On Friday, July 28th, the Veterinary Medical Scientist Research Training Program (VMSRTP) held its highly anticipated annual Symposium. During this conference, VMSRTP fellows had the opportunity to present the outcomes of their intensive 13-week summer research projects before their colleagues. The program’s primary mission is to introduce first and second-year professional veterinary students to the world of research and research careers, making this conference a significant celebration of their accomplishments.
Among the outstanding students was Alyssa Hartmann, a promising DVM candidate for the class of 2026. Alyssa dedicated her summer to working with the Schubot Center, focusing her research on evaluating the humoral response in cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) to an Avian Bornavirus (ABV) vaccine candidate. Her project sought to determine if either an inactivated virus vaccine or a protein subunits vaccine elicited the desired immune response. Throughout her research journey, she was co-mentored by Dr. Sarah Hamer, the Schubot Center director, and Dr. Caitlin Mencio, Assistant Research Scientist and ABV Schubot research specialist. Assisting Alyssa in her endeavors was Hope Merriam, a dedicated DVM student volunteer.
During her talk titled “Avian Bornavirus Subunit Vaccine Candidate Produces a Robust Humoral Response,” Alyssa elucidated her work with the two vaccine candidates. Through ELISA tests conducted every two weeks from one-week post-vaccination, she made significant observations. The birds vaccinated with the inactivated virus vaccine displayed no antibody production, whereas the subunits vaccine induced antibody production in four out of five birds by week seven. Alyssa’s future plans involve monitoring these birds for the next year to observe the antibody levels over time and assess whether they continue to rise, plateau, or persist.
As Alyssa and the entire cohort of VMSRTP students embark on their journey to Puerto Rico for the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium, they are eager to share their summer research projects with a wider audience. This symposium is an opportunity for these aspiring veterinary researchers to engage with peers, experts, and enthusiasts alike.
We extend our congratulations to Alyssa and Hope for their remarkable achievements and applaud their dedication and hard work.