CVM Faculty Members to Promote Canine Health with New Research Grants

Story by Megan Myers

Drs. Nick and Unity Jeffery, a husband-and-wife duo at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), have received canine health research grants from the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Canine Health Foundation (CHF).

Dr. Unity Jeffery
Dr. Unity Jeffery

In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the AKC CHF awarded more than $2.1 million in 36 new canine health research grants in February. The selected projects were chosen based on their ability to meet the highest scientific standards and to have the greatest potential to advance the health of all dogs.

In her Dogs Helping Dogs Laboratory, Unity Jeffery, an assistant professor in the CVM’s Department of Veterinary Pathobiology (VTPB), will conduct research for her grant “Tumor-educated Platelets: A Minimally Invasive Liquid Biopsy for Early Cancer Diagnosis.”

Studies in human medicine have shown that RNA in blood platelets is a promising marker for various types of cancer.

Unity Jeffery’s study, in collaboration with Drs. Emma Warry, Jonathan Lidbury, and Chris Dolan, from the CVM’s Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (VSCS), will act as a proof of principle to determine if this information is translational into canine medicine.

If so, her research may be the first step in developing a blood-based screening test or liquid biopsy for canine cancer.

“One of the big problems with cancer in dogs is that because dogs can’t talk, they can’t let us know when they’re starting to feel just a little bit unwell or show very mild symptoms,” she said. “That means that we often don’t diagnose cancer in dogs until very late, when the cancer’s already widespread throughout the body.”

By using a test that can detect cancer earlier, veterinarians may be able to use more targeted treatment protocols that have reduced side effects.

“The hope of early diagnosis is that maybe that’s your chance to fully eliminate the cancer rather than just prolong life,” she said.

Dr. Nick Jeffery
Dr. Nick Jeffery

Meanwhile, CVM professor and neurologist Nick Jeffery will be working to extend results from a previous research project for his grant “Clinical Trial of Prevotella histicola Supplementation to Ameliorate Meningoencephalomyelitis of Unknown Origin (MUO).”

In a previous project, Nick Jeffery found that dogs with MUO, a disease of the central nervous system that resembles multiple sclerosis in humans, have an unusual balance of bacteria in their guts. Particularly, one bacteria that is known for controlling inflammation was consistently at lower levels.

His project will focus on providing supplements of that reduced bacteria to dogs with MUO to hopefully improve the disease’s outcome.

“We’re going to culture the bacteria and then put them into capsules that dogs can take every day,” he said. “The idea is that it will help us get better control of the disease, which is quite serious and quite a lot of dogs will die of it. We’re hoping that by supplementing with this bacteria, we might improve their survival.”

In addition to improving the survival of dogs with MUO, the bacterial supplement could also provide a way to reduce the use of immunosuppressive drugs, improving the dogs’ overall health and wellbeing.

Similar to the translational aspect of Unity Jeffery’s project, Nick’s may also one day play a role in human medicine by suggesting a new treatment method for multiple sclerosis.

“I was very pleased to get the grant, especially since it was a follow up on a previous study,” he said. “It’s fantastic to try out bacterial supplementation. This sort of approach is pretty new in all medicine, so it’s a great opportunity to test the idea and also try to fix dogs that have got a very serious condition.”

“I’m very grateful to the AKC Canine Health Foundation and the owners and breeders who donate to the charity,” Unity Jeffery said. “My Dogs Helping Dogs Lab, where we use canine patients and healthy volunteers to try to better diagnose and treat common canine diseases, fits really nicely with the AKC’s mission to improve the health of both pedigree dogs and the whole canine population. It’s a charity that I feel very honored to be funded by and very grateful for their continuing support.

“Nick and I have pet dogs at home and we love our dogs; they’re our family,” she said. “For me, I feel that I do the same type of research for my patients as a human doctor would do for theirs, and that’s what’s great about working in a veterinary school and having the opportunity to obtain funding from sources like the AKC.”

About the AKC CHF

Since 1995, the AKC Canine Health Foundation has leveraged the power of science to address the health needs of all dogs. With more than $56 million in funding to date, the Foundation provides grants for the highest quality canine health research and shares information on the discoveries that help prevent, treat and cure canine diseases. The Foundation meets and exceeds industry standards for fiscal responsibility, as demonstrated by their highest four-star Charity Navigator rating and GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency. Learn more at www.akcchf.org.

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For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216

CVM Researcher to Study Tick Vaccines in Brazil as Fulbright Recipient

Dr. Albert Mulenga in his lab
Dr. Albert Mulenga

Story by Margaret Preigh

Dr. Albert Mulenga, a professor in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Department of Veterinary Pathobiology (VTPB), will spend four months continuing his research on tick vaccines in Brazil thanks to a Fulbright award.

The prestigious award will support Mulenga’s research abroad, during which he will work alongside researchers in Porto Alegre, Brazil, at the University Rio Grande do Sul. In addition to his research, Mulenga will teach a course and advise a Brazilian graduate student who will be helping him conduct his research on tick vaccines.

Under the Fulbright Program, Mulenga is tasked with “increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries,” according to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

This directive ties in closely to what Mulenga, as an immigrant, feels his career represents.

“I represent what is possible in the United States,” he said. “When I came to this country, I started my career as a postdoctoral fellow, and now I’ve risen all the way to a professor and associate head of a department. Once you put your mind to it, you can achieve what you want.”

The Fulbright program is the largest and most diverse international exchange program; recipients are carefully selected on the basis of their leadership and contributions to society under the supervision of a 12-member presidentially appointed board.

Alumni of the program include 60 Nobel Laureates, 86 Pulitzer Prize winners, 74 MacArthur Fellows, and countless other bright and influential members of society.

Mulenga is both honored and humbled to join their ranks.

“These former recipients have gone into leadership positions, have done amazing things after the Fulbright,” he said. “The people who have gone through this program have benefited. I want to make sure that I take advantage of those opportunities.”

Dr. Ramesh Vemulapalli, Professor and Department Head of VTPB at the CVM, recommended Mulenga for the award and believes that Mulenga will find his place among previous recipients.

“Dr. Mulenga’s scholarly accomplishments are a result of his scientific creativity, tenacity, and hard work,” Vemulapalli said. “He represents the best of American values. We are very proud that he is recognized as a Fulbright Scholar.”

Mulenga’s research will be instrumental in improving cattle health in Brazil and the United States, the two leading beef producers globally. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), global consumption of beef is 14.5 kg per person each year. As developing countries continue to grow economically, global meat consumption is expected to increase.

“Brazil’s cattle industry is huge,” Mulenga said. “Ticks and tick-borne disease are a very big impediment, so they are trying to find solutions. Coming from Texas, it’s a win-win. If I’m successful in this project, the data could be directly applicable here.”

Currently, Mulenga is conducting research to develop a vaccine against cattle fever ticks under Kleberg Foundation support. This builds on his National Institutes of Health-funded research to understand how the Lonestar tick and the blacklegged tick transmit human tick-borne diseases. He believes that insight gained from his Fulbright project in Brazil will also translate to this ongoing study.

The new vein of research Mulenga will undertake in Brazil will investigate a novel way to empirically evaluate antigens for new tick vaccines. Current vaccine development models involve first selecting an antigen, then building a vaccine off of that molecule.

