Volume 17, Number 2 â€¢ Summer 2016
CENTURY OF LEADERSHIP
Dean’s Message In the past 100 years, the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences has experienced the “extraordinary.” I am so grateful to all of you for your hard work and dedication to this college and for your extraordinary greatness. As we come together in 2016, let us celebrate—not simply the incredible journey we have been on—but the prodigious road that lies ahead. From the day the doors opened to today, the leadership of this great college—beginning with Dr. Mark Francis, the first dean— understood how change would occur. We knew it would come through the discovery of new vaccines, the construction of state-ofthe-art buildings, a futuristic curriculum, empowered faculty with the best skills to engage and lead, and a vision of greatness. We have not been content to take life as it comes. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go where there is no path and leave a trail.” We have been plowing new soil, forging new pathways, and taking the lead since 1916. As we look back over the past 100 years, we recognize leaders who did not fear change—fearless is encoded in our genes. We are what some might call “future makers.” As we walk into the future of our imaginations, we open doors, collaborate, build foundations, and ask “Why not?” Moving into the next 100 years, we ask ourselves some of the same questions our founders asked a century ago: “How do we move forward as we look to the future? What will veterinary medicine look like in the next century? Are we meeting the needs of our students and our state?” Although the answers may be different now, there are certainly similarities. We, too, are designing a new curriculum to meet current and future needs, building state-of-the-art comfortable and convenient hospitals, defining and constructing new learning environments to better serve our students, identifying strong partners to reinforce our mission and goals, and designing programs to support health and wellness. In the next 100 years, we will be stronger and more competitive. We will drive innovation, continue to create strong collaborations, and transform our college through determination and excellence in education. We will continue to be engaged and involved in increasing the diversity of ideas, perspectives, and people, and because of our focus we will move forward with our work to improve the health of animals, humans, and the environment. We will continue to draw on each other’s strengths and work to eliminate barriers to learning. We will create welcoming spaces where wellness is the norm and not the exception, and we will continue to make kindness our mission. Through it all, we have and will continue to experience change —change that comes through ordinary people doing extraordinary things—discovering, giving, surviving, and wondering. Much like those who came before us, we face change as a team. We gather data, analyze, process the information, create knowledge, and use the knowledge to innovate and transform our programs, our learning environments, and our technology. As we are called on to do more, we will—and 100 years from now, on our 200th anniversary, let it be said that we did our part, dared to discover, and reached for the stars. Thank you for the part you played in the past 100 years of excellence in education. Enjoy this extraordinary journey.
Eleanor M. Green, DVM, DACVIM, DABVP The Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine 2•
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Contents 24 Biomedical Sciences Spotlight
Eva Koster: Naturally Curious Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh: Making Us Proud The Courage to Follow Your Dreams: Will Jardell
27 Hospital Spotlight
Peggy Hemus: A Loyal Client Since 1972
28 Outreach Spotlight
In the Midst of Disaster Springs Hope
30 One Health Spotlight
Oceans Apart, A World Together: Texas A&M One Health Interdisciplinary Team Visits China
32 International Spotlight
Students from Barcelona Gain Valuable Experience at Texas A&M International Programs at the CVM
38 Student Spotlight
In Their Own Words: DVM Students Students Leading the Way
44 Faculty/Staff Spotlight
A Focused Leader: Dr. Allen Roussel A Ballad of Brain Cells: Dr. Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni A Special Love for Horses: Howard Fisher Dr. Leon Russell, “A Wealth of Information:” 56 Years of Service at the CVM A Family of Veterinarians: The Ruoffs and the CVM Past, Present & Future of the Medical Sciences Library: Q&A with Esther Carrigan
56 Research Spotlight
Two Families, One Path to Autism Research The Reproductive Sciences Lab: An Illustrious Past and a Promising Future Growing with the CVM: Dr. Muneoka’s Pioneering Research in Regeneration Healing through Research: Dr. Brian Saunders and Regenerative Medicine
67 In the Spotlight
74 Leadership Spotlight
Dr. Eleanor Green: Cowgirl, Friend, Leader, and Veterinarian
A Culture of Caring Drs. Bissett and Zoran Lead through Virtual Reality
76 Curriculum Spotlight
Education Renovation: CTE and the CVM Work Together on Curriculum Redesign
78 Alumni Spotlight
Dr. Joseph Coulter ’50: Dedicated to Serving
The First 100 Years: Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Leading in Animal Oncology
Lameness: Milestones & Opportunities in Treating Debilitating Injury in Horses
The Francis Family Comes Back Home
Communicating in Surgery
2 Dean’s Message 4 College Information 5 College Deans From 1916 To Present 6 Timeline of the last 100 years 80 Honor Roll 86 College News 97 Development News 99 Alumni News 102 Facilities Update 104 Mark Francis Fellows 106 In Memorium 107 Continuing Education Schedule Summer 2016 •
College Information College Administration
Dr. Megan Palsa ’08
CVM Today Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences Texas A&M University 4461 TAMU College Station, TX 77843-4461
Managing Editor: Sara Carney ’13
Contributing Writers: Jaleesia Amos ’17 E.E. Carrigan Angela Clendenin ’91 Laura Gerik ’16 Olufemi Oboye ’17 T.D. Peters Dr. Dan Posey ’82 Heather Quiram Callie Rainosek ’17 L.M. Rey Jessica Scarfuto ’14 Dr. Guy Sheppard ’78 Micah J. Waltz ’20 Katelyn Werner ’16 Michelle Yeoman ’13
CVM Today is published by the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences for alumni and friends. We welcome your suggestions, comments, and contributions to content. Contact us via email at email@example.com. A reader survey is available online at: tx.ag/cvmtodaysurvey.
Audrey Bratton ’15
Permission is granted to use all or part of any article published in this magazine, provided no endorsement of a commercial product is stated or implied. Appropriate credit and a tear sheet are requested.
Graphic Designers: VeLisa Bayer Jennie Lamb
Photographers: Tim Stephenson Larry Wadsworth
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences Texas A&M University 4461 TAMU College Station, TX 77843-4461 vetmed.tamu.edu Dean’s Office/Administration 979.845.5051 Admissions Office 979.845.5051 Development and Alumni Relations Office 979.845.9043 Continuing Education Office 979.845.9102 Public Relations Office 979.862.4216 4•
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Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Eleanor M. Green Executive Associate Dean, Professional Programs Dr. Kenita S. Rogers ’86 Associate Dean for Professional Programs Dr. Karen Cornell Associate Dean, Research & Graduate Studies Dr. Robert C. Burghardt Associate Dean, Graduate Studies Dr. C. Jane Welsh Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education & Dept. Head, Veterinary Integrative Biosciences Dr. Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni Assistant Dean, Undergraduate Education Dr. Elizabeth Crouch ’91 Interim Assistant Dean, One Health Dr. Rosina “Tammi” Krecek Assistant Dean, Finance Ms. Belinda Hale ’92 Interim Dept. Head, Veterinary Pathobiology Dr. Roger Smith III ’76 Dept. Head, Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology Dr. Larry J. Suva Dept. Head, Large Animal Clinical Sciences Dr. Allen Roussel Dept. Head, Small Animal Clinical Sciences Dr. Jonathan Levine Assistant Vice President of Development & Alumni Relations (Texas A&M Foundation) Dr. O. J. “Bubba” Woytek ’65 Chief of Staff Ms. Misty Skaggs ’93 Director, Texas Institute for Preclinical Studies Dr. Joe Kornegay ’72 Assistant Dean of Hospital Operation, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital Mark “Bo” Connell Executive Director, Communications, Media, & Public Relations Dr. Megan Palsa ’08
Biomedical Sciences Undergraduate Advising Office 979.845.4941
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences 979.845.9053
Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences 979.845.2828
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences 979.845.9127
Department of Veterinary Pathobiology 979.845.5941 Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology 979.845.7261
Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital Administration 979.845.9026 Small Animal Hospital 979.845.2351 Large Animal Hospital 979.845.3541
College Deans From 1916 To Present 1916 to 1936: Mark Francis, DVM (1887), The Ohio State University Francis’ work helped found the School of Veterinary Medicine at A&M College of Texas in 1916. At the same time, he helped organize veterinary medicine in Texas and became the first president of what would become the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA).
1957 to 1973: Alvin A. Price, DVM (1949), Texas A&M University Alvin A. Price became acting head of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and dean of the A&M College of Texas School of Veterinary Medicine in 1957. Under Price’s deanship from 1957 to 1973, the college became fully accredited.
1936 to 1946: Ross Perry Marsteller, DVM (1905), The Ohio State University In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Marsteller to represent the United States at the Thirteenth International Veterinary Congress in Zurich, Switzerland.
1973 to 1988: George Calvin Shelton, DVM (1948), Texas A&M University A man with students foremost in mind, George Calvin Shelton supervised the College of Veterinary Medicine’s curriculum overhaul. About twelve courses were changed or removed, and about twenty-four new courses were added during his reign.
1947 to 1948: Ralph Clark Dunn, DVM (1911), The Ohio State University Dunn became clinical diagnostician when the School of Veterinary Medicine was established in 1916. He directed Texas’ first successful brucellosis eradication from a herd in 1923.
1988 to 1997: John A. Shadduck, DVM (1963), MSc, PhD, The Ohio State University John A. Shadduck joined the Texas A&M University faculty in 1987. He then helped bring the veterinary college back to “full accreditation,” working to gain enough funding and facilities for the growing college.
1948 to 1953: Ivan Bertrand Boughton, DVM (1916), The Ohio State University Boughton was appointed School of Veterinary Medicine dean in 1948 during a time when university administration was beginning to coordinate teaching, research, and extension programs. He successfully coordinated the trifecta at the School of Veterinary Medicine.
1997 to 1998 (Interim): Robert F. Playter, DVM (1961), Kansas State University Playter’s mission was to keep the CVM moving forward on the path earlier deans had paved. This included seeking funds from the Texas Legislature and ensuring the CVM’s programs kept growing with its faculty and students. Until his retirement in 1999, he was executive associate dean.
1952 to 1953 (Interim): Frederick Putnam Jaggi Jr., DVM (1926), Texas A&M University After graduating from Texas A&M University, Frederick Putnam Jaggi Jr. spent about ten years in private practice. In 1937, he returned to Texas A&M as professor and head of the Department of Veterinary Hygiene in the School of Veterinary Medicine.
1997 to 2009: H. Richard Adams, DVM (1966), Texas A&M University H. Richard Adams published more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and about sixty book chapters. He also edited the seventh and eighth editions of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics and was president of the Shock Society from 1994 to 1995. He served as dean from 1999-2009 and retired in 2010.
1953 to 1957: Willis W. Armistead, DVM (1938), Texas A&M University The first Aggie dean, Armistead was a 1980 and 1991 Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine Outstanding Alumni Award recipient. He also was an honorary diplomate to both the American College of Veterinary Preventative Medicine and the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.
2009 to present: Eleanor M. Green, DVM (1973), Auburn University An American Board of Veterinary Practitioners equine diplomate and diplomate of the ACVIM, Green became the fifth woman dean at an American veterinary college and the first woman dean of the CVM. When admitted to Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, she was one of four women in a class of 100.
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Century C of Service A
1888–1915 In April 1888, the A&M College of Texas received a state appropriation of $2,500 for equipping and operating its Department of Veterinary Science. That same year, the Texas Agricultural Extension Station was established as a division of the college. Dr. Mark Francis was appointed to the faculty, marking the beginning of professional veterinary medicine in Texas. A pioneer in the profession, Francis worked to establish the first veterinary association in Texas. He served as the first president of the organization, which eventually became the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA). His research on Texas Cattle Fever was instrumental in veterinary education becoming popular in the state. The campus saw two buildings constructed for the department in this era: the Chemistry and Veterinary Building in 1902 and the Veterinary Hospital in 1908.
In 1916, the School of Veterinary Medicine officially opened its doors, with Francis serving as the first dean. Thirteen students were enrolled in classes that September. Two years later, Francis Hall was built to house the growing school. The historic building (now in use by the College of Architecture) remains a campus fixture today.
Four men became the first students to receive doctor of veterinary medicine degrees (DVM) from Texas A&M. (The first woman to graduate from the program would not celebrate the achievement until 1966.) In 1929, the student chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) was organized. Students benefitted from the professional development and networking opportunities afforded by this organization— and they still do today.
1960s The 1960s were exciting years for women at Texas A&M. In 1963, women were admitted (on a limited basis) to the DVM professional program, and by 1966 the first woman, Sonja Oliphant-Lee, earned the degree. Also in 1963, a name change occurred: the School of Veterinary Medicine became the College of Veterinary Medicine. Other advances of the era include the opening of the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) and the Clinical Pathology Laboratory. Today, the TVMDL is one of the busiest full-service veterinary diagnostic laboratories in the world. It receives more than 160,000 cases in need of diagnostic assistance each year.
1990s The college grew by leaps and bounds during the 1990s. Dr. John Shadduck was appointed dean in 1990. In the same year, the Reproductive Services Laboratory was expanded. This cuttingedge laboratory uses a combination of embryology and molecular techniques to investigate improved methods for producing genetically modified animals, transgenic strategies for biopharmaceutical production, stem cell models of mammalian developmental defects, and epigenetic programming. It receives partial funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In 1999, the laboratory celebrated a major success: the first cloned calf. In 1993, the Veterinary Research Building and new Large Animal Clinic (now called the Large Animal Hospital) were constructed and the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center was founded. The Stevenson Center is a one-of-a-kind facility that provides for the physical, emotional, and medical needs of companion animals whose owners are no longer able to provide that care. Veterinary students are able to increase their knowledge through caring for these animals. In 1997, Dr. Robert Playter Jr. was appointed as interim dean, and Dr. H. Richard Adams succeeded him as dean the following year.
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2000s This was a decade of significant scientific advancement for the college. The Michael E. DeBakey Institute for Comparative Cardiovascular Science and Biomedical Devices was established in 2001. The institute is dedicated to reducing death and disability from the number one killer of Americans: cardiovascular disease. That same year, the college successfully cloned a pig and a goat. In addition to the calf, this made it the first academic institution in the world to successfully clone three species. They followed up the achievement in 2003 by becoming the first in the world to clone a white-tailed deer. Other notable achievements in cloning at that time include a disease-resistant bull and a cat. The National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Diseases, now the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases, was founded at Texas A&M in 2004, and the College of Veterinary Medicine became the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM). A year later, the college began to offer dual DVM/MBA and DVM/Ph.D. programs. The college welcomed its first female dean, Dr. Eleanor Green, in 2009. Facility improvements during this time include the completion of the Equine Pavilion in 2001. MRI capabilities were added to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.
Century C of Service A
A new teaching hospital and new barns were completed in 1933. Francis served as dean until his death in 1936. He was succeeded by Dr. Ross P. Marsteller, also an influential figure in the early days of the veterinary profession in Texas. Marsteller had been Francis’ assistant and the first head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery.
The program continued to grow, and in 1953, the new Veterinary Medical Hospital was built. Dr. Willis W. Armistead was appointed dean that year. By 1955, the Veterinary Sciences Building opened, and two years later, Dr. Alvin A. Price took the helm as dean. In 1958, the Public Health Department (the precursor of today’s Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences) was formed.
1940s The college had grown significantly. In 1941, enrollment was limited to 100 new students each year to maintain the quality of the program. The decade saw Dr. Ralph C. Dunn appointed dean, followed by Dr. Ivan B. Boughton a year later. In 1949, the Veterinary Library opened.
This decade saw a major shift in the education available at the College of Veterinary Medicine: The biomedical sciences program (BIMS) was established, replacing the bachelor of science in veterinary medicine. This distinctive undergraduate degree in applied biology prepares students for a wide range of professions related to health and disease. (In 2006, BIMS became the largest undergraduate program at Texas A&M.) In 1970, Dr. James L. Courtney was the first African American to earn a DVM from Texas A&M. By 1971, women were granted unrestricted admission to the college. The Institute of Comparative Medicine was founded in 1972. Dr. George C. Shelton was appointed dean in 1973 and served in that capacity until 1990.
The 1980s saw several significant facility enhancements. What is now used as the Small Animal Hospital was built in 1981. The Medical Sciences Library, which serves agriculture, human, and veterinary medical information needs, was completed in 1985. That same year, the Wildlife & Exotic Animal Center opened, including its clinical facilities, laboratories, grazing areas, and reptile pool. This facility is now known as the Winnie Carter Wildlife Center and is instrumental in the education of students who wish to pursue zoo medicine.
2010 to today The current decade has seen several significant facilities improvements, including the completion of the Diagnostic Imaging and Cancer Treatment Center, the Avian Health Complex, and the first phase of the Equine Complex. In 2014, the CVM broke ground on its most exciting facility yet—a $120 million Veterinary & Biomedical Education Complex, which will open later this year. Today, the CVM offers undergraduate degrees, professional DVM, thesis and non-thesis master’s degrees, Ph.D. degrees, internships, and residency programs. Its areas of interest include biomedical genomics, genetics, and bioinformatics; physiology, pharmacology, and cardiovascular sciences; infectious diseases, biodefense, and immunology; neuroscience, anatomy, and functional imaging; reproductive biology, development, and epigenetics; toxicology, environmental health science, and food safety; oncology, cell biology, stem cells, and microscopic imaging; epidemiology and public health; science and technology journalism; and translational and applied clinical research. The college’s current major initiatives include One Health, diversity, international programs, and the Equine Initiative. In 2015, an educational services firm ranked the CVM as the sixth veterinary school in the world and the third in the United States.
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C Texas A&M Campus View in 1917
by L.M. Rey, T.D. Peters, and E.E. Carrigan
The first 100 years :
Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences Before it became Texas A&M University, A&M College of Texas, then an all-male military institution, held veterinary and animal health classes, well before it established its School of Veterinary Medicine, which is today the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM). It wasn’t until Mark Francis—The Ohio State University’s first doctor of veterinary medicine graduate and the father of veterinary medical education in Texas—took the reins in 1888 that veterinary education gained traction in Texas. Francis built a veterinary education program from one room in Old Main while researching tick fever. Twenty years later, a teaching hospital was completed and several buildings served the veterinary department, which was eight years away from becoming a school. Francis’ service to Texas cattlemen, combined with Ross Perry Marsteller’s connections with Texas horsemen, helped establish the School of Veterinary Medicine at A&M College of Texas. The school was established in 1916, the same year the U.S. Army Medical Department established its Veterinary Corps to provide medical care to Army horses and mules. Then, veterinary medicine’s primary focus was equine medicine and herd health—protecting the food supply and ensuring transportation animals were healthy, which also protected the economy. Through the decades, veterinary medicine’s focus shifted toward an emphasis on public health and small animal medicine. When the veterinary school was established, Francis became the first dean. The school began with four departments and six faculty members. In September 1916, 8•
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13 students enrolled, including R.H. Harrison Jr., Joe Hull, Fritz Murray, and H.O. Von Rosenberg, who became the first graduates of the school in 1920. World War I interrupted other students’ studies. Three students from the original class returned to complete their studies later; records for the others are not available. Harrison is the school’s first DVM graduate. While at A&M College, he played football, was the first president of the college’s veterinary club, the first A&M College student to receive the Outstanding Military Student Award, and The Battalion’s business manager. In 1928, he earned his M.D. from Baylor University and later became the A&M College football team physician. He returned his diploma to the college in 1963. Veterinary course curriculum, pre-curriculum requirements, and new student enrollment limits changed through the years. A student veterinary medical association was established at A&M College in 1929. Texas A&M’s Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA) established its Emergency Fund Association in 1975 to assist students in need. Among other benefits, the SCAVMA sponsors speakers and special interest clubs and provides learning opportunities and a voice to veterinary students on topics like government and education. Thanks to Texas A&M student delegates’ hard work and dedication, the CVM is scheduled to host the 2017 SCAVMA National Symposium. After Reveille I appeared on campus in 1931, she became a student favorite. She received free veterinary care at the
C teaching hospital, including her spay procedure. She began a long tradition of mascot veterinary care at A&M College, which continues today. A new teaching hospital and additional barns were completed in 1933; the Department of Civil Engineering now uses this former hospital. Francis served as dean until his death in 1936, when Marsteller, who served as Francis’ assistant, became dean. Marsteller served as dean through our accelerated veterinary education curriculum during World War II, when military veterinarians shifted from primarily caring for horses used as transportation to food inspection and public health. In 1946, Marsteller became dean emeritus and Ralph Clark Dunn became dean. On graduating from The Ohio State University, Dunn came to A&M College of Texas to operate the anti-hog-cholera serum laboratory, which was phased out when commercial production could handle demand. When the veterinary school was established, he taught in the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery under Marsteller. Ivan Bertrand Boughton, also an Ohio State DVM, became dean in 1948 and began to reorganize the school. In 1952, he had a heart attack and stroke, which left him handicapped. Fred P. Jaggi Jr., DVM, Class of ’26, served as interim dean while Boughton recovered from his stroke. Boughton briefly returned to his duties but resigned in 1953. Willis W. Armistead, DVM, Class of ’38, took over after Boughton’s resignation. The third teaching hospital, now between the current Small Animal Hospital and the CVM administration building, was completed that year. Alvin Audius Price, DVM, Class of ’49, who had taught veterinary anatomy at the school since 1949, succeeded Armistead in 1957. Under Price’s leadership, enrollment doubled and research expanded. A&M College became authorized to grant master’s degrees in laboratory animal medicine in 1962, and the federal government provided the
The 1953 teaching hospital
Reveille with a member of the Corps of Cadets Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery 750 acres of what was the Bryan Air Force Base. Fred Maurer, DVM, who served as associate dean for research between 1962 and 1974, established the college’s international reputation in animal health research. In 1963, A&M College of Texas changed to Texas A&M University, and the School of Veterinary Medicine became the College of Veterinary Medicine. The college’s trimester schedule was initiated, and women were allowed to officially enroll at Texas A&M on a limited basis. These women included the first woman to earn a DVM from Texas A&M, Sonja Oliphant-Lee, DVM, who graduated in 1966 and practices in Lubbock. The college was authorized to award Bachelor of Science degrees in veterinary medicine in 1964. Biomedical science (BIMS) was introduced to phase out the Bachelor of Science in veterinary medicine curriculum in 1970. BIMS became the largest undergraduate program at Texas A&M University in 2006; its graduates go into medical, dental, veterinary fields, other health sciences, as well as research related careers. In 1970, James L. Courtney, DVM, was the first African American to earn a DVM from Texas A&M. He went on to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The college’s continuing education program, which reached more than 1,000 veterinary professionals in 2014, was established in 1971. A year later, collaboration between Baylor College of Medicine and the CVM established the Institute of Comparative Medicine. A major focus for the institute was human and animal genetic and molecular research, which kept One Health concepts—the link between human, animal, and environment health—at the forefront. George Calvin Shelton, DVM, Class of ’48, succeeded Price as dean in 1973. Shelton facilitated overhauling the curriculum toward allowing students to study veterinary specialties while still in school.
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C A research team, which included Duane Kraemer, DVM, Ph.D., Class of ’66, collaborated with the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, San Antonio, Texas, to perform the first embryo transplant on a primate—a baboon—in 1975. This innovation paved the way for the Missyplicity Project, which began in 1998 at Texas A&M. The project’s goal was to clone a dog at the College of Veterinary Medicine. In 1999, its research efforts cloned a steer. Then in 2001, a litter of piglets, a disease-resistant bull, and a Boer goat were cloned. CC, a domesticated cat, was cloned in 2002 and was the first pet to be cloned. Then in 2005, the first horse cloned in North America was born at Texas A&M. Dewey the deer, named after Kraemer, was cloned as part of the project in 2003. What is now used as the Small Animal Hospital was built in 1981 adjacent to the 1953 teaching hospital. In 1985, the Wildlife and Exotic Animal Center, including its clinical facilities, laboratories, grazing areas, and reptile pool, opened. Now called the Winnie Carter Wildlife Center, one of its goals was to stop endangered species from becoming extinct. Dewey, the cloned deer, lives at the Winnie Carter Wildlife Center today. Also in 1985, the Medical Sciences Library, which began as the Veterinary Library in 1949 and serves agriculture, human, and veterinary medical information needs, was completed across Raymond Stotzer Parkway from the CVM complex. To meet then American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accreditation standards, a tunnel under the road connected the complex to the library. The Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center was established at the CVM in 1987. Its goal is to improve both wild and captive bird health. A new Avian Health Complex was completed in 2015 and includes a Biosafety Level 2 laboratory for infectious disease research. In its first year, researchers at the complex developed an effective vaccine against avian bornavirus. This virus can lead to proventricular diatation disease (PDD), which has a high death rate.
Edwin W. Ellett and Madlin Stevenson at the groundbreaking for the Stevenson Center 10 •
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Laboratory instruction The Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center opened its doors in 1993. Its most recent expansion occurred in 2013. In 2015, Reveille VIII retired to the center, where she and other animals receive care and attention for the remainder of their lives. In 1997, John A. Shadduck, DVM, who replaced Shelton as dean in 1988, resigned as dean and Robert F. Playter, DVM, served as interim. H. Richard Adams, DVM, Class of ’66, became the first Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M in 1998. Adams supported new and evolving research programs and initiatives. Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Diseases, now the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases, was founded at Texas A&M in 2004 and the College of Veterinary Medicine became the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. A year later, the college began to offer dual DVM/MBA and DVM/Ph.D. programs. The college welcomed its first female dean, Eleanor Green, DVM, in 2009. Before becoming the second Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine, Green broke many professional barriers. As the fifth female dean at any veterinary school, Green continues to impact veterinary medical education, beginning a term as the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges president in fall 2015. Plans for the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) began after Gulf Coast hurricanes made landfall in the mid to late 2000s. VET supports Texas Task Force 1 (TTF1), the largest urban search and rescue team in the United States. VET cares for primarily TTF1’s search and rescue dogs, allowing them to stay in the field longer to find more missing people. The team also cares for wild and domesticated animals affected in disaster areas. Since VET’s official launch in 2010, it deployed to wildfires in Bastrop County in 2011, the 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West, a cold-case search in San Saba, and the 2015 Blanco River
The current Veterinary Medical Administration (VMA) Building flood. VET also deployed to Dallas in 2014 to care for the dog whose owner contracted Ebola and ensure the dog wasn’t carrying the virus. The Diagnostic Imaging and Cancer Treatment Center, the first facility with both capabilities in one location, opened in 2011. The Texas A&M Institute for Preclinical Studies (TIPS) building was also completed in 2007. TIPS develops devices and preclinical studies under Good Laboratory Practices. It also supports training in biotechnology-related regulatory issues. In 2013, the CVM and the Houston ASPCA partnered to provide fourth-year veterinary students a shelter medicine rotation; the first of the kind in the United States. The Center for Cell and Organ Biotechnology (CCOB), established in 2013, a collaboration between the college and the Texas Heart Institute (THI), is a world leader in adult stem cell research, organ transplantation, and personalized medicine. our faculty members are lead investigators on:1) the 2014 National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Center for Translational Environmental Health Research grant that is a collaboration among Texas A&M University, Baylor College of Medicine, and the University of Houston; and 2) the ongoing United States Department of Agriculture–Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (USDA–AFRI) $9.2 million animal health grant. Similarly, CVM investigators have obtained significant National Institutes of Health (NIH), USDA, National Science Foundation (NSF), defense agency, and Texas funding during recent years.
Today, the CVM offers undergraduate degrees, professional DVM, thesis and non-thesis master’s degrees, Ph.D. degrees, and internship and residency programs. The college’s current major initiatives include: One Health, diversity, international programs, and the Equine Initiative. A physical component of Texas A&M Equine Initiative—a collaboration between Texas A&M AgriLife and the CVM— the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex opened in 2014. The Equine Initiative’s goal is “to build an equine program that will graduate the industry’s future leaders and generate research and veterinary medical care that will improve the industry and the care and welfare of horses.” The college’s international programs encourage its faculty and students to solve problems internationally. Recent projects include Tambopata Macaw (Peru) and African Wildlife Conservation: Genomics, Genetics & Health (South Africa). The college has the only DVM curriculum in the country that requires its students to take medical Spanish. In 2015, the educational services firm, Quacquarelli Symonds, ranked the CVM the sixth veterinary school in the world and the third in the United States. From its beginning in 1916 until May 2014, the college has graduated 7,400 DVMs. The faculty grew from six members in 1916 to over 200 in 2014. Through changes in technology, curriculum, and scientific knowledge, the college’s accomplished faculty and staff have kept pace to produce further outstanding graduates and impact public health, as well as veterinary and comparative medicine. Summer 2016 •
ARING by Dr. Megan Palsa
Leading in Animal Oncology Veterinarians at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) serve on the front lines of the war on cancer. Some of their discoveries not only save beloved pets’ lives but also offer hope for treating cancer in humans. As the fastest growing disease on earth, cancer has been the focus of a national “war” proclaimed by every United States president since Richard M. Nixon. By 2030, experts believe there will be 22 million cases of cancer in humans worldwide.
A Longtime Leader in Animal Oncology As a pioneer in animal oncology, Dr. Claudia Barton, a CVM professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (VSCS), has seen the field go through monumental changes during the past 40 years. Soon after her arrival at Texas A&M University in 1976, Barton remembers a retiring veterinarian handing her multiple boxes of Kodachromes, or slides, of cancer tumors. “The only treatment that anybody had done at that time on animals with cancer was surgery. That was about all there was,” she said. Barton’s interest in oncology began when she earned her doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Missouri (UM). After graduation, Barton followed Dr. George Shelton, a former UM dean, who became the CVM dean in 1973. “We worked together when I was a student at Missouri, so he asked me if I wanted to pursue a residency in pathology at Texas A&M,” Barton said. “I came here, did the residency, and then went back to teach at the University of Missouri. Then it was Easter Sunday, and I could not get my car out of the driveway because there was so much snow. A position came open at Texas A&M, and the bluebonnets were blooming there, so I applied for it. I took a salary cut to come here, but I did not want to live in the snow.” The field of animal oncology was quickly emerging when Barton returned to the CVM. She didn’t waste any time. Immediately, she began working with other top researchers to found the Veterinary Cancer Society. “We all got together in a little office around a table and just said, ‘We need to start a specialty of oncology,’” Barton said. “It was a dynamic group of people, including pathologists, surgeons, and internal medicine folks, who were interested in cancer.” Today, the professional society serves more than 800 members internationally.
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Dr. Claudia Barton
Early Advances in Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy The CVM was among the first colleges to offer radiation therapy for animals. Initially, the veterinarians used an orthovoltage unit, which was a routinely used diagnostic radiology machine. A human hospital eventually donated the more advanced cobalt teletherapy unit to the CVM. “It was difficult and expensive to actually bring this unit into the radiation department because they had to build a shielded facility with many layers of concrete in the walls so that the radiation would not permeate outside of the room,” Barton said. Although these early radiation technologies were helpful for diagnosing and treating cancer, they did pose a risk to the animal. “The problem with this type of therapy was that you had to use a high dose to get any penetration into deep tissues, so there were a lot of radiation burns,” Barton said. During these early years of treatment options and while chemotherapy drugs were still in their infancy, CVM researchers found radiation therapy to be a useful procedure when surgery wasn’t an option. “As chemotherapy advanced, a few drugs were developed, but our veterinarians didn’t have access to them,” Barton said. “Most of the drugs that we use today became available for veterinary medical use after I began my career in oncology.”
The Advancement of Cancer Treatment in Animals The introduction of imaging technologies, such as computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and positron emission tomography– computed tomography (PET-CT) scans, has moved
C veterinary medicine light-years ahead in the fight against cancer. “In the old days, if a dog came in with nasal bleeding and was found to have a nasal tumor on X-rays and radiographs, the only way surgeons could determine how extensive it was was to go in and start probing around to find out if it had gone behind the eye or broken through the bone between the nasal cavity and the brain,” Barton said. “Now, with CTs and MRIs, we don’t have to put dogs through those procedures, and it has been such an advance in veterinary medicine.” These various scans provide important information to veterinarians as they diagnose and treat cancer. For instance, CVM veterinarians can use CT scans to combine X-ray images taken from different angles and then create cross-sectional images of bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues of an animal’s body through computer analysis. An MRI scan uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the animal’s organs and tissues. PET-CT scans, the latest imaging technology, allow researchers and clinicians to view any abnormal activity in the animal’s tissues and organs. This scan also can identify a target for biopsy and help researchers analyze the effectiveness of cancer treatments. Barton believes advancing technology will open the way to new discoveries and better treatments. “We’ll be able to see, finally, tiny little foci of tumor cells that we can’t appreciate now because they are just too small to visualize,” she said. “I think we’ll even become more sophisticated in our ability to see where tumors are located and then to make the decision about whether you want to put an animal through treatment. Maybe you’re not going to want to put your animal through radiation therapy for its nasal tumor if you find out that it is already somewhere else. In the old days, we wouldn’t have known until they showed up with the clinical signs that the cancer has spread.” Today’s CVM veterinarians are also more sophisticated in their knowledge of the different types of cancer. “It’s amazing to me that we used to make sweeping generalizations about cancers that were good and cancers that were bad with so little knowledge,” Barton said. “Every day, we advance our knowledge about the biologic behavior of these tumors related to molecular diagnostics that we had no idea about. What we do regularly today would have been considered something akin to Star Wars in those days. Our molecular diagnostic tests also have revolutionized our ability to give people prognoses for their animal’s cancer.”
