnancy test for pets, a small litter may result in a false negative.”
If you believe your pet is pregnant, the first thing you should do is take her in to see a veterinarian. Certain conditions exist that may appear to be pregnancy, but in reality are alarming and may even be life threatening.
“One condition that can be deadly is called pyometra,” said Laird. “It is a bacterial infection that occurs during their heat cycle and results in the uterus filling with pus. This is a serious condition that requires immediate surgery and hospitalization. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, and vaginal discharge that is commonly confused with standard pregnancy discharge.”
When preparing your home for a pregnant pet, there are several conditions that must be met to guarantee that your pet is safe and comfortable throughout their pregnancy.
“First your dog will need a whelping bed,” said Laird. “This can be a kiddie pool or blocked off area with blankets as long as it is a secure area, provides easily accessible food and water to the mother, and is protected from the elements. The mother will need to be fed high quality puppy food until her little ones are weaned. Though puppies are not born with their eyes open, they move around a great deal so it is important to encourage the mother to stay with the puppies. Be extremely cautious about heating pads, and if you decide to use one keep them on low at all times. Many puppies are injured and even killed because they do not have the ability to get off of a hot heating pad.”
After your pet has given birth it is important that both the mother and puppies be examined by your veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet will be able to ensure the physical condition of the mother and her puppies, as well as make recommendations to provide the best care. Your vet can also set up an appropriate schedule for your new puppies to be dewormed and vaccinated.
“After your pet has given birth, keep her confined with the puppies as much as possible and carefully observe her to see if she is gentle with the puppies and allows them to nurse,” said Laird. “If she lays on them, tries to injure them, or does not allow them to nurse, you will have to bottle feed the puppies. There is powder milk available through your veterinarian and feed stores that is specifically made for puppies. Avoid giving them cow’s milk, as this is not adequate nutrition for the growth and development of a puppy.”
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.