His research in Brazil will be unique in that he will be allowed to work in much closer proximity to these ticks than United States regulations would allow.

“There is a big benefit because, in Brazil, I can directly observe cattle fever parasites,” he said. “My collaborator in Brazil is allowed to work with infected ticks; I’m not allowed. With uninfected or infected ticks, we are restricted to working in a quarantine zone between the border of Texas and Mexico.”

Though Mulenga’s research and work as an ambassador will build off of his previous experiences, he looks forward to combining his strengths in research and communication to act as an academic representative of our country.

“At a scientific meeting, I’m just focused on my research,” he said. “Under this program, I also have to communicate the values that allowed me to come to this country and become a member of this society, do my work, and be able to get this award.”

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For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216

CVM Researcher Recognized on National List of Inspiring Black Scientists

Story by Megan Myers

Dr. Yava Jones-Hall
Dr. Yava Jones-Hall

Dr. Yava Jones-Hall, an associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology (VTPB) at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), is leading in the field of veterinary medicine as the only veterinarian selected for CrossTalk’s list of 100 inspiring black scientists in America.

CrossTalk is the official blog of Cell Press, a leading publisher of more than 50 scientific journals across the life, physical, earth, and health sciences.

“We are very happy to see one of our high-caliber faculty members being recognized for their outstanding work,” said Dr. Carol A. Fierke, Texas A&M University provost and executive vice president.

Jones-Hall is joined on the list by scientists from African, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latinx, and African-American backgrounds ranging from assistant professors to department heads at universities across the country.

“It was surprising and amazing to be selected, especially being a veterinarian,” Jones-Hall said. “It was nice to see veterinary medicine represented.”

The list of inspiring black scientists was created to encourage current and future generations of scientists and emphasize the importance of diversity in science. CrossTalk clarified that while there are many more than 100 black scientists in the U.S. deserving of recognition, the list was created to provide an example of the impact black scientists can have on America.

“Diversity drives excellence in everything that we do as a team, including biomedical education and research,” said Dr. Ramesh Vemulapalli, VTPB department head. “We are very proud to have Dr. Jones-Hall on our faculty. She is a great role model to minority students aspiring to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.”

“I definitely see diversity in veterinary medicine as an important concept,” Jones-Hall said. “The reality is, the world is not homogeneous. We need our students to be exposed to working with different types of people to have cultural sensitivity and understand that not everybody is like you. Also, once you have diversity within any program, you get diverse ideas.”

While earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree at the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, Jones-Hall was introduced to the field of pathology—the study of the causes and effects of disease—and once she saw how seamlessly pathology combines with collaborative research, she was hooked.

“As a veterinary pathologist, I’m trained to understand disease in any organ in a multitude of species,” Jones-Hall said. “Whatever field of research an investigator’s in, I help them figure out how best a pathologist can tease out the data for them to see what’s happening and how best to frame the research.”

Considering herself a “veterinary detective,” Jones-Hall helps researchers look at clues in cells and body tissues to find the best way for the research to progress. Working on a variety of research topics, and never knowing what will come through the door next, are what make the field of pathology so appealing to her.

Jones-Hall joined the CVM from the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine last August and, as the Director of the CVM’s Histology Laboratory, began the project of creating a digital pathology program to increase the efficiency and accuracy of one of a pathologist’s typical jobs—analyzing slides of cells to count those of the same kind.

“Traditionally, pathologists would look at the slide under the microscope and give a subjective assessment of disease,” Jones-Hall said. “Digital pathology augments traditional pathology by allowing the pathologist to use computer-generated algorithms to assess disease. This gives objective, quantifiable, and repeatable results.

“Whereas it would take me weeks to look at hundreds of slides, I scan the slides to make a digital image and direct a computer program to find the cells of interest or disease state,” she said. “Hundreds of slides can now be analyzed in hours instead of weeks.”

Outside of the lab, Jones-Hall donates much of her spare time to volunteering for community outreach efforts and taking any opportunity she can to promote STEM careers, and specifically veterinary medicine, to disadvantaged youth.

She is also a member of Texas A&M’s STRIDE (Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence) Committee, leading workshops for faculty members involved in faculty recruitment.

“Diversity is important, in general, and it’s important to me, so I’m willing to do more in order to improve the climate and increase everyone’s awareness” she said.

Jones-Hall hopes that her recognition from CrossTalk can inspire others to spend their careers thinking not only of themselves, but also those who may not have had the same advantages.

“The CVM is extremely proud of Dr. Jones-Hall for her accomplishments as an individual and as the only veterinarian to appear on the list of 100 inspiring black scientists,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University (TAMU). “The work she does within and outside of the university will undoubtedly make a huge impact, both for the college and within the community, as she demonstrates the possibilities for budding scientists from all backgrounds.”

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For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216

Adams Presents on Global Animal Health Research at National Academy of Sciences Meeting

Dr. Garry Adams, a senior professor in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Department of Veterinary Pathobiology (VTPB) and a faculty fellow at Texas AgriLife Research, presented an invited breakout paper as a guest speaker to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) at their 155th NAS meeting in Washington, D.C., where he spoke to members on “Global Animal Health Research: A Perspective on Science Breakthroughs 2030.”

Dr. Garry AdamsThe NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership in the NAS for outstanding contributions to research. The NAS is committed to furthering science in America.

His talk in the NAS breakout session entitled “Can Agriculture Adapt?” focused on promising breakthroughs for the use of systems biology, microbiome enhancement of animal production systems, application of predictive biology, and vaccinology for improving global animal health in 2030.

Adams is passionate about the discovery and implementation of innovative solutions that minimize inputs and reduce environmental degradation, while maximizing yields of crops and animal food resources.

“Most Americans are accustomed to abundant food and low prices, but they don’t realize that the United States is not necessarily prepared for the agricultural challenges we will likely face in the next 20 to 30 years,” Adams said. “We are wasting an unprecedented amount of food, and at the same time, yields are expected to decline due to water loss in our top soil, extreme weather events, animal and crop diseases, and pest infestations. We need to take action and be innovative to help agriculture adapt.”

Also presenting on the panel were Edward S. Buckler, research geneticist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Janet K. Jansson, chief scientist for biology and a laboratory fellow at Pacific Northwest Medical Laboratory.

Adams was recently recognized as an “Outstanding Alumnus” in the CVM for his commitment, service, and leadership in the veterinary and biomedical sciences fields, as well as to his community. See more about his award at http://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/press-releases/cvm-alumni-recognized-for-contributions-to-fields-communities.

CVM Alumni Recognized for Contributions to Fields, Communities

The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) recognized five 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 27 at Bryan’s Miramont Country Club, honored 2018 Outstanding Alumni Award winners Dr. L. Garry Adams, Dr. Claire Buchanan Andreasen, Dr. Scott Echols, and Dr. Robert Clay Stubbs, as well as Rising Star Award winner Dr. Mary Anne Wegenhoft White.

“These alumni are ambassadors for the CVM, and we are proud of their commitment to service, education, and leadership,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King dean of veterinary medicine. “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.”