Searching for Cancer Treatments for Both Dogs and Humans Some CVM research discoveries also hold promise for helping humans who are diagnosed with cancer. For instance, the Texas Neuro-Oncology Program, which started in 2008, focuses on understanding deadly brain tumors. This partnership between the CVM, the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center began when Dr. Stephen Fletcher, a UTMS pediatric neurosurgeon, saw his two boxers die of brain tumors. He reached out to the CVM’s Dr. Jonathan Levine, an associate professor, department head, and McWhorter Chair in VSCS. Their collaborative studies have found that the growth of spontaneous and highly aggressive brain tumors, such
as glioblastoma multiforme in dogs, closely mirrors what happens in humans. The researchers hope to discover novel therapies that will work in dogs, with the hope that these therapies can be translated into a useful form for treating children with similar types of brain cancer. Researchers also study human cancers to identify potential treatments for animals. When faced with an animal that has an unusual form of cancer, Barton and other CVM research faculty and veterinarians often delve into the National Cancer Institute’s database. “I’ll first start by going to cancer.gov, and I will think, ‘Okay, if this dog with this stage of this cancer were a human, what would they be doing for that human?’” Barton said. “Can we do that? Or is it too painful? Too difficult? Too technically beyond our means?”
“Most of the drugs that we use today became available for veterinary medical use after I began my career in oncology.” -Dr. Claudia Barton Choosing Quality over Quantity While CVM veterinarians and researchers strive to find new treatments, they also realize that some animals are not good candidates for therapy. Therefore, they try to help pet owners think through the ramifications and consequences of their healthcare decisions. “One of the things that we always have to think about is that the dog or cat or horse is not choosing this for themselves,” Barton said. “They don’t wake up in the morning and say, ‘I have to make it to Christmas. I have to make it to my child’s college graduation.’ When a dog wakes up in the morning, it thinks, ‘Is today a good day? Do I feel good? Do I get to play with my ball? Do I look forward to my dinner?’ When we take away their good days because of treatment when they’ve only got three months to live, are you going to take a month of that and make the animal not feel good?” Ultimately, Barton believes it’s important to counsel the owner about the realities of cancer. “Of course, we’re trying to sort out for them what they really want for their animal, what’s right for their animal, and what we can and cannot accomplish,” she said. “You have to keep reminding them that many of these cancers do not have a cure. We’re trying to prolong the animal’s life with quality. We do not want quantity without quality.” Oncology in both humans and animals has made tremendous strides over the past 40 years, and more breakthroughs are on the horizon. Barton believes that the future of cancer treatments in humans—and eventually animals—will be personalized medicine. “It will be beyond my practice career and probably beyond my life, but they will biopsy a human tumor, and they will find the cancer genome. And then, they will figure out what kinds of targeted molecular therapies will be available based on the genetics,” she explained. “They will apply that therapy, and then the cancer mutates and they will look at the genome again and figure out the next therapy. This process, ideally, allows you to turn cancer into a chronic disease.” Summer 2016 •
C URING by Angela Clendenin
Lameness: Milestones and Opportunities in Treating Debilitating Injury in Horses
Dr. Watts discusses with students the findings on physical examination of a horse presented for lameness evaluation. Lameness in horses can be difficult to detect. Something as simple as a change in behavior might lead owners to ask questions. Has the gait really changed, or is the limp imagined? Is this a small problem that will go away on its own, or is it something more? That’s what makes lameness—probably the most common reason that horses undergo veterinary examination besides routine preventive care—so important to diagnose. When diagnosed early and appropriately, lameness is treatable. However, early diagnosis has not always been easy to accomplish. “Horses are largely used as performance animals,” said Dr. Ashlee Watts, assistant professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (VLCS). “They are always athletic in their use, whether it’s a horse that’s going to the Olympics, or a horse that’s going on a trail ride,” she explained. “That use is an athletic endeavor, and all athletes get injured at some point. These injuries are what lead to lameness and the need for veterinarians to determine how to fix it so the horse can get back to doing what it does best.”
Lameness Diagnosis: A Historical Perspective Historically, observation was the primary diagnostic tool. With only physical examination findings available for diagnosis, many lameness cases were unresolved, and the horse could no longer be used athletically. Veterinarians still rely on observation and use a scoring system to describe the severity of the lameness. Most commonly, veterinarians use the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP scoring system, which uses a scale from zero to five, 14 •
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with zero representing a sound horse and five representing a horse that won’t use a limb at all. “The issue from the beginning,” said Watts, “is that lameness may be caused by so many things. The simplest way to describe lameness, as a condition, is limping. This may be a soft-tissue injury, it may involve the bone structure of the limb, or it can even be caused by a problem in the neck much like sciatica in humans. It can be caused by almost anything.” Because of the complexity of lameness and the myriad of injuries that can cause it, observation alone wasn’t always able to lead to specific diagnoses. It wasn’t until about 50 years ago—when veterinarians began using x-ray technology to look inside the limb—that the conditions were more specifically diagnosed. “Fifty years ago, lameness diagnosis was mostly based on physical exam and observation. Veterinarians could tell if there was swelling or pain somewhere when they would touch or squeeze the area,” said Watts. “If the horse had a withdrawal response, they knew it meant the area was painful. They could also look for changes in flexibility or range of motion. That usually indicated the potential for damage in the joint. When veterinarians began using x-rays, they could see major arthritic changes and fractures, but the majority of the diagnoses were still made on those initial physical exam findings.” Early x-ray technology was expensive and not widely available in the beginning. Using it meant purchasing the equipment and the chemicals necessary to develop the films. In addition, the quality of these early images was not always clear, and veterinarians needed lightbox technology to read the films. Another challenge was that veterinarians would have to take the x-ray equipment to the horse, return to the clinic to develop the images, and then if the images were not adequate, go back to the horse to take another set. However, the ability to see even a bit deeper into the limb represented a significant step forward in determining the cause of lameness. Once practitioners were able to see fracture lines and arthritic changes in the joints, some began to explore early surgical options to fix the lameness. “Early on, there were not many surgical options,” said Watts. “Prior to the 1970s, practitioners were performing neurectomies, or the cutting of the nerves, to relieve the lameness, but not much else. With the increased ability to arrive at a specific diagnosis with x-ray technology, surgical interventions began to develop.” One of the first surgical procedures to be developed after the introduction of x-rays was arthrotomy, where a veterinary surgeon would open up a joint to remove a chip fracture. However, these early procedures were not benign treatments. Arthrotomies, for example, had a high complication rate of joint sepsis or infection, which can be a life-threatening, career-ending problem. Even if a horse does not develop joint sepsis from the arthrotomy, it is likely
C to develop reduced range of motion in the joint due to the scar tissue from the incision. For this reason, surgery was not a widely successful treatment. “In the late 1970s,” said Watts, “some practitioners began using a new procedure called arthroscopy, which is using a tiny camera and tiny tools inserted into small incisions in the joint. The smaller incisions resulted in reduced fibrous scar tissue and reduced incidence of joint sepsis. These smaller incisions were approximately five millimeters versus five centimeters, and subsequently didn’t reduce the range of motion in the affected joint as it heals. The horses did really well, and the expectation became that these horses would be able to return to their previous level of performance.” Beginning in the 1980s, a relatively new technology called ultrasound was introduced by equine reproduction specialists. The equipment used sonic waves to generate images of soft tissues. By the middle of the decade, veterinarians found they could use ultrasound equipment to create images of tendons and characterize how well healed the tendon was and whether the horse was ready to return to performance. This was the beginning of better, more directed rehabilitation of injuries. Ultrasound and x-rays remained the standard of lameness diagnostics for the next 15–20 years. In the late 1990s, computerized radiographs entered the veterinary scene. Shortly after that, digital radiography arrived. For practitioners, this meant faster images and far greater detail than before. The level of exposure for the images could now be changed easily on the computer instead of having to hold a film up to different levels of light to see finer details. Digital radiography has also improved communication between practitioners by increasing the ease and efficiency of sharing images via email to develop referrals or to seek second opinions. Now, veterinarians have magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) technology. These imaging technologies have enabled veterinarians to better understand the mechanisms of lameness, leading to new thoughts on how to diagnose, classify, and treat the disease. “The result of innovation,” said Watts, “is that the newly gained knowledge is never the endpoint. With new knowledge and discovery come even more questions, and this leads to even more advances in diagnosis and treatment.” In the past veterinarians could see changes in the navicular bones on x-rays, but usually couldn’t see much of anything else, so they made a general diagnosis of navicular syndrome. However, through post-mortem exams of horses, veterinarians discovered there were many structures that caused navicular syndrome, not just the navicular bone. “When we were using only ultrasound and x-ray,” said Watts, “and a horse would be diagnosed with navicular syndrome, we could do some shoeing changes and some required rest, or some local steroid injections, but we didn’t know what the right thing was for each specific horse. Some responded well, others didn’t.” While navicular syndrome still exists, the advent of MRI and other advanced imaging technology is ending that broad term as the definitive diagnosis to lameness. More precise diagnoses implicating ligaments, muscle tissue, tendons, or bursitis are able to drastically change the treatment approach used by practitioners. Knowing exactly what is wrong in the horse allows practitioners to determine which conditions respond to which treatments.
New Imaging Technology and a Greater Understanding As new technologies were introduced, veterinarians could make a clearer diagnosis, a clearer prognosis, and a clearer treatment. “With the advanced technology, it changed what we call the disease, it changed how we treated it, and it brought up tons more questions,” said Watts. “We are in a state of constantly refining our knowledge of a particular clinical problem so we can improve how we treat it.”
The Future of Lameness Treatment In the future, Watts would like lameness and injury to be preventable. “I think preventing lameness and injury might happen in the future,” said Watts. “It would move veterinarians from coming in like firefighters and treating the problem to coming in to solve the problem before it happens. It would affect all horses and horse owners. Imagine if we knew that a horse was about to have a catastrophic injury—we could test horses and identify those at risk and keep them from harm. What a difference that could make.” From the early days of physical examination and external observation to the modern-day ability to see inside a horse’s limb, veterinary practice has come a long way. While no one knows what may be on the horizon for veterinary medicine and lameness treatment, the future is advancing rapidly, and it is full of potential.
Ashlee Watts on her horse, Hampton, in 2015 Dr. Ashlee Watts, an equine orthopedic surgeon at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, rode her Danish Warmblood gelding, Hampton, to win reserve champion first level and champion at training level at the U.S. Dressage Federation Nationals in Lexington, Ky. “My friends make fun of me because all I talk about is how amazing my horse is, but he is!” said a thrilled Watts. “He hasn’t traveled a lot or done that much showing, so I wasn’t sure how he’d handle all of this, but he’s been perfect and happy here.” Summer 2016 •
by Dr. Megan Palsa and Laura Gerik
The Francis Family Comes Back Home The Francis House located in the historic district in College Station
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C One hundred years ago, an enterprising Anna veterinarian from Mark Francis Scott Jones Shandon, Ohio, became the first dean of the new School of Veterinary Medicine at William Bebb Andrew A&M College in College Francis, Sr. Francis Vera Bell Station, Texas. His name was Dr. Mark Francis, and he was poised to forever change the face of veterinary Ann medicine in Texas. William Bebb Netterville Francis, Jr. His appointment was the culmination of 18 years of innovative research and lobbying dedicated to tick fever in Texas. But for Mark Francis, founding Mary Lynne William Bebb Judd A&M’s veterinary school was only Francis Francis III Stephens the beginning. He couldn’t have known it at the time, but Mark Francis was also starting a century-long family tradition of thoughtful entrepreneurship, a deep love Hannah of animals, and a passionate devotion to Texas A&M. Francis The Francis family ties to Texas A&M run deep. All but two of Mark Francis’ descendants have attended Texas A&M. The most recent graduates are his great-greatgranddaughters, Sarah Francis Martin ’01 and Hannah Francis ’03, and Sarah’s 8-year-old son Grayson appears poised to follow in his family’s footsteps.
Francis Family Tree
Meeting the Descendants of Dr. Mark Francis In the fall of 2015, Bebb and Iris Francis brought their grandson, Grayson, to visit his great-great-great grandfather’s college for the first time. The Francis name appeared everywhere—an emotional experience for the family. Although these halls didn’t exist when Mark Francis taught the first classes of Texas veterinarians, the visit still felt familiar to Bebb, Iris, and Grayson. Looking at statues of Mark Francis and reading about all he meant to the college touched them deeply. Standing in front of the bust displayed outside of the Mark Francis Room, Grayson looked at the brass face. “Do you know who that is?” Iris asked. Grayson nodded. “It’s your great-great-great grandfather,” Bebb filled in, smiling. Looking between the three Francis faces (Mark, Bebb, and Grayson) it was easy to see the family resemblance. There was something about the cast of the nose and the set of the brow that had passed down through the generations. Grayson turned to his grandparents and said, “I wish I had known him.” Mark Francis’ legacy is not limited to physical appearances, but also includes a defining set of family values. Bebb never met his great-grandfather, who died in 1936, but he recognizes his great-grandfather’s boldness, thoughtfulness, compassion, and empathy in his photos passed down through each generation of the Francis family.
William Bebb Francis III (right) and grandson, Grayson Martin (left), look up at their family’s legacy. Summer 2016 •
Mark and Anna Francis
Mark and Anna Francis Make Their Home in College Station Mark and Anna Francis arrived in College Station, Texas, in the summer of 1888 when Mark accepted an invitation to head the A&M College of Texas’ new Department of Veterinary Science. Operating on an appropriation of $2,500 from the state, he faced the challenge of building the first veterinary training program in the state. In the beginning, the veterinary department’s resources were scarce. A&M College was a relatively new land-grant college, having only opened its doors in 1876. Mark’s new program operated out of a single 14 x 16 foot room that served as an office, classroom, and laboratory. However, he was a man known for his grit and determination. As Bebb stated, “He started with a foundation, then went from there.” He recalled, “There is a great story of Mark walking around with a candle in his pocket—always being prepared in case there was a need for it.” With that attitude, Mark laid the foundation for a new era of veterinary education in Texas and set a standard for generations of Francis men and women to follow. In the early years, Mark Francis divided his time between teaching and research at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. In the 1880s, tick fever was devastating the Texas cattle industry, so his research focused on finding a solution. By the turn of the century, Mark Francis and his partner Dr. J.W. Connaway had developed a vaccine, effectively ending the Texas fever epidemic. Next on his agenda was lobbying for the establishment of an actual veterinary college. In 1903, Mark helped found the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA), serving as its first president until 1905. Working with the TVMA, he was instrumental in lobbying the legislature to pass laws standardizing veterinary medicine practice and licensing in Texas and pushing for money to start a veterinary school. Mark and his colleagues were also working on a new research project: developing an inoculation against hog cholera. Finally, in 1915, the Texas Legislature passed a bill allotting $100,000 to build Texas’ first and only veterinary school at the A&M College of Texas. Mark Francis’ resolve paid off, and when the School of Veterinary Medicine opened in 1916, Mark Francis became its first dean and professor of veterinary medicine and surgery. 18 •
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The fledgling veterinary school was only one of the challenges facing the young couple. When they arrived by train in 1918, they found themselves in a small town, thousands of miles away from home with few of the amenities we enjoy today. There wasn’t much to College Station at the time other than the tiny college and a train station. The treeless landscape was dominated by prairie and cotton fields. The town sprouted up around the college, and by 1900 the census registered only 391 residents. Four miles away, Bryan was the center of Brazos County life with 3,589 inhabitants. Mark and Anna settled in a home on Lamar Street, where the Memorial Student Center (MSC) sits today. “The house has since been relocated to the historic district on the southside of town, and when you look at the reality of day-to-day life in the early 1900s, you quickly understand and appreciate my great-grandfather’s and my great-grandmother’s perseverance and their deep commitment to Texas A&M,” Bebb said. Fortunately, Mark had his devoted wife Anna by his side to love and support him. Anna once wrote to Mark, “Do not deny me the opportunity to share your troubles and concerns. Our marriage is a partnership. I may not be able to offer anything positive, but I’m a good listener. Sometimes that helps.” According to Francis family lore, Anna was considered the “Grand-Dame of Texas A&M.” She was one of few women to grace the campus during those years, and Anna was known as a gracious hostess to all the students and faculty. She was kind with a touch of formality. A century later, Iris treasures Anna’s heirloom jewelry and china, holding onto it for future generations to enjoy.
The Sons of Mark and Anna Francis Mark and Anna’s sons, Andrew and William Bebb, became the first Francis men to enroll at A&M College, starting a family tradition that lives on to this day. Andrew was part of the class of 1915. In those days, all students were required to join the military through the Corps of Cadets. Andrew was a standout in the Corps. Sadly, Andrew died of tuberculosis in 1917. William Bebb (Bebb Sr.), named after one of Mark’s professors who later became the first governor of Ohio, enrolled in 1913. Bebb Sr. was named “Best Drill Cadet” in 1914, and Bebb still has his grandfather’s medallion and his class ring from 1916. Bebb Sr. went on to serve in the army in World War I. As Bebb noted, in choosing the name of his second son, we get a glimpse of some of his greatgrandfather’s qualities—loyalty and a deep appreciation of commitment. “My great-grandfather truly must have admired Mr. Bebb. Otherwise, why would he have given my grandfather a name (“Bebb”) that is so difficult to pronounce?” Bebb laughed. After the war, Bebb Sr. earned an advanced degree in hospitality from Cornell. He then moved to Dallas, where he eventually started his own furniture store. The hard-working entrepreneurial streak that defined Mark Francis had been passed on to his son, Bebb Sr., Bebb recalled, “My thoughts on my grandfather—a very focused formal gentleman, who was gracious and trusting. Obviously, growing up with Dr.
C Mark Francis as his father and watching all that his father was accomplishing helped mold my grandfather’s values.” In 1922, Bebb Sr. married Vera Bell. Together they had one son, William Bebb Jr. (Bebb Jr.). Bebb doesn’t remember very much about his grandmother because she died when he was young; but, he says that in her portraits he sees a “very stately and loving mother and wife.” The family has always agreed that Bebb Sr. married a woman who possessed personal values similar to those of his mother, Anna.
Bebb Jr. Becomes an Aggie, Soldier, and Entrepreneur Following in the footsteps of his father, Bebb Sr., and his uncle, Andrew, Bebb Jr. also attended Texas A&M. However, his studies were interrupted when the United States entered World War II. He was deployed to the South Pacific. Bebb Jr. returned home safely, but regretfully never graduated from Texas A&M. Instead, Bebb Jr. moved home to Dallas, where he entered business and met the love of his life, Ann Netterville. They married in 1948, and in 1949, they welcomed their first child, Mary Lynne. Two years later, their only son William Bebb Francis III was born and is the last family member to carry on the Francis family name. Like his father, Bebb Jr. was a businessman and entrepreneur. Bebb remembers working summers on a printing press in Bebb Jr.’s printing shop. Toward the end of his business career, Bebb Jr. switched to medical administration, overseeing several medical practices in the Dallas area. While Bebb Jr. worked, Ann stayed home to raise her children. “Mom was the typical 1950s baby boomer mom,” Bebb said. “She was devoted to my father, to my sister, and to me.” When Bebb and Lynne started elementary school, Ann went to work as a legal secretary at her brother-in-law’s
William Bebb Sr. (right) and William Bebb Jr. (left), son and grandson of Mark Francis, respectively.
Dr. Mark Francis’ top hat, hand carved canes, and photos law firm, Spafford, Gay, and Whitham. “She was a loyal and devoted employee with an unbelievable work ethic,” Bebb explained. Iris also saw the family resemblance in Ann, who seemed very much like the Francis women before her. “Bebb’s mom and I would just sit and talk. She also mirrored Bebb’s grandmother, Vera. They were very refined, formal ladies yet loving and gracious ladies,” said Iris. “Ann was a woman of character and made sure that I learned about the family. She wanted to make sure that I carried on the traditions of the Francis family. I treasure the fact that I had an opportunity to spend time with Bebb’s mother and that she shared so much of the family history with me.” Of course, seriousness and formality were not the only traits passed down in the Francis family. At the very top of the list was Mark’s deep love for animals. Bebb remembered his father having “an immense empathy for animals.” Bebb and Lynne’s childhood was marked by a parade of creatures rescued by his father. “There was Josie the epileptic dog, a few tortoises picked up off road sides, parakeets, and then there was Charlie, the pigeon,” Bebb said. “My dad found Charlie with a broken wing, and he nursed Charlie back to health for over a year. Dad loved that bird.” Bebb laughed that “there was even my ‘dime store’ turtle, ‘Hershel,’ that Dad decided to feed wet dog food (because Dad felt badly that the turtle was not getting enough to eat). Well, that darn one inch Hershel the turtle grew to where Dad could barely hold him—so off to the creek he went to live happily thereafter with all the other Dallas dime store turtles.” In the 1950s, Bebb Jr. and Ann often gave the children baby chickens and ducks for Easter. For one memorable Easter, Ann picked out ducklings. Lynne and Bebb were delighted with their new pets, but the ducks quickly grew up and Ann and Bebb Jr. had to find a new home for them. They loaded the kids and ducks into the station wagon and drove to a pond at the country club golf course. “Dad let the ducks out, and we started driving off, but the ducks started following us, quacking,” Bebb said. “Dad stopped and petted them, then put them further back. Lynne and I were looking out the tailgate crying. My father was an animal lover and a compassionate man. He felt just as bad as Lynne and I did, but he knew this was best for the ducks.” Summer 2016 •
C REATING Hannah, the last Francis to graduate from Texas A&M, earned her degree in communication in 2003. She followed in her greatgrandfather Bebb Sr.’s footsteps and now manages a high-end furniture and home decor showroom in Atlanta, Ga., where she works with top interior designers and retailers. She also spends her time volunteering with the Junior League of Atlanta.
Lynne and Bebb Break Tradition When Lynne was finished with high school, women were still not admitted to Texas A&M. She married Judd Stephens and today, Lynne is retired, and they live outside Atlanta. Bebb was the first of the Francis men not to attend Texas A&M, a decision he called “almost sacrilegious.” Instead, he attended Stephen F. Austin State University. However, after his freshman year, he transferred to Louisiana State University where he joined the cheerleading squad, studied history, and was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. Bebb was accepted at both LSU Law School and St. Mary’s Law School in San Antonio. He wanted to practice law in Texas, so he chose to accept admittance at St. Mary’s, graduating with his doctor of juris prudence degree in 1976. At the beginning of his third year, Bebb attended a law school mixer where he met Iris Ann Mahan, a student at Our Lady of the Lake University. He was immediately enchanted by the gregarious red-head, and they married only four months later. “It was obviously the best decision I will ever make,” Bebb said. “I mean, can you blame me?” Iris was a country girl from South Texas, where her parents raised cattle and peanuts and Bebb was definitely a city boy from Dallas. While teenage Bebb worked summers on his father’s printing press and hanging out with his buddies, Iris spent her teenage years riding horses and deeply involved in the 4-H program. Back then, you could often find her decked out in a pink hat and boots. “It was city boy meets country girl,” Iris laughed. The quick engagement caught the Francis family by surprise, but Ann and Bebb Jr. handled it with grace. A mere three weeks after seeing his parents over the summer and never mentioning a girlfriend, Bebb called home to share the good news. “I said, ‘Hey Mom and Dad, I’m getting married!’” Bebb recalled. “Can you imagine? I didn’t even know Iris over the summer. Now that I’m the father of two wonderful daughters, I would have had a coronary if either Sarah or Hannah had done that to me.” Always classy, Bebb’s parents just said, “Really? What’s her name?” Bebb replied, “Her name is Iris. Would you like to speak to her?” 20 •
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At which point Bebb handed the phone to Iris. “I am still amazed that Iris married me after pulling that stunt.” The following weekend, Bebb and Iris drove to Dallas to meet the Francis family. They were greeted with a surprise. In true Francis-family fashion, Ann had arranged a family dinner party, complete with numerous relatives, candlelight, and the best china, to welcome Iris into the family. Bebb and Iris were married in January 1976. Bebb graduated and was privileged to work with many talented and seasoned lawyers in San Antonio, gaining knowledge in numerous areas of law. In 1990, Bebb was honored to be named a fellow in the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. Today, Bebb focuses on the “dynamic and ever-changing” area of telecommunications law. Meanwhile, the couple had two daughters, Sarah Agatha and Hannah Elizabeth. The girls loved their grandparents’ very different lifestyles. They spent happy weekends playing on the red-dirt farm in South Texas with Iris’ family or in Dallas visiting Ann and Bebb Jr., who they called “GD” (“Grand Dad”) and “Grammy.” In 1997, the entrepreneurial Francis spirit showed itself again when Bebb followed his dream to open his own law firm. For the last three decades he has practiced with just one other person in the firm, his loyal and trusted assistant, Linda Bailes—a “beloved member” of the Francis family.
Bebb’s Daughters Bring the Francis Name Back to Aggieland Although Bebb didn’t go to Texas A&M, his daughters picked up the tradition from their grandfather. During a return trip to see Ann and Bebb Jr. in Dallas, Bebb was surprised when Sarah announced her decision. She wanted to go to the university where both her grandfather and great-grandfather attended. Her sister, Hannah, joined Sarah two years later. Both joined the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and became active members of the campus community. Hannah even volunteered handing out supplies at the 1999 bonfire collapse with her Zeta sisters. Sarah graduated in 2001 with a degree in psychology. Sarah sold pharmaceuticals in North Carolina. She married Sarah Francis Martin is married to Greg Martin and is the mother of 8-year-old Grayson Martin. She is a wife, mom, author, artist, and volunteer. She has devoted much of the last six years encouraging women to “live out the Kingship of Christ.” Sarah is the author of two published books: Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties in a Decade of Drama and Just RISE UP! A Call to Make Jesus Famous.
Sarah Francis Martin
Iris (left) and Bebb (right) Francis during their visit to the CVM fellow Texas A&M graduate and cadet, Greg Martin, who chose to attend Ranger school after Sept. 11, graduated and then deployed with the 82nd airborne. After returning from three tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, Greg received his MBA from North Carolina State while simultaneously beginning his banking carrier at BB&T in Pinehurst. Much to the delight of Bebb and Iris, Greg was asked by BB&T to become a part of their College Station commercial lending team. So, finally, Greg and Sarah have returned to Aggieland with their future Aggie son—Grayson. Hannah, the last Francis to graduate from Texas A&M, earned her degree in communications in 2003. She followed in her great-grandfather, Bebb Sr.’s footsteps and now manages a showroom in Atlanta selling high-end furniture and décor. Hannah is very active in the Atlanta interior design scene and has held several positions in the Atlanta Junior League. Today, Mark Francis’ legacy lives on in his great-greatgreat grandson, Grayson. At 8 years old, he’s already following in the Francis tradition. Like many generations before him, he adores animals. He desperately wants a dog of his own, but for now is content to play with Bebb and Iris’ two rescue dogs. Grayson’s greatest ambition is to be a fighter pilot, no doubt inspired by his father and the generations of Francis military men before him.
What would Mark Francis say if he could speak to the 2016 graduating class? Drawing on the wisdom passed down through the generations, Bebb thought he knew the answer. “Having seen my great-grandfather through the lives of my father and my grandfather, I know that my great-grandfather would say, ‘Work hard. Study hard. Persevere. Be true to yourself and to your profession. Never lose the passion and empathy that brought you to this great institution. And once you have developed and honed that foundation of knowledge, compassion, and self-confidence—trust yourself, trust your judgment and then go do what you have been so well equipped to do.’” Bebb continued, “Most importantly, my great-grandfather would tell them—‘At the end of the day, put your feet up and think of all you accomplished that day. Think about what you can improve on. And then tell yourself, ‘ job well done.’ Get up the next day, and do it all over again. Only this time with more passion and with an even stronger sense of commitment.’” We will never know for sure, but legend has it that Mark Francis, at the end of a long day, would put his feet up on his desk to relax. We can say with assurance that if not him, at least others were thinking, “Job well done, Dr. Mark Francis.” As you talk and listen to his great-great-great-grandson Grayson and see the twinkle in his eye, you realize the legend of this great man lives on. There is a strong connection between Texas A&M University and the Francis family—clearly visible when you meet Grayson. Thumbs up, eyes glistening, Grayson spoke, “I’m going to come to school here one day. I’m going to be a pilot and a veterinarian.” As Mark Francis stepped off the train 100 years ago, he had a vision of the future for this college. Now 100 years later, Grayson’s future is still to be determined—but hearing the excitement in his voice as he speaks of his great-greatgreat-grandfather, he seems destined to a life of devotion to animals and to Texas A&M.
Words for Future Generations Back in the fall of 2015, Bebb, Iris, and Grayson sat in the CVM surrounded with artifacts that carry the Francis name as they wondered what Mark would think of the CVM today. The small veterinary school he fought so hard to build has grown to become a pillar of strength and comfort to the state and to the nation. “Just walking in and seeing what the college has done and continues to do, my great-grandfather has to be looking down and saying, ‘The people who followed the work I started here have done an incredible job,’” Bebb said.
Grayson and Parson’s Mounted Cavalry horse, “Charlie,” bonded on the boy’s tour of the CVM. Summer 2016 •
Veterinary surgeons communicating in the surgical suite
by Angela Clendenin
Communicating in Surgery Enhancing the Ability to Operate With lives on the line, the ability to communicate during surgery has always been critical. This is even more so the case in a teaching hospital like the one at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), where highly skilled clinical faculty are joined in the same room by the students. For both specialists and students, seeing is communicating in the surgical suite, and sight has been transformed by the advent of digital radiography. On top of enhanced audiovisual capabilities, digital radiography has improved the clarity and speed whereby a surgical team and students can readily see the anatomical areas involved in a procedure. New technology has not only affected communication within the surgical suite, it has enabled communication with consulting clinicians, who could be located anywhere in the world. For students, it means that when there is not enough room in a surgical suite for their active participation on a case, they can view the procedure and the accompanying images in a nearby rounds room or observation room. Sonya Gordon, a cardiologist and associate professor in VSCS, said that digital radiography has improved workflow overall, including the speed at which clinicians can communicate with each other. “Digital radiography changed everything,” she said. “Being able to look at high-quality images and quickly communicate all of the information to others has been a game changer.” 22 •
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The CVM is expected to open its new classroom and laboratory complex in 2016 and is concurrently developing plans to build a new small animal hospital. Part of the vision includes a client-friendly lobby and waiting space, but for the clinicians the most exciting part of the new planned facility is the increased space and its impact on communication within surgical teams, with students, and with colleagues. By creating facilities that will function well into the future, the goal is to create space that will accommodate emerging surgical technologies. This may also lead to changes in how surgery may one day be performed. Dr. Audrey Cook, associate professor in VSCS, noted many of the advanced procedures performed at the teaching hospital are intensely collaborative and often include using small camera-like devices. The space for collaboration and the ability to instantly share images with others, including students, are what makes the future growth of the hospital so exciting for her. Jacqueline Davidson, clinical professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (VSCS) agreed and said, “Digital imaging, text messaging, and smartphones have enabled us to send a digital image by phone, text message, or email, and communicate between colleagues who may not be in the room. However, what we’re hoping is to have audiovisual equipment in the room so we can communicate live with someone who’s not in the room, in real time.”
C Taking Things to the Next Level
“Digital radiography changed everything. Being able to look at high-quality images and quickly communicate all of the information to others has been a game changer.”
-Dr. Sonya Gordon Technology Improves Communication in Surgery In the surgical suite, there is often a balance between the amount of space required for the surgical team to perform maximally and allowing students to see procedures without obstructions. In present-day surgical suites, such obstructions include new technology and equipment. The latest surgical equipment enhances veterinarians’ ability to operate and allows specialized procedures to be performed. “We have a lot more technology in the room,” said Davidson. “When I was a veterinary student, the equipment was much less sophisticated and didn’t require a lot of extra space in the operating room, as it does today.” Along with more technology, surgical teams now involve more specialized clinicians, making communication all the more critical. According to Cook, pre-surgical meetings are now essential for every case because they allow surgeons to understand the strengths and expertise of each team member. “In the past, we tended to do procedures that were much more basic,” said Cook. “These days, we do procedures that are much more complicated. It’s not unusual for us to do a procedure and have an internist, a criticalist, and a surgeon all working at the same time on the same patient. So, I think it’s really important for the teams to be able to communicate before a procedure starts.” In addition to the increased number of specialists in the surgical suite, teaching hospitals often have more students in the room. Cook and Davidson noted the importance of including students, but said there is not always adequate room for them to observe and learn from the procedures. “I think right now we’re limited by physical space. The students might be able to watch some of the procedures in their classrooms and rounds rooms, but that’s not nearly as useful as getting them a more profound presence,” Cook said. “In small rooms, the people we send out are usually the students when we’re pressed for space. That’s a loss because they don’t get to be a real participant in the process.”
Envisioning what future surgical suites might look like, Davidson said, “What I look forward to the most is having a room that’s big enough to accommodate all the people that need to be there and to have the audiovisual equipment to communicate beyond our current reach,” she said. Similarly, Cook imagined a day where other centers and hospitals could collaborate virtually. “If we’re working on a patient on a procedure our team has not done before but another team has, we could live stream our imaging so they could be there with us virtually—That would be priceless. Maybe they’re in the same building but across the hallway, maybe they are hundreds of miles away in a different center. That would really be an invaluable resource for us to have.” Such futuristic concepts of what surgery may become are the driving forces behind the designs for the new facility. Redesigned surgical space filled with the latest equipment in the hands of skilled clinicians will bring the next level of care to the CVM. Technology may impact collaboration, communication, and the ability to do increasingly complex procedures, but veterinarians at the CVM point out that the most important aspect of any teaching hospital’s surgical suites is the education of future veterinarians. As planning moves forward, the new surgical space will allow a larger number of team members to participate in a case—especially students. “A lot of the joy in what we do is in that surgical team coming together and making something work,” said Cook. “The more we can involve the students and communicate our excitement with them, the more they’re going to get out of the whole process.” Currently, the new small animal hospital is in the design phase. An active fundraising effort is working to secure funding that ensures the new facility fosters technological innovation, collaboration, and improved communication for faculty, staff, and students. And of course, central to all planning will be what is best for the patient.
Veterinary surgeons using surgical equipment in the operating room Summer 2016 •
B IOMEDIC AL
S C I E N C ES
by Callie Rainosek
Eva Koster: Naturally Curious
Eva Koster While many students are known for their academic achievements at Texas A&M University, few can say that they were members of one of the most prestigious programs in the United States. With more than 2,000 participating undergraduates, the University Honors Program at Texas A&M offers more than 300 Honors courses each year. While providing mentorship for students through accomplished faculty, the Honors Program aims to enrich the education of especially curious students who long for creative expression and intellectual challenges. For students who are willing to reach beyond the small discussion groups, the collaborative learning, and the individual research opportunities that the Honors Program offers, an even more exclusive program exists to further encourage students to take a greater personal responsibility in their education. University Scholars, a small community of students who serve as ambassadors for the Honors and Undergraduate Research Program, are identified as the most motivated and innovative students within the Honors Program at Texas A&M. These students demonstrate unique leadership qualities both in and out of the classroom, while also holding the welfare of their community close to their hearts. Eva Koster’s interest in the University Scholars Program began while enjoying the small discussion groups the Honors Program offered during her first year studying at Texas A&M. She found herself absorbed in the controversial topics of conversation, which germinated her passion for continuing these small seminars. “I found these discussions interesting, especially since I was able to hear different arguments made by incredibly knowledgeable people,” 24 •
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Koster explained. “Through UScholars I will continue to participate in these seminars, meeting with great people, all while stretching my comfort zone by being exposed to new viewpoints. I guess you could say that I’m looking for personal growth, and I have no doubt UScholars will help me do that.” Though she hopes the program builds her problemsolving skills for her future in the medical field, she also looks forward to the opportunity to study the connections between small community problems and global issues to make a difference in society. “I hope to become more aware of various issues that affect us all, and how those small community problems translate themselves to huge global problems,” Koster said. “The connections we have between each other and society have always fascinated me, and UScholars can push me to find solutions to world problems through the understanding of these connections.” When asked who her main support group was in her pursuit to become a UScholar, Koster proudly proclaimed that her Honors Sophomore Advisors not only helped and encouraged her, but also challenged her to use her talents to the fullest. “Three instrumental people come to mind: Ben Jackson, Frankie Torres, and Aly Miranda. These Honors Sophomore Advisors did more than support me during my freshman year; they challenged me every step of the way,” she noted. Koster adds that her support group continues to help her in her journey to enrich her education. “It’s amazing how in the Honors Program everyone pushes each other to become the best they can be, and that is exactly what these people continually help me do.” Though it is her duty as a University Scholar to perform community service, Koster demonstrates leadership in her community as a selfless service. She serves as an ambassador for her church, is a member of the Texas A&M Polish Association, and last year helped spread cultural awareness on campus through her Freshman Leadership Organization. Koster also recognizes the significance of being multilingual, which is why she is personalizing her degree plan by taking classes to earn a Spanish certificate. “I like how something seemingly unrelated, such as learning a language, can be incorporated into a science major through study abroad research opportunities and shadowing physicians while translating for patients,” she explained. Though Koster is motivated to become fluent in Spanish, she is proud to already fluently speak Polish. Koster is one of the few students to bear the achievement of becoming a University Scholar. Whether she is exploring bright ideas in the classroom, serving her local community, or studying abroad to deepen her understanding of global issues, she will undoubtedly make a difference in the world through her enriched education and passionate leadership qualities developed from her experiences in the University Scholars Program at Texas A&M.
by Eliana Mijangos
Dr. Barton Behravesh: Making Us Proud For Captain Casey Barton Behravesh, MS ’99, DVM ’05, DrPH, DACVPM, studying tiny parasites during her time as a student at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) opened up the big world of One Health. She is a captain in the U.S. Public Health Service. More recently, Barton Behravesh was appointed as the director for the One Health Office of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She is a strong advocate of using an interdisciplinary One Health approach involving human, animal, and environmental health to address emerging zoonotic and infectious diseases to best protect public health. Barton Behravesh started her career and passion for One Health at Texas A&M University while earning her bachelor’s in biomedical sciences in 1997. This gave her the opportunity to study parasitology under Dr. Karen Snowden, associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology. “Working in parasitology under Dr. Snowden,” Barton Behravesh said, “I was able to solidify my interest in One Health and open my eyes to the important connection animal, human, and environmental health have on public health.” After completing her master’s in veterinary parasitology at the CVM, she went on to the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health, where she received a doctor of public health (DrPH) in 2005. She graduated with her DVM from the CVM that same year. She became a diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Preventative Medicine in 2007. Barton Behravesh formerly served as the chief of the epidemiology activity in the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Division of Vector-borne Diseases at the CDC (2014–2015). There, she worked on important One Health issues both domestically and internationally. One such project involved fighting Rocky Mountain spotted fever transmitted by the brown dog tick, an example of why focusing disease control efforts on human, animal, and environmental health is critically important. From 2006 to 2014, Barton Behravesh worked in the CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (DFWED), where she served as
“Texas A&M gave me the foundation I needed to really understand the importance of the One Health approach to improving public health.”
-Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh
Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh the Deputy Branch Chief of the Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch (ORPB) and as the DFWED coordinator for Enteric Zoonoses and One Health. During her eight years with DFWED, she focused her efforts on investigating outbreaks of human illnesses caused by enteric pathogens, including Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7. These pathogens can be particularly concerning because they are foodborne, waterborne, and spread through contact with animals and their environments. Additionally, her work with the poultry and pet industries led to the formation of the Enteric Zoonoses Team in ORPB. Barton Behravesh has extensive experience bridging the gap between human and animal health officials at the local, state, federal, and international levels related to emerging zoonotic and infectious diseases. Creating such connections is a crucial aspect of the One Health approach to public health, and she credits her education at Texas A&M University and the CVM with sparking her interest and beginning her career in One Health. “Texas A&M gave me the foundation I needed to really understand the importance of the One Health approach to improving public health,” Barton Behravesh said. “It’s really about connecting the dots between animals, humans, and the environment and, in doing so, protecting the earth and providing for future generations.” Summer 2016 •
B IOMEDIC AL
S C I E N C ES
by Callie Rainosek
The Courage to Follow Your Dreams: Will Jardell
Will Jardell Sometimes life is a roller coaster ride, and it’s hard to know where the next sharp turn will occur. Some work up enough courage to get on that roller coaster ride, strap themselves in, and trust that they will be successful at the end of it all. One such person is Will Jardell. Though his original plan was to become a doctor after graduating from Texas A&M University, Jardell realized that he wanted to ride an even more challenging roller coaster, one that involved building up the courage to chase his dreams. Jardell, a 24-year-old from Nederland, Texas, graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in biomedical sciences (BIMS) and a minor in art and architecture history. The now model, dancer, and choreographer resides in California, where he teaches and choreographs for MNR Dance Factory in Los Angeles. Jardell is also currently signed with MSA Models LA and Angie’s Models & Talent International (AMTI) in Toronto. How did Jardell build up the courage to ride this crazy roller coaster and pursue his dreams? His journey began as a child, dancing in his mother’s dance studio. “My mom owns a dance studio in my hometown, so dance has always been a huge part of my life. When I started my college career, I found that I needed an outlet to balance the stress of school,” said Jardell. Serving as vice president of the Texas A&M Dance Arts Society student group and working at Expressions Dance and Music Studio, Jardell found his passion for dance growing during his college years, especially through teaching and choregraphing routines for other dancers. Jardell’s professional success in dance may be owed to the many years spent training under the direction of his 26 •
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mother, but that did not stop him from chasing modeling, a profession in which he had no experience. Two days after Jardell walked the stage at Texas A&M, a chance to pursue a modeling career practically knocked on his front door. America’s Next Top Model (ANTM), an American reality television show and competition between aspiring models, recruited Jardell through social media. “America’s Next Top Model honestly just fell into my lap, so I am very fortunate,” said Jardell. “I honestly didn’t believe I would make it onto the show as a finalist.” Though he never expected to be honored in the finale as the runner-up of ANTM Cycle 21, his determination and personal growth motivated him to fight for his dream career. Support from his cast mates and peers at Texas A&M also made an impact on his decision to pursue modeling and dance in California. “After living with 14 people on the show and learning what they want to do in life, you can’t help but become inspired to follow your passions and make something of yourself. Along those lines, my peers at Texas A&M have done the same thing as my cast mates,” Jardell continued. “I find that my fuel to pursue my dreams comes from those around me, and walking around Texas A&M you can feel the spirit in each student fighting for themselves and their passion.” Some wonder how Jardell went from earning a degree in BIMS to working as a model and a dance instructor in California. However, Jardell said he hopes to one day experience his original plan of working in the medical field. “While in college I gained more than a piece of paper. I gained friends, knowledge, life skills, and confidence, all things that you cannot replace. An education at Texas A&M is far more than just a degree; it’s a life-changing experience. One day I hope to go back to my medical background and pursue another one of my passions,” he said. Jardell also emphasizes his college studies, admitting that his education is invaluable no matter the path he chooses to take. “I wouldn’t change for one minute my degree and experience in the BIMS department. I truly feel that because of my experience at Texas A&M and the classes I took, it has helped me on the path that I am on.” Though Jardell’s life seemed to take a dramatic turn fresh out of college, time spent at Texas A&M gave him the courage and confidence to take a chance at a modeling career. Experiences on and off campus gave Jardell the foundation for success beyond college, and helped shape him into the confident, passionate, and focused person he is today. “Texas A&M University holds a special place in my heart because I owe everything that I am and have to Texas A&M,” said Jardell. “College is 100 percent for your education, but there is also a huge part about building you up as a person. I took advantage of every opportunity I could to grow as a person in college, and I firmly believe that it has gotten me to this point in my life.”
H OS P I TA L
by Callie Rainosek
Peggy Hemus: A Loyal Client Since 1972 For the past 100 years, the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) has provided compassionate patient care. The original veterinary school, which cared for both large and small animals, was built in 1916. The CVM has grown to include a separate small animal hospital, built in 1981. For 100 years, the CVM has provided patient care. Now, with a growing number of patients and specialty services, the SAH at Texas A&M University is expanding and renovating to deliver an even better experience for pets and their owners. New renovations include a more comfortable reception area, separate feline and canine waiting rooms, and new consultation rooms designed for private discussions between clients and clinicians. While providing the same expert veterinary care for patients, the renovated hospital continues to provide a high quailty hospital for training veterinary students and prepare them for their future profession. With so many years of experience serving Texas’ pet owners using the latest advances in veterinary medicine, it is no surprise clients like Peggy Hemus continue to return to the SAH. Hemus, a resident of Houston, has been bringing her pets to the CVM for 19 years. She praises the hospital and veterinarians for the efficient and comprehensive care her animals receive, stating that “Texas A&M checks all the boxes of what needs to be done.” Hemus first brought her pet to the CVM in 1972 after years of visiting other competent general practitioners. Seeking treatment for her bloodhound that had developed cancer, Hemus was referred to the SAH. After experiencing a successful treatment plan for her show dog, Hemus began treating her animals on a more permanent basis at the SAH beginning in 1997. “They’re just marvelous,” said Hemus. “I just can’t say enough about the Texas A&M veterinary
“I just can’t say enough about the Texas A&M veterinary school. They have so many wonderful doctors, so that’s why I am starting my 19th year now on a permanent basis.”
Peggy Hemus visits the CVM school. They have so many wonderful doctors, so that’s why I am starting my 19th year now on a permanent basis.” Although Hemus resides over 100 miles away from College Station, the efficiency and sophistication of the veterinarians is what keeps her a loyal customer. She recognizes the expert care her animals receive and raves about the immediate results from diagnostics. She also appreciates the variety of services offered through the specialty care units, such as oncology, cardiology, and internal medicine. With these specialty care divisions, her animals are promised the greatest care and treatment possible. Hemus has many positive stories to share about her experiences at the SAH, but the miraculous recovery of a cat is her most memorable moment at the CVM. Hemus’ cat, which had battled feline leukemia for several years, was diagnosed with a kidney issue by a veterinarian at the hospital. Unaware of how poor the cat’s health was, Hemus was surprised to find out that the cat was actually near death. While preparing for the loss of her pet, Hemus was notified less than a week later that her cat responded well to treatment and was healthy enough to return home. “The veterinarians worked on the cat and about four days later the cat was home. It was like a miracle,” she recalled. “Even the veterinarians said it was a miracle.” When asked what she values most at the SAH and other general practitioners, Hemus replied, “The veterinarians at Texas A&M seem to be so experienced. Once you come into the hospital, everything is efficient. They call you ahead of time for appointments and when you finish, the veterinarians give you a discharge of great detail.” Not only is the staff “on top of it” when it comes to treating patients, but they are also friendly. “I know everybody up there, and they are all nice,” Hemus added.
Summer 2016 •
O U T R E AC H
Brought in after being separated from his owner, August is examined by Dr. Deb Zoran, chief of medical operations, and D’Lisa Whaley, veterinary technician, as part of the Veterinary Emergency Team’s deployment to San Marcos in response to the Blanco River flooding.
by Angela Clendenin
In the Midst of Disaster Springs Hope Memorial Day weekend—a time reserved to honor those who have served in the military and given their lives so that all can live in a free society. It is a time to reflect on the sacrifices of these men and women and celebrate all they have accomplished. However, the 2015 Memorial Weekend will also be remembered as an example of the strength and power of Mother Nature, especially in the minds of the residents and visitors to Wimberley, Texas. 28 •
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Torrential rainfall in the Texas Hill Country changed the gentle flow of the Blanco River in Wimberley into a raging wall of water that carried away houses, trees, cars, and anything else left in its path. People were missing. Pets were left stranded in hasty evacuations. The McComb family, and their friends, were vacationing in Wimberley for the holiday weekend. The house they were in was lifted from its foundation by the strength of the floodwaters and forced against a bridge. The house was swept away, leaving the father, Jonathan McComb, as the only survivor.
VET Provides Relief in Wimberley As part of the large search and rescue effort, the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) deployed to Wimberley to provide veterinary medical support for the canine teams of Texas Task Force 1 (TTF1). Huge piles of debris, impassable roadways, and unstable structures all had to be searched. The dogs and their human handlers worked tirelessly in this precarious environment to rescue those who survived the night and to search for those still missing.
“These dogs are special,” said Dr. Deb Zoran, chief veterinary medical officer for VET. “They are trained to go into hazardous environments that are not safe for humans to look for missing persons that need rescue or recovery. They are at a high risk of injury and exposure to environmental hazards. Our partners on the urban search and rescue teams have recognized the value of onsite veterinary medical support in enabling their searches to be more effective.” As the rains subsided and the sun rose, the heat and humidity created an additional challenge to the search teams: dehydration. Pre-search fluid therapy, ongoing veterinary examinations, and medical intervention throughout the day kept the canines in the field and on task longer and more safely.
Bringing Maggie Home While teams were in the field, VET members began receiving and examining stranded pets to ensure injuries were treated and the animals eventually would be able to reunite with their owners. A Wimberley resident who had returned to evaluate the damage to his property brought in a yellow lab he found in the branches of a felled tree on his property. The dog did not belong to him, but he knew it would be important to get the dog back to the owner. After treating the lab for minor injuries, the dog was scanned for a microchip. VET members then discovered that her name was Maggie, and she belonged to the McComb family. By this time, Jonathan was being treated for injuries in a nearby hospital, and the search was ongoing for the rest of his family and friends. Through the efforts of VET, Maggie was returned to the McCombs. “To have someone find an animal in the middle of devastation and care enough to seek help is a tremendous example of the compassion and neighbor-helping-neighbor
Maggie McComb, brought in to the VET trailers in Wimberley by a local landowner who found her, was examined and waits patiently for family to arrive to take her home.
mindset we witnessed in Wimberley,” said Dr. Wesley Bissett, director of VET. “Stories like Maggie McComb are why we do what we do. The intangible benefit of returning a pet to its owner lies at the core of our mission. We were humbled by the outpouring of generosity from a community recovering from a disaster, as well as by the opportunity to play a part in the healing process by caring for pets, like Maggie, who represent hope for someone.” The search efforts in Wimberley came to a close; the VET was redeployed to provide similar search and rescue support to Texas Task Force 2 (TTF2), a team continuing the search for the missing from their base of operations in San Marcos. Due to the ongoing heat and humidity, the VET sent teams into the field with the search and rescue units to provide on-scene veterinary support. Most resident animal issues were addressed by the local animal shelter, but a Wimberley resident who was staying with family in San Marcos made a critical visit to the VET base of operations. “In San Marcos, we worked with some new canine teams that we had not worked with before,” said Zoran. “The handlers, like those with Task Force 1, are such a dedicated group—dedicated to their mission and dedicated to their canine partners. It was great to begin building long-term relationships with these new handlers and their teams.” But the opportunity to serve through caring for animals was not limited to just the search and rescue canines.
Healing August Natalie Taylor evacuated her Wimberley residence as quickly as she could, but was unable to locate her oldest cat, August. As Taylor returned to her home, she found August waiting for her. She cleaned August up and brought him back to San Marcos. However, due to age and the stress of the disaster, August’s health began failing. Taylor heard about the VET and took August to the VET’s mobile medical trailer to see if he could be helped. August was treated with fluids and medications, and Taylor was told that the prognosis was not good. Taylor took August home with instructions to return the next day for an evaluation. When Taylor arrived the next afternoon, August had made significant improvement. He was a survivor. More than that, like Maggie, August provided a glimmer of hope that after disaster life can begin again. “August’s story is an illustration of what our team is all about,” added Bissett. “As Aggies, we serve the state of Texas through excellence and selfless service. Providing support for the human-animal bond through caring for and reuniting pets with their owners during a disaster is not just a job—it’s our mission, our purpose, our duty, and our privilege.” Disasters are fraught with devastation and despair, and the shock of sudden loss is hard to recover from. Pets who are separated and then reunited with their families during the recovery period provide the first step toward healing and the assurance that life continues and can be rebuilt. The vital support the VET provides in emergency situations helps support efforts to rescue and find the missing and to help those animals and their owners impacted by disasters to have a new beginning. Summer 2016 •
O N E H E A LT H
by Jaleesia Amos and Callie Rainosek
Oceans Apart, A World Together: Texas A&M One Health Interdisciplinary Team Visits China For many across the globe, pork is a vital source of protein. In China, the production and export of pork and pork products have increased as a result of the nation’s growing economy. Swine diseases can cause fluctuations in domestic and international markets for pork and can negatively affect both human and animal health. As a result, there has been increased focus on food safety and the prevention of pathogens entering the food supply. To begin a discussion about food safety as it relates to pork, faculty members from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (COALS) travelled to China to participate in a two-week scientific exchange trip in July 2015. The purpose of the trip was to identify future collaborations in the prevention of swine diseases, many of which can be transmitted to humans. This undertaking was an example of the One Health philosophy in action.
Texas A&M’s One Health mission is to find interdisciplinary health solutions by combining expertise from human health, animal health, and environmental health perspectives. The five Texas A&M researchers who participated in this U.S.–China Scientific Cooperation Exchange Program, which was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the China Ministry of Agriculture, were Dr. Rosina C. “Tammi” Krecek, a parasitologist and visiting professor at the CVM and interim assistant dean of One Health; Dr. Christine M. Budke, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the CVM; Dr. Clay Ashley, director of the Veterinary Medical Park and chair of the International Program Advisory Committee; Dr. Brandon Dominguez, a swine health specialist and assistant professor at the CVM; and Dr. Chad Paulk, an animal nutritionist and assistant professor at COALS.
From left: Dr. Brandon Dominguez, Dr. Christine Budke, Dr. Clay Ashley, Dr. Chad Paulk, and Dr. Rosina C. “Tammi” Krecek at the Great Wall of China (Photo by Dr. Rosina C. “Tammi” Krecek) 30 •
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Developing the Team Before coming to Texas A&M, Ashley lived in China for five years. There he worked in agricultural development in Guizhou, where he encountered farmers raising pigs infected with the pork tapeworm, Taenia solium. This parasite causes neurological disease in humans. Krecek has participated in extensive international research on this tapeworm, and one of her areas of expertise is infectious and parasitic diseases impacting resource-poor communities. Budke also has international experience, including in China, and studies animal diseases transmissible to humans. Dominguez is a swine health specialist and clinical veterinarian with experience in epidemiology. Paulk is a swine nutritionist. Through exchanging ideas and best practices, the team believes that the relationships established through this exchange will build capacity and expand markets for pork, as well as support the country’s growing agricultural enterprises. There are additional benefits for both countries; this dialogue is leading to a better understanding of opportunities and solutions to swine diseases. “Swine production has become a big issue in terms of the world’s food supply,” said Budke.
“There we were in the middle of China talking to next-generation scientists who are focused on the future. It was very exciting.” -Dr. Rosina C. “Tammi” Krecek
One Health in Action In China, the group travelled to Beijing, Chengdu (Sichuan Province), and Lanzhou (Gansu Province). Their main objectives were to explore new research collaborations in pork production, swine nutritional issues, zoonotic swine diseases, and pathogen contamination prevention. The team began their trip in Beijing, visiting the College of Veterinary Medicine at the China Agricultural University, the School of Public Health at Peking University, and the China Center for Disease Control. Scientists, professors, and physicians at the institutions met with the team to share swine disease concerns in both countries and how to translate research into education and outreach.
Members of the U.S.-China Scientific Cooperation Exchange Program in front of the Yangtze River in Lanzhou (Gansu Province) (Photo by Dr. Rosina C.“Tammi” Krecek) The group travelled south to the Sichuan Center for Disease Control and the College of Veterinary Medicine at the Sichuan Agricultural University in Chengdu. Both Texas A&M faculty and their Chinese colleagues presented seminars about their research and educational programs. At the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute in Gansu Province, the team interacted with graduate students and senior institute members. “There we were in the middle of China talking to next-generation scientists who are focused on the future. It was very exciting,” said Krecek. Travelling from eastern China to western provinces, the team observed different One Health perspectives. In rural regions, the topics discussed concentrated on agricultural production problems, while in other locations swine disease affecting minority groups became the main issue. Differences between American and Chinese veterinary medicine practice also became apparent while travelling across the region. “The veterinary profession in China is very different than in the United States,” Ashley explained. “In the eastern part of China, where the big cities are, their veterinarians are focused on small animals. Those veterinarians are well trained like western veterinarians, but in less-developed parts of China, veterinarians are perceived to have less technical expertise.”
Future Directions The visit helped strengthen existing partnerships and establish new ones related to infectious and parasitic diseases and swine nutritional issues. A possible exchange program between Texas A&M and the China Agricultural University may also lead to advancements in the One Health Initiative. “In the spirit of One Health, future collaborations will not involve only a single person, or even a single discipline,” Budke stated. “We will need to bring together individuals from multiple disciplines in both countries.”
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I N T E R N AT I O N A L
by Callie Rainosek
Students from Barcelona gain valuable experience at Texas A&M
Back (from left): Roger Lauradó Pérez and Carla Carrera Gusart, Front (from left): Roser Serra Badía, Silvia Cros Roura, and María Simó Vesperinas
Many students travel abroad for the chance to expand their knowledge and dive right into a new culture, language, and education system. Though all the Barcelona students agreed that these opportunities convinced them to study abroad at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), one of the biggest impacts on the students was something less deliberately planned: allaround personal growth. One of the biggest leaps a student can take is making the decision to study in a foreign country. Whether the trip lasts three weeks or three months, studying abroad never fails to make a lasting impact on participating students. After researching several universities that offer study abroad programs through their veterinary schools, students such as Carla Carrera Gusart decided on Texas A&M University because of the veterinary school’s strong reputation for success. Other students, like Silvia Cros Roura, considered an education at Texas A&M to be her gateway to developing a diverse background in veterinary medicine. Each of these students independently came to College Station to study abroad and were here for variable times—some for a few weeks and some a few months. “I wanted to go outside my country and practice. I wanted to see how veterinary medicine is organized in different countries, as well as how it is different,” Roura explained. “At first I wanted to go to Europe, but then I saw the program in the United States and thought, ‘Why not?’” Though it was many students’ first study-abroad trip, María Simó Vesperinas is adding Texas A&M to her list as 32 •
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her second country visited. After such a positive experience as an exchange student in France, Vesperinas decided to explore another culture. “My home university, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, offered me this chance, and I thought it would be a good option for me to improve my English and see other ways of working. They also told me that in the United States, you have more stuff to do with the animals. There is more money and more opportunity.” While the students were expecting to experience culture shock, the difference in education systems came as more of a surprise. Roger Llaurado Perez was fascinated by the difference in education systems but was especially impressed with the hands-on experiences offered to fourth-year veterinary students. “What fourth-year students do here in the hospital on their rotations is what interns do in Spain,” he said. “Once you finish your studies in Spain, you apply for an internship, and if you get it, that’s when you do the stuff that fourth-year students do here. I think students from Texas A&M are more prepared than students from Barcelona or Spain.” While Perez appreciates the time students take on their studies before they obtain a veterinary degree, Gusart admires the communication between the students and the clients. “I’ve learned how important it is to get information from the client about the patient. In the hospital, all the students know how to get this information because they know how important it is,” she explained. “They always follow a case in the same way, first meeting with the client and then examining the patient. The process is different, we don’t do it the same in Spain.” Roura added, “Here the students act like doctors before they finish the degree. I think it’s important because they gain more confidence in themselves. In Spain, we go out and might not feel as comfortable exercising as a veterinary doctor. The structure and planning of education is very important, and I think it’s good here.” In describing their experiences working in the veterinary hospital, the students explained how the relationships between clinical personnel and veterinary students impacted them. They said professors were highly attentive to their needs, investing time in them if they did not understand the lesson material. The visiting scholars also admitted their astonishment at the care given to the general student population and were happy to feel included. “We felt more comfortable when we were working with them because we were treated like other students, and the students were treated like veterinarians,” said Gusart. Though completing the paperwork and housing details might have been exhausting for the interns, the experience at the CVM was well worth it. Students were able to submit their preferences for working with large or small animals,
making their rotations in the hospital more individualized and focused. Many of them even came out of the internship with special interests, naming several classes that they would recommend to other students. “I recommend taking pathology,” said Vesperinas. “I had a good time in there, and I learned a lot.” The students were also exposed to new hands-on practices that they may not have been able to experience back home. Perez explored equine medicine, a field of study he recently became interested in. In fact, he cites this experience in the program as the most influential on his future career. “My main aim for coming here was to decide whether I wanted to practice in the small or large animal field, because just last year I realized that I like horse medicine,” he said. “This is actually my first time working with horses, and I enjoy it. Horses are possibly what I want to work on.” He added that Texas has also introduced him to western cultural traditions. “I have discovered the world behind horses, cowboys, and how much people care about their horses here.”
Dr. Maria Esteve-Gassent While each individual had a different journey during their time at the veterinary school, one transformation remains constant through each student: personal growth. Dr. Maria Esteve-Gassent, organizer of the exchange program and mentor of the visiting students, explained how each student faced and overcame challenges through the study abroad program. “I think what happens is your comfort zone expands,” she said. “When you’re used to a particular culture, or a particular language, you have this comfort zone. You think, ‘I have it under control.’ It’s predictable, everything is cool. As soon as you step out of that comfort zone, you’re afraid of things,” she continued. “You feel panic, and then all of a sudden, you feel like you’re comfortable there too. You’re not afraid of new things.”
Besides organizing and coordinating the exchange program, Esteve-Gassent works to make sure each student feels comfortable in the new environment. Her counseling has helped the visiting scholars follow their passion in veterinary medicine and guide them through opportunities for individual development. How did the exchange program between Texas A&M and the faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Food Technology (a part of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) start? Esteve-Gassent and other faculty began working to organize the program two years ago when pre-veterinary students from Texas A&M became interested in studying abroad. Esteve-Gassent was able to make contact with the veterinary school in Barcelona through the pre-medical internship program in Spain that she also leads. “I just realized that this could be a great opportunity not only for the preveterinary students, but also for the veterinary students when they’re interested in studying abroad or some type of internship somewhere else,” she explained. “Very few people think about Spain, I guess because it’s farther away. It’s a relatively safe environment, and I thought it would be a great opportunity. Now I’m their point of contact.” Esteve-Gassent’s inspiration to begin international programs came from her experiences as a graduate student in Spain. After studying for a year in Denmark, EsteveGassent developed an understanding of other cultures and was introduced to new perspectives. “You get this understanding of other cultures, and I like the fact that you can pick and choose. When you know about other cultures and how people do things in other places, you can say, ‘Hey, I like it better. Why shouldn’t I do it this way too?’” explained Esteve-Gassent. “There might be things in life that make you say, ‘I don’t like it, but I understand where it comes from.” Esteve-Gassent’s experiences studying abroad impacted her so deeply she was moved to share this opportunity with her students at Texas A&M years later. “Since I’m a Spaniard, I wanted to have Spanish students experience the same personal growth and international awareness I did,” she said. “That is what my goal is, even when I teach undergraduates.” Now, after working hard to coordinate and organize the finest details, Esteve-Gassent is proud to announce that Texas A&M will complete a full exchange with Barcelona in the near future, sending a maximum of five professional and undergraduate students per year to Spain. Each exchange student in Barcelona and Texas A&M will visit the other campus for four to 12 weeks, with a goal of completing several full hospital rotations. Although the Barcelona students all had different journeys during their time at Texas A&M, they all shared a personal growth experience. While studying abroad can be invaluable, no one can truly estimate how positive international programs can be until they experience it for themselves. Though there is extensive planning and paperwork involved in studying abroad, faculty such as Esteve-Gassent work to communicate the importance of cultural understanding and awareness through international programs. “I hope to keep doing this for a long time, so we can impact more students’ lives,” she said.