Outstanding Alumni

Dr. L. Garry Adams ’64

AdamsDr. Garry Adams’ career has centered around Texas A&M, but the implications of his work have been felt around the world.

A senior professor in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ Department of Veterinary Pathobiology (VTPB) and a faculty fellow at Texas AgriLife Research, Adams earned his bachelor’s and DVM degrees at Texas A&M before completing a National Institutes of Health post-doctoral fellowship at the CVM while he obtained his Ph.D. in anatomic pathology.

Joining the Texas A&M faculty in 1968, Adams has devoted his career to researching animal diseases from the molecular and genetic perspective, with an emphasis on diagnostics and the immunological response. His work has led to more than 260 authored or co-authored original scientific publications in refereed journals on infectious diseases such as salmonellosis, brucellosis, Johne’s Disease, Rift Valley Fever, and African Swine Fever.

His research also has led him to Colombia, where he directed Rockefeller Foundation- and United States Agency for International Development-sponsored teams in working to develop diagnostic assays and vaccines for anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and trypanosomiasis.

His research teams’ results have been implemented to improve the scientific basis of the two largest U.S. animal health regulatory problems—brucellosis and tuberculosis—and he has been very active in leading the development and implementation of biodefense and emerging disease research initiatives.

“Garry is a kind-hearted, easy-going, unpretentious gentleman whose unassuming demeanor belies his 60-plus page curriculum vitae. He has done research in Mexico, South America, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom, but managed to find his way home to College Station and TAMU,” one nominator said.

“He epitomizes what is best about the veterinary profession,” the nominator continued. “His efforts in the research laboratory allow those of us in practice to better prevent and treat disease when those preventative measures were not used. This is no small contribution.”

A devoted servant-leader to his family, church, community, and the veterinary profession, Adams’ passion for research has led him to offer his expertise on national research committees and councils, as well as in training students, serving as a committee advisor for more than 130 Texas A&M graduate and Ph.D. students.

“Dr. Adams’ positive and unselfish personal attributes continue to have a lasting impact on all who have had the privilege to know and work with him,” another nominator said. “Garry is a wonderful example of what a veterinarian should be and what makes veterinary medicine such a noble profession.”

A Diplomate of the American College Veterinary Pathologists (Anatomic), Adams has been recognized with a variety accolades from Texas A&M, the NIH, the USDA, the Academia Veterinaria Mexicana, and the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. He was recently honored with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Lifetime Excellence in Research Award and its AVMA award, the highest bestowed upon a member.

Adams and his wife, Gerry Jane, have been married since 1965; they have two children, Alison Paige, an Aggie veterinarian, and Thaddeus Hunter, who earned his Ph.D. in nutrition from Texas A&M.

Dr. Claire Buchanan Andreasen ’82

AndreasenThroughout Dr. Claire Buchanan Andreasen’s meteoric career in academia, she has made a tremendous impact on the veterinary profession.

A Texas A&M graduate with two bachelor’s degrees and a DVM, Andreasen practiced veterinary medicine for three years before returning to school, this time at the University of Georgia, to complete her pathology residency and Ph.D. In 1994, she became board certified as a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.

Andreasen’s journey to her current position as a professor and director of One Health at the Iowa State University (ISU) College of Veterinary Medicine started at Oregon State University, where she was a faculty member. In 1996, she joined ISU, and over the course of 20 years, she served in positions advocating for faculty advancement and diversity, as a department chair, and as associate dean for academic and student affairs.

During her time as an administrator, Andreasen continued to focus on research, publishing numerous articles, abstracts, and book chapters on comparative cell function in infectious disease and emerging and zoonotic disease education.

“In her current role, she serves and supports ISU’s One Health program as they work to achieve optimal health for humans, animals, and the environment across multiple disciplines,” a nominator said. “Dr. Andreasen’s unique background in food security and public health, along with her expertise in pathology, make her the ideal director for this important program, as we, as a global community, work to combat zoonotic and infectious diseases, as well as safe animal-sourced food products.”

Her work also has allowed her to improve the intersections of animal and human health through collaborations with the ISU CVM’s Center for Food Security and Public Health, the Kansas State Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, and the Texas A&M Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases, with funding from the Department of Homeland Security and the USDA in the areas of emerging and transboundary animal disease education, pathology, and secure food continuity during disease outbreaks.

“Dr. Andreasen is making a tremendous impact in the critical areas of disease prevention and the maintenance of secure and safe animal food products,” another nominator said. “She has impressed upon her colleagues the importance of animal health and the important role of veterinarians to the international animal community through her leadership roles in veterinary medicine, research, and development.”

A former president of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology, Andreasen has been recognized with the SmithKline Beecham (Pfizer) Award for Research Excellence, the Student Chapter of the American Medical Association’s Clinical Science Teaching Award, and ISU’s Foundation Outstanding Achievement Award in Developmental Leadership.

“Dr. Andreasen is inspirational, inclusive, nationally recognized, and a leader in pathology and education within the profession,” a nominator said. “She is a wonderful mentor, role model, and colleague.”

Dr. Scott Echols ’95

EcholsDr. Scott Echols’ innovative approach to imaging has professionals in both veterinary and human medicine taking a second look at what is known about the body.

A 1993 and 1995 Texas A&M graduate, Echols’ passion for avian medicine took flight as an associate at a private practice in Oakley, California, where he completed a residency and was certified as a diplomate in avian practice.

The evolution of that passion has led Echols to open a number of businesses, including an avian mobile service that provides phone and email consultation and traveling surgical services in the U.S. and abroad, and Avian Studios, which provides video production services to create educational media in Salt Lake City, Utah.

But it is his latest venture—the product he developed as founder, CEO, and president of Scarlet Imaging—that is revolutionizing thoughts on imaging in both human and veterinary medicine, as well as in the anatomy of all species.

That product, BriteVu®, is an easy-to-use, high radiodensity intravascular contrast agent that penetrates to the capillary level. Better still, BriteVu® is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

Echols also is working on several other projects, including one that is pressing the veterinary profession to better understand and utilize advanced imaging like CT and MRI; another includes developing new techniques for nerve staining that will allow for a better understanding of nerve and brain injuries; and yet another to develop a means to measure bone density through a radiograph, which is critically needed in human and animal medicine.

To be forward-thinking isn’t enough for Echols; over the years, he has developed a strong desire to share his passion for the veterinary profession via collaboration and volunteering his services, all to improve the care of veterinary patients.

An internationally known speaker, he has been invited to Australia, Europe, South America and Asia to speak on avian medicine and imaging technology, and Echols is currently collaborating with numerous universities and entities across the globe, including NASA and the U.S. military, to share his expertise, products, and services.

His latest research is the Grey Parrot Anatomy Project, a collaboration between the University of Utah’s departments of bioengineering, biology, and its Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute, along with more than 20 other institutions around the world.

“A singular, distinguishing feature of Dr. Echols’ career, and contributions to our profession and the scientific world as a whole, has been his selflessness, honesty, and openness to collaboration,” a nominator said. “These characteristics are special, unique, and embody the goodness of what I hope we all can aspire to as professionals, scientists, and health care professionals.”

Among his accolades, Echols has been honored with the TJ Lafeber Avian Practitioner of the Year Award, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association’s 2007 Non-Traditional Species Practitioner of the Year award, and last year, he was a finalist for the prestigious international Wellcome Images Award 2017, which recognizes images that communicate significant aspects of healthcare and biomedical science.

When he’s not working, his interests include playing guitar, artwork, and just about any outdoor activity.

Dr. Robert Clay Stubbs ’65 (Posthumous)

StubbsIt is said that necessity is the mother of invention.

It was both necessity and a determination to improve equine dentistry that led Dr. Robert Clay Stubbs to create tools and techniques that would revolutionize his field.

Stubbs attended Tarleton State University before transferring to Texas A&M.

After graduating in 1965, Stubbs served for four years in the United States Air Force and then began what would become a lifelong career as a veterinarian. He worked in Austin and Coleman, Texas, before building his first private practice in Burnet and, later, practices in Blanco and Johnson City, where he and his family settled.

At age 50, Stubbs followed his dream to establish a mobile equine practice; to do so, he had to tackle the obstacle of taking a one-man operation on the road. His first invention—a stock trailer that would allow him to travel to his patients—was followed by many others, including six U.S. patents for equine dental tools that are now used by veterinarians across the country.

“Years ago, when equine dentistry was the stepchild of veterinary medicine, Dr. Stubbs was looking for a ‘better way’ to bring dentistry from the back of the barn, where a strong back and a weak mind were considered the equine dental professional trademark,” one nominator said. “Clay, through trial and error, patience, and common sense invented a dental system that today is considered to be unmatched in the industry.”

In addition to pioneering modern equine dental procedures and selling more than 65 of the mobile and stationary equine stocks he created, Stubbs’ contribution to the equine medical field includes creating a protocol for the safe sedation and reversal of an equine patient, performing USDA-approved clinical vaccine studies for six years, and giving many educational presentations and live demonstrations to both horse trainers and owners.

Highlighting his dedication to the profession, Stubbs also taught his theory and the use of dental equipment and techniques to veterinarians across the country and was well-respected by his clients all over the state.

His expertise led him to testify before the Texas Legislature on equine dentistry issues, and in 2010, he was named Equine Practitioner of the Year by the Texas Veterinary Medical Association.

“What he has done for equine dentistry is truly remarkable. He really changed equine dentistry with the instruments and the methodology he has created,” said another nominator. “He certainly has made the lives of horses better through his own work and the work of many who have followed his methods.”

Stubbs passed away on Nov. 25, 2016, at the age of 74. He is survived by his wife Linette; his daughter, Jacqueline Dana Lewis; his son, Evan; and five grandchildren.

Outside of his veterinary work, he loved spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, creating bronze sculptures of western art, dancing, writing poetry, building things in his shop, and he always enjoyed a good laugh or a funny story.

Rising Star Award

Dr. Mary Anne Wegenhoft White ’09

WhiteWhen Dr. Mary Anne Wegenhoft White joined the Texas Veterinary Medical Association as the class of 2009’s representative during her first year as a veterinary student, it was the beginning of what would become a more than 10-year commitment to service that would span beyond the TVMA and into her community.

White’s remarkable service to the TVMA during her student years, including two additional terms as a student delegate, led her to develop a stellar reputation within the organization for her ability to handle the complexities of TVMA governance, her passion for assisting staff with events, and her ability to handle issues facing the TVMA.

Following her graduation in 2009, White accepted a position at private practice in San Angelo, where she now serves as the managing veterinarian. She also serves as a rotating emergency medicine veterinarian with the Concho Valley Veterinary Emergency Association.

“It didn’t take long for Dr. White’s reputation to grow as an excellent practitioner and community leader,” a nominator said. “Dr. White has a great passion and compassion for the care of her feline patients. She is currently on the quest to establish her clinic as an American Association of Feline Practitioners-recognized Cat Friendly Practice. This is not an easy task, to train all technicians and veterinarians in cat-friendly restraint techniques. It takes a very determined individual to accomplish this feat.”

Her professional endeavors, however, have not slowed her commitment to service, both within the TVMA—where she has played an integral role in the organization’s Strategic Planning Committee, on the board of directors as a Permian Basin District representative, and on its membership committee, which she chaired for three years—and in her community—where she has served as secretary for the Sierra Vista United Methodist Church Board of Trustees and as a member of the church’s 2017 Visioning Team, as well as chairing two subcommittees as a member of the City of San Angelo’s Animal Shelter Advisory Committee.

“Dr. White has only been a practitioner for eight and a half years and her level of service has been extraordinary for a young practitioner,” the nominator said. “While out of veterinary school for less than five years, TVMA was comfortable handing her one of its biggest challenges—and Dr. White has been more than up for the test. Her career accomplishments will serve as a beckon for younger practitioners and guide them on their path toward leadership.”

Her selflessness, humility, and thoughtfulness have earned her many accolades, including the Buck Weirus Spirit Award, presented by Texas A&M’s Association of Former Students; the Gamma Sigma Delta Outstanding Graduating Senior Award for Animal Science; and the Memorial Student Center Harold W. Gaines Award for Distinguished Service.

“She is also one of the brightest individuals that I know,” another nominator said. “To me, Dr. White is more a constant star, giving guidance quietly but consistently. Dr. White is not a star that will rise, burnout, and fade. Because of her deep personal convictions, strength of character, and desire to constantly improve and grow, she is someone who will continue to build up those around her and lead our profession and her community.”

To view photos from the event, visit: tx.ag/2018OARSPhotos.

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For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Megan Palsa, Executive Director of Communications, Media & Public Relations, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; mpalsa@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216; 979-421-3121 (cell)

A Treasure Trove of Research: The Tambopata Macaw Project

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Scarlet macaws use an artificial nest box designed by the research team. (Credit: Liz Villanueva Paipay)

Deep in the Peruvian rainforest, 20 kilometers from the nearest road, stands the headquarters of the Tambopata Macaw Project, a combination ecotourism lodge and scientific research station. Waking up well before sunrise, teams of dedicated parrot researchers make daily trips into the jungle, braving intense humidity, thick forests, and unpredictable rivers to observe macaws in their native habitat. They climb up 150-foot trees; spend hours counting birds at clay licks; and carefully gather, measure, and return chicks to nests—while keeping a close eye on the birds’ movements through the rainforest canopy.

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These adventures are all in a day’s work at the Tambopata Macaw Project, where an ever-changing crew of scientists, graduate students, foreign volunteers, and Peruvian employees work under the leadership of Dr. Donald Brightsmith, assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM).

Since Brightsmith took over as director in 1999, the group has collected years of data on macaws. “I’ve had researchers recording data every single day since November 2000,” he said. It’s a treasure trove of research that Brightsmith hopes will fill in the knowledge gaps about macaw conservation and ecology.

From Long Island to the Amazon

The Brightsmith family (Gaby, Mandy Lu, and Don) celebrate Christmas 2014 at Tambopata. (Credit: Tambopata Macaw Project)

Brightsmith grew up on Long Island, New York, just outside New York City. Despite his urban roots, he has been a lifelong naturalist and bird watcher, “much to the joy of my classmates, who would pick on me for it all the way through graduate school,” he observed humorously. That early love of birds propelled him through academia, from his bachelor’s degree in natural resources at Cornell University, to his master’s degree in wildlife ecology at the University of Arizona, to his doctorate in zoology at Duke University.