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I N T E R N AT I O N A L
by Micah J. Waltz
International Programs at the CVM 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’
Students studying abroad in Costa Rica (Photo by Dr. Don Brightsmith)
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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 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” EsteveGassent, 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
Some of the CVM faculty-led or coordinated international opportunities include courses in food safety and public health; chemical immobilization, transportation, and treating of animals; the history of European medicine; and public health. Faculty-led study abroad programs and their associated faculty members include the following: Undergraduate Spain: Dr. Loles Esteve-Gassent Germany: Dr. Jeremy Wasser Costa Rica: Dr. Donald Brightsmith South Africa: Dr. Jim Derr
Graduate/Professional Italy: Dr. Christine Budke South Africa: Dr. Jim Derr Germany: Dr. Michelle Pine Spain: Dr. Loles Esteve-Gassent Amazon: Dr. Donald Brightsmith Eastern Cape of South Africa: Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon
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I N T E R N AT I O N A L
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,” EsteveGassent 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
Students studying in the food safety course at the European Food Safety Authority in Parma, Italy (Photo by Anna Pennacchi) 36 •
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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 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
Biomedical Science students at the University Hospital Bonn in Bonn, Germany (Photo by Dr. Jeremy Wasser) 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.” Summer 2016 •
as told to Michelle Yeoman
In their own words: DVM Students Austin Hardegree and his dog, Oliver
Austin Hardegree When I go to the zoo with my friends, I’m limited to sharing one fact per exhibit. Otherwise, I’d spend the entire trip saying, “Did you know…?” I’m passionate about education, so I want to share all these wonderful animal facts with anyone who will listen. I’d love to continue sharing my passion by becoming a clinical professor or lecturer so that I can treat patients and teach students. I first came to Texas A&M University to pursue a degree in zoology. I didn’t know what my future goals were, but I knew I wanted to work with animals in some capacity. I researched the zoology program and the professors here, and knew that this was the place to go. My parents were thrilled because they’re both Aggies. The big joke in my family was that they’d ask, “Are you going to Texas A&M? Because that’s the only college we’re paying for.” At the time, I wasn’t too interested in veterinary medicine. I’m definitely the type of person who wants to be involved in multiple projects at once, and I didn’t think that the veterinary profession had much variety. While in high school, I’d worked at a small animal practice that provided mostly spays, neuters, and vaccines, and I knew I wanted more diversity in my professional life. While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I started working at the Small Animal Hospital and was able to observe all the fascinating, wonderful things that veterinarians actually do. Dr. Stacy Eckman, clinical assistant professor of small animal primary care, was 38 •
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extremely supportive and helpful during this time, and she encouraged me to apply to veterinary school. With her encouragement, I applied to the veterinary school about a month before applications were due. I am so grateful that I was accepted, and I truly love my experiences here. I’m also heavily invested in the education of others, especially when students can be active in their own education. Part of my interest in education stems from my mother, who always encouraged me to be a teacher. She taught a dual credit English course for senior high school students, in which students took high school courses for college credit. This past summer, I was able to work as a teaching assistant for the undergraduate and graduate anatomy labs, as well as the first-year student summer workshop. This was an amazing opportunity because I was teaching students who were excited about learning, and it reinforced that I wish to remain in academia. As a second-year veterinary student at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), I’m doing what I love: teaching, learning, and working with animals. I’m also involved in several student organizations and activities. I’m currently a secondyear student faculty liaison with Greg Whitaker, a fellow veterinary student. We work as mediators between students and professors, so that we can have the best learning environment possible. Because research shows that students are more effective learners if they know more about their teachers, we initiated a faculty highlight segment during our first year. Once a week, we would highlight different professors, asking them questions and showing fun pictures of them. Because I’m heavily invested in the education of others, I was particularly excited to go to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) conference this past spring. I attended a fascinating diversity symposium, where I was able to contribute to the development of a new inclusiveness statement for AAVMC accredited schools. It was amazing to be around all these wonderful veterinary educators and experts. I’m also the vice president of the Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association, an organization dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion for all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. One of our goals is to emphasize the relevancy of gender and sexual minority issues to veterinary medicine. For example, not many veterinarians know that the average homosexual couple spends more on veterinary care every year than the national average. I’m broadening my role to the national level. This year, I was appointed the national secretary for Broad Spectrum. I really love the community in our veterinary school. Because of this inclusive environment, students can come from diverse backgrounds, and we’re still supportive of each other. I think this sense of inclusion and collegiality is largely due to the initiatives and programs the Dean’s Office has put into action.
Sarah Pella examining a patient
Sarah Pella I’m a fourth-year veterinary student at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) with a soft spot for dachshunds and a passion for educating families about their pets. I didn’t realize until I came to veterinary school that I’d have such a strong desire to build a relationship with my clients, to invest in that relationship, and to care for these families. I hope this care and concern is present in the way that I practice. In the future, I’d love to open a private general practice with my husband, who’s also a fourth-year DVM student here. We’d love to stay in Texas to be near our families, who live in the Houston and Austin areas. Our perfect location would be the Texas Hill Country, so we can enjoy the outdoors by hiking and camping. My husband and I are both from small immediate families, but with large extended families. Because we love being part of a large family, we wish to provide those experiences for our kids. In a perfect world, we would love to have four biological children and one adopted child. I prefer general practice because I love cats and dogs, especially dachshunds. Also, I wish to develop long, lasting relationships with families, while educating them about their pets. There are more opportunities to do this in general practice. In a specialty practice, you often don’t see the same patients frequently, and so there’s less opportunity to build long-term relationships.
I also have a heart for international work, and in the future I’d love to spend a few weeks each year volunteering abroad to work with animals, large and small. I’ve visited Haiti twice. My last trip lasted 10 days, and my group of six treated over 800 animals in the course of four days. It took a lot of manpower, organization, and help from the clients, but it was an amazing experience for us and the community. Helping the community is important to me. As a practicing veterinarian, I’d love to be a community leader by fostering learning environments for middle and high school students. I plan to create opportunities by having high school students come work for me in my clinic and by encouraging leadership skills in my kids. My own path to leadership began when I was an undergraduate student here. I received a scholarship through the Century Scholars Program and became heavily involved with that organization. My advisers in that program were fantastic at strengthening leadership skills in me. Not only did they teach me what leadership was, but they furthered my role as a leader by talking me through the process. I’m organized and like to delegate, so as a leader I work on gathering people’s ideas, then overseeing and organizing different tasks. My main role as a leader is to serve as a unifying voice. Once I started veterinary school, I didn’t know what the leadership opportunities here would be like, but everything fell in place. This school is fantastic at seeing leadership potential in people and bringing these skills forward. Particularly people like Dr. Dan Posey and Dr. Kenita Rogers—their doors are always open, exemplifying the core traits of leadership that they teach: inclusiveness, listening, responding, and loving people well. With their support, I was elected as one of the Council on Diversity and Professionalism class representatives. I’m dedicated to helping increase diversity and inclusion here, so I greatly enjoyed this opportunity. I continued my leadership efforts in my third year when I was elected president of another student organization that promotes diversity and inclusiveness: Veterinary Students One in Culture and Ethnicity (VOICE). We are responsible for hosting engaging, inclusion-promoting activities. For example, we have salsa nights, in which the Salsa Fusion Latin Dance Company from main campus taught students how to salsa dance. One of my favorite events was VetFessions, which allowed students to anonymously voice any issues or concerns. We placed a box where students could leave anonymous index cards on which they have decorated or written their confessions. A few months later, we reviewed the cards and selected five recurring issues, then held a meeting to discuss them. We also meet with the Dean’s Office each semester to discuss the culture of the veterinary school and to address any changes that need to be made. I love seeing people flourish. I’m very organized, and I like to delegate. With these leadership roles, I’ve been taught how to gather people’s ideas and organize them into a unifying voice. I also love to provide people with opportunities to learn about themselves because that is something that the veterinary school did for me. Summer 2016 •
Spotlight Trish Hessel
When people ask me if I have experience with large animals, I answer yes—but it’s not with the species they’re probably imagining. I feel perfectly comfortable responding to a stranded dolphin or assessing a whale’s vital signs. Right now, I volunteer with the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TMMSN), a nonprofit organization based in Galveston, Texas, which rescues and rehabilitates stranded marine mammals. In the future, I plan to work in a general mixed animal practice, while continuing my volunteer work with marine mammals. My path to the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) is a bit untraditional. I earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and attended law school. However, while earning my law degree, I realized that I was more interested in veterinary medicine. After earning my law degree, my husband and I moved to Houston, Texas, where my husband had a job with a NASA subcontractor. I passed the Texas Bar Exam and took night courses to fulfill the science prerequisites for veterinary school. It took me three years because I was working full time, teaching continuing education classes for judges and attorneys. In addition, I had to enroll in three different colleges in Houston to find evening courses to fulfill all the required prerequisites. During this time, I volunteered at the Houston Zoo to gain experience in veterinary medicine. I was volunteering one day when TMMSN requested Pedialyte donations for a young dolphin named Cupid, found stranded at Galveston beach on Valentine’s Day. I drove to Galveston with our donation and was immediately hooked on the idea of veterinary medicine. I am interested in small and large animals and plan to work in a mixed animal practice in Manvel, Texas, upon graduating. General practice really appeals to me because I want to work within a community and truly get to know my patients and their families. For example, I can see a puppy in my practice, then see that patient grow up while developing a relationship with its family. I also plan to continue pursuing my interests in law. Upon graduation, I will return to volunteering my law expertise through pro bono work for the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program.
“I’ve had wonderful experiences in leadership in veterinary school.”
– Trish Hessel 40 •
• Summer 2016
Trish Hessel Community involvement is important to me. Being a leader is about becoming involved in your community. I think people are more apt to get involved if invited, rather than putting themselves out there, but getting involved is so essential, especially in veterinary school. It takes a lot of the student body to make things happen here, such as the annual open house, and all the amazing educational wet labs to supplement our curriculum. I’ve had wonderful experiences in leadership in veterinary school. I’ve been a student faculty liaison every year I’ve been a student, and I’m currently in my fourth year. I was also elected programs coordinator for the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA) my second year. One of my main roles was to bring in speakers. In my third year, I sat on the SCAVMA Executive Committee as a representative from our class. I’ve also organized dentistry wet labs—the educational veterinary labs that supplement our curriculum—featuring both large and small animals. My role as a leader is to work with people to assess the needs of a community and what must be done to achieve those needs. Leadership is about finding your role within a community and then finding out what will make it stronger. My advice for everyone is this: whatever community you find yourself in, there’s a role for you, and you can make the community even stronger.
Mike McEntire I love zoo medicine because it’s a great place to make a difference as a veterinarian. You have opportunities to treat endangered species, conduct clinical research, further conservation efforts, and educate the general public. I’m currently a third-year veterinary student at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), and in the future I’d love to practice zoo medicine. I grew up in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah, and have always wanted to be a veterinarian. While pursuing my undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University, I volunteered in different veterinary clinics to gain experience. I fell in love with aquatic and zoo medicine after working at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California. I’ve also conducted research on parasites and pathogens in the Texas horned lizard, which is the official reptile of Texas. Zoo medicine is a great field because of all the opportunities to engage in clinical research on species that we don’t know much about. I’m passionate about helping people and working within a group to make something better. In my first year of veterinary school, I was elected to be a Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) delegate and traveled to the national delegate conference. My second year, I helped propose a bid for our school to host the national SAVMA symposium. I’m extremely excited to say that we won the bid and will be hosting SAVMA in March
“Veterinarians, no matter where they are or what they’re doing, are going to be leaders in their community.”
– Mike McEntire 2017. We’re now in the planning phases of the symposium, and I’m on the executive planning committee. I’m also part of a SAVMA taskforce to examine mental health and general wellness in veterinary students. Our taskforce plans to conduct a survey of veterinary students from around the world to ask questions about their experiences, mental states, general wellness, and eating and sleeping patterns—and how all of these have been impacted by veterinary school. Wellness is a huge issue for veterinarians and veterinary students. Unfortunately, veterinarians in the work force have high rates of suicide and depression. I think a lot of this stems from the type of people we are—we’ve worked very hard for our successes, and we’re perfectionists. If things don’t go perfectly, we’re very hard on ourselves. I think because we expect more from ourselves, these expectations can set us up for failure. Also, we work so hard to take care of animals that we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. Wellness is a sensitive topic, and people often don’t want to talk about it, but I’m amazed by how many people will come speak with me about wellness after I’ve given a talk at a veterinary school. It’s wonderful how many people are willing to share their experiences, once we start talking about wellness. Like many other students, I’ve had to cope with the pressures of expecting a lot from myself. This semester, when I worked hard on the SAVMA bid, my grades weren’t as high as in previous semesters. Zoo medicine is a highly competitive field. I worried that anything less than perfection would hinder my chances to enter this field, but I realized that grades aren’t everything—we’re here to learn and to build a group of colleagues who will help us throughout our careers. We also learn about leadership in veterinary school. Veterinarians, no matter where they are or what they’re doing, are going to be leaders in their community. They’re well educated, so people in the community look up to them. Also, if they’re working in a clinical setting, they’re likely the owner of the clinic or in a supervisory role. The veterinarian has the opportunity to shape the atmosphere of the entire clinic. All veterinary students should look for leadership opportunities because that’s what they signed up for. In my opinion, leadership is about helping people. If you’re acting as a leader only for personal gains, then it won’t work out—your motivations are transparent. Real leadership comes naturally if you’re motivated to help. Summer 2016 •
Students Leading the Way
VOICE One of the most valuable parts of the program at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) is the vast array of student groups available that enhance classroom instruction and student experiences. From cats to cows, from skin conditions to suturing, students can participate in organizations specific to their interest areas. These clubs often host guest lectures and hands-on “wet” labs to further prepare students for lives of service in diverse areas of the veterinary profession. There are also a number of clubs dedicated to causes within the profession, such as diversity, which seek to bring awareness and motivate change. The clubs provide students with valuable opportunities to practice their soft skills as they assume leadership roles within the organizations. That was certainly the case for Ricci Karkula, DVM ’15. While a student at Texas A&M, Karkula became the national president of the student chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). In this elected position, she represented 13,000 veterinary students across the country. She traveled to attend AVMA meetings and discuss issues veterinary students are concerned about, such as the lack of diversity in the profession and the increasingly heavy load of student debt that awaits most new veterinarians after graduation. Karkula is currently completing a yearlong internship with Equine Sports Medicine & Surgery in Weatherford, Texas. “I love my job,” she said. “There is nothing else in the world I’d rather be doing.” Karkula credited her experiences with the Student Veterinary Surgeon’s Club and the student chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners in preparing her for this career. The surgeon’s club hosted monthly “lunch and learn” events, which featured veterinary surgeons presenting on an unusual case or procedure. It also hosted regular wet labs, giving students a chance to practice hands-on skills such as suturing. 42 •
• Summer 2016
by Dr. Megan Palsa
For third-year DVM student Erin Black, cause-oriented organizations have been an important part of her experience. Black is dedicated to improving the veterinary profession through a focus on diversity and equality. “I want veterinary medicine to have a rich and diverse field of experience,” she said. Though she is the only African American person in her class, Black said she never felt intimidated by the thought of entering a profession dominated by white people. Instead, the minority status “has made me more passionate. I see it as a challenge for me to be better. I feel a responsibility to be a spokesperson.” As the liaison for the local chapter of the Student Association of Veterinary Medicine and the national organization Veterinary Students as One in Culture and Ethnicity (VOICE), Black strives to bring awareness to diversity issues on campus and in the profession. “This group is not just about race,” said Black. “We are interested in all kinds of diversity, whether that’s ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation. We want to bring in all kinds of perspectives. Diversity needs to be spread through our great profession as a whole.” The Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative (WVLDI) is another of Black’s passions. She is the president of the student chapter at Texas A&M. Even though there are more women studying and practicing veterinary medicine than men in the United States, men still tend to hold more leadership positions in the profession. Black’s work with the initiative seeks to encourage women to pursue leadership roles through additional education on worklife balance, salary negotiation, and other topics related to career preparation. Project Diversity is also an important organization for Black, as she works with her classmates to reach out to undergraduates at historically African American colleges and universities. The group encourages students to consider a career in veterinary medicine.
Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative (WVLDI)
Student Groups at the CVM • • • • • Broad Spectrum Like Karkula, third-year student Michael McEntire has been active in the student chapter of AVMA. For two years he served as a delegate representative and is now on the executive board. He has traveled to symposiums in Minnesota, Colorado, and Massachusetts with the organization. The veterinary professionals he met at these events impressed him, he said. “The more I get involved with the AVMA, the more I realize that there are so many people out there that are trying to make the veterinary profession better and move it forward. That inspires me,” said McEntire. He recently played a role in moving the profession forward himself: He helped write the proposal for the 2017 student AVMA symposium to be held at Texas A&M. They won the bid, and now he is helping to plan the event. As a future zoo practitioner, McEntire is also the president of the Zoo and Wildlife Club at Texas A&M. The club hosts regular speakers and labs, and spends time at the Winnie Carter Wildlife Center. The center and the club give students the opportunity to study exotic species, such as ostriches and antelope, close-up. “Working with these less common species is an invaluable professional development experience,” he said.
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Zoo and Wildlife Club
Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Student Chapter of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners Student Veterinary Dermatology Club Student Chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners Student Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society Green Vets Student Chapter of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Laboratory Animal Medicine Club Student Chapter of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management Sheltering Vets Student Chapter of the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners Society for Theriogenology Student Veterinary Surgeon’s Club Student Veterinary Response Team Veterinary Imaging Club Student Chapter of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative Zoo, Exotics, and Wildlife Medicine Club Veterinary Anesthesiology Club Broad Spectrum (formerly the Lesbian and Gay Veterinary Medical Association) Veterinary Students as One in Culture and Ethnicity Student Chapter of the Wildlife Disease Association Swine Vets Club Veterinary Business Management Association Student One Health Association Christian Veterinary Fellowship Student Chapter of the American Association of Feline Practitioners Summer 2016 •
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by Dr. Megan Palsa
A Focused Leader: Dr. Allen Roussel
After completing a residency and master’s at Purdue University, Roussel joined the faculty at Virginia Tech before starting his long career at Texas A&M University.
Dr. Allen Roussel
Extensive Administrative Experience
Long before his days as department head of the Large Animal Clinical Sciences (VLCS) department at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), Dr. Allen Roussel was simply a young man fascinated by animals. “When I was growing up, we had cats and one old hunting dog, so that’s what got me interested in veterinary medicine,” said Roussel. Coming from a family focused on human medicine—his father worked in the medical department of an oil company and his mother was a nurse— Roussel’s decision to become a large animal veterinarian came as a surprise. “I actually knew nothing about cattle and large animals when I was growing up,” he said. Roussel made up for this lack of experience by joining the first graduating class of Louisiana State University’s (LSU) School of Veterinary Medicine. Sheer determination and extracurricular opportunities supplemented Roussel’s coursework and helped him prepare for a career as a large animal veterinarian. “I spent hours and hours and hours in an auction barn, just sitting and watching cattle come through, guessing the weights and seeing what they did,” the Baton Rouge native said, adding that he also worked for the faculty member who was responsible for LSU’s teaching herds. Roussel took every opportunity to work with cattle at the university or on cattle farms of friends and relatives. Early in his career, Roussel worked in two veterinary practices over a five-year period and pictured himself spending his life as a rural veterinary practitioner. He was a partner in one practice for three years. Even though he thought he would be in rural practice his entire career, something prompted his first employer to presciently predict that Roussel would eventually become a professor. 44 •
• Summer 2016
Roussel’s extensive vita includes nearly two decades of administrative experience. He first joined the administrative ranks at the CVM as VLCS (then called VLAM) associate department head in 1997. He also served as president of the Southwest Veterinary Symposium, the Comparative Gastroenterology Society, and the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine’s Large Animal Specialty. During his administrative tenure at the CVM, Roussel learned much about what it means to be in administration, the first being a realization of what constitutes personal success in higher education. “Leadership positions, administrative positions, and being successful should not be considered the same thing,” Roussel said. “If you look around this college, I would say that most of the people who have the greatest careers, reputations, and accomplishments certainly aren’t administrators. In fact many of these people are much more suited for non-administrative roles, so we shouldn’t think that an administrative role is the next step up to excellence.” The second observation about administration that Roussel has made is the different roles for different administrators. “The dean and the university president have a major role in public outreach, interacting with the public all the time,” Roussel said, adding that these types of interactions don’t come as easily to him. “I’m more of a chief operating officer than a chief executive officer. I actually enjoy helping the university function internally, establishing policies, not to make rules, but to facilitate the success of all faculty members in a complex and, sometimes, bureaucratically burdensome environment.” The third realization was that a department head could not fill all of the roles of the job without help. “When I was associate department head, (then department head) Dr. William Moyer would share a lot of things with me. You’d go nuts if you don’t have somebody to confide in,” Roussel said. “Many times as associate department head, I sat there and listened to him talk and I went, ‘Mmmmmm.’ When it was over, he thanked me so much for helping him. I didn’t do anything but listen and nod my head every now and then. But, I realize now that this is what he needed.” Because of increasing administrative demands, Roussel relies on a leadership team that he created when he took over as department head. “First it takes a great administrative staff, which I have been fortunate to have. Then, it takes other faculty members with special talents and expertise to fill in the gaps in the department head’s competencies. I think one of the important skills of a successful leader is the wisdom to delegate,” he said. “When I took over the role of department head, I appointed four
assistant and associate department heads, to whom I turned for advice and help. I think the faculty members in our department are much, much better off having five people working with them than only one. There’s no way I can do all the stuff that is required by myself.”
Witnessing the Changing CVM In addition to changes in administration, Roussel has seen many CVM accomplishments over the years. A decade after moving to College Station, he saw the groundbreaking work of Texas A&M University researchers when they cloned a calf in 1997, followed by a pig and goat in 2001, a cat in 2002, and a deer in 2003. He has also seen the CVM’s graduating classes continue to consistently earn high passing rates on the National Board of Veterinary Examiners and the State of Texas Board, while the college remains in the top echelon of national and international programs. Even with this continuous advancement, Roussel is well aware of the numerous challenges facing the CVM due to shifting attitudes about the role of veterinary medicine. For instance, the emergence of specialty veterinary hospitals around the state forced Texas A&M to reevaluate its practice. “We no longer have the luxury of being the only referral practice in Texas,” Roussel said. “While we were rather slow to respond to that change, I think we have made substantial progress in the last decade by becoming more customer-oriented toward our referring practitioners and our clients, both of whom have a choice when it comes to veterinary specialty hospitals.” The long-time administrator of the VLCS has also seen significant demographic changes in the college. Roussel remembers when the department hired its first female faculty member in the late 1980s; now, women make up 40 percent of the VLCS faculty and 80 percent of the house officers. Classes are increasingly filled with female students, and fewer students have a background in agriculture. Roussel also noted that the continuing emergence of new technology, both within and beyond veterinary medicine, offers tremendous opportunities for faculty and students. “I remember standing out in the hospital and hearing a crackly voice come over the loudspeaker, competing with the noises from horses, cattle, and sparrows. Immediately after the voice ceased, everyone began asking the person next to them, ‘What did she say?’” Roussel said. “Now we all carry cell phones that not only get phone calls, but also let us surf the Internet, where we can gain access to nearly every veterinary and medical journal in the world instantaneously, while standing in a stall. Medical records are almost completely electronic, laboratory results appear the instant the test is completed, and radiographs are available for viewing instantaneously, and the image can be manipulated on the screen.” As these changes emerge, Roussel’s steady temperament and firm guidance have helped VLCS—which is one of CVM’s largest departments—remain on course. Having announced his plan to step down from the department head position in 2016, Roussel plans to continue teaching and mentoring young faculty members. “I’m looking forward to trying to help less-experienced faculty members in whatever way that I can,” he said. ,
Dr. Allen Roussel in France
In 2001–2002, I spent my first of two sabbatical leaves in the Brittany region of France. My entire family went with me and my three children became fluent while in France. During that year, I completely fell in love with France. Since then I have visited that beautiful country every year, usually two to three times. Ten years ago, I started conducting small group tours once or twice a year. In recent years, I have offered Food Animal CE courses in conjunction with the tours. Last year, my two daughters were a huge help caring for the guests. Maybe they will want to keep this little business going after I can’t get around anymore.
Dr. Roussel’s daughters Kathryn Roussel Harris ’13 (left) and Debra Ann Roussel ’16 (right). Summer 2016 •
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by Katelyn Werner
A Ballad of Brain Cells: Dr. Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni Quieter Times at the CVM
Dr. Tiffany-Castiglioni, one of the longest-serving department heads at Texas A&M, playing the harp she keeps in her office her office. Dr. Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni, head of the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS) at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), has loved music from an early age. When she was four years old, her mother taught her piano—later came accordion, harp, cello, and singing. But from a similarly early age of five years old, she also loved biology. Tiffany-Castiglioni remembered her father bringing home a frog dissection kit and a see-through Visible Man. “One night he dissected the frog for us,” she recalled, “and I saw how the layout of the organs was very similar to the Visible Man—where the stomach was, where the intestines were, the lungs and the heart—the body plan was similar. I was just five, but I found it fascinating.” Now a neuroscientist, Tiffany-Castiglioni serves the CVM as a devoted administrator, researcher, mentor, and, occasionally, a musician. She was one of its first female faculty members, and today she is the head of VIBS and the CVM’s first associate dean of undergraduate education. 46 •
• Summer 2016
In 1982, Tiffany-Castiglioni finished her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles, and she and her husband decided to return to their Texas roots. She was attracted to the CVM’s uniquely encouraging, collaborative atmosphere, she said. “I felt the students were there because they loved animals, not to get a prestigious job or money.” At the time, the Department of Veterinary Anatomy (VTAN), a predecessor of the VIBS department, was looking for a new assistant professor, and Tiffany-Castiglioni applied. She interviewed with Department Head Raymond Sis at the since-closed grill, The Loading Dock, where, she speculates, her toddling 18-month-old daughter helped charm him into offering her the position. Sis hired Tiffany-Castiglioni to teach and lead research in cell biology and histology. With no “start-up funding,” Tiffany-Castiglioni “scrounged” together a 90-square-foot lab in the parking lot and a surplus lab hood, and set her pen to a pile of applications. Within three years, she had funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Heart Association (AHA), and the Epilepsy Foundation of America to continue her postdoctoral studies on the inner-workings of a type of glial (non-neuronal) brain cell called an astrocyte. Tiffany-Castiglioni did this only about a decade after the CVM officially allowed unrestricted admission for women into all programs. She was around the 10th woman on the CVM faculty and the third (a high number then) in VTAN. She worried somewhat, she said. The faculty included a couple of young women besides her, “but none of them had a baby during their time getting tenure”—and she worried about how she would be perceived and whether people would trust her to balance family and work. Despite her fears, she said, the CVM was a much friendlier place for women than other colleges.
An Academic and a Musician When Tiffany-Castiglioni had arrived in 1982, VTAN was a small department with 15 faculty and not much research, although she said she found a rather friendly work group, such as downstairs in the electron microscopy laboratory. Sis stepped down a year after Tiffany-Castiglioni arrived, and the freshly recruited Gerald Bratton became department head. Like Sis, Bratton strongly promoted research. During his 15 years in the position, he encouraged building the Large Animal Clinic (now Hospital) in 1993 and remodeling the VTAN surgical suite, where TiffanyCastiglioni received a renovated lab. Bratton said Tiffany-Castiglioni was “one of my young superstars. We gave her lots of opportunities, and she did us a great job. She listens well, she doesn’t fly off the handle, she analyzes things before she makes decisions, and she gets along with all levels of students, faculty, and staff.”
Tiffany-Castiglioni said she considers Bratton one of her main mentors. The mentorship started with a collaborative research project. A paper proposed a connection between her studies in astrocytes and his in lead. They took the tip and ran, earning funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and the NIH, and publishing many papers together. Their research eventually showed that astrocytes are the brain cells that absorb and store lead. In 1995, Tiffany-Castiglioni and her lab found a protein in astrocytes that finds lead and is a key to lead neurotoxicity. This finding and its subsequent studies that followed from it, led to the Texas A&M Association of Former Students (AFS) awarding her the Distinguished Faculty Award for Research in 1998. Tiffany-Castiglioni continues to research the changes in biochemistry and function of astrocytes in response to lead. Tiffany-Castiglioni received tenure in 1987 and took a faculty development leave in 1989. For her leave, she halfjokingly said that she set for herself three goals: first, to learn new molecular biology techniques at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio; second, to learn to type on a computer; and third, to start playing the harp again. “I gave up music for 13 years,” she said, recollecting the busy time beginning with her postdoctoral research and continuing into her time at the CVM. In 1989, her children were nine and two—“finally old enough to let me play!” Music has often blended into Tiffany-Castiglioni’s teaching career. She keeps a lever harp (the lighter, nimbler cousin of a traditional concert harp) in her office and has often brought it to class to serenade her students with lyrics of, for example, thyroid histology and iodide, set to old English folk tunes. When the (thoroughly sanitized) Large Animal Hospital set up a 4-6 day triage hospital for over 350 elderly and child evacuees of Hurricane Rita, she and her harp could be heard soothing the stress of the halls. Tiffany-Castiglioni said she loves teaching, in song and otherwise, but as much as she loves it, she has since found a pursuit she loved even more.
New Terrain In 1994, Tiffany-Castiglioni spoke to some students about careers in science, describing the stages of an academic’s life up to being a new full professor, where she was at the time. What would be next? She didn’t know. In fact, she thought of it as a “featureless terrain.” She had hoped it would include research and teaching—but, what else? Two years later, she found out. The CVM was seeking someone to fill a new position: assistant dean of the Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) undergraduate program. “I loved BIMS,” Tiffany-Castiglioni said. “I taught in it, and I thought it was valuable. So I wanted someone good in charge.” She remembered how she’d asked others, including Bratton, to apply for the position—and all those turned right around and asked her, “Well, why don’t you apply?” She did, and she joined Dr. Mary Herron, then assistant dean of professional programs, and Dr. Ann Kier, then head of the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology (VTPB), as the third woman “at
“For years, I thought my major identity was a researcher. It’s what I am; and now, I know that my identity is building a department and helping to build a college.” -Dr. Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni the table” of the CVM administration. Tiffany-Castiglioni has remained at the table since, and her title changed from “assistant” to “associate” in 1998. “I knew she had the demeanor and the background,” Bratton remembered. “I thought she’d make a good associate dean, and I think she has.” In 1998, Bratton stepped down as head of the merged Department of Veterinary Anatomy and Public Health (VAPH). Tiffany-Castiglioni served a year as interim department head while the new dean, Dr. Richard Adams, rallied an external search. They eventually asked her to apply, she said. So she did, and she received the position. Tiffany-Castiglioni’s move into administration changed her thinking. “For years, I thought my major identity was a researcher,” she said. “It is what I am; and now, I know that my identity is building a department and helping to build a college. I do it through hiring, strategic use of resources, and mentoring.” Her shift was simple, she said. “I just built on Gerald’s foundation.” Bratton says she’s done that and more for VAPH and its successor, since its 2005 name change, VIBS. “The quality of research has improved,” he said. She, too, “has grown a lot,” he added, “and has become a good administrator.” Of her vision for VIBS, Tiffany-Castiglioni said, “The department is working toward parallel excellence in research, teaching, and service.” Outside her office, in the heart of the VIBS office, hang plaques with long lists of department faculty who have won AFS Distinguished Achievement Awards in teaching, research, graduate mentoring, outreach, and administration. Her name appears there twice: once in 1998 for research, and again in 2014 for administration. Tiffany-Castiglioni’s other awards include the Women’s Faculty Network Outstanding Mentoring Award for 2012 and the Texas A&M Women’s Progress Award for 2013. She is the associate editor of Neurotoxicology and on the editorial board of International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience. She has served on committees inside and outside Texas A&M, including, most recently, the Texas A&M University President’s Council on Climate and Diversity for the 2014–2015 academic year. She has served on 10 grant review committees and study sections, advised dozens of students, and mentored more. She currently heads a search committee for the department head position in VTPB. Tiffany-Castiglioni serves with a love of teaching and research, a deep appreciation for history and new opportunity, and a passion for cultivating her department and college. She brings these talents (and sometimes a musical instrument) with her to the CVM every day. “That’s how a college gets better—by building the strengths of the people in it,” Tiffany-Castiglioni said. Summer 2016 •
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by Olufemi Oboye
A Special Love for Horses: Howard Fisher “Howard has an amazing attitude. When you call on him, he is always on time and ready to help.”