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During these years, Brightsmith’s passion for birds focused on a growing interest in parrots. A trip to Costa Rica in graduate school sparked his fascination with tropical birds, and his first wife introduced him “to the world of crazy parrot owners,” he said. But Brightsmith credits a single book—Beissinger and Snyder’s New World Parrots in Crisis (1992)—for opening his eyes to the plight of tropical parrots. “It pointed out that we don’t know much about parrots in the wild,” he said. “They’re having serious problems. They’re highly valuable both as a tourism resource and a captive resource. Yet, especially in the early ’90s, we knew almost nothing about where parrots breed, what they eat, or what habitats they use in the wild. It was an incredible disconnect.”

Around the time he was finishing up his doctoral research in zoology at Duke, Brightsmith was introduced to the Tambopata Macaw Project. Established in 1989, the project had briefly earned international recognition for its work on parrot clay licks and macaw nesting, but since the early 1990s had been languishing. Brightsmith said he saw a golden opportunity to revitalize the project and “make a difference by looking at this group of birds that are hard to work with.” In 1998, he flew to Peru and met with the project leaders. “I convinced them that if they gave me a small amount of money, I wouldn’t be a full-time employee, but I would start to run this research as a scientific endeavor again,” Brightsmith said. His pitch was successful, and the Tambopata Macaw Project was reborn under his enthusiastic leadership.

A marriage of ecotourism and research

The project began in 1989 when Peruvian researchers and entrepreneurs, Eduardo Nycander and Kurt Holle, founded both Rainforest Expeditions, a for-profit ecotourism company, and the Tambopata Macaw Project. From the beginning, Rainforest Expeditions owned and operated the remote lodge that served as both a research base and a tourist destination. “From the beginning, it was always a mixture of tourism and research,” Brightsmith explained. “They wanted the two to feed off of each other.”

So far, the venture has been uniquely successful and financially sustainable. Rainforest Expeditions provides lodging, food, and utilities, charging the macaw researchers a reduced fee. Foreign volunteers pay higher daily fees, and the difference goes toward paying wages and lodging for Peruvian workers. In exchange, every group of tourists at the ecolodge receives a scientific presentation from the researchers about current research and threats to macaws.

The marriage of ecotourism and conservation research is not only a boost to the Peruvian economy, but also one of the main reasons the Tambopata Macaw Project has been able to carry on so successfully for decades. Brightsmith estimated that Rainforest Expeditions provides over $30,000 in project funding every year. “It’s not a completely sustainable system right now, but all it requires is a few thousand dollars of extra financing, which is much cheaper than a full research lab,” Brightsmith said. “This is one of the reasons why the project is still going after 20 years.”

The Schubot connection

Of course, the data they collect still requires a laboratory and experts to analyze it. That’s where Texas A&M’s Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center comes into play. Brightsmith was recruited to Texas A&M by Schubot Center Director and Distinguished Professor Dr. Ian Tizard in 2005. After some initial research collaborations with Brightsmith, Tizard visited the Tambopata Center and offered Brightsmith a job as a lecturer at the CVM.

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For Brightsmith, the Schubot Center was an irresistible draw, and the relationship has paid off. “The Schubot Center provides the platform for my work,” he said. “Over the years, they have provided financial assistance and a community of scholars. Because the center exists and it’s endowed, it will always attract a group of people interested in bird research, even those who don’t know that they’re interested in bird research.”

Brightsmith credits Tizard with making the Schubot Center a vibrant hub for avian research, always bringing new scientists from different disciplines into the fold. “If he needs a microbiologist, he finds a microbiologist who knows what a bird is,” Brightsmith said. “Right now we’re working with a geneticist who works on conifer trees, but all of these people are now working on bird-related issues because the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center exists. I am within that milieu, and it provides a community of people interested in exotic bird issues.”

Current research

Groundbreaking studies about macaws using clay licks to gather essential minerals put Tambopata on the map in the 1990s, and that research continues today. Brightsmith’s team has also published papers explaining their success using artificial nest boxes to increase breeding success. However, over time, the Tambopata project’s main focuses have shifted to new questions.

A scarlet macaw is weighed in February 2016. (Credit: Liz Villanueva Paipay)

Right now, Brightsmith’s main interest is the macaws’ movements and how they change in relation to seasonal events. Researchers use lightweight collars to track the movements of individual birds. Brightsmith said he is concerned about the macaws’ most recent breeding season, which was off to a late and slow start. He speculates that the El Niño weather patterns and the resulting low food supply might have something to do with it. To sort out the irregularities and what they might mean for the future of the species, he hopes to compare data from the past several years.

“At this point, we’ll be able to reflect back and see what happens when you have this odd change in plant resources and how that impacts [macaw movements and breeding],” explained Brightsmith. “Understanding what happens in an El Niño year may give us a better view into the future of what happens as larger-scale climate change alters the plants and their fruiting and flowering.”

 

 

Similarly, a shift in movement from one clay lick to another has piqued Brightsmith’s curiosity about the future. “We don’t understand how climate change and clay lick use are rippling through the environment and changing things. We need to look more carefully at these climate-related issues—the annual variations and how they correlate with the environment—which will give us a better ability to predict global change ideas.”

Brightsmith’s wife, Gabriela Vigo Trauco, Peruvian ecologist, Tambopata project coordinator, and current Ph.D. student in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M, is “studying scarlet macaw breeding systems using a combination of ecology, animal behavior, and genetic analysis.” The Tambopata location is perfect for her research because that species is not yet endangered in the Peruvian Amazon. “There we can study things that you cannot study in areas in which the species is endangered,” Vigo Trauco explained. “So, that’s the way I want to lead my research.”

CVM students are also using Tambopata as a site for fieldwork and graduate research. Every year, Brightsmith and Dr. Sharman Hoppes, clinical associate professor at the CVM, take two to four veterinary students on a study abroad experience at the station. Students from around Texas A&M’s campus spend time in Tambopata as both volunteers and doctoral researchers.

Hope for the future

Gaby Vigo Trauco shows daughter Mandy Lu how to handle a macaw chick. (Credit: Liz Villanueva Paipay)

These days, Brightsmith and Vigo Trauco make it to Tambopata only twice a year. It’s not as much as they’d like, but their life in College Station keeps them busy. Brightsmith is a full-time assistant professor and admits that he spends most of his time behind a computer, analyzing and writing up data collected from years of research. “Right now, if you told me I could never take another data point on a macaw, I probably could finish out my career publishing on the amount of information we have,” he joked. “We’re currently publishing some of the important relationships between breeding and clay lick use and food and movement. It’s building a jigsaw puzzle where the first thing you have to do is build each piece. We’re building the pieces and fitting them together as we go.”

Vigo Trauco is immersed in reviewing video data from macaw nests. “We have collected over 30,000 hours of video in the past six years,” she said. Additionally, she is restarting her genetic research; a 10-year ban on exporting genetic materials out of Peru was lifted this year, allowing her to move forward with her projects.

Most of all, the couple is devoted to raising their daughter, four-year-old Amanda Lucille, or “Mandy Lu.” For the Brightsmith family, the Tambopata Macaw Project is now a family affair. Brightsmith and Vigo Trauco met on the project, and now they bring their daughter to share in their love of the rainforest and its vibrant inhabitants. Mandy Lu—”our little rainforest monster,” as Brightsmith affectionately calls her—seems to share her parents’ enthusiasm for the Amazon. “Maybe it’s because we like it, and she sees that we’re super happy in the rainforest,” Vigo Trauco speculated. “Maybe she is connecting happiness with being in the jungle.”

Either way, sharing her beloved rainforest with Mandy Lu has shifted Vigo Trauco’s long-term goals for the Tambopata Macaw Project. She envisions the Tambopata project as an opportunity to get Peruvian students interested and involved in conserving their country’s unique natural resources. “I think it would be nice to involve young people—young adults, in high school or their first years of college—and try to put that seed in their brains that conservation can actually help and actually can happen and be fun,” she said.

Brightsmith is also enthusiastic about the opportunities to teach conservation values to people in Peru and around the world. “We’ve had thousands of tourists who have gone through our talks and seen the site and the birds and really gotten a feel for what the real rainforest is like,” he said. He’s also seen changes in local attitudes. “The project has played into this shift in mindset,” he explained. “While some locals use the money they make from ecotourism to buy bigger chainsaws, there is the development of a mindset that has led this community to be much more deliberate in their planning as to how they’re going to use their natural resources.” Both Brightsmith and Vigo Trauco look to the younger generation of Peruvians and conservationists—hopefully some from the CVM—to build a brighter future for macaws and the rainforest.

If you want to visit the site as a tourist or guest, check out
Rainforest Expeditions at www.perunature.com.

Dr. Sharman Hoppes: Avian Veterinarian in the Jungle

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Dr. Sharman and her husband, Dr. Bruce Nixon

Since teaming up with Brightsmith in 2008, Sharman Hoppes, DVM, ABVP, and clinical associate professor at the CVM, has been flying south for the winter, straight to the Tambopata Macaw Project.

For two to three weeks, Hoppes trades in her exotic animal clinical duties at the Small Animal Hospital for a small, rustic Amazonian research facility with minimal electricity and no air conditioning. There, she runs the veterinary side of the operation, training students and making sure everybody’s projects stay on track.

Hoppes’ main concern is animal welfare. Working with wild birds unused to human handling adds a layer of complexity to her research. “I’m always very aware that we don’t want to over-stress a bird that we are handling, making it weak or tired and making it a greater risk from predators,” she explained.

Most of the work they do is with the chicks, taking them out of the nest for measurements and sampling. Hoppes states that “they become more used to the handling over time, but even with the chicks, you have to be prepared and monitor how long you have them out.”

When they are trapping adult birds, Hoppes trains her team to work with assembly-line efficiency. Her goal is to minimize contact with the birds, aiming for 10–11 minutes from capture to release. Her team practices their roles in advance using bundled-up towels. “The most important thing is that we’re really prepared and make sure that we have everything within hand’s reach, everything ready to go,” Hoppes said. “Everybody knows their part, and we all know that when we get to this time period, even if we’re not done, we let the bird go.”

Veterinary work in a hot, humid jungle can be challenging, but this self-professed “city girl” revels in it. “This project changed my life,” she said. “I love it there!”

International Programs at the CVM

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Students studying abroad in Costa Rica (Photo by Dr. Don Brightsmith)

Destiny Mullens’ favorite question to ask during her international experience in Europe was, “How many languages do you speak?” She discovered that most people with whom she talked spoke three languages, although one person spoke seven. Mullens, a senior biomedical sciences (BIMS) major, participated in a spring 2015 study abroad program in Germany, where she had both an academic and cultural learning experience.

Mullens is just one of the many students whose trip was made possible by a stipend from the International Programs Advisory Committee (IPAC), housed in and composed of faculty from Texas A&M; University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM).  Mullens’ experience is an example of how globalized the CVM is becoming. Her experience was possible in part due to the work of CVM’s International Programs, the mission of which is to help students and faculty to become global citizens by supporting a variety of activities including research collaborations and study abroad opportunities. Mullens’ experience was also supported by several scholarships, including the Dr. Anne Marie Emshoff ’90, DVM ’94 Scholarship from BIMS.

Over 80 percent of the $85,000 the IPAC provides annually for international opportunities goes to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students at the CVM as travel stipends. Students must apply for IPAC travel stipends to receive funding. They may use IPAC funding for two types of international experiences: faculty-led study abroad programs and independent study abroad programs the students can develop on their own with CVM approval.

However, IPAC’s efforts go beyond helping students study abroad. The committee also helps faculty develop study abroad programs and conduct international research. “It assists with providing funds if you want to establish international research partnerships or develop new study abroad opportunities,” said Dr. Christine Budke, IPAC member and associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS).

International Learning Opportunities for Students

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Students studying in the food safety course at the European Food Safety Authority in Parma, Italy (Photo by Anna Pennacchi)

The CVM faculty members promote international experiences for students because they understand the value of international work. “When students go abroad, they gain culture awareness,” said Dr. Maria “Loles” Esteve-Gassent, assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology (VTPB), who has organized exchange programs between the CVM and Spain. “The world is a big place, both a big and a small place. There is a personal change. Some of the barriers are gone. Students aren’t afraid of new things, of change.”

 

 

“Transformative” was the word Dr. Jeremy Wasser, associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology (VTPP), who leads study abroad trips to Germany, uses to describe students’ international experiences. He said his goal “is to bring these students back utterly changed for good, forever.” Wasser noted the 21st century is increasingly global and students need to be comfortable working with individuals from various cultures and countries.

Dr. Elizabeth Crouch, the assistant dean for undergraduate education at the CVM, said, international experiences add depth to students’ undergraduate careers. Employers want post-graduates that work in teams and function in a world culture.

Of the BIMS students surveyed upon graduation following the 2014–2015 academic year, almost a quarter said they had participated in an international experience. Crouch added, “Every student who comes back says they would do it again.”

Study Abroad Experiences

Students can participate in a variety of experiences through the Study Abroad Programs Office at Texas A&M;, as well as several faculty-led study abroad programs through the CVM.

In one program through the CVM, students travel to Kruger National Park and surrounding areas in South Africa to learn about chemically immobilizing, capturing, and transporting wildlife species. They work with big game, as well as plains game animals, and have the opportunity to interact with many local experts. Dr. James Derr, professor in VTPB and director of this South Africa international experience, said, “Every single day, the students have their hands on animals. For 15 days, we are darting animals, capturing animals, transporting animals, treating animals, and observing animals.” Derr continued, “The students get exposed to African veterinary medicine practices, wildlife conservation, economics, and sometimes the politics of wildlife and wildlife management.”

Veterinary students interested in learning about food safety and public health can participate in a summer short course in Italy. According to Budke, who helps coordinate the course, “The students learn about the European Union’s food safety regulatory system, which allows them to compare and contrast it with the U.S. system.” The students also interact with peers from another country who have unique perspectives and backgrounds.

Similarly, undergraduate students have analogous experiences through an international experience in Costa Rica. During this semester-long experience, students live and study at the Soltis Center. As part of the experience, students live with a host family for three weeks. “They are learning something about Latino culture, learning something about the language, and learning how to communicate as a biomedical professional in Texas,” said Dr. Don Brightsmith, assistant professor in VTPB and the director of the Costa Rica study abroad trip.

Like many study abroad opportunities, the semester in Costa Rica leads students to step outside of their comfort zone. London Dority, a student from the 2014 fall experience, said she got off the plane in Costa Rica and felt “alien in a new place. Everyone spoke only Spanish.” While in Costa Rica, she “overcame a lot of fears.” Dority couldn’t pronounce her name, when translated to Spanish, on the first day at a restaurant, but stayed with a host family for the cultural immersion. The host family welcomed her as one of their own and helped her practice Spanish over cookies and coffee in the afternoons. “The hands-on learning really helped me learn the material,” Dority said.

Spanish is also an integral component to the program in Spain, where students enroll at a local university and transfer the credits back to Texas A&M;, which is coordinated by Esteve-Gassent. The program, which emphasizes public health, is targeted to students who are interested in careers in veterinary medicine, human medicine, and public health. Specifically, the program focuses on how to communicate about global health in a different language. “It’s an immersion program,” Esteve-Gassent said. “The students need to experience what it is like to be in a different country, so they can appreciate at a different level why public health happens differently in different places.” She continued, “Cultures are different, people are different.”

Chinma Onyewuenyi, who is a medical student, participated in Esteve-Gassent’s trip to Spain as an undergraduate student, learned Spanish, and studied public health. Like Dority, she lived with a host family and experienced a cultural immersion. The program pushed Onyewuenyi to become independent. She learned to interact with people despite the language barrier and explore new places. “Just go. Go with a plan, go without a plan,” Onyewuenyi said. She encourages other students to go on an international experience and said, “because in the end, it doesn’t matter where you go or how you get there, but that you went. That’s what will change you.”

Wasser has developed experiences for both veterinary and undergraduate students in Germany. The veterinary students in the first two years of school travel with Dr. Michelle Pine, clinical associate professor in VIBS, to Europe for four weeks in the summer to experience aspects of the veterinary world in Germany and the Netherlands. Wasser leads the semester-long undergraduate experience in Germany, which has predominately BIMS and biomedical engineering students. The undergraduate program is a culturally intensive experience, including a stay with a German host family.

Students receiving IPAC funding write reports about their experiences, which can be seen at the International Programs website at tx.ag/studentreports.

Internationally Diverse Graduate Programs

Students from outside the United States are encouraged to travel to the CVM for educational, research, and cultural opportunities. “While it does not financially support international students, the IPAC helps to facilitate bringing international students to the CVM. It shouldn’t be a one-way street,” Budke said. “While at the CVM these students share their unique perspectives and experiences.” Esteve-Gassent brings veterinary students from Spain to Texas A&M; for clinical rotations and culturally immerses them in American culture, expanding their views.

Dr. Linda Logan, director of International Programs since 2010 and professor in VTPB, said she is interested in “diversifying our graduate program with international students.” As of the fall 2015 semester, there were 315 international students in the veterinary and graduate programs. These students represent 26 countries, including Colombia, Germany, Iraq, Nigeria, and Japan.

Esteve-Gassent encourages graduate students to research and collaborate at the CVM. She encourages students to determine what techniques they know. Then the students can identify techniques they want to learn in a collaborative experience. Currently, the Esteve-Gassent lab has an array of people from China, Egypt, India, and Brazil.

 

 

Faculty Engagement in International Research and
Development

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Biomedical Science students at the University Hospital Bonn in Bonn, Germany (Photo by Dr. Jeremy Wasser)

IPAC also supports faculty collaboration internationally. This includes research and development of new study abroad programs. International collaborative research at the CVM has centered on food security, global health, and the One Health Initiative, among others. Developing these collaborative research interests involves building international teams to obtain funding. For example, the CVM has successfully partnered with universities in Mexico to obtain Conacyt grants for collaborative research projects. The Conacyt program promotes inter-institutional research collaboration between Texas A&M; and Mexican educational institutions. Conacyt projects that faculty members at the CVM are working on include studying the immune response of an endangered species of fish and improving immune responses to brucellosis.

According to Esteve-Gassent, international collaborations aren’t “something that you plan.” She explained they develop by going to meetings and talking with people. Budke said these collaborations provide unique perspectives and problem-solving approaches “that help us tackle research questions in ways that may not be evident from a single cultural viewpoint.”

Many faculty at the CVM have international collaborations. These faculty members can act as resources to consult about funding possibilities. They also provide guidance for building new collaborations and developing new study abroad opportunities. When new ideas for collaborative research or teaching opportunities arise, faculty are encouraged. Esteve-Gassent said that with new international experiences, teaching or research, “Yes you can do it, but we may not know how yet.”

UC Davis Honors Logan with a 2016 Alumni Achievement Award

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Dr. Linda Logan, professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology and director of International Programs at the Texas A&M; College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, was recently honored by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine for her outstanding leadership and contributions to the global community through the promotion of veterinary medicine, animal health, and international agriculture. One or more alumni are honored each year for outstanding personal and professional contributions to veterinary science or one of its branches, veterinary practice in any form, or humankind and the advancement of human welfare.

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Dr. Linda Logan
Dr. Linda Logan

UC Davis distributed a press release highlighting Logan’s career, saying:

“Her career is founded on her longstanding interest in tropical diseases of livestock including Trypanosoma congolense infections of calves, rickettsia, Heartwater disease of domestic and wild ruminants, and Cowdria ruminantium.

At an early age she was encouraged to discover and appreciate a vast diversity of cultures, languages, geography, animal populations, and ecologies. With this background she has pursued a lifelong career as a high-impact veterinary biomedical research scientist, an inspiring educator, and a visionary leader of international animal and public health programs. She has organized numerous workshops and exchanges for veterinary educators in the Middle East, Africa, and at Texas A&M University. She has received a number of awards, including the International Veterinary Congress Prize in 2014.

Dr. Logan has held a number of critical leadership positions including: Research Leader at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya; Leader of Animal Health on the National Programs Staff of the Agricultural Research Service of USDA; Texas State Veterinarian; USDA Agricultural Attaché for the East Africa and Middle East; and USDA Senior Agricultural Attaché for all of Africa.

Dr. Logan is viewed as a mentor and collaborator, encouraging her colleagues to work together to find inventive solutions. By establishing alliances and cooperations, she has successfully launched programs to advance animal and human health, and been a major supporter of veterinarians in the developing world.”

The Alumni Achievement Award is the highest honor bestowed by the school. Honorees may be graduates of the school’s DVM, MPVM, and graduate academic (M.S., Ph.D.) programs, or individuals who have completed internship or residency programs. The award is presented during the school’s commencement ceremony each May.

Among its more than 5,000 veterinary and academic graduates, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has produced many who have made extraordinary contributions to society. The Texas A&M; College of Veterinary Medicine is pleased to call her one of our own. Congratulations Dr. Logan.

Three Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences Faculty Recognized with University-Level Distinguished Achievement Awards

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M; Association of Former Students (AFS) honored three members of the Texas A&M; College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) faculty with University-Level Distinguished Achievement Awards, one of the highest honors presented by the AFS. Dr. Wesley Bissett, associate professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (VLCS) and director of the Veterinary Emergency Team (VET); Dr. Jeffery M.B. Musser, clinical professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology (VTPB); and Dr. Ashley Saunders, associate professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (VSCS) were announced as this year’s honorees from the CVM.

Recipients are recognized for their efforts in one of several categories: teaching; research; staff; student relations; administration; extension, outreach, continuing education, and professional development; and graduate mentoring.

Bissett earned the award in recognition of his excellence in the extension, outreach, continuing education, and professional development category. Musser and Saunders were awarded based on excellence in the teaching category.

“The CVM is fortunate to have such dedicated faculty whose work plays a critical role in the success of our college,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King dean of veterinary medicine. “This is an exciting honor for Drs. Bissett, Musser, and Saunders. These three leaders contribute to the CVM in a unique and meaningful way and help facilitate a welcoming and productive educational environment.”

Dr. Wesley Bissett

 

Dr. Wesley Bissett
Dr. Wesley Bissett

Bissett earned his DVM in 1997 and his Ph.D. in veterinary microbiology in 2007, both from Texas A&M; University. His primary interests are in veterinary emergency response, environmental health, epidemiology, and public health. As director of the VET, he oversees and leads the VET’s rescue efforts.

“I have never seen anyone more passionate about his work than Wesley Bissett is about the VET,” said Dr. Allen Roussel, department head of VLCS. “Dr. Bissett took the VET from an idea spawned in the wake of Hurricane Rita to the largest, best equipped, and most successful veterinary emergency response team in the USA. Through selfless dedication and endless hours of work, he and his team have assembled an unparalleled emergency response unit that touches the lives of animals and human beings every day. While they have performed incredible service on deployments to areas in need, their greatest contribution to the state and the country is working with county officials to develop local emergency response plans and training future veterinary leaders, who will bring emergency preparedness wherever they go. Witnessing the passion and dedication of Wesley Bissett and the successful outcome of his efforts has been one of the highlights of my career as a department head.”

Dr. Jeffery Musser

 

Dr. Jeffery Musser
Dr. Jeffery Musser

Musser joined the CVM faculty in 2000 and has won several awards at the CVM, including the 2003 Montague Teaching Excellence Award, the 2005 Texas Veterinary Medical Association Research Award, and the 2007 Texas A&M; University International Excellence Award. He has also been nominated twice by the CVM for the Bush Excellence Award for Faculty in International Teaching. With an interest in global veterinary medicine and emerging infectious diseases, Musser has worked diligently to provide opportunities for Texas A&M; students to intern overseas in Zambia, Malawi, Norway, Australia, Ghana, and Ecuador. In addition, he has taught several study abroad courses.

“In veterinary medicine, we are lucky to have so many caring, passionate, and outstanding teachers, making it difficult to single out a few for special recognition,” said Dr. Roger Smith, interim head of VTPB. “Musser’s passion for students is obvious to all who see him in a classroom, laboratory, or any student gathering. His love of students, combined with his creative teaching, makes him truly deserving of this recognition.”

Dr. Ashley Saunders

Saunders has been with the CVM since 2005 as a clinical assistant professor, where she focuses on cardiac issues in small animals, including congenital heart disease and heart failure management. In the Small Animal Cardiology Service,

Dr. Ashley Saunders
Dr. Ashley Saunders

Saunders works closely with veterinary students in the hospital to prepare them for difficult and complex cases. She is also a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (subspecialty cardiology) and has been widely recognized for her teaching, having won several other awards. Her teaching awards include the Bridges Teaching and Service Award in 2011 and the Richard H. Davis Teaching Award in 2010; she was also named a Montague Center for Teaching Excellence Scholar in 2009. Additionally, she is the assistant department head for teaching in VSCS.

“Ashley Saunders is a superstar. She is an outstanding clinician-scientist, who is a truly gifted educator,” said Dr. Jonathan Levine, department head of VSCS. “By fusing her passion for teaching, novel technologies, and scholarship, she is defining veterinary education in the 21st century.”

Each honoree will receive a framed certificate from the AFS along with a $4,000 monetary award in a ceremony scheduled for Monday, April 25 at 1:30 pm in Rudder Theater. The awards, begun in 1955, recognize outstanding members of Texas A&M’s faculty and staff for their commitment, performance, and positive impact on Aggie students, Texas citizens, and the world around them.

64th Annual James Steel Conference on Diseases in Nature Transmissible to Man

The 64th Annual James Steele Conference on Diseases in Nature Transmissible to Man (DIN) was held June 25-27, 2014 in Irving, Texas, and the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) was well represented.

  • Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine, presented the J.V. Irons Keynote Address, “One Health: Human health, animal health, and the intersection of health with natural and man-made environments.”
  • Dr. Sarah Hamer, VIBS, gave an oral presentation titled, “Ticks and Tick-borne pathogens in Texas.”
  • Rachel Curtis, VIBS, gave an oral presentation titled “Chagas disease ecology in Texas.”
  • Dr. Maria Esteve-Gassent, VTPB, gave an oral presentation titled “Implications of climate change on the distribution of the tick vector Ixodes scapularis and risk for Lyme disease.”
  • Dr. Randi Gold, VTPB, gave an oral presentation titled “Amikacin resistance in Staphylococcus
    pseudintermedius
    isolated from dogs.”
  • Thomas Jeffreys, VTPB, gave an oral presentation titled “Diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease in the southern US.”
  • Dr. Glennon Mays, VLCS, gave an oral presentation titled “Confirming brucellosis in an individual feral boar.”
  • Cory Schlesener, VIBS, presented the poster “Hunting Texas sandflies: vectors of Leishmania
    Mexicana”
  • Abha Grover, VTPB, presented the poster “Detection of pathogenic Ehrlichia species in Texas ticks by passive surveillance.”
  • Su Jin Lim, VTPB, presented the poster “Development of a standardized Lyme competitive ELISA test applicable in veterinary diagnostic.”
  • Dr. Charles Scanlan, VTPB, presented three posters: “Bacillus cereus foodborne intoxification,” “Culture survey of porcine dysentery colonic contents for
    Salmonella serovars,” and “Porcine rectal strictures.”
  • Christina Small, VTPB, presented the poster ”
    Borrelia burgdorferi seroprevalence in deer across Travis County, Texas.”

Additionally, many CVM Faculty were co-authors on many other presentations.

The conference was highly informative and attendees included numerous professionals from many disciplines, such as veterinarians, MDs, nurses, sanitarians, animal control officers, wildlife experts, and many others who were affiliated with national, state, or municipal government agencies, the military, academia, private practices, private hospitals, and many other organizations.

Please think about joining us next year as a presenter or attendee; presenters are eligible for reduced or waived conference fees. The conference provides great information, wonderful networking potential, and relatively inexpensive 17 hours of CE credit.

Next year’s DIN will be held on May 20-22 at the San Luis Resort, Spa & Conference Center in Galveston, Texas.