-Erin Lester Memories Collected over Three Decades
Howard Fisher Howard Fisher began his career in 1986 as a custodian on the main campus of Texas A&M University, but his love of horses motivated him to apply for an animal caretaker position in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (VLCS) at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM). “I really wanted to spend more time with horses,” Fisher said. He obtained the position in VLCS, and 30 years of service later, he continues to enjoy his work.
Custodian to Animal Caretaker As an animal caretaker, Fisher’s duties have changed. Now, his job includes taking care of animals and the land where they are kept. At the CVM, his responsibilities include mowing pastures, spraying weeds, cleaning water troughs, and cleaning pens. In addition, Fisher feeds, waters, grooms, bathes, exercises, and moves horses—and occasionally cattle—from the land where they are kept to campus for use in labs for veterinary students. Fisher spends many hours every week grooming the horses and caring for their hooves because he believes routine grooming adds aesthetic value to an animal. Fisher also ensures the horses stay active because exercise keeps the horses healthy and in good physical shape. Fisher also loves to monitor behavioral and health changes in the animals. “A sudden change in temperament or physical habit may be a sign that there is a problem,” Fisher said. “If an animal needs medication, I bring them to the Large Animal Hospital (LAH) for a medical examination and treatment.” 48 •
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During his time spent working at the LAH, one incident that remains fresh in Fisher’s memory is the Friday afternoon a man walked into the clinic with two bay horses. The horses paced in slowly, with excess saliva bubbling from their lips and sweat dripping from their body. One of the horses carried backpacks, while the other had camping materials strapped on its back. “At first sight of these horses, you would have thought they were ill,” Fisher recalled, “but after taking a detailed history, we found out that the man had ridden the horses from Canada to College Station.” Fisher said the horses were taken into the stable and given some food and water. Afterward, the veterinarian on duty provided medical attention. The horses spent that weekend at the hospital, while the owner camped in a little tent just outside the hospital door. On Monday, the man’s wife came with a trailer to pick him and the horses up to make the trip back to Canada. Fisher serves as a resource for his co-workers. “Howard has an amazing attitude. When you call on him, he is always on time and ready to help,” said Erin Lester, assistant manager for VLCS and Fisher’s supervisor. Lester also said Fisher is handy at keeping the facilities functioning well and looking presentable, and he is also reliable for tasks, such as moving furniture for faculty members and operating equipment like forklifts, tractors, shredders, skid steers, mowers, and front end loaders.
Family and Fun “I spend my spare time with my wife, children, and grandchild,” said Fisher. “I also love riding on the back of quarter horses at the United States Trail Ride club.” His love for horse riding is greater than his desire to watch an Aggie football game. In fact, he said he has not been to an Aggie football game in 35 years. Fisher loves wearing jeans, eating hamburgers, and listening to soul music. He lives in Hearne, about 26 miles from College Station, and enjoys the small-town atmosphere. “I was born here, and I don’t want to live anywhere else,” said Fisher. “It is a small city where you know everybody.” Fisher reminisced about the last three decades of working at Texas A&M and said, “I am happy that I have been able to come this far. I attribute my success with my job to hard work, dedication, determination, commitment, and respect for authority.” Fisher hopes to spend a few more years at the CVM to enjoy more time with the horses before retirement. “Moving horses around is one thing I love doing. In fact, when I am in their company, I feel like I am at home with my family,” he said.
by Laura Gerik
Dr. Leon Russell, “A Wealth of Information”: 56 years of service at the CVM
of Reveille, as one might expect, but an “autographed” photo of Lassie, a souvenir from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) convention. “That paw print came from the real Lassie,” Russell said, grinning.
Getting to the CVM
Dr. Leon Russell Dr. Leon Russell has been at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) since 1959, when he became assistant professor of veterinary public health. After 56 years, Russell is the CVM’s longestrunning faculty member, with a list of titles, awards, and publications that many researchers can only dream of achieving. He is currently professor emeritus of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS), Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Food Science and Technology, Toxicology, and Epidemiology. As the CVM enters its centennial year, Russell is one of the few people to have had a front-row seat for over half of its history. Today, Dr. Russell sits in his office wearing a crisply knotted tie—a throwback to his early years at the CVM when dress codes were strictly enforced. He is surrounded by the trappings of a career well spent. Thick books cram the shelves, and the walls are decorated with a timeline of diplomas, certificates, and awards; a framed “Good Writing Certificate” from the Tulsa Public Schools of 1943 hangs alongside a 1979 “Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award” from The Association of Former Students of Texas A&M University. A single photo holds a place of prominence on his desk—a headshot of a famous collie. It’s not a picture
Growing up in rural Oklahoma, Russell always enjoyed working with animals. But for most of his youth, a veterinary career seemed unlikely. Instead, he expected to follow in his family’s footsteps. “My father was a dentist and my grandfather an MD,” he explained. “My brother was supposed to be an MD, and I was supposed to be a dentist. But we lived out in the country, and I loved animals, so I was considering being a veterinarian.” Things changed when his father fell ill and had to retire early. Fortunately for young Russell, his cousin was a dentist fresh out of the army and ready to take over the family practice. This freed Russell to follow his dream of becoming a veterinarian. Perhaps in a sign of things to come, he initially attended school at Texas A&M. However, family commitments led to a series of transfers, and he ultimately earned his B.S. and DVM from the University of Missouri. After graduation, fate continued to direct Russell’s career in unexpected ways. He applied to work as a veterinarian in the army, but military downsizing led him to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) instead. There, he got his first taste of public health work, developing an interest in it that would ultimately shape his career. When Tulane University offered him a fellowship to study epidemiology, he jumped at the chance, soon adding a master of public health to his growing list of degrees. Soon after graduating, Russell attended a summer AVMA meeting, where he heard that Texas A&M’s School of Veterinary Medicine (the name didn’t change until 1963) was looking for an instructor for its newly formed public health department. With his background in veterinary medicine and epidemiology, Russell was a perfect fit. Ten years after his brief introduction to Aggieland, Russell was coming back to Texas A&M.
Starting from Scratch In 1959, Russell arrived at a veterinary school in transition. The Department of Public Health (which would eventually become part of VIBS) was new, and the school was undergoing a transition from semester to trimester scheduling. For Russell, taking on his role as assistant professor meant juggling teaching and research. Getting a Ph.D. was “almost required for working here,” so Russell began working on a doctorate in microbiology. However, the year-round trimester system gave him little time in the laboratory. “It was stressful,” he said, chuckling Summer 2016 •
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“Dr. Russell has brought a lot of visibility to the veterinary school through the forum of veterinary public health because he is so recognized at national and international levels.”
– Dr. Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni ruefully. “All major exams were given at seven in the morning. I was teaching three classes at the time, so I had to do my research at nighttime and on weekends.” Despite those challenges, he finished his Ph.D. in four years. Meanwhile, Russell was developing a new epidemiology program. “One reason Texas A&M brought me here was because I majored in epidemiology in my public health degree. They didn’t teach epidemiology and reckoned they wanted to start a course,” he explained. “I think it was the first veterinary epidemiology course in the country, so I had to start from scratch.” The new epidemiology class debuted in 1965 and became a standout course for the college. Since then, Russell has introduced thousands of Texas A&M students to epidemiology, with joint appointments at the Texas A&M School of Public Health and College of Medicine. He continues teaching epidemiology to this day.
Back then, there was a strict dress code for faculty. Shirts and ties were mandatory, boots were outlawed, and all veterinarians wore white coats when visiting patients. Facial hair was forbidden. Russell chuckles, recalling the consequences of breaking the code. “I remember one of the higher-ups in the small animal clinic went on sabbatical for a year, and when he came back he had a beard. I was out in the hallway when the dean saw him,” he said. “The dean walked up to him and said, ‘Go home and shave that beard off. If you don’t, don’t come back.’” That no-nonsense attitude came straight from the top. Russell arrived at the beginning of General Rudder’s term as president of Texas A&M. Every spring, the whole faculty met in the un-air-conditioned Guion Hall (now the site of Rudder Tower), opening the windows to cool down the room. These meetings are some of Dr. Russell’s fondest memories. “I can still remember President Rudder telling us what to do. He didn’t ask, he just told us,” he reminisced. On one memorable occasion, “one fellow from the veterinary medicine dean’s office stood up and started complaining. General Rudder stood up and said, ‘That’s enough, Ed. You know Highway 6 runs both ways.’ The dean sat right down,” Russell laughed.
Fighting Rabies Throughout his public health career, Russell has been interested in rabies. He has studied the disease in humans and animals, and served on the U.S. Animal Health Association’s Committee on Public Health and Rabies for many years. Early in his CVM career, he was involved in developing the modern human rabies vaccine.
The Way Things Were Today’s CVM students probably wouldn’t recognize the school that Russell knew in the late 1950s and 1960s. Classes were small, with as few as 60 students. Also, until 1963, when women began to be admitted on a limited basis, all students were male. Russell recalled that the first female graduate, Sonja Oliphant-Lee, “went clear through before the CVM started admitting more women.” Today, women entering the DVM program outnumber men. The smaller class sizes allowed distinctive learning experiences. Russell enjoyed leading public health groups on problem-solving expeditions to farms. “We had one situation where there was lead poisoning on a farm down on the coast,” he recalled. “We took a group down there and found the source.” Additionally, fourth-year students were in charge of meat inspection at the campus slaughterhouse, and in one 14-credit-hour “monster course,” students learned all about infectious diseases. Faculty from several departments taught jointly, all staying in the room and bouncing ideas off each other. “Things like that, of course, you can’t do them anymore; classes are too big,” Russell said. “But it was fun.” 50 •
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Dr. Leon Russell in class
Russell’s interest in rabies was rooted in childhood heartbreak, when his beloved dog contracted the disease. His father, the dentist, took charge of vaccinating his sons. Back then, the vaccination regimen required 28 injections—a far cry from today’s four-shot procedure. Lacking disposable syringes, Russell’s father sharpened his own needles to minimize the pain. “It didn’t hurt,” Russell recalled, “but I still remember when I got through with those 28 injections, it looked like a Christmas tree around my navel!” Fortunately, for today’s students, Russell helped improve the human rabies vaccine. When he first arrived, the rabies vaccine was prepared using duck embryos. It was an improvement on older methods, but it sometimes had severe side effects. Russell was instrumental in instituting skin testing policies to avoid life-threatening reactions in students allergic to the egg base. Later, he helped with clinical trials of the human diploid cell vaccine. This new vaccine was far more efficacious and had fewer side effects. Looking back, Russell sees these as some of the most satisfying achievements of his career. “It was rewarding to see students get vaccinated and not have severe reactions or big knots on their arms from ground-up duck,” he chuckled.
Setting a Standard Throughout his career, Russell has made tremendous contributions to veterinary public health and food safety, and his impact has stretched far beyond the CVM. To date, he is the only person to be elected president of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and World Veterinary Medical Association (WVMA)—and he was the first American president of the WVMA. Through his service in these organizations and others, Russell has helped shape the course of veterinary medicine and education. “Dr. Russell has brought at lot of visibility to the veterinary school through the forum of veterinary public health because he is so recognized at national and international levels,” said Dr. Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni, head of VIBS and associate dean for undergraduate education. However, it’s Russell’s contributions as a teacher and mentor that his colleagues mention first. “He’s a permanent fixture here,” said Gay Perry, business assistant in the VIBS
Dr. Leon Russell helping a student office, who has worked with Russell for 15 years. “I think the students relate to him. He just has so much knowledge.” She recalled the words of Dr. Mike Gibson, who used to work alongside Russell and once referred to him as “a wealth of information and a walking encyclopedia.” Tiffany-Castiglioni echoed Perry’s comments, adding that Russell has mentored students and younger faculty, often providing invaluable advice from his years of service. He’s known for his hard work, dedication, and sense of humor. Reflecting on Russell’s service to the CVM and worldwide veterinary community, Tiffany-Castiglioni summed up his impact succinctly: “He set a standard for the college.”
“He’s a permanent fixture here. I think the students relate to him.”
These days, Russell is semi-retired. He still works part time teaching epidemiology to graduate students, but no longer does research. Instead, he enjoys spending time at home with Martha, his wife of 62 years. The CVM has changed tremendously during his long career, and Russell has high hopes for the school’s future. He praised the “outstanding” Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex and plans for modernizing the Small Animal Hospital, and he expects ever-expanding opportunities for the growing school. The CVM’s not like it used to be, but to Russell, “it’s doing great.” Summer 2016 •
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by Sara Carney
A Family of Veterinarians: The Ruoffs and the CVM
Dr. Cathy Ruoff rides alongside her father, Dr. Dub Ruoff Not often have a mother, father, and daughter worked in the same profession and at the same institution, but that has been the case for the Ruoffs. It all began in 1981, when Walter “Dub” Ruoff accepted a position as a professor and equine clinician at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), where he worked until his passing in 1996. Dub’s wife, Lynn, joined the CVM in 1982 and began teaching anatomy to both veterinary students and undergraduates. Lynn and Dub’s daughter, Cathy, spent much time at the CVM while growing up and as a student, and recently joined the CVM faculty. Currently, Lynn is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS), and Cathy is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (VLCS), the same department her dad was in. As well as having similar titles, Cathy and Lynn share a passion for veterinary medicine and love for the CVM.
Lynn’s Journey to Aggieland After receiving her doctorate in veterinary medicine (DVM) from Colorado State University, Lynn spent a year in Fort Collins. “I taught anatomy for a year waiting for Dub to graduate, and actually, at the end of that year I said, ‘I will never do that again,’” she said. She and Dub moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she practiced at a small animal hospital, and Dub worked in a mixed animal practice. Her career path changed when Dub decided to do an internal medicine residency at The Ohio State University. In 1981, Dub accepted a position with the CVM, and in 1982, Lynn started teaching anatomy. It was supposed to be a temporary position until the children got a little older. But, fate had another plan for Lynn. When she began teaching anatomy at the CVM, she realized her passion for teaching. “I started teaching anatomy at Texas A&M, and I liked doing it,” she said. “It was not a planned evolution—it just happened.” 52 •
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For many years, Lynn’s focus was teaching anatomy to the biomedical sciences (BIMS) undergraduate students, something she said can be both rewarding and challenging. Often the classes are quite large, but Lynn said she can get to know her students better in the labs, where students are broken up into smaller groups. In 2008, she started teaching in the anatomy courses for the professional students as well, which she is still doing. Additionally, Lynn is actively involved in ensuring that students at the CVM receive the best anatomy training possible. She is a member of the undergraduate curriculum committee and is serving as chair of the DVM curriculum committee. The DVM curriculum committee is currently working on a major curriculum revision that will align the curriculum to the new graduate outcomes, which was developed by the CVM faculty and is a specific list of skills that DVM graduates from Texas A&M should possess. To ensure that CVM graduates possess all of these skills, data is being collected from current students, former students, and employers.
Growing Up Veterinary
Many of Cathy’s childhood memories involve veterinary medicine and exploring the CVM. “I grew up running around here,” she recalled. “And, there are a lot of people here that I don’t remember meeting.” Having known some CVM faculty members for so long, Cathy said many are like family to her. Cathy was influenced and supported by her parents in her decision to pursue veterinary medicine. In addition to Lynn’s work in anatomy, Dub served as a professor, clinician, administrator, and adviser at the CVM. From 1981 to 1996, Dub worked as a clinician in equine medicine. He also was interim head of VLCS from 1991 to 1993. Between the late 1980s and 1996, he mentored students as an adviser for the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA). Dub frequently showed support for Cathy’s interest in caring for animals, often lending a helping hand. “He got stuck helping me braid horses’ manes the night before horse shows,” she said. “I ran out of patience with it long before he did. He would bring us up here if he was working on the weekends and Lynn was gone to ride, or gone to do whatever. I ran around while he worked.” Similarly, Lynn encouraged Cathy growing up and throughout veterinary school. Although Cathy said having a mother who is a veterinarian did not offer a significant advantage over her classmates in veterinary school, it made dinnertime conversations more interesting. “I could talk about things we were learning, and she understood a lot more about it than most peoples’ parents did and certainly wasn’t ever grossed out about it,” Cathy said.
Cathy Finds Her Passion Cathy’s early years roaming the halls of the CVM and getting to know the faculty foreshadowed what was to come. Cathy earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science and her master’s degree in biomedical sciences, as well as her DVM at Texas A&M. As a veterinary student, Cathy developed a passion for diagnostic imaging. Her interests were piqued by a radiology class she took during her second year. “A lot of other people were falling asleep. I stayed awake,” she said. “I thought it was great. That’s what got me started thinking about doing a radiology residency.” This interest stayed with Cathy through veterinary school. “As I went through fourth year and did my internship, I spent as much time as I could with radiologists and decided that was what I wanted to do.” After veterinary school, Cathy completed a rotating internship in a small animal private referral practice in Florida. She then completed a master’s degree in biomedical sciences, after which she conducted pre-clinical research at the Texas Institute for Preclinical Studies (TIPS), with an emphasis in imaging. Cathy then completed a radiology residency at the CVM. Soon afterward, she was hired as a clinical assistant professor in VLCS. Today, Cathy works with some of the same people she grew up admiring. Cathy said she looks forward to further developing her knowledge and skills in both research and in teaching. “I’m continuing to learn in that regard and also learning to teach better,” she said. Additionally, Cathy wants to continue exploring various diagnostic imaging techniques, including CT and MRI, but she is open to whatever opportunities the future may hold.
Witnessing Change at the CVM In their time at the CVM, both Ruoffs have seen the college transform. Specifically, Lynn noted a shift in demographics. “One of the big changes is the same thing that’s going on in the profession: the number of women in the field,” Lynn said. “In the past, women were not particularly welcome. I think Texas A&M was worse than some other schools. Now, we’ve got a woman dean, we’ve got women department heads, we’ve got a lot of women faculty; it’s just a big change.” This change was not by accident. Instead, Lynn said, it was the hard work and dedication of earlier generations of female veterinarians, who paved the way. “It makes me feel like the women in my generation showed that we could be successful veterinarians, and we could let women into the profession,” she said. Lynn noted other changes in demographics she has seen over the years: “It’s always interesting in the undergraduate anatomy class to see the broad spectrum of people you get.” Now, she said, students from various cultural backgrounds can be seen working together in the lab. She also noted that the anatomy course has shifted from being mostly preveterinary students to mostly pre-medical students. Both Cathy and Lynn also noted the advancements in technology in veterinary medicine and at the CVM. Veterinary medicine has lagged behind human medicine in diagnosis and treatment options for many diseases,
Drs. Lynn (standing) and Cathy (seated) Ruoff looking at a radiograph Cathy said. With the addition of new technologies over the past several years, such as the Diagnostic Imaging and Cancer Treatment Center, stereotactic biopsy equipment, and minimally invasive treatment options, clinicians have the opportunity to participate in more translational clinical research in which treatments ultimately intended for humans are evaluated in animal patients with the same disease. “The advancements aimed at helping people ultimately will help animals, and there’s more of a push toward that right now,” she said. Lynn also mentioned that the CVM has risen as a leader in research, while maintaining its commitment to teaching.
The CVM Family For Lynn and Cathy, the CVM has become more than just a place to work. Both agree that there is no place they would rather be. “For me, it’s home. I like it here,” Cathy said. “I don’t know why I would want to go anywhere else.” Lynn echoed this sentiment, saying, “People at Texas A&M are just fantastic people. I wouldn’t leave.” Even during difficult times, the CVM family was there to support the Ruoffs. When Dub fell ill and needed to go to Houston for treatment five days per week, Lynn recalled asking herself, “How in the heck are we going to do this?” Her concern was eased by the faculty and staff from the CVM, who banded together to ensure that Dub made it to his treatment. “It wasn’t an issue,” Lynn said. “I think I drove him twice. Other than that, there was a list of people that took him every day.” In addition to driving Dub to Houston, the CVM faculty showed their support in other ways, including building a fence for the Ruoffs. “We’ve got fences on our property that were built by the most educated fencing crew,” Lynn joked. “Everybody had at least a DVM, a master’s, or a Ph.D.” No matter where their careers take them, the Ruoffs are still part of the CVM family—though they don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. “I’ve left for short periods a couple of times—for a summer while I was in high school and then doing my internship,” Cathy said. “I enjoyed going other places, but this is just home. I think it’s a great place to live. I think it’s a great place to work.” Summer 2016 •
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by L.M. Rey
Past, Present & Future of the Medical Sciences Library: Q&A with Esther Carrigan
Q. What kinds of services did the library first offer? How have its services evolved?
The first home of the veterinary library
Q. When and how did the veterinary library at Texas A&M University first begin? Did it have any other names than the veterinary library? A. The veterinary library was formally established in 1949 and housed in the School of Veterinary Medicine (now called the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, or CVM). I suppose it began like many libraries, with books donated by individuals. It was also referred to as “the veterinary branch,” since relevant books and journals were transferred from the central Cushing Memorial Library, and “branch” was the name most often used for subject-focused libraries on academic campuses. Its name was changed to the Veterinary Medical Library in 1968. It became the Medical Sciences Library (MSL) in 1974, with a mandate to serve the new College of Medicine, as well as the CVM. Responsibility to serve the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (COALS) west campus programs was added in 2000.
Q. What kinds of items does the library hold? A. The MSL, as one library under the umbrella of the University Libraries, currently provides access to 120,000 print and electronic serial titles, more than 1 million electronic books, and over 1,300 databases. The focused, relevant MSL collection includes over 135,000 volumes of journals and books in print. In addition to the specialized current collections, the MSL owns nearly 5,000 books that were published between the 16th and 20th centuries. Besides historical print works, the MSL owns one of only two major collections in the United States of artifacts associated with the Army Veterinary Corps; the other is owned by the Army Medical Department Museum at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. The MSL also owns a large collection of veterinary and farriery instruments and ephemera dating from the 18th century to the mid-20th century. 54 •
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A. We don’t really know what services were offered in the early years, but at a basic level, the library staff has always helped library users find materials and evaluate what they found. Even though it seems easier to find something today, navigation of the world of veterinary information and its literature has become much more complex. Our services have evolved and been tailored to the veterinary information landscape, and to the expectations and best standards for educating on and practicing veterinary medicine. At heart, librarians are educators who provide instruction to individuals and groups, and also teach formal courses and modules within courses. Today, MSL is one of the largest veterinary medical libraries in North America, in terms of both access to information resources and the size of our staff.
Q. Who have been the veterinary librarians at Texas A&M? A. There have been numerous veterinary librarians— some as head of the library and others with a focus on veterinary services and resources. When the veterinary library opened in 1949, Mary Hicks was the librarian. Over the next 25 years, a series of six librarians served the CVM: Clara Kirksey, Nan Cardwell, Karen Van Dyke, Sue Taylor, Joyce McCord, and Norma B. Braver. When Virginia Algermissen was hired as director, additional librarians were added to the MSL, including veterinary librarians. Those veterinary librarians included Barbara Thomas, Kathrine J. McNeil, Norma F. Funkhouser, and Heather K. Moberly, our current coordinator of veterinary services. Along with those librarians dedicated exclusively to the CVM, additional MSL colleagues have helped deliver resources and services to the CVM. For the last several years, we have also had a librarian whose sole responsibility is the development, care, and preservation of the veterinary collection. Since the beginning of the veterinary library, these individual librarians, including some I have not named, represent an unbroken chain of dedicated service to the CVM.
Q. What makes this library unique now? A. Throughout our history, we have maintained our connection to the CVM and our identity as a veterinary library. That foundation has been enriched through the addition of responsibility for other professional schools and related academic disciplines. Just as the combination of a focus on human and veterinary medicine—under the same roof—made us unique among veterinary libraries, the addition of agriculture to this scope positions us to be uniquely qualified to support and advance One Health
A student studying at the MSL initiatives. We are the information hub where human health, animal health, and environmental health can come together. In fact, the MSL mission expresses our purpose as “We improve health…” and we intentionally meant that to cover humans, animals, and plants.
Q. Why is having a veterinary librarian important, particularly to veterinary education? A. Veterinary librarians, with their information management expertise, are perfect partners for veterinary faculty to teach students core information competency skills—the ability to identify and assess relevant published evidence and to apply it in clinical decision-making.
Q. Why are veterinary libraries serving landgrant universities important to practitioners? A. Unlike medical school graduates and practitioners, who may continue to enjoy accessing services through their participating academic medical libraries or state medical associations, post-graduate benefits for veterinarians are less generous. Veterinary resources, although improving, are more scattered and less focused, necessitating guidance and instruction. Veterinary practitioners do not enjoy the benefit of a freely available online index to their literature as human medical practitioners have in PubMed. Although PubMed indexes some of the major veterinary journals and has expanded that indexing due to the advocacy of veterinary librarians, it does not offer the scope of a specialized veterinary index.
Q. What are some current trends, initiatives, and future possibilities the MSL is applying to veterinary librarianship and service to the college/ veterinary profession? How do you see the MSL and veterinary librarianship evolving to serve the college and practitioners in the next 100 years? A. Due to the limited numbers of veterinary libraries in the United States and internationally, there is a real need to ensure the preservation of the veterinary literature so future generations can benefit from the clinical advances and research initiatives happening today. The MSL is taking a leadership role in the veterinary library community to preserve the veterinary literature. We need to continue these advocacy and outreach efforts to make evidence-based veterinary medicine possible for all veterinary practitioners. For over 30 years, from the first successful partnership between the MSL and the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA), we have provided information services to the CVM alumni and Texas veterinary practitioners. Because we believe our outreach efforts are essential to the success of evidence-based veterinary practice, we entered into a pilot study several years ago with the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), producers of Index Veterinarius, to provide an online clinical support tool, VetMed Resource, to CVM graduates during their first few years of practice. The MSL is now working to be able to provide online access to VetMed Resource for all CVM alumni, regardless of when they graduated from CVM. Summer 2016 •
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by Angela Clendenin and Dr. Megan Palsa
Two Families, One Path to Autism Research For most students, summer means vacation, a chance to leave the stress of school behind to relax with family and friends. But for two young students working in Dr. Scott Dindot’s genomics lab at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), summer means an opportunity to make a difference and to give back to others.
Brotherly Love: Dylan’s Inspiration Dylan Ritter, an undergraduate student at the University of Mississippi who has spent the last two summers working in Dindot’s lab, was only three years old when his parents brought home Travis, his youngest brother—the third of three boys. It wasn’t long after Travis’ arrival that Dylan’s parents noticed Travis was not developing like his older brothers. After visits to several specialists, Travis was diagnosed with isodicentric 15, also called Dup15q syndrome, and with autism. Dup15q syndrome is one of the most frequent genetic mutations causing autism spectrum disorders. Committed to learning more about his brother’s condition, Dylan soon discovered Travis would suffer from delayed development of motor and verbal skills, and potentially even violent seizures throughout his life. Growing up with Travis put Dylan on a life-changing course that brought him to the CVM to work with Dindot, whose lab created mouse models of genomic disorders, such as Dup15q and a similar condition called Angelman syndrome.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 68 individuals have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Most children are diagnosed when they see a physician. Typically they miss their developmental milestones, but often their parents and other caregivers notice social deficits. Since autism is a spectrum disorder, it varies considerably from individual to individual, but primary signals include social communication deficits, learning disability, and repetitive behaviors. 56 •
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“Growing up with Travis, it never occurred to me that he was that much more different,” said Dylan. “I began to notice that most of my friends his age would be talking or walking, and he wasn’t. Something was a little off, but I was okay with it because he’s my brother. I was interested in being able to communicate with him because he’s nonverbal. He makes sounds, but he is not able to formulate words or anything like that. We used basic sign language to communicate with him. I remember babysitting and teaching him to sign and making sure he new what he was doing. That was a cool connection with him.” For Travis, Dylan has always been like a caretaker, helping his mother with Travis’ care and helping Travis when he needed something. Dylan said his desire to help people originated from his grandfather, who was a surgeon. “That was my first step. I knew that I wasn’t interested in going out and doing surgery on someone,” added Dylan. “I wanted to help my brother. I found research that interests me. Originally, I thought I’d find something, and then that something came along.” Dylan discovered Dindot through a newsletter sent to those who have family members with Dup15q. “It keeps track of what the families are doing and some of the scientists and their work,” Dylan said. “This organization that focuses on Dup15q families published something, or shared an article about Dr. Dindot and the work he was doing. I started reading it and he talked about the mouse model that he was working on.” Soon after, Dylan sent Dindot an email asking if he could come to College Station and see what was going on in the lab. “When he offered me the opportunity to spend time with his team,” Dylan added, “I thought I would just be sitting back and watching what these guys do, but his lab is very hands-on and we all have our own little projects.”
Dylan’s Commitment to Research For the past two summers, Dylan has worked to understand the circadian rhythms, the sleep/wake cycle, of flies that have had the Dup15q abnormality inserted into their genetic chain. He noted that while working with flies isn’t quite the same as working with humans, studying the fly models is important because these flies exhibit some of the same symptoms as Dup15q patients. “Even just observing the flies, you could see there was an abnormality,” said Dylan. “This resonated with me because of my younger brother. His sleep-wake behavior is scheduled, but it’s irregular from the normal, twenty-four hour regular cycle.” Last summer, Dylan worked with Dindot and a mouse model of Dup15q that has been made in such a way that
Dr. Scott Dindot (left), Dylan Ritter (center), and Kathleen Nelson (right) the gene causing Dup15q can be turned off or on using a common antibiotic. Since having too many copies of certain genes in the small region on chromosome 15, known as 15q, causes high levels of proteins to be produced, which leads to Dup15q, many scientists want to know if the condition can be treated by lowering the levels of proteins made by these genes in the brain. The mouse models were engineered in a particular way to see if this strategy works. If it does, scientists will start looking for drugs or other therapies that can reduce the protein levels in patients.
Support Through Prestigious Grants Dylan’s work in Dindot’s lab was supported by a prestigious competitive grant through the Autism Science Foundation. “When I talked to Dr. Dindot two summers ago, he mentioned the grant to me off-handedly,” Dylan said. “He said the chances of getting it were not that high, but he encouraged me to go ahead and apply. I didn’t wind up getting it. Again this year, I was looking at maybe shadowing a doctor, or maybe going back into research, and I decided to come back here and work with Dr. Dindot. He suggested I apply again because now I had a year of experience working
in autism research, which is what they’re looking for, and writing about what I did and about my brother so I could make that connection and tell them my story.” Dylan did just that. In the application, he discussed his experience with Travis and noted that although Travis was a little different from his friends, he just needed a bit more help. “I talked about how I worked here last summer, and I was unsure about coming here,” Dylan said. “I came here, and I loved it. I did all these great projects with Dr. Dindot’s team. I wrote from the heart. It’s the best way to say it. They came back and said that I had gotten it.” There were only five people awarded the grant this year, two of whom are from Yale, as well as students from Stanford and the University of California, Santa Barbara. The $2,500 award covers Dylan’s stipend and laboratory supplies. “Dylan could be doing anything, but he’s here,” Dindot said. “He was awarded a grant from the Autism Science Foundation that supports undergraduate research in autism research. This is an extremely prestigious grant, which is awarded after a review process, and students from all around the country compete for these funds. It’s a credit to Dylan’s drive that he received the grant. Awardees in the past have Summer 2016 •
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Dylan Ritter come from Harvard, Yale, other Ivy League schools, or other medical schools with strong neuroscience programs.” At the end of his summer research experience, Dylan provided a status report back to the foundation talking about his work. As a student in the Honors College at the University of Mississippi, Dylan will have to write and defend a thesis, much like a Ph.D., except on a smaller scale. He intends to write about his work and how winning this grant helped him and ensured he would return to Dindot’s lab this summer. Dylan looks at his thesis as a way to let others know about the grant and what it helped him achieve.
Sibling Support: Kathleen’s Journey to Research While Dylan’s journey led him to the University of Mississippi and eventually Dindot’s lab, a similar journey was beginning in Chicago for high school student Kathleen Nelson. Kathleen, like Dylan, has a sibling with Angelman syndrome, a chromosomal disorder. As she researched more about this disorder, Kathleen also discovered Dindot’s work and immediately contacted him to see if she could come to the CVM to work in his lab during her summer break. Kathleen, similar to Dylan, found Dindot through researching Angelman syndrome. She wants to be a physician and was looking for things to do. Because of the impact her brother had on her and her family, she told her mother she wanted to work in Dindot’s lab and learn about what they’re doing. Dindot had a grant to develop new drugs for Angelman syndrome, so Kathleen was interested in that work. Dindot worked with Kathleen’s mother to make arrangements for Kathleen to spend some time at Texas A&M to pursue her interests with Angelman syndrome. “I have three older brothers,” Kathleen said. “One of them is Ryan. He’s 26 right now, about to be 27, and he’s the one with Angelman syndrome, which brought me here to Texas A&M to work in Dr. Dindot’s lab. It’s because of Ryan I want to learn more about Angelman syndrome and what causes it. I wanted to know what work is being done for the cure, since they’re really close to finding one, although therapy is probably a better word for it.” 58 •
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Similar to Dup15q, people with Angelman syndrome demonstrate developmental delays. In Ryan’s case, he was diagnosed with Angelman syndrome only five years ago. The late diagnosis is due in part to the difficulty in recognizing this specific disorder versus others, such as cerebral palsy. “Ryan has Angelman syndrome, which I think is a huge blessing,” Kathleen said. “He’s always happy. He’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. He’s just a really special man. He’s a great brother. Everyone who meets him loves him. He has the ability to make an impact on everyone’s lives.” It is unusual that a high school student would give up some of the summer break to work in a university research lab, but Kathleen admits to loving sciences and credits her school for encouraging her to seek out opportunities. “At my school, they really try and push people to go and do things during their summer,” Kathleen said, “not to just sit around and go to the beach every day or just relax. There’s a student who would go and work in a lab every summer on cerebral palsy research. Through that, I figured out high school students can do research in the summer.” Kathleen and her mother talked to Paula Evans, the president of the Foundation for Angelman syndrome Therapeutics (FAST), about options for Kathleen to engage in research during the summer. Evans contacted various scientists working on Angelman Syndrome and made the connection with Dindot. “I looked at his lab and his work,” Kathleen said. “I liked how a lot of the people he was working with all have their own projects. They’re not just doing one thing. They’re looking at a variety of things, and that sounded interesting to me.”
Kathleen Learns and Grows Kathleen’s goal while in Dindot’s lab this past summer was to learn as much as possible about Angelman syndrome. “I’ve been reading a lot of papers about it,” Kathleen said. “I’ve looked at what all the other people in the lab have been doing, watched over their shoulders. I’ve also had the opportunity to get my hands wet, as well, by running some PCR reactions and isolating some DNA.” The PCR reactions Kathleen has worked with involved comparing normal flies with fly models of Angelman syndrome to see if the studies were successful at developing flies that express the same symptoms as humans with Angelman syndrome. Kathleen said one of the most fascinating things she has learned was that UBE3A, which stands for ubiquitin protein E3A ligase, and is the gene causing Angelman syndrome, is imprinted in the brain. Genomic imprinting is a rare phenomenon in the genome. Essentially, it is a form of gene regulation in which one allele, or “switch,” of a gene is on and the other is off. The Angelman gene is active on the chromosome that is inherited from the mother and inactive on the chromosome inherited from the father. Because of this, all individuals with Angelman syndrome have mutations on the allele they inherited from their mother. “There are only about 100 or so imprinted genes in the human genome, out of tens of thousands according to Dr. Dindot,” Kathleen said. “The area we are investigating is pretty limited. What the lab team is looking at, is trying to re-wire the regulation of the UBE3A gene so that the paternal allele is turned on. This would then replace the faulty maternal allele.” Through their own initiative, both Dylan and Kathleen discovered Dindot’s work, and while some of their friends took off for vacation and summer fun, they chose to come to Texas A&M to help advance the knowledge of these disorders so that others may benefit in the future.
Advancing Research, Helping People The Centers for Disease Control say that 1 in 68 individuals have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Dup15q syndrome is the second most frequent mutation that causes autism. Most children are diagnosed when they see a physician. Typically, these children miss their developmental milestones, but one of the things also noted are the social deficits. Autism is a spectrum disorder, so it varies considerably from individual to individual. Primary signals include poor eye contact, little to no communication, and repetitive behaviors. When children present with all three of the core symptoms of autism, the anxiety they have and the expression of autism may be increased. In terms of genetic mutations that cause autism, Dup15q syndrome is the second most frequent one. For individuals diagnosed with Dup15q syndrome, the 15q region is duplicated. In some instances, the duplicated region becomes its own chromosome. The result is too much expression of genes in 15q. In Angelman syndrome, the 15q region is deleted on the chromosome inherited from the mother. For Angelman syndrome, the UBE3A gene is clearly
the culprit and entirely responsible for the condition. Since almost all individuals with Dup15 have a duplication of their mother’s chromosome, it is believed that UBE3A is also the gene causing the condition. Thus, having no UBE3A causes Angelman syndrome, whereas too much UBE3A causes Dup15q. They are clinically distinct syndromes, but there’s a lot of overlap in terms of the cognitive and motor deficits. Dindot recognizes that Dylan and Kathleen are exceptional students and possess a drive for understanding the disorders that have affected their families. “These students are similar in terms of the emotional connection to this work,” said Dindot. “ It’s a personal, emotional topic. They’ve chosen to pursue this with that in mind. I can’t think of anything more commendable or inspirational.” Two families. Two genetic disorders. Two students determined to find new ways to help families who also are experiencing the impact of disorders such as Dup15q and Angelman syndrome. Two separate journeys, but one path and one mentor. As Dylan and Kathleen work under Dindot’s guidance, they are not only learning research skills that will benefit their future endeavors. They are also helping to determine future pathways for genomic research for these autism-related disorders.
Dr. Scott Dindot, associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, researches various genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. In particular, Dindot and students working in his lab are interested in the genetic basis of autism. Dylan Ritter and Kathleen Nelson are interested in autism research because Ritter’s younger brother has Chromosome 15q Duplication syndrome (Dup15q), and Nelson’s older brother has Angelman syndrome; both are forms of autism and intellectual disability. Ritter—a sophomore at the University of Mississippi—has no connection to Dindot other than the fact that he saw a press release about Dindot’s lab developing a Dup15q mouse model. He contacted Dindot, saying that his brother had Dup15q syndrome. Ritter wanted to come help to Texas A&M and be involved in the research. Nelson found Dindot through the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics, which funds two research projects in Dindot’s lab. She wants to be a physician and was looking for things to help her achieve that goal. Because of her brother’s condition, she asked her family if she could work in Dindot’s lab to learn about the research going on at Texas A&M.
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by Sara Carney and Jessica Scarfuto
The Reproductive Sciences Lab: An Illustrious Past and a Promising Future
Dr. Westhusin, Dr. Long, and a student in the reproductive sciences lab For the past 17 years, the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) has served as a leader and innovator in cloning, making something that once seemed like science fiction a reality. The efforts of CVM faculty ultimately gave way to successfully cloning two bulls, a cat, and a deer among other animals. Along the way, researchers gained greater understanding of biological processes, such as how certain traits are inherited and practical applications of cloning. Today, the lab has a number of research interests, including early embryonic development, in vitro fertilization, and epigenetics. At the center of the work on cloning at Texas A&M is the Reproductive Sciences Lab, composed of Dr. Duane Kraemer, Dr. Mark Westhusin, Dr. Charles Long, and Dr. Michael Golding. The lab was originally established in 1975, when Kraemer returned to Texas A&M University. In its early days, the lab focused on embryo transfer. But along 60 •
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the way, the lab was involved in the founding of several companies, including Granada Genetics, the world’s largest embryo transfer company; Genetic Savings and Clone, the first company to be devoted to pet cloning; and Viagen, which commercially cloned horses and livestock and still exists today. Establishing these companies also brought several of the researchers to the lab, such as Long, who began as a technician at Granada, earned his Ph.D., and then went to work for the Reproductive Sciences Lab. At the Reproductive Sciences Lab, researchers are involved in a number of assisted reproductive and genetic technologies. “Our research has been focused on genetic engineering of livestock and also understanding the early embryo and its development,” said Long. “Our lab has refocused on genetic engineering, and I try to support that,” Kraemer said. “I’m not a genetic engineer, but I’m the veterinarian in the group.”
This research includes producing genetically engineered (GE) and transgenic animals, which are processes that create an animal with superior traits. GE involves direct manipulation of an organism’s genetics. On the other hand, a transgenic animal has genes from another organism inserted into its DNA, allowing it to have capabilities that it didn’t have before. Such genetic technologies could not only improve the health of some animals and make them more efficient, but could improve human health as well. “Now we could not only select the best animals through traditional means, but we could also make those animals even better,” Long said. “Now we work more on genetic modification. We’re working mainly on genes that are involved with disease resistance, and genes that have to do with muscle development. We also have some interest in producing vaccines and pharmaceuticals,” Westhusin said. One example of these efforts is a project studying a transgenic goat that produces a malaria vaccine in its milk. “Some drugs and therapeutics can be made more inexpensively and in much higher volumes when done using goats or cows,” Westhusin said. The Reproductive Sciences Lab doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon, and there are a number of new projects on the horizon, particularly biomedical models. “Large animal models are, in many cases, informative in drug development,” said Westhusin. The lab plans to continue working on understanding fundamental biological processes. “A lot of our research involves the development of technologies and production of animals that could serve a commercial purpose, like increased muscle development and resistance to disease,” said Westhusin. “We have a whole other area of science going on that is focused on more basic research—understanding developmental biology, and reproduction efficiency.” The Reproductive Sciences Lab has a productive and illustrious past, but that is simply part of who these researchers are. As the lab’s research interests evolve, so do their successes. Success for them is not a thing of the past.
Famous Clones Second Chance
In 1999, a team of Texas A&M researchers led by Dr. Mark Westhusin, professor in the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology (VTPP), successfully cloned the first male calf from an adult Brahman steer: Second Chance. This marked the CVM’s beginning as a leader in cloning technology. Chance (the first) was a mild-tempered bull that belonged to a rodeo clown named Ralph Fisher for much of the 1980s and 1990s. Fisher wanted to clone him because of his gentle nature.
Although cloning cannot preserve personalities, there are other characteristics it can preserve, such as disease resistance. Cloned in 2001 by Westhusin and his team, a Black Angus bull named Bull 86 was naturally resistant to brucellosis, a disease that can be devastating in livestock and can transfer to humans through contact with an infected placenta. Although consumption is one way to contract brucella, that’s not the most common. Typically infections arise from drinking unpasturized milk or handling fetal tissues of infected animals. Bull 86 was studied for years as part of a breeding research program to try to determine what gene was responsible for making him resistant to brucellosis.
CC the Cat
CC was a particularly interesting case, because CC, a tabby, did not resemble her host, a calico. As in the case of Second Chance, CC and her donor, Rainbow, also had different personalities. CC was a shy cat, whereas Rainbow was more outgoing. These differences illustrate the limitations of cloning. “This is reproduction, not resurrection,” Westhusin said. “There’s no guarantee the animal is going to look or act the same. If you clone a black cat you’re going to get a black cat. If it’s a multicolored cat, there’s no way to predict that all the colors will come out in the same spots—that’s just not how it works.”
Dewey the Deer
In addition to pets and livestock, researchers at the CVM cloned Dewey, a white-tailed deer, in 2003. The deer was named after Dr. Duane “Dewey” Kraemer, a senior professor in VTPP instrumental in a number of clones produced at the CVM, including Dewey. “We were the first in the world to clone a white-tailed deer,” Westhusin said. “We call him Dewey after Dr. Kraemer, just to honor him.” The Reproductive Sciences Lab Summer 2016 •
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by Dr. Megan Palsa
Growing with the CVM:
Dr. Muneoka’s pioneering research in regeneration
Dr. Ken Muneoka For nearly all of human history, regenerating body parts has been the stuff of mythology. Greek legends warned of the Hydra, a vicious monster that regrew two heads for every one struck off. The Aztecs marveled at the axolotl, a salamander that can regrow its limbs, lower jaw, and parts of its organs. Because of these regenerative properties, the axolotl may have been associated with the Aztec god Xolotl, who supposedly helped regenerate life to create the present world and changed himself into an axolotl after a falling out with the other deities. As with most legends, these tales have some elements of reality. The axolotl, in particular, is a prime example of the real potential of limb regeneration, which made it the perfect subject for Dr. Ken Muneoka’s Ph.D. dissertation. 62 •
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“I got completely stuck on the idea of being able to regenerate things,” Muneoka said. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Muneoka grew up in Los Angeles and completed his bachelor of arts in biology and zoology in 1976 at Humboldt State University. While taking a course on embryology, at the Marine Biological Laboratory in 1978 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, taught by his future adviser and friend, Dr. Susan Bryant, Muneoka found a new way of looking at biology. Intrigued by Bryant’s research on limb regeneration in salamanders, he joined her laboratory at the University of California, Irvine. He completed his Ph.D. in developmental and cell biology with the help of the axolotl in 1983, and he began doing postdoctoral research to take his interest to the next level: limb regeneration in mammals.
Early Work Muneoka’s postdoctoral work attracted the attention of Howard Schneiderman, the former dean of biological sciences at UC Irvine hired by the Monsanto Company to be the company’s Senior Vice President for Research. Schneiderman, who had helped bring genetic research to the company and was interested in regeneration’s potential, as well, supported Muneoka’s research on the relationship between embryonic development and regeneration, which fascinated Muneoka since taking Bryant’s course. “The approach that I have always taken has been more of a development approach,” he said. “If an organ can develop in the embryo, why can’t it be regenerated?” As an organism develops from an embryo and moves toward adulthood, it slowly loses it regeneration abilities. Muneoka’s early work thus focused on examining embryos to try to find what stimulates or inhibits regeneration. After completing his postdoctoral research, Muneoka accepted an assistant professorship from Tulane University to open his own lab in 1986. Although his work at Tulane coincided with a period of lessened interest in regeneration, Muneoka managed to continue his research. “This was a time when the regeneration field was in a slump,” he recalled. “I was fortunate enough to have survived that slump. It wasn’t until after around 2000 that the scientific community became slowly convinced that it might be possible to regenerate structures.” Major scientific breakthroughs involving embryonic cells in the early and mid-2000s, such as the successful creation of the first cloned sheep, Dolly, rekindled interest in the prospect of limb regeneration and related research. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), faced with finding ways of helping soldiers who had lost limbs during military campaigns in the Middle East, was one prominent organization keen on supporting regenerative medical research. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the research arm of the DoD, began funding Muneoka’s work at Tulane. His DARPA program manager, John Mogford, would later become the Vice Chancellor for Research for the Texas A&M University System. Muneoka started studying MSX1, a transcriptional regulator gene, in mice. Although the gene’s precise function is still unknown, it has been shown to repress differentiation and maturation of cells. Mutations in this gene resulted in the loss of the ability to regenerate the tips of fingers and toes, which is a trait all mammals have (and the only regenerative ability humans naturally possess). Mice that lacked MSX1 also had low levels of the growth factor BMP4. When these mice were given BMP4, their regenerative ability was restored. The revelation that BMP4 was one potential factor in finding a way to regenerate limbs opened up a new avenue of inquiry for Muneoka and his lab. “The goals of our research have been to try to uncover the basic mechanisms that are required for regeneration, and then to see how those mechanisms are modified in situations where regeneration doesn’t occur,” he said. Muneoka began studying BMP2, another growth factor from the same family as BMP4, as a possible way to stimulate
skeletal growth from an amputation wound. Yet a third BMP family member can direct cells to make joints in the limb. Understanding the roles of these growth factors and how they interact with cells, thus became a crucial aspect of his research into potential ways of initiating regeneration.
“If an organ can develop in the embryo, why can’t it be regenerated?”
-Dr. Ken Muneoka Moving to Texas A&M Nearly three decades after beginning his lab at Tulane, Muneoka was approached by the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) about moving his work to Aggieland. After gaining the support of his lab colleagues, he accepted. The opportunity to continue his work with larger animal models was especially appealing. “One of the attractions of coming to the vet school at Texas A&M is that we hope to have the opportunity to try to work on larger animals to see if we can take our mouse studies and bring it to a different level,” he said. Muneoka’s most recent work has focused on reaching that level. Using oxygen to initiate the release of cells from tissues in a way that favors regeneration, has revealed the role of osteoclasts and osteoblasts in the regenerative process. Osteoclasts degrade bone, thus freeing up cells from the degraded tissue. Once the osteoclasts complete their work at a wound site, osteoblasts begin rebuilding bone structures. Both cell types are constantly maintaining the skeleton, but in the cases of wounds and regeneration, they work on a larger scale that often creates more bone than necessary. Macrophages, the cells from which osteoclasts are formed, also appear to play a role in regeneration by clearing bacteria from the wound site. Combining these findings with those from his earlier work, Muneoka has found that allowing an amputation wound to heal and then introducing BMPs and other factors produces the best regenerative response. This approach underscores the idea that limb regeneration in larger animals and humans is possible because the cells are already capable of doing much of the work necessary to regrow a limb and just need to be encouraged to further the process. “It turns out that the cells in your body know a lot about your body,” Muneoka explained. “If you can tap into how to get them to get involved in the regenerative response, they know to make the appropriate bone structure that is lost.” Like the regenerative processes he studies, Muneoka’s work has slowly laid a solid foundation for future growth. No longer the stuff of myth and legend, regenerative medicine is increasingly becoming an amazing scientific possibility. “What we’ve done is to provide a proof of concept,” he said of the research he and his colleagues have done. “Prior to our work, I think most people thought, ‘This isn’t possible. This can’t happen.’ I think that we’ve made some inroads into the field, so that people are starting to think, ‘Maybe it can happen.’” Summer 2016 •
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by Dr. Megan Palsa
Healing through Research:
Dr. Brian Saunders and Regenerative Medicine
Dr. Brian Saunders and his dog, Max For decades, medical researchers around the world have been developing regenerative medicine and tissue engineering strategies to treat patients who are suffering from debilitating bone and joint diseases, such as arthritis. Despite extensive research efforts using stem cells and scaffolds, these new approaches have yet to solve the problem of bone and joint damage in patients with diseases like osteoporosis, non-healing bone trauma, and joint arthritis. However, veterinary medicine may provide insight. Similar cases of weakened bone in animals and the need for an effective solution in humans have led veterinarians, such as Dr. Brian Saunders, an assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), to study regenerative medicine and tissue engineering in dogs. Though conditions such as osteoporosis are not as widespread in dogs as in humans, Saunders is optimistic that his team of researchers will one day develop tissue-engineering systems to heal bone and joint injuries in both humans and animals. Saunders, a small animal orthopedic surgeon and stem cell biologist in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (VSCS), is a Texas native who grew up raising large animals, particularly horses. “My family is made up of physicians and medical professionals. Because of my interest in large animals and the medical professional aspect of my family, I became interested in veterinary medicine,” he said. Saunders attended veterinary school at the CVM to pursue his passion for large animal medicine, specifically 64 •
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equine ambulatory work. In veterinary school, Saunders developed new interests and his career took a different turn. “I became interested in joint replacement about halfway through veterinary school,” he said. “At that time, my family was dealing with some major orthopedic issues and I was simultaneously attending lectures by a small animal orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Don Hulse, who mentored me through the later stages of veterinary school, portions of my residency, and even to this day. I went and visited him in his office, shared a bit about my family’s orthopedic challenges and my interest in his lectures, and he took me under his wing. I started working with him on some research projects, and that got me interested in research. With his mentorship, we published the first paper on video-assisted endoscopic surgery (arthroscopy) of the hip joint in dogs.” After graduating veterinary school, Saunders completed a rotating internship at the University of Tennessee. He decided he wanted to specialize in small animal surgery, but this was put on hold while he pursued a Ph.D. in vascular biology. Saunders became fascinated by cell biology while working with Dr. George Davis, a renowned vascular biologist, who was at Texas A&M’s Health Science Center College of Medicine at the time. Working for four years in Davis’ lab and completing his Ph.D. prepared Saunders for his future decision to pursue stem cell research for animal medicine. Saunders completed his post-DVM education by completing a small animal surgery residency at the CVM, eventually becoming a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and joining the faculty in 2009. “Around the time I was working in Dr. Davis’ lab, there was interest developing in stem cell therapy in dogs with orthopedic problems, primarily arthritis.” Saunders explained. “The small animal orthopedic surgeons began getting phone calls from clients and veterinarians saying, ‘We want stem cell therapy. Tell us about stem cell therapy.’ Some of these calls were funneled to me because of my basic science experience and training. Those phone calls and interest were what stimulated me to focus my own laboratory’s research efforts on stem cells.” Despite Saunders’ training in vascular biology, he had no experience with stem cell therapy at the time and began to study the subject on his own. “I found that a lot of the perceptions people had about stem cell therapy were misplaced. The evidence-based literature on what these cells are and what they’re capable of doing in both humans and in dogs is limited,” he said. “That void in the knowledge base is what provided me the opportunity to focus our research efforts on canine mesenchymal stem cells.” After gaining his faculty position, Saunders started his lab and assembled a team of collaborators, research assistants, and graduate students with the goal of developing tissueengineering devices to treat bone or cartilage defects in
Dr. Saunders examining a patient veterinary patients, and even potentially humans. “Say an animal or human with a massive defect in their bone from fractures isn’t healing correctly, or they have joint infections, weak bones, or even osteoporosis,” Saunders explained. “Tissue-engineering devices may prove to be one exciting method to improve healing and a successful outcome.” Saunders and other faculty co-investigators have been using stem cells and regenerative medicine in clinical patients. Honey, a toy breed dog who came to the CVM with a non-healing injury to the forearm, was one of the team’s first patients. Honey had broken her leg after a fall, and had undergone several operations and months in cast and bandages. The result was a large bone defect of the forearm that had progressed to a non-healing condition known as non-union. They approached Honey’s challenging case by harvesting her stem cells from a bone marrow sample, culturing her cells under conditions to enhance bone formation, and mixing these cells with a soft collagen gel for incorporation into her bone defect. This treatment, combined with a surgery to revise the implants
in her broken leg, encouraged her own tissues to heal the bone. Though there are many companies offering stem cell therapy for dogs in the United States, the work done at the CVM is unique. “The difference in what we’re doing, compared to other providers of adult stem cells, is that we are isolating individual canine patients’ skeletal stem cells from bone marrow samples in our lab, characterizing those cells, enhancing the cell’s ability to transition to bone-forming cells, and combining the cells with threedimensional scaffolding material to retain cells at the site of injury and encourage repair,” said Saunders. “It’s a targeted, customized approach for an individual patient. It’s a wonderful proof of the concept that we can use these types of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine approaches in dogs that really don’t have any other options.” Though the innovative research could potentially save the limbs of many dogs with bone and joint disease, the cost of the research and procedures are expensive and time consuming. Another challenge is having enough patients to work on to make advancements in the field of study; Summer 2016 •
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“Regenerative medicine and tissue engineering hold a tremendous amount of promise for treating animals and humans with debilitating bone and joint disease.”
-Dr. Brian Saunders more patients mean more opportunities for researchers to study the conditions in a variety of contexts. With the goal of applying his research to human medicine, where the demand is higher, Saunders has collaborated with Dr. Carl Gregory, an associate professor in the Texas A&M Health Science Center. Through this partnership, Saunders has contributed to other projects on bone and cartilage repair. According to Saunders, demonstration of success with regenerative medicine or tissue engineering approaches using animals larger than the typical lab rat, such as dogs, sheep, and goats, increases the probability that these techniques will translate to human medicine. There are also advantages to testing new regenerative medicine procedures in animals before introducing the techniques to physicians. “The nice thing about working with dog cells is we have the chance to use these types of treatment approaches in spontaneous disease. Honey’s fracture is an example. She had a number of surgeries trying to repair the fracture, but they ultimately failed,” Saunders explained. “In these types of settings, you have a situation that closely mimics the clinical scenario in humans, as opposed to a small or large lab animal in which a simulated injury is created and immediately treated.” Though Saunders and his team are motivated to make an impact in stem cell therapy for human medicine, the current regulatory obstacles, particularly in the United States, remain a challenge. Once cells are harvested from a human patient and taken to a lab and grown under culture conditions, regulatory agencies in the United States prevent the cells from being re-administered to the patient. At that point, the cells are restricted to a more intense level of regulatory overview. “In today’s regulatory environment, approaches in which cells are harvested and manipulated in the laboratory to improve bone healing aren’t possible in humans due to concerns, many of which are valid, regarding 66 •
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changes that might occur within the patient’s cells in the lab,” Saunders said. “When you take the cells, whether they are bone marrow cells or cells from other tissues, and you enhance them, culture them, and expand them, those are considered manipulated biological tissues.” Despite the challenges to veterinary stem cell research, like identifying good candidates in his canine patients, locating funds and grants to run the research lab, and regulatory obstacles, Saunders and his team continue to work toward a solution for canine patients who suffer from bone and joint disease. Developing tissue-engineering systems that can heal bone and joint injuries in dogs that suffer from a pre-existing bone disease, and then potentially transferring these techniques into human medicine, is one of many goals for the team. “Regenerative medicine and tissue engineering hold a tremendous amount of promise for treating animals and humans with debilitating bone and joint disease,” Saunders said. “However, it’s important to remember that we are just at the infancy of understanding what these cells from dogs do, what they’re capable of doing, and what we can use these cells to accomplish. Lastly, it’s important for me to acknowledge that in today’s competitive world of translational research, none of this work is possible without a complimentary team. I’m fortunate to have brilliant collaborators, such as Dr. Gregory and Dr. Melissa Grunlan, who have developed many of these tissue-engineering approaches, a dedicated team in my lab (Shannon Huggins, Robert Bearden, Melissa MacIver, and numerous veterinary students) who share my vision and make this work possible, and small animal orthopedic faculty members and residents who support our work. I’m also grateful for our funding sources such as the Texas A&M Foundation’s Bone and Joint Fund (http://vetmed.tamu.edu/giving/opportunities/boneand-joint-fund), a Foundation fund developed to support the lab, and the American Kennel Club-Canine Health Foundation (AKC-CHF) who has generously supported work in the lab.”
Dr. Brian Saunders consults on a case.
Dr. Eleanor Green:
by Dr. Megan Palsa
Veterinarian, Leader, Friend, and Cowgirl Summer 2016 •
Spotlight Insights about Leadership Dr. Eleanor Green credits both people and animals, particularly horses, with helping her reach some of the highest pinnacles of professional and personal success. Her interactions with notable role models and animals throughout her life also provide the dean of Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) with valuable life lessons that guide her in her roles of being a pioneer equine veterinarian and a leader in higher education. Chief among these lessons are a dedication to relationships, a commitment to hard work, and a quest for continual learning. “Animals are the great teachers of life, if we listen,” said Green. “They are pure of intent, loyal, nonjudgmental, and forgiving. They have certainly enriched my life. I grew up in an animal-friendly home and cannot remember not having animals—many animals of many different species. Horses have always been my passion. There is little more exhilarating than riding and being completely at one with a horse that is responding softly to every subtle aid. I heard a great horseman once say that horses never mess up and always do what you ask them to do. If they are not doing what you want, you are not asking correctly. Now there is a lesson for life.” “The lessons learned go on for a lifetime. Horses taught me about the importance of a strong work ethic, responsibility, and the futility of shortcuts. They taught me about how to win and how to lose, being humble in both cases. They taught me about fairness, patience, and how to treat others and about compassion, unconditional love, and loss. I learned early on that the temper does not take over until the knowledge plays out, so the solution to a brewing temper is more knowledge and greater understanding, whether it is about handling a horse, communicating with others, or dealing with life’s challenges.” These insights also serve as the foundation for the management decisions that the visionary leader makes on a daily basis. “If you don’t treat horses well, train and teach them well, and handle them well, somewhere along the line problems will emerge and you will have to go back to correct the problems you created,” the Florida native said. “It’s the same with people. It’s about treating people fairly, realizing that, if you don’t, something undesirable in the relationship will undoubtedly emerge. Then it takes more work to fix that relationship than if you had carefully preserved trust.”
Born to the Saddle Green developed her love for horses at an early age. “From birth, I have been one of those horse-crazy kids. I think my first complete sentence was, ‘I want a pony!’” she said, adding that as a child she voraciously read every book she could find on horses. “I also grew up watching the Lone Ranger, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and, of course, Dale Evans and Annie Oakley. I absorbed their life lessons about integrity, what is true and good in the world, how to treat people, and that good always prevails. I marveled at their rugged independence; who they were and what they stood for resonated with me.”
• Summer 2016
Dr. Green and Miss Rivum N Blues (Rivi) and Andy Moorman of Woodmere Farms (coach)
Riding lessons started when Green was seven. Within two years, her parents fulfilled her early dream of having a horse. Soon, Green was saddling her mount to ride competitively. “I started competing very early, and I just kept competing. On most weekends I went to horse shows,” she said. “I started off on American Saddlebreds, but then switched to Quarter Horses because these shows were held more frequently and closer to home. I rode in a lot of the Western events, but I also rode in English events because I had that English background. When the American Quarter Horse Association included English events, I was right there. I also dabbled just for fun in the speed events.” Thanks to these competitions, Green developed a maturity beyond her years and an independent spirit. By the age of 16, Green regularly loaded up her horses and traveled to events by herself. Her horses also accompanied the teenager when she left home to attend college. She also rode, trained, and showed horses for other people to help pay for her own horses. Green developed a systemic connection with agriculture early, a view she maintains today. The horses were influential, but her family also had a small herd of registered Santa Gertrudis cattle. She always loved the land. “I still remember a video shown in my classroom in grammar school about farming the land and ranching,” she said. “I was moved in a way that I suspect was different from many others. There’s just something about the land, our connection with it, our dependence upon it, and our responsibility for its stewardship.”
Deep Familial Roots in Medicine Medicine is a common career path in Green’s family, which boasts many family members who are physicians and surgeons. While these relatives offered a glimpse of what a medical career could look like, Green points to her father, who served as chief of staff at Tampa General Hospital in Florida, as her primary inspiration. “He was one of those
people who just had unwavering integrity, a remarkable work ethic, and an exceptional devotion to his patients, his career, his profession, and his family,” Green remembered. “Throughout my life I heard how great he was from his physician colleagues, nurses, office staff, community leaders, ministers, and others. I used to go with him on hospital rounds and witness how he interacted with patients. When he walked into the room, there was a notable calm and an uncanny trust by all of his patients. Our home was filled with gifts from grateful patients.” Yet her family’s menagerie of animals—which included dogs, cats, rabbits, pocket pets, homing pigeons, goats, calves, quail, pheasants, and horses—gave Green a different focus for her professional aspirations. “It seemed like veterinary medicine was a better fit for me, rather than going into the human field,” she said. “I had a passion for animals, and it was a great way to combine the medical profession with that passion.”
A Pioneer in Veterinary Medicine After pursuing a bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Florida, Green applied to Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “When I was accepted into veterinary school, it was very difficult for women to get in; in fact, women were counseled not to apply and informed they wouldn’t be accepted. Many of my friends
and colleagues who were interested chose other careers because they were discouraged from following this path.” The horsewoman was not so easily dissuaded. “I was naïve in my approach and could not fully understand why I should not continue to try to pursue my chosen career in veterinary medicine,” Green said. “I could not accept the discouragement, because it didn’t make sense.” Determinedly, Green applied for admission—and was initially rejected. “I was actually told after I got in that they never let women in the first time back then,” she said. “They told me that they took a woman’s application seriously only after the second try. There were four women in my class of 100, and three graduated. There were few in classes ahead of me. Things have changed dramatically.” Once she was admitted, Green grabbed every opportunity to succeed in her studies. “I never felt any sort of discomfort or lack of inclusiveness,” she said. Her classmates were wonderful and many remain close friends today. “Getting this degree was just always something that I wanted to do so I was not deterred by the barriers; I focused on the opportunities. That’s been my approach for my entire life. Riding remained a passion, provided a reprieve from studies, and laid a solid foundation for integrating professional and personal life. “I rode every day and went to horse shows on the weekends,” Green recounted. “That balance helped keep me physically and mentally fresh. It was
Reserve World Champion Working Hunter and Hunter Hack (Miss Rivum N Blues)
When all of the children left home, Dr. Green set her sights on competing in equine events again. She found the ideal horse, a five-year-old gray mare named Miss Rivum N Blues (“Rivi”), from her long-time friend, Andy Moorman, who owned Woodmere Farms in Venice, Florida. Dr. Green and Moorman had shown horses together in Florida in the 1960s, and Moorman had gone on to coach youth and amateur riders and become an AQHA Professional Horsewoman of the Year. Moorman coached Dr. Green and “Rivi” to notable success in Working Hunter, Hunter Hack, Hunt Seat Equitation, and Equitation Over Fences. They won multiple Florida high point awards in all four classes in two separate divisions. They also qualified in all four events for the AQHA Select World Championship Show and were reserve world champion in Working Hunter and Hunter Hack.
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Reserve World Champion Pleasure Driving (Good Lukin Lark)
clear after graduating and having a family, the priority order had to be family first, then profession, and then horses. I was never without horses and never quit riding, but the intensity decreased and the showing became intermittent.”
From Clinical Practice to Academia While earning her veterinary medical degree, Green set her sights on working in an all-equine practice in a horse intensive area; however, those dreams changed course when she married a classmate who had always wanted to move back to his hometown of Guntown, Mississippi. “We set up our own practice, designing and overseeing construction of the clinic and developing a caseload. In addition to the typical small animal facilities, we built indoor stalls, stocks, a lameness area, and indoor and outdoor cattle working facilities. Guntown Veterinary Clinic became the second haul-in facility in Mississippi and was a successful, progressive practice,” Green recalled. “It was a rural, mixed animal practice: I managed the equine cases, he took care of the livestock cases, and we split the small animal caseload.” After four years in clinical practice, the couple was recruited to join the faculty at Mississippi State University, which was in the process of creating a new veterinary school. “Even though we really liked the Guntown area and were happy in practice, we thought, ‘We’ll never have this opportunity again. If we go and miss private practice too much, we can be back in practice in two weeks, but if we don’t go, this opportunity will likely never come again,’” Green said, adding that MSU’s veterinary school was so new that it had not yet received legislative approval. “We were not only founding faculty members, we were two of the first few faculty to sign on. It was an exciting challenge to build an entire veterinary school from the bottom up, including obtaining the support of the MSU academic community, the Mississippi veterinary profession, the livestock organizations, and the Mississippi legislature. Starting with a blank slate, 70 •
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After arriving at Texas A&M, Dr. Green found another way to compete in AQHA shows—in a new class, Pleasure Driving. She leased a horse, Good Lukin Lark, from Rick and Lori Bucholz, and worked with professional horsemen, Kevin and Melissa Dukes, in Weatherford, Texas. They won several circuit championships, qualified for the AQHA Select World Championship Show, and were reserve world champion in Pleasure Driving.
we developed everything needed to launch a new veterinary school, such as recruiting faculty and staff, setting up and running a temporary hospital, creating admissions procedures, planning a curriculum, admitting the first class, designing and constructing a $30 million facility, and obtaining American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education accreditation. One notable example of the detail of the effort is that the entire curriculum was outlined for all four years, including a schedule for every course, a syllabus for every course, and even specific learning objectives for every lecture and laboratory. Additionally, all faculty were required to complete an intensive eight week faculty development course that encompassed how to teach, how to write test questions, how to make presentations, communications, conflict resolution, personality profiles, and more. The focus was on education in an environment in which change and innovations were encouraged. It was an experience of a lifetime and provided training that formed a solid foundation for an academic career from assistant professor to administration. MSU also provided an alternative residency in veterinary internal medicine approved by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). That experience served as a springboard for positions at two other U.S. veterinary colleges. Starting at the University of Missouri in 1984, Green was an equine clinician at its Middlebush Equine Center. While she had become a Diplomate of the ACVIM, Specialty of Large Animal Internal Medicine, and a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, Certified in Equine Practice, she had broad clinical responsibilities, including medicine cases, intensive care, soft tissue surgery, and lameness. It was there that she had the opportunity to become a clinician scholar, working with Dr. Harold Garner and his team on endotoxemia, laminitis, and equine gastric ulcer disease. Administration became the next challenge when she was
Dr. Green and her dog, Cohen recruited by the University of Tennessee in 1991 to become head of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and hospital director of the Large Animal Hospital. While maintaining a 25 percent appointment to clinics, teaching, and research, she found that she really liked this leadership role, so much so that in 1996 when the University of Florida recruited her to be the chair of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and chief of staff of the Large Animal Hospital, she returned to the Sunshine State. “I said, decidedly, that I was home. While I have enjoyed every veterinary school and benefitted from each program, when I got back to Florida, I had decided to complete my career in my home state.” Green resolutely remained in Gainesville, turning down other job opportunities until Texas A&M approached her. “When Texas A&M called in 2008, at first I was not going to interview, because of my resolve to remain in Florida,” she said. “But I kept thinking, ‘It’s Texas.’ I have always related to Texas.” I decided to interview. It did not take long to develop a deep appreciation for Texas A&M and its College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM). “I relate to the people of Texas, its culture, its animal industries, and its can-do attitude. I often refer to a full page in Texas Monthly, which says in bold, black, block letters, ‘Don’t Tell a Texan It Can’t Be Done.’ I can connect with that phrase,” Green said.
is clear that Texas A&M CVM faculty, staff, and students are remarkable and that Texas A&M provides an environment for boundless success. I believe that you can dream beyond your capabilities, but it is hard to perform beyond your dreams and aspirations; therefore, we must think about the possibilities in order to reach our individual and collective potential and have the impacts we should. I also believe that high performers want to be with other high performers in a culture of excellence.” D. Wayne Lucas, one of the all-time winningest Thoroughbred horse trainers, once said, “Treat them all like champions, and let them disappoint you.” Green concludes, “That is how we should treat our faculty, staff, and students—like champions.” Her encouragement for innovation and excellence prompted the CVM to adopt ambitious initiatives. The first CVM initiative is creation and preservation of a culture of inclusion and diversity in a welcoming environment, which is a baseline for today’s global society and a foundation for all other initiatives. People make programs and people must be respected and valued. Another critical initiative is designed to position Texas A&M CVM as a world leader and innovator in education. This includes many components, such as scholarship of learning, pedagogy, curricular delivery, advanced educational technologies, and high-impact learning experiences. Supporting research and researchers is a notable priority, including research that answers problems in animals and those that affect people. The range is from basic discovery to commercialization. There is a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research and clinical trials. The Global One Health Initiative is a collaborative, multidisciplinary effort to attain sustainable optimal health for animals, humans, and the environment in a shared ecosystem. A related initiative encourages CVM faculty and students to be problem solvers on an international scale through a variety of international programs. Creating the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) of the future is another important initiative. This VMTH of the future will provide the highest level of advanced,
Dreaming Up Innovative Changes The dean joined Texas A&M in 2009 with the resolve to encourage those in the College to dream big. She noted, “It
Dr. Green with her children Summer 2016 •
Spotlight innovatively delivered care in an environment centered on optimal experiences for the clients, referring veterinarians, clinicians, staff, and students. The Equine Initiative was established to serve the essential horse industry and build solid collaborations with Texas A&M AgriLife. The initiative to develop partnerships between the CVM and other Texas A&M University System institutions is designed to ensure “Serving Every Texan Every Day.” It will better allow the CVM to fulfill the unique regional needs of Texas, increase diversity, increase the number of rural veterinarians, and further solidfy relationships with the animal industries. The most recent initiative is Veterinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship, deemed essential to ensure the future success of the CVM, perhaps even its existence, as well as the success of our graduates and contributions to the veterinary profession and society. Finally, facilities, essential in supporting the education, research, service, and outreach missions of the CVM, will continue to be addressed. The CVM should be known both as an innovator and keeper of the rich traditions at Texas A&M. While accomplishing these exciting, ambitious initiatives, it will be important to stay true to the university’s core values of loyalty, integrity, excellence, leadership, respect, and selfless service. The CVM faculty, staff, and students most certainly will make sure we do so. These initiatives should keep the
CVM at the forefront of academic veterinary medicine and ensure its critical role in fulfilling societal needs.
Leadership and a Place among Legendary Cowgirls Those outside of Texas A&M continue to recognize and honor Green’s experience, knowledge, and leadership ability. She currently serves as president of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and previously held the presidency of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, and the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians. “I’ve always felt an obligation to give,” the dean said. “I’ve received so much from this profession and the leadership roles came completely and solidly out of a responsibility to give back.” Another professional and personal pinnacle involves Green’s 2013 induction into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, where she joins the ranks of luminaries, such as former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Green is the first veterinarian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, which recognizes women who have made an impact and who advance Western heritage. The dean’s selection also was based on her leadership in veterinary medicine and her horsemanship.
“I had been asked by Patty Olson of Morris Animal Foundation (at the time) to facilitate an Unwanted Horse Summit in Denver in 2009. The American Quarter Horse Association had asked Dr. Jim Heird to represent AQHA at this summit. That is where we met,” Green said. “That is where we started talking about the possibilities of an extraordinary, collaborative equine program at Texas A&M. When Texas A&M AgriLife learned that he might be recruitable, they became aggressive in their recruitment efforts, as they had tried unsuccessfully a few years earlier. The collaboration with the CVM made sense and the ‘rest is history.’” In 2009, Dr. Heird became the coordinator of the Equine Initiative. He led a team to develop the plan. He then oversaw the funding, design, and construction of the $32 million Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex, which is Phase I of the plan. He is now working on Phase II. Dr. Green and Dr. Heird had known of each other since the 1960s, but had never met. In fact, Dr. Green had shown her horses under him, an AQHA judge, and the horse she showed came from L&L Farms in Dothan, Alabama, where Dr. Heird had trained horses under the main trainer, Roy Nolan. As fate would have it, they finally met and they were both single. “I have never met anyone else like him. He is a wonderful person and accomplished professional. He loves horses as much as I do and has dedicated his professional life to them, as I did. He is one of the best horsemen I have ever seen. He is also a loving parent and grandparent who is great with kids,” Green said. “Having held positions as dean and vice chancellor of agriculture, as well as interim dean of the business school, he understands and accepts the demands of my position. He is very successful in his own right, not only in leading the Equine Initiative, but also serving the horse industry.” Currently, Dr. Heird is on the AQHA Executive Committee, serving as second vice president.
Dr. Green and Dr. Heird at their wedding on Utopia Ranch 72 •
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Dr. Green and Dr. Heird with their children and grandchildren
A Focus on Common Horse Sense In the face of all of these well-deserved accolades, Green continues to return to her love of horses. “Career-wise, all I ever wanted to be was a really good equine veterinarian,” Green said. “Opportunities arose, decisions were made, and my path had twists and turns. Along the way, it has been an honor to be selected to lead in the veterinary profession, the horse industry, the community, and at Texas A&M.” And while she takes pride in being a pioneering female in the profession, the inspirational leader instinctively continues to strive to help those around her. “In my life, it has never been about being a woman doing a job,” Green said. “It has always been about doing a job, giving back, creating something of value, interjecting good into the world. The greatest satisfaction comes from someone you mentored excelling, even passing you!” Family has always been very important to Green, and integrating family and profession was never a question. Her first child, George Ashby Green Jr., was born soon after graduation in 1973. Green said, “Because there was no childcare at that time, I took Ashby on calls with me. He was a very good baby who never met a stranger. On calls, often the ranch wives would ask if they could play with him while I worked.” After Stacy Elizabeth Green was born in 1975, the veterinary practice took on the additional role as day care center. “We had a nursery in the veterinary clinic—and a toy box. Veterinarians’ children have special privileges, such as expanded opportunities for toys beyond those routine store brands of Mattel, Hasbro, and Fisher Price,” Green explained. “Many of their toys were Monoject, 3M, or some other brand of veterinary supplies and equipment. Instead of super soakers, they had 60 ml catheter tip syringes. Their swimming pool was a large galvanized water trough, and their diving board was the tailgate of the truck.” William Wade Green was born in 1981 after the move to MSU. All
three enjoyed living and playing on a 140-acre farm with horses and commercial cattle. Today, the kids are grown and have families of their own. Ashby is the chief financial officer of Kobe Marketing in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is married to MacKenzie Green, a teacher, and they have two children, Jordan (seven) and Ashby III (five). Stacy is married to Tyke Hillmer, who is Lieutenant Colonel and Inspector General in the U.S. Army, and they have one child, Hays (one and a half). Stacy is a former pharmaceutical representative with Butler Schein Animal Health and now spends some time decorating homes and teaching yoga. Wade is senior manager, Wind Turbine Sales, at ACCIONA Windpower and recently married Casey Green, executive assistant at Vista Equity Partners. In 2009, Green met Jim Heird who was director of the equine program at Colorado State University. Texas A&M AgriLife, with the CVM, recruited Heird to Texas A&M in 2009 to create and coordinate the Equine Initiative, a collaboration between veterinary medicine and agriculture. Heird oversaw funding, planning, and design of the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex. In 2013, Green and Heird married, so the families have merged resulting in five married children. Beverly Heird is the manager of Integrated Communications, Intelligent Solutions Group, at John Deere in Kansas City, Missouri. She has three children, Jack (13) and twin boys, Josh and Alex (six). Josh Heird is the assistant athletic director of facilities and championships at the University of Louisville. His wife, Abbey, is the IG Care Specialist for Alexa Care. They have one child, Hadley (one and a half), and one on the way. Green says, “Jim and I talk about how lucky we are, not only to have found each other, but to have this amazing merged family. We are enormously proud of all of our children and their spouses, each one of them very successful in both their personal and professional lives. They are all really good people and great parents.”
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L E A D E R SH I P
A Culture of Caring There’s a growing body of evidence that veterinary students are experiencing increased stress, anxiety, and depression, according to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). In response, the AAVMC began hosting an annual Health and Wellness Summit in 2013. The goals of the conference are to develop a common understanding of the health and wellness issues involving veterinary students and recent graduates, and to continue to formulate and implement an action plan for enhancing health and wellness within the profession.
Changing the Tide
The results of the chronic and complicated demands of serving both people and animals, the constant desire to exceed expectations, and the complication of life’s pressures can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. In the veterinary profession over the last few years, there has been a great deal of concern about the health and wellness of our students and our veterinarians. According to a survey from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), 32 percent of veterinary students suffer from depression, and suicide rates are increasing. The AAVMC is taking a lead on working to expand dialogue and implement processes to find solutions.
Working Together to Create Balance
We can and need to do more. State and local veterinary associations need to be a leader in instituting professional wellness programs. The focus of the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) orientation for the Class of 2019 was on “BALANCE,” the CVM’s wellness program. The daylong event focused on transitioning students into veterinary school by meeting classmates and their faculty mentors. The goal was to educate the Class of 2019 on wellness issues facing our profession, increase their understanding on the “Pillars of Wellness” (physical, emotional, spiritual, and nutrition), identify their five strengths, and understand the need for self-care as they enter into the veterinary profession. BALANCE offers numerous events throughout the year including exercise events; study sanctuary; nutrition educational counseling; Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) Gatekeeper Training to student mentors; stress reduction techniques; and life assessments exercises. 74 •
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by Dr. Dan Posey
Establishing a Culture of Mutual Care
Veterinarians are trained to serve society’s need for the care and welfare of animals. Most veterinarians are excellent at accumulating knowledge and building skills, and thrive in the academic setting, but the extraordinary daily demands on time, such as caring for clients and patients, teaching classes, writing research grants, and, of course, making time for family can be overwhelming. As health professionals, we need to do a better job of taking care of ourselves while supporting our friends and families. A culture of mutual care within our profession needs to be nurtured; however, this is not an easy task. Asking an individual to commit to self-care is the most difficult part of establishing a new culture of mutual care. We help clients recognize problems for the well-being of their pets, so it is time to recognize and fix self-esteem and self-worth issues we sometimes struggle to overcome. It is time to be bold in our approach in helping our colleagues and friends. We can no longer ignore the obvious and must be willing to approach our friends through kindness and caring. This may be a difficult step and may take us out of the comfort zone of casual conversation, but it is essential to help those who are struggling to stay positive through all of life’s challenges.
Next Step for Our Profession
It is important that we recognize the signs of depression and ill health. Many of us learned how to recognize animal illness through training; there is no difference here. Out of tradition, every second-year class (2VM) in the CVM makes a commitment to mentor the incoming firstyear class (1VM). This year, the leaders of the Class of 2018 took this to heart and built a better mentor program. The goal of the program was to make sure every person in the Class of 2019 had a committed mentor who participated in training for suicide prevention. Each 2VM mentor made a commitment in August 2015 to help their 1VM students with their transition into the DVM Professional Program. The 2VM mentors are actively engaging with their 1VM mentees through weekly interactions, encouraging emails, and sharing a meal or coffee time. The efforts of the Class of 2018 and their commitment to act as sentinels for the Class of 2019 is an example CVM veterinarians should follow.
As health care professionals, we need to practice selfassessment skills to know where we are in the wheel of life. We need to serve as models for our colleagues and openly acknowledge the areas we could improve on. Small, incremental, and deliberate changes are the most sustainable and effective in establishing a culture of care.
by Dr. Megan Palsa
Drs. Bissett and Zoran Lead through Virtual Reality Now well into its fourth year, the Community Connections rotation, required for fourth-year veterinary students, has prepared over 500 Aggie veterinarians to provide veterinary support for their community should a disaster strike. This unique two-week educational experience introduces students to emergency preparedness and response, and the experience gives veterinary students the tools to handle a disaster in their community or practice in their future professional life. One of the ways students practice these clinical and communication skill sets is by using an interactive simulation technology, the virtual social media platform called Second Life®. On this platform, students are immersed in a virtual disaster scenario through their avatar character—a graphical representation of the user—without actually experiencing the dangers of working in disaster environments. This innovative approach to learning has received national recognition from veterinary medical schools and veterinary organizations across the country. The leaders of the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET), Dr. Wesley Bissett, director of the VET, and Dr. Deb Zoran, medical operations supervisor for the VET, are often invited to present at national conferences to discuss the benefits of using virtual environments to teach veterinary emergency preparedness and response. Currently, the rotation features virtual scenarios based on real events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding. The interactions they have with other avatar characters introduced into the scenario assist the students in gaining real-life experience as they deal with people in difficult circumstances. The simulation prepares them for disasters they might encounter, but also emphasizes the importance of the daily interactions they will face in practice. “Working in a disaster environment is a challenge,” Bissett said. “In a hospital setting, veterinarians have access to multiple treatment options and well-stocked supplies. However, in a disaster, these options are not available, and decision-making for triage and treatment is significantly affected by the limited resources available.” Bissett also noted that learning to think quickly, work collaboratively, and to be flexible helps the students further develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. The students make all clinical decisions while in the virtual environment, and unlike other rotations in the teaching hospital, are not assisted in these decisions by interns, residents, or faculty. They must be able to rely on each other and live with the results of their decisions. Every student is given an opportunity to serve in a leadership role and is expected to manage their time and team wisely. Participation in the Second Life® simulation occurs over two to three days, with the first session dedicated to learning how to work and move within the virtual environment. In the next session, students enter an online virtual world, where the VET has established a community hit by a disaster, with space set-up as a mobile veterinary hospital and triage
Dr. Wesley Bissett (left) and Dr. Deb Zoran (right) center. During each session, students must triage injured animals and then make medical treatment decisions based on the capabilities of their mobile hospital and the resources available to them. A team of students and instructors also have field sites to visit where animals are injured and in need of care. While evaluating and administering treatments to the injured, the students must address visitors to the site—such as elected community leaders, search and rescue personnel in immediate need of attention, reporters, and nefarious characters determined to relieve the team of needed supplies—who interrupt medical operations. Teams in the field must deal with damaged fences, severely injured animals, toxic environments, and injured humans. “Not many veterinary students have the opportunity to experience an actual disaster response and work through these difficult circumstances,” said Zoran. “Our Second Life” simulated disaster response is built around real life disasters, some of which we have faced as a team. The real world projects used on this rotation help students integrate skills they have learned in veterinary school into the virtual world of disaster response.” In addition to further developing clinical skills and medical decision-making, the simulation technology employed by the team addresses the seven core competencies developed by the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium (NAVMEC): commitment to life-long learning, collaboration, communication, leadership, management, diversity, and adaptation to changing environments. The Aggie veterinary students, who have participated in the Second Life® disaster simulation, will have gained a skill set that will enable them to better serve their communities in the event of a disaster. Each year, the number of prepared veterinarians will continue to grow, and the full impact of this one-of-a-kind rotation will be witnessed in the reduction of animal suffering when disaster strikes. Summer 2016 •
C U R R I C U LU M
by Sara Carney and Dr. Megan Palsa
CTE and CVM work together on curriculum redesign
Left to right: Dr. Lisa Keefe, Dr. Debra Fowler, Dr. Jodi Korich, Dr. Kristin Chaney, Maria Macik (standing), Elizabeth Scallan (seated), Jacqueline Turner
With the construction of new buildings and modernized facilities, it’s apparent that the face of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) is changing. However, the remodeling is not just on the outside; the CVM is also renovating its curriculum for veterinary students. Like renovating a building, curriculum redesign can be an extensive and time-consuming process, but luckily the CVM has help. By partnering with the Texas A&M Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), the CVM is working to ensure its graduates receive the best education possible and are adequately prepared to enter the veterinary profession. 76 •
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Partnerships in Curriculum Review In January 2015, the CVM reached out to the Texas A&M Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) for assistance in reviewing its four-year veterinary program. By partnering with the CTE, the CVM is working to ensure its graduates receive the best education possible and are adequately prepared to enter the veterinary profession. With over 10 years of experience in curriculum redesign, the CTE works across Texas A&M University to evaluate programs and improve curricula for various colleges and departments. A few of the CTE’s successful curriculum redesigns include the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, the Special Education program in the Department of Educational Psychology, and the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. “We only have the opportunity to do a complete and in-depth curriculum review once every seven to 10 years, so we wanted to make sure that we did it right,” explained Dr. Kenita Rogers, associate dean for professional programs. “For us, doing it right meant leveraging the tremendous expertise of the CTE in curriculum review and design to help us accomplish our goals.”
Associate director of the CTE, Dr. Debra Fowler, and her colleagues, Maria Macik, CTE associate instructional consultant, and Jacqueline Turner, a CTE graduate student, have worked closely with the CVM’s Curriculum Review Planning Team over the past year to help conduct the curriculum review. The CVM planning team members include Dr. Jodi Korich, clinical assistant professor and director of the Center for Educational Technologies, Dr. Kristin Chaney, clinical assistant professor of veterinary medical education, Dr. Lisa Keefe, instructional assistant professor, and Dr. Elizabeth Scallan, director of clinical skills.
Vision and Goals To support student learning, the CVM first aims to provide extensive faculty support. This will help faculty create innovative learning experiences for students in the classroom and laboratory. Together, the CVM and CTE are working to assist faculty in building robust, meaningful instructional experiences for veterinary students. As part of the new curriculum, emphasis will be placed on creating student-centered learning activities that help graduates move into professional veterinary careers. Such experiences include encouraging the application of knowledge, promoting life-long learning habits, and emphasizing the importance of personal wellness. Korich described the goal of the curriculum review by explaining, “An important aspect of this review is that we’re not just reconsidering what information we are teaching, but how are we teaching it and what we expect our graduates to be able to do with the knowledge they acquire. Our focus is on optimizing the students’ learning.”
Putting Things in Motion When the CVM-CTE partnership began just over a year ago, the CTE was instrumental in providing guidance and support throughout the entire data collection process. However, curricular review is a rigorous process. It involves engaging students currently in the program, alumni of the program, and veterinarians who employ and/or work alongside graduates. Collecting this type of stakeholder data is important to a data-driven curricular review, and it allows
“We only have the opportunity to do a complete and in-depth curriculum review once every seven to 10 years, so we wanted to make sure that we did it right. For us, doing it right meant leveraging the tremendous expertise of the CTE in curriculum review and design to help us accomplish our goals.”
-Dr. Kenita Rogers
“Embarking on a curriculum redesign requires courage and committment, especially at the college level. The faculty, staff, and leadership at the CVM have confirmed their passion for student learning through dedicated time, effort, and engagement. This has truly been an energizing collaboration.”
-Dr. Debra Fowler insight into which educational topics and professional skills should be emphasized during the four-year program. “The CTE has been there every step of the way,” said Rogers, “helping us to collect meaningful feedback from students, alumni, and employers about how to make our curriculum stronger and ensuring our students are ready for practice on day one of their careers.” Although the curriculum review planning team has done extensive work to carry out the review, they did not do it alone. The Curriculum Committee, composed of 35 faculty members from across the college, has actively engaged in the process. Ultimately, the committee is responsible for approval of all recommendations and associated curricular changes. When the time came for analysis of the stakeholder data, the CTE helped summarize large volumes of raw data and facilitated a series of CVM faculty workshops to analyze this data. As part of these workshops, faculty invested many hours in reviewing the data collected. With evidence in hand, they identified issues to be addressed and discussed ideas for curricular improvement. “Engaging faculty in the review process has been instrumental in maintaining forward momentum for the curricular redesign process,” said Chaney. “Using CTE’s proven model of curriculum redesign, the CVM felt it was in good hands as the existing curriculum was evaluated.”
The Rewards By involving experts from the CTE from the beginning, the CVM has worked to guarantee the success of the redesign effort. This effort has also flourished due to the extensive efforts of CVM faculty and the support from the CVM. Through this remarkable partnership, CVM faculty and students will reap the rewards of continued curricular excellence at the CVM well into the future. “Throughout the rich history of the veterinary program, students have always remained at the heart of the college,” Rogers said. “One of the primary goals of the current curriculum renewal process is to create the most impactful learning experience possible for students.” Summer 2016 •
A LU M N I
Dr. Joseph Coulter ’50:
by Callie Rainosek
Dedicated to Serving
Dr. Joseph Coulter, Texas A&M University class of ’50, is not your typical 90-year-old. While most people his age are enjoying their retirement, Coulter is still serving his Brownsville community as the oldest practicing veterinarian that graduated from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM). After serving his country working on submarines during World War II, Coulter returned to the United States with thousands of other WWII veterans. Like many returning soldiers, Coulter was unsure of his next step in life. Though he did not have many resources to return home to, Coulter knew that life after the war included something bigger than working on submarines: an education. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, better known as the G.I. Bill, was signed by President Roosevelt in 1944, providing veterans like Coulter a chance to earn a college degree or high school diploma. “I got a catalog from Texas A&M describing the courses they offered, and I saw veterinary medicine on the last page,” he said. “Veterinary medicine attracted me because I’ve always been fond of animals. My family raised cattle and horses, and it was just made for me.” With the help of the G.I. Bill, Coulter entered the CVM, then known as the School of Veterinary Medicine, in January of 1946. Life was on a fast track after the war, so both Coulter’s bachelor’s degree and veterinary education were compressed into four years. “Whenever I came to College Station for the first time in 1946, I started taking basic pre-veterinary courses,” he explained. “Class ran six days a week, sometimes into the night. I ended up with a degree in veterinary medicine, but I earned a bachelor’s degree without ever really knowing it.” Though life was fast and college was tough, Coulter enjoyed his time at the veterinary school, and he continuously looked forward to the day he could become a licensed veterinarian. He did not earn a bachelor’s degree before veterinary school as modern students traditionally do, but Coulter’s education at Texas A&M proved invaluable after his graduation in 1950. “When I graduated, my wife was pregnant. We owned a 1942 Plymouth and a 1948 Frigidaire refrigerator, and that’s
Photo Caption Here. Dr. Joseph Coulter ’50 from 1949 to 2014 78 •
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all we had,” he recalled. “I wanted to take my wife home so she could be with her family. So, we loaded our refrigerator on a trailer and came to Brownsville.” After returning to his hometown, it did not take long for Coulter to begin serving his community. In 1950, the beginning of the Korean War led two Brownsville veterinarians to join the service, giving Coulter the opportunity to join the staff of the Brownsville Veterinary Hospital. Among the local dairies, farms, and ranches in Brownsville at that time, Coulter was immediately immersed in large animal medicine. Though this was his first job as a practicing veterinarian, Coulter confidently treated many large animal patients. “We were the only veterinarians in town, so we just did whatever had to be done,” he said. While a majority of his patients in the past were cattle and horses, his focus has since shifted to small companion animals. When asked what the most rewarding part of his job is, Coulter replied that saving animals is by far the most satisfying experience as a veterinarian. “Whenever you see an animal that does not look like it will live, but you still treat it because that is what the owner wants, it gives you gratification to see it live,” he explained. Coulter is also passionate about bringing happiness to children by saving their pets, and he stated, “Mothers are happy to see their children smile again. It’s a joy to watch.” Besides saving lives, Coulter also enjoys his daily routine of vaccinating small animals and working to diagnose sick pets. After many years working as a veterinarian, primary care tasks have since become second nature. “There’s something I tell people when they ask me, ‘You’re still practicing?’ I say, ‘No, I don’t need to practice much anymore. I usually know what I’m doing,’” he said. “It gets easier after 50 years.” Though his experience is second-to-none, Coulter could not successfully run the Brownsville Veterinary Hospital without the help of his loyal “A-Team,” composed of Alex Rodriguez, Ana Cortez, and Araceli Orive. Each team member has been working at the Brownsville Veterinary Hospital for more than 25 years. “I’m sure any one of them could find a better job somewhere else, but they like it at the
Brownsville Veterinary Hospital. They are a benefit to all of us,” Coulter stated. “They are intelligent people. They know what they’re doing and they have a lot of qualities about them that are unique.” Between the close-knit staff and Coulter’s many years of experience, the animal hospital has successfully saved countless lives in the Brownsville community. Though he is approaching 90 years old, the passion Coulter shares with his staff for animal health is far too deep for him to quit. His daily routine at the hospital is motivated by his love for making a difference in both human and animal lives. “Veterinary medicine is something that I love to do. I don’t have many other interests, and I do not have a desire to do anything else,” he said. “In fact, I would hope to just drop dead right there in the veterinary hospital.” Working as a veterinarian for the last 65 years has allowed Coulter to see the many progressive improvements in antibiotics, steroids, and surgical procedures, making him one of the most experienced veterinarians in Texas. “Veterinary medicine has changed tremendously,” Coulter explained. “In 1950, penicillin had just become available. Streptomycin and penicillin were our primary antibiotics. Then came the steroids, which made another great impact on the care and treatment of dogs and cats,” he continued. “Ivermectin also came along, which is used for internal and external parasites. Of course, there have also been a whole lot of new surgical techniques that have been developed over the years, too.” Though the techniques and approaches in veterinary medicine have certainly changed, Coulter has adapted by finding his niche and integrating new medicine in his daily treatments. Many people would shy away from significant changes like this, but Coulter embraces the new age of veterinary medicine. “If new medicine is available and it can have some benefit on the patient, I try it,” said Coulter. “We have more antibiotics than I even know about, and it’s pretty exciting to see what’s coming up next.” His experiences as a veterinarian over the last 65 years have also led to many memorable experiences, such as the 1950s Appaloosa horse fad. A popular western television show, Wagon Train, featuring an Appaloosa horse, stimulated a statewide demand for Appaloosas. “All of a sudden, just because a cowboy rode an Appaloosa horse on TV, everybody had to have one,” Coulter recalled. The
Appaloosa horse trend required Coulter to travel across the border into Mexico to draw blood from the imported horses. “Mexico began to run low on Appaloosas, so any horse that had a white spot on it was soon called an Appaloosa. That fad finally faded out, and that was the end of my blood drawing in Mexico.” In the 1970s, Venezuelan Equine Encephalomyelitis swept into the Brownsville area, proving deadly for about 80 horses and even causing illness among a few people. The disease, which is spread by mosquitos, challenged Coulter and other veterinarians to prevent further spread through vaccinations. Though Coulter was one of the few unfortunate people to fall ill from the disease, the veterinarians were able to halt the outbreak in its tracks. Between time spent caring for animals and ending the spread of disease, Coulter also found time to serve his community for 18 years through elected offices. Spending 10 years at the Brownsville Irrigation District and eight years at the Port of Brownsville, Coulter finds joy and satisfaction in volunteering his free time. Coulter also remains tied to the CVM through a charitable trust fund that he donated. His funding helps U.S. citizens attend veterinary school, making a difference for students who are passionate about their education, but may not be able to afford it. Coulter also gives credit to Dr. James N. Gomez, his associate of over 30 years, for keeping him and the Brownsville Veterinary Hospital going. Coulter and Gomez have forged not only a working partnership, but also a strong and loving friendship. The relationship between Coulter and Gomez has molded Brownsville Veterinary Hospital into the successful animal clinic it is today. In fact, the Brownsville Veterinary Hospital was privileged to be honored in 2014 with the Texas Veterinary Heritage Practice Award for being in continuous operation for over 50 years. Although some people may view his age as a limitation, Coulter remains confident in his ability to continuously care for animals. His 65 years of experience contribute to his wisdom in veterinary medicine, and he has no plans to stop pursuing his passion any time soon. As the oldest practicing veterinarian to graduate from the CVM, Coulter can proudly tell his clients, “I don’t practice much anymore,” because he does not need to. He has become one of the most experienced veterinarians in the state of Texas.
Summer 2016 •
Honor Roll Former Student inducted into Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame
Dr. Charles W. “Doc” Graham ’53 Dr. Charles W. “Doc” Graham ’53 was inducted as a 2016 Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member—the highest honor bestowed on individuals who have shown excellence in competition, business, and support of rodeo and western lifestyle in Texas. Graham, a graduate of Texas A&M University’s Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences (COALS) and Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), received the news of his induction on Sept. 6, before a football game in College Station. Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp said his longtime friend could be inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame on his 80 •
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professional credentials alone, but his character and work ethic set him apart. “He’s an early riser, a hard worker, good company, and a steady hand not prone to panic when the herd turns against you, as it sometimes does in life,” Chancellor Sharp said. “Who else would you want riding beside you?” “Dr. Graham exemplifies what it means to be a Texas Cowboy,” said Dr. Mark Hussey, vice chancellor and dean of COALS. “He’s a legend among those in the equine industry, having established equine veterinarian facilities that are recognized among the nation’s most prominent. He has successful cattle and feedlot operations, in addition to other agricultural interests.”
Graham is the only individual to serve as president for both the Texas Quarter Horse Association (TQHA) and the Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA). He is also the only person to be selected as Horseman of the Year by both associations. Graham’s other honors include the 2013 Texas A&M AgriLife Distinguished Texan in Agriculture Award, the 2010 COALS Outstanding Alumni Award, and the CVM Outstanding Alumnus Award. He was also inducted into the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Hall of Fame in 2009, the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2008, as well as the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2002. “Dr. Graham demonstrates the qualities and successes of an inductee to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame to the people of Texas, the nation, and the world. He has had more impact on Texas A&M University, the CVM, the COALS, the youth of Texas, and the Texas cattle and equine industry than any other person I know,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “Dr. Graham is a role model and an ambassador. I have known that for over three decades and from four different states, and now, I see it here in Texas.” Graham earned his bachelor of science degree in animal husbandry in 1953, his bachelor of science degree in animal science in 1954, and his doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1961, all from Texas A&M. In the early 1960s, Graham and Dr. W. H. Cardwell built the Elgin Veterinary Hospital and grew the practice into one of the largest equine veterinary facilities in the nation. Graham is now owner of a number of other businesses, including the 1,300-acre Southwest Stallion Station in Elgin, which has bred some of the top stallions and broodmares in the quarter horse industry. Graham was officially inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame at a ceremony in January 2016.
Honor Roll Texas A&M CVM Dean Eleanor M. Green Begins Term as AAVMC President Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), began her term as president of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). “It’s an honor for me to have this opportunity to lead the AAVMC and I’m very excited about it,” said Dr. Green. “We’re fortunate to have so many talented and dedicated educators working in our member institutions, and I’m enjoying to working closely with them as we continue our efforts to create opportunity and progress in veterinary medicine.”
She assumed the presidency at the AAVMC annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. She was elected president-elect at the organization’s annual meeting last year. Dr. Green earned her DVM from Auburn University and is a diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) and the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). She has previously served as president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians (AAVC), and the ABVP. Dr. Douglas Freeman, dean of the Western College of Veterinary
Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, was elected presidentelect. Freeman earned his DVM degree from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. from the University of Idaho, and is a diplomate in the American College of Theriogenologists. The AAVMC is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect and improve the health and welfare of animals, people, and the environment by advancing academic veterinary medicine. Members include all 35 veterinary medical colleges in the United States and Canada, 14 international colleges of veterinary medicine, and 23 affiliate members.
Outgoing AAVMC President Dr. Trevor Ames (right) hands over the gavel to Dr. Eleanor M. Green. Summer 2016 •
Honor Roll Texas A&M professor receives the 2015 Piper Professor Award
Dr. Louise Abbott Dr. Louise Abbott of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) was named a recipient of the 2015 Piper Professor Award, a prestigious faculty honor bestowed by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation. Ten awards, each of which amount to $5,000, are given annually to professors for superior teaching at the college level. Selection is made on the basis of nominations submitted by each college or university in Texas. Begun in 1958, the roster of Piper Professors includes outstanding professors from two- and four-year colleges and universities, public and private. Candidates must be nominated through the university president’s office. Abbott, a professor in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS), who joined the university in 1994, is an internationally renowned scholar in developmental toxicology with special focus on the effects of mercury on the developing nervous system. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Whitman College, a doctorate in zoology from the University of Washington, and a DVM degree from Washington State University. In 2014, she received the Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence Award, the most prestigious faculty honor bestowed by Texas A&M University. 82 •
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“Her superior ability to teach while engaging her students and her zest for innovative and collaborative teaching methods have created a dynamic learning environment for our students,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “Dr. Abbott excels in all she does, whether it be transformative research in neuroscience and neuroanatomy or serving as the creator of fun, interesting, and productive learning environments. She is most deserving of this recognition.” Widely regarded as an expert in developmental neuroanatomy, Abbott has received numerous professional awards and honors, including, most recently, the 2013 American Association of Veterinary Anatomists Outstanding Anatomist Award, the College of Veterinary Medicine John H. Milliff Teaching Award in 2013, and the College of Veterinary Medicine Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award in 2012. “Dr. Abbott is one of the very few individuals within our college that has meaningful teaching assignments at the undergraduate, professional, and graduate student levels,” said Dr. Kenita Rogers, associate dean for professional programs. “This is particularly remarkable because of the ease at which she moves between these very different groups of students. She is able to maintain appropriate expectations, a kind demeanor, and truly relate to the needs of each and every student.” With teaching and mentoring students as top priorities, Abbott has served as major professor for eight doctoral students, four master’s degree students, and undergraduate students during her career. “Our students are fortunate to have a professor with such a strong passion for teaching and service,” said Dr. Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni, professor and department head of VIBS. “Where Dr. Abbott truly distinguishes herself is her effectiveness in using teaching strategies that encourage synthesis of information and active participation in the learning process.”
Tiffany-Castiglioni also said, “Dr. Abbot is an exceptional teacher who finds ways to connect with students so that they can understand how to learn for themselves.” Complementing her outstanding in-class teaching, Abbott also maintains an active research laboratory in developmental neuroscience. She supervises both graduate and undergraduate research, and publishes two or three papers per year in peer-reviewed research journals with trainees as co-authors. The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation was organized in 1950 and incorporated in the state of Texas as a non-profit, charitable corporation. Its purpose is to support charitable, scientific, or educational undertakings by providing for or contributing toward the education of financially limited but worthy students by assisting young men and women residents of Texas attending or wishing to attend colleges and universities in the state of Texas to complete their education and obtain degrees, and by contributing to community chests and supporting any other non-profit organization or activity dedicated to the furtherance of the general welfare within the state of Texas. Randall Gordon Piper and his wife, Minnie Stevens Piper, were the principal donors.
“Our students are fortunate to have a professor with such a strong passion for teaching and service.” -Dr. Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni
Honor Roll Texas A&M Researchers Awarded $6 Million Grant to Investigate Environmental Impact on Cardiac Health The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a $6 million grant to fund a multi-institutional collaboration between the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and the Bioinformatics Research Center at North Carolina State University (NCSU) investigating the effects of environmental toxicants on human health with a focus on the potential adverse effects on the heart. The large project is led by Dr. Ivan Rusyn, professor of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS) at the CVM. He and his team will develop and validate a novel approach to studies of chemical safety in both human cells and in mice. “I am very pleased with the support that the EPA has extended to the areas of in vitro and computational toxicology,” Rusyn said. “Research and development activities in the center will be directed at improving the scientific basis for decisions and will create solutions that can be immediately utilized by the stakeholders in environmental health sciences: the industry, the nongovernmental organizations, and the state and federal regulators.” According to Rusyn, the growing list of chemical substances in commerce and the complexity of environmental exposures represent an enormous challenge to the regulatory agencies that examine the toxic potential of chemical exposures. Traditional chemical safety testing evaluates only major potential health hazards of concern to human health, such as the ability of environmental chemicals to lead to cancer, cellular damage, or to long-term negative impacts on reproductive health. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to 23 percent of the global incidence of heart disease, a leading cause of death, may be attributable to environmental chemicals. The ability to assess nonpharmaceutical agents for cardiac toxicity testing has lagged behind other advanced efforts to create animal
Dr. Ivan Rusyn and cell-based models for studies of chemical safety. “As an institution committed to the One Health initiative, this award from the EPA will significantly strengthen cross disciplinary research aimed at improving the health and well-being of both animals and humans that share the same environmental risks,” said Dr. Robert Burghardt, associate dean for research and graduate studies. Joining Rusyn on the project team are co-principal investigators, Dr. David Threadgill, professor in the Department of Molecular & Cellular Medicine at the Texas A&M Health Science Center and the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology at the CVM, and Dr. Fred Wright, professor of statistics at NCSU. “The major outcome of our work will be development and validation of a population-based human and mouse organotypic culture model for characterizing variability in cardiac toxicity,” Threadgill said. “By adding an inter-individual variability dimension to the studies of environmental chemicals and drugs safety, we enable greater precision in toxicological findings,” added Wright.
The grant will establish the research center with Texas A&M serving as the lead institution. The center’s long-term objective is to advance the field of environmental health by establishing and validating effective, accurate, and fiscally responsible means for identifying and characterizing cardiac chemical hazards. “Texas A&M has a tradition of high-impact research,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “The opportunity to establish and to lead this multi-institutional research center is a testament to Dr. Rusyn’s excellence and that of his colleagues. It is notable that Dr. Rusyn is one of our President’s Senior Hires supported by the Chancellor’s Research Initiative. This grant not only demonstrates the wisdom of this program, but also the fulfillment of the stated goals by these outstanding faculty.” The project began as a result of recent advances in the development of models of functional cardiac muscle cells. This led to new prospects for simulating complex chemical outcome pathways in the beating heart. Funding began June 1, 2015, and will carry through May 31, 2019. Summer 2016 •
Honor Roll Hinrichs Named Texas A&M University System Regents Professor
Dr. Katrin Hinrichs In November, the Board of Regents for the Texas A&M University System designated 12 faculty members as Regents Professors. Dr. Katrin Hinrichs, professor and Patsy Link Chair in Mare Reproductive Studies, in the Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology (VTPP) at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), was one of seven faculty members from Texas A&M University to be honored with the award. “These individuals exemplify the commitment to excellence in research 84 •
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and service that sets Texas A&M System employees apart,” said John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M System. “Our System is made up of outstanding people who do incredible work on behalf of the people and the state of Texas. I am grateful to all of them every day, and particularly to this group that really represents the best of the best.” Hinrichs is internationally recognized for her research in equine reproductive physiology. Among her achievements are producing the first cloned horse in North America,
named Paris Texas, and developing methods for effective intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) for embryo development in horses, a process that has now become the standard in assisted reproduction in horses. The Board of Regents established the Regents Professor Awards program in 1996 and the Regents Fellow Service Awards program in 1998 to recognize employees who have made exemplary contributions to their university or agency and to the people of Texas. “Dr. Hinrichs and her research efforts have made an indelible impact on the equine industry,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “Dr. Hinrichs is internationally recognized for her work in equine reproduction and her laboratory is one of only a few in the world capable of performing ICSI. We are pleased to see her achievements recognized across the Texas A&M University System and are excited to celebrate this special honor with her.” The award’s selection process begins with a call for nominations from the chancellor, after which an internal selection committee is formed within each institution or agency. Final nominations are put forth to the chief executive officer of each respective entity. They are subject to a systemlevel review consisting of academic vice chancellors and past recipients of the awards. Finally, nominations are forwarded to the chancellor and the board for final approval. “I am exceptionally honored to be named a Texas A&M University System Regents Professor,” said Hinrichs. “Those who were recognized this year, and in the years prior, are some of the leading minds in their respective disciplines. It is a tremendous privilege to be included among them.” To date, 201 Texas A&M System faculty members have been recognized with the Regents Professor Award and 118 agency professionals have received the Regents Fellow Service Award.
Honor Roll Texas A&M Global Partnership Receives Award to Create Novel Curriculum for “Bench-to-Shop” Training
From left to right: Dr. Heather Simmons, Dr. Angela Arenas, and Dr. Rosina C. “Tammi” Krecek Texas A&M AgriLife Research announced that the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD), a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Center of Excellence, have been awarded a $1.2 million contract (under contract number D15PC00280) by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate to develop and implement a nationwide scientific business development and management educational program. The successfully funded proposal is titled “From the Bench to the Shop: Creation and Implementation of a Scientific Business Development and Management Program to Transition High Consequence Livestock Disease Research and Development Technologies for Commercialization.” DHS invited the submission of proposals with innovative approaches to develop training programs for preparing next-generation TAD scientists to respond against these diseases. Awarded proposals support preparation for the United States National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF)’s new state-of-the-art biocontainment facility, which will study emerging transboundary animal diseases (TAD) that threaten United States animal agriculture and public health. This new facility will replace DHS’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center, the primary facility conducting TAD research in the U.S., in 2022.
Texas A&M’s project will develop a novel training curriculum to equip next generation scientific professionals with the skill sets required to transition research discoveries (for example, vaccines or diagnostics) to the marketplace. The lead team includes principal investigator Angela Arenas, DVM, Ph.D., Dip ACVP, assistant professor in the CVM Department of Veterinary Pathobiology (VTPB); co-principal investigator Rosina C. Krecek, FRSSAf, Ph.D., MBA, visiting professor in the CVM VTPB, and interim assistant dean of One Health; and co-principal investigator Heather Simmons DVM, MSVPH, IIAD education program manager. The training curriculum will include skills needed to take a scientific discovery successfully to the marketplace. The course includes a three-week international experiential short course and a capstone project. The business plan portion of the program will also recruit three Texas A&M dual degree DVM-MBA, MDMBA, and/or MBE-MBA students to work with a mentor at the Texas A&M Mays Business School. The contract was officially awarded on Sept. 25, 2015, and recruitment of trainees will begin immediately. A competitive national search to attract trainees who are early career scientists, post-doctoral candidates, and graduate students took place from October to December 2015. Land-grant institutions, minorityserving institutions, DHS-sponsored educational programs, and other institutions with next-generation work force candidates who will benefit from this training were invited to apply. “As a whole, this program will be vital to workforce development in the U.S.—particularly for the new NBAF,” said Gerald Parker, DVM, Ph.D., M.S., IIAD interim director. The program is being developed using a large-scale national and international consortium of federal partners, industry, international groups, and academia. Development of such a program requires a multidisciplinary partnership from multiple groups and organizations for trainees to
understand the entire skill set required to take a research and development product to commercialization. This program will be based at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, and involves a wide team of partners, which includes Colorado State University, University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Kansas State University, and Agricultural Research Council–Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute in South Africa. Texas A&M partners include Texas A&M AgriLife Research; Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service; Texas A&M One Health Initiative; Mays Business School; Texas A&M College of Medicine (Health Science Center); Research Compliance and Biosafety. Industry partners include: BioMARC, Caliber Biotherapeutics, Bänziger Consultants, and Safevet. United States government partners include DHS’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Food and Drug Administration; and the Department of Health and Human Services. “This is the first contract of its kind for the CVM, and no other educational program exists with these capabilities. High-consequence TAD threaten our livestock, wildlife, and human populations, and the environment facilitates transmission of these diseases globally. TAD is a societal need, and this awarded program embraces the One Health approach through collaborative multidisciplinary teams seeking solutions. This program also dovetails into the BioCorridor Research Valley training in its commercialization of discoveries,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “This project is a major undertaking and promises to be successful because of its collaborative, multidisciplinary nature. This is a first of its kind and has brought together a team with the proven track record, skills, and commitment. This project supports the goals of Texas A&M AgriLife Research,” said Craig Nessler, Ph.D., AgriLife Research director.
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College News One Health Team Participates in Global Health Conference
From left to right: Erin Tressalt, Dr. Ruth Bush, Dr. Rosina C. (Tammi) Krecek, and Sonia Popatia The 6th Annual Global Health Conference of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) took place in Boston from March 2528, 2015, with the theme of “Mobilizing Research for Global Health.” In the past six years, the CUGH conferences have grown, with the most recent attracting more than 1,600 attendees, including 500 students, from 50 nations. Some highlights of this year’s conference were the opportunity to interact with other universities in disciplines of global health and panels of up to seven specialists addressing specific topics. Some examples were: 1. Big Problems, Big Ideas 2. The Technology Revolution in Genetics: Relevance to Global Health 3. One Health: Emerging Infections and Food Security 4. Epidemic Ebola: Looking Back, Lessons Learned, Looking Forward 86 •
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The CUGH is a rapidly growing non-profit consortium, based in Washington, D.C., of universities, institutions, organizations, and individuals from around the world involved in global health. CUGH’s mission is to build interdisciplinary collaborations and facilitate the sharing and implementation of knowledge to address global health challenges. CUGH assists members in strengthening their global health programs and sharing their expertise across education, research, and service, and promotes partnerships between universities in resource-rich and resource-poor countries, developing human capital and strengthening institutions’ capabilities to address these challenges. Members of the Texas A&M One Health team—medical students Erin Tressalt and Sonia Popatia, along with their mentor Dr. Ruth Bush— presented research data from their Haiti project assessing childhood
malnutrition in a poster titled “Assessing Childhood Malnutrition in Haiti: Is the United Nations Millennium Goal #4 Being Met?” Through a collaboration of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) and CUGH, a meeting was arranged of attendees working in One Health, global health, and/or environmental health. More than 50 colleagues from 30 institutions participated. Texas A&M University is a member university of CUGH, and therefore, faculty are invited to join at no cost. To join: • Visit http://www.cugh.org/ membership/members • Scroll down to the Texas A&M logo and click “Join” • Complete the application Becoming a member is an excellent way for college faculty members to contribute to CUGH activities, such as the 2016 CUGH conference.
College News Research at Texas A&M uncovers new facets of blood vessel formation Researchers at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) are a step closer to understanding how blood vessels form. In a study published in Molecular Biology of the Cell and highlighted on the journal’s cover, Drs. Sankar P. Chaki, Rola Barhoumi, and Gonzalo Rivera identified the contribution of Nck to morphological changes involved in early steps of blood vessel formation. The findings suggest Nck, a molecule that integrates key cues from the tissue microenvironment, plays an important and essential role in coordinating the behavior of the endothelial cells that line blood vessels. Although Nck was known to influence the development of the vascular network, its specific role in the molecular and cellular processes involved in blood vessel formation had remained undetermined. This study showed that Nck promotes the organization of endothelial cells into a well-connected network of tubes resembling the vascular tree. Results from this investigation highlight that Nck plays a critical role in the establishment of cell-to-cell contacts and the polarized organization of endothelial cells. “Polarity in animal cells is evidenced by the asymmetrical distribution of organelles and molecular components, and by virtue of such polarity, cells can perform specialized functions. Not surprisingly, loss of cell polarity is associated with various disease states. Polarity of endothelial cells is critical for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, and the removal of metabolic waste,” explained Chaki, the lead author in this publication. He added, “Highlighting the molecular and cellular processes underlying vascular formation is important not only from a development standpoint— the complex body plan of an animal just would not develop without a robust, functional vascular network— but also to understand key processes in well-being, such as wound healing and tissue repair.”
Drs. Sankar P. Chaki (standing on left), Rola Barhoumi (standing on right), and Gonzalo Rivera (seated)
As expected, the analysis of important biological problems at the cellular and molecular levels presents significant technical challenges. “We combined a threedimensional tissue culture system that recreates key features of the tissue microenvironment with state-of-the-art optical imaging techniques that enable the capture of cellular and molecular processes with high spatial and temporal resolution,” emphasized Dr. Rola Barhoumi, co-author in the study and associate director of the Image Analysis Laboratory. By understanding the fundamental processes involved in blood vessel formation, researchers may also be able to develop safe and effective treatments to regulate blood vessel formation in disease. For example, this is very relevant to cancer therapy. “Once solid tumors reach one to two millimeters in size, they begin secreting factors that stimulate the development of infiltrating blood vessels,” Rivera said. “The newly formed vasculature
provides nutrients and factors that, in turn, promote tumor growth. Additionally, blood vessels in tumors are often dysfunctional and leaky, which can allow cancer cells to spread to other parts of the body. Therefore, effective treatments would work to repair existing vessels, as well as stop new blood vessels from reaching the tumor.” “The article and journal cover are a tribute to the researchers, who have combined sophisticated molecular biology approaches and advanced imaging tools to investigate the formation of endothelial tubes that mimic blood vessel formation,” said Dr. Robert Burghardt, associate dean for research and graduate studies. “This work is significant because of its translational potential, since these findings suggest targeting key molecular pathways regulating the cytoskeleton is an emerging approach to therapies that require the control of blood vessel formation.”
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College News Dr. Larry J. Suva Named Department Head
Dr. Larry J. Suva Dr. Larry J. Suva, an Australia native, was recently appointed as the head of the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology (VTPP) in the CVM. “I am eager to be part of the CVM and VTPP, working to expand and build critical educational and research focus areas,” Suva said. “As a department, VTPP provides the fundamentals for much of the college’s educational and research aspirations. Our faculty and staff are dedicated to be leaders and pave the way with innovative teaching and groundbreaking research discoveries that improve veterinary and human health.” Suva earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry and biochemistry at Swinburne University, Melbourne, 88 •
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Australia, in 1981, and doctorate in medicine from the University of Melbourne in 1989. He performed postdoctoral research at Merck Research Laboratories during the development of the world’s first osteoporosis treatment, Fosamax. He subsequently accepted a position on the faculty at Harvard Medical School, serving as assistant professor of medicine at the Beth Israel-Deaconess hospital for five years. Suva also served as associate director of bone and cartilage biology at GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals from 1997–2000, where he was responsible for drug discovery in the area of the stimulation of bone formation. Suva’s internationally recognized research has specifically focused on the skeletal consequences
of disease. His laboratory has received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health, and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), as well as from many private foundations. He has published more than 140 peer-reviewed articles and has five issued patents describing the skeletal complications of various human diseases, including breast and prostate cancer, myeloma, osteomyelitis, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Suva has been elected as a member of the Council of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR), accepted into the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), and elected president of the Advances in Mineral Metabolism Society.
College News Texas A&M develops new vaccine to combat lethal disease affecting captive parrots
Scarlet Macaws Researchers at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) have developed a highly effective vaccine against a lethal virus disease of captive parrots. The disease, called proventricular dilatation disease (PDD), results in blindness, heart failure, or intestinal blockage. It is caused by a virus called avian
bornavirus. Use of the vaccine against this virus prevented the development of disease in captive birds with no obvious adverse effects. The investigators—Drs. Ian Tizard, Jianhua Guo, Susan Payne, and Samer Hameed—work at the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center at the CVM. The research was supported by the Schubot Center and the college. The center is dedicated to conducting research that will improve the health and quality of life of both captive and wild birds. While currently focusing on diseases of parrots, investigators at the center are also studying diseases of water birds, quail, and cranes. “PDD is an especially nasty infection that kills large numbers of captive birds each year,” said Dr. Ian Tizard, the leader of the project. “Parrot owners are naturally very distressed when their beloved pet dies in such a manner.
The new vaccine is expected to stop the development of this disease and prevent much suffering.” The next step in the development of this vaccine will be to seek U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) licensure and then to manufacture the vaccine commercially. This will require extensive field testing to ensure the vaccine is safe and that it is effective in many species of pet birds. Thus, it will take some time before the vaccine becomes available to parrot owners. Current plans are to market the vaccine through avian veterinarians. The pace of the additional studies will naturally depend upon the resources available. Current resources are limited, so it is difficult to state when this vaccine will be available to parrot owners.
Center for Educational Technologies hosts meeting with Zoetis leadership On May 14, the Center for Educational Technologies (CET) at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) hosted a meeting with Zoetis leadership in College Station to discuss the Veritas partnership. Mr. Clint Lewis, executive vice president and president, International Operations; Dr. Michael McFarland, group director, CAD Veterinary Operations; and Dr. Harvey Crumm, veterinary academic liaison, all at Zoetis, participated in a series of hands-on demonstrations of the new continuing education (CE) product lines recently launched by the CET. The new product lines feature immersive case studies and procedural videos. This past year, the CET has launched 26 new online CE courses, developed in collaboration with faculty throughout the college. “Feedback on the new products has been very positive,” said Dr. Jodi Korich, the CET director. “Customers are telling
us that they like the shorter 30-minute courses, and the case study format helps them to immediately apply what they have learned to their practice.” The Zoetis visit also included discussions about future directions in CE. The CET team presented ideas for combining online and face-to-face CE using the collaborative casebased teaching method they have pioneered with Dr. Ashley Saunders, associate professor of cardiology. In a study conducted in fall 2014, 97 percent of students surveyed preferred collaborative case-based learning to didactic lectures. “A pilot test during a recent CE conference suggested that practitioners may appreciate the interactive engagement offered by the collaborative case-based approach as much as our students,” said Korich. Zoetis leadership was also presented with overviews of the CET’s research and development efforts in areas such as language localization to
Members of the Center for Educational Technologies and Zoetis Leaders support international training and 3D technologies to teach diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical procedures. The CET team is partnering with faculty at the college to create high-impact instructional strategies designed to address today’s educational challenges. Summer 2016 •
College News Texas A&M Equine Complex Honors Donors in Grand Style
Dr. Charles W. Graham ’53 with Texas A&M Administrators On Oct.12, over 20 donors who helped to make the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex a reality were recognized for their support of this premier facility dedicated to equine research, education, teaching, and outreach. Representatives from the Texas A&M University System, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (COALS), and Texas A&M Equine Initiative were on hand to thank the donors for their generosity and for supporting the first phase in a multiphase effort to construct cutting-edge equine facilities at Texas A&M. “The enthusiasm by the donors here today to support this initiative has exceeded even my expectations,” said Dr. Mark Hussey, dean and vice chancellor of COALS. “We have set a high bar for others to reach by working synergistically—COALS and the CVM—to bring us all here today.” The first phase of the complex serves as the home of the nationally ranked 90 •
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Texas A&M Equestrian Team and also houses classrooms, faculty space, and meeting facilities. “Because of the generosity of our friends and donors, and the support of the Texas A&M University leaders, we are well on our way to creating the finest equine program in the world,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “How better to recognize our donors than to have supportive comments presented to them by our Texas A&M leaders by Craig Huffhines, executive vice president of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), the largest breed organization in the world, and by D. Wayne Lukas, the iconic hall of fame racehorse trainer.” The importance of this facility is not only the impact it has on students, but also the impact it will make on the equine industry through innovative research and outreach programs. “There is an opportunity to do things here that have so much magnitude,” said Lukas. “Everyone honored here tonight has made an investment in the youth of America;
that is priceless. It is unbelievable what your gift will do for people for years.” In addition to Lukas, Huffhines spoke to the tremendous impact Aggies have through programs like the Equine Initiative. “It’s a proud day in Aggieland,” said Huffhines. “Texas A&M University is known for its tradition of selfless service, and these donors and the facilities they have supported exemplify that tradition.” Dr. Jim Heird, the Glenn Blodgett chair and executive professor and coordinator of the Equine Initiative, provided individual recognition of the many donors involved in making the complex a reality. “The reason we are here,” said Heird, “is because we want to say a heartfelt thank you to the donors who have made this possible. It was a tremendous group effort—everyone here today has given of themselves, as well as their time and resources. We appreciate the support of so many.”
College News Texas A&M CVM Launches Innovative Educational Software Texas A&M University announced the official launch of StepStone, content authoring software that allows educators to create a variety of learning experiences accessible from any Internet-enabled device. StepStone is the creation of the Center for Educational Technologies (CET) within the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM). Born out of a desire to empower instructors to develop e-learning materials more quickly and cost effectively, StepStone utilizes a unique customizable template approach to e-learning. Built as a web app, StepStone functions across platforms in modern desktop browsers. The content authoring process allows users to map a learning path using an intuitive navigation system in a responsive environment. Users have the flexibility to customize their content, from a single-screen multiple-choice question to a branching, comprehensive, narrative journey. “We specifically designed StepStone with flexibility in
mind,” says Dr. Jodi Korich, director of he CET. “Doing so gives educators the freedom to create the e-learning content they need in a manner that is most appropriate for their class. For example, we are currently utilizing StepStone to develop case scenarios for some of our medicine courses, which have proven very popular with our students.” StepStone contains a Media Manager mode to add images, rich text documents, and streaming video to the educational content, as well as a Preview mode, which offers real-time simulation of the learner experience on a variety of devices. Users have the ability to add high-resolution image zooming, hotspot interaction, streaming HD video, and an optional achievement system to their content, using an expanding library of layouts and presentation formats that makes development fast and easy. Once the content has been entered into the software, StepStone is used to publish a standards-based, SCORM 1.2-compliant, responsive HTML5
learning package. The learning material can be loaded onto any Learning Management System (LMS), and be accessed on an assortment of desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. StepStone will be made available through the Center for Educational Technologies, with the goal of fostering new collaborations across veterinary education and with other disciplines. Funding for the development of StepStone was provided by the Office of the Dean at the CVM. “StepStone is a great example of educational innovation happening here at Texas A&M. Now, we have a scalable solution that allows us to rapidly produce e-learning materials to enhance every course in our veterinary program,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the CVM. “Faculty and learners alike will benefit as they are highly engaged in these creative educational experiences.”
StepStone educational software
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College News Texas A&M Opened New Avian Health Complex
The Texas A&M Avian Health Complex A new avian health complex was formally opened Aug. 13 at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), which hosts one of the top avian medicine programs in the nation. The new climate-controlled aviary, which is located at 701 Farm Service Road in College Station, provides a comfortable and safe environment for a variety of birds in various conditions, CVM officials note. The original complex was founded in 1987 with an endowment established by the late Richard M. Schubot and matching funds provided by the university. This commitment to avian medicine demonstrates Texas A&M’s understanding of the important role birds play in ecosystems and disease transmission across all species. Containing approximately 11,000 square feet of floor space, the state-of-the-art complex includes a functional hospital, receiving area with 92 •
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quarantine capabilities, three isolation rooms, a Biosafety Level 2 laboratory for infectious disease research, and separate areas for infected and healthy birds, along with teaching, classroom, and office space. The center conducts research into all aspects of diseases in wild and captive birds, as well as avian genetics, genomics, nutrition, and behavior. The results of research at the center are already being applied to improve the health of birds kept by zoos, aviculturists, and individual pet owners, as well as conserving threatened avian species in the wild. “This is a beautiful facility that exemplifies the college’s commitment to exotic species and to conservation in general,” said Dr. Ian Tizard. “It enhances our programs in environmental health, and it will be a magnificent resource for the college.” The center provides better teaching facilities, not only for undergraduates
and veterinary medical students, but also for continuing education and other courses—all the while promoting an understanding of avian diseases, husbandry, and conservation among current and future veterinarians. The enlarged and enhanced facilities also provide space for specialized birds, such as raptors, for which the students can learn appropriate handling, care, and treatment. “Our faculty have made substantial contributions to the health and welfare of birds and to the avian industry in terms of educating future and current veterinarians,” said Dr. Eleanor M. Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “As leaders in avian medicine, we train the next generation of veterinarians and scientists to continue this important mission. This facility provides the laboratory, avian housing, and classroom space that will allow this program to continue to thrive.”
College News Texas A&M Researchers Help Identify “Supergene” in Male Ruffs The ruff is a Eurasian shorebird that has a spectacular “lekking” behavior, where highly ornamented males gather in a single location and compete for females. Now two groups, led by researchers at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and Uppsala University, report that males with alternative reproductive strategies carry a chromosomal rearrangement that has been maintained as a balanced genetic polymorphism, leading to three types of ruff males, for about 4 million years. The two studies were published in Nature Genetics. Three different types of ruff males occur at the leks of this species. Independent males show colorful ruffs and head tufts, and fight vigorously for territories. Satellite males are slightly smaller than Independents, do not defend territories, and have white ruffs and head tufts. Faeder is the third body type, or morph; these are disguised males that mimic females by their small size and lack of ornamental feathers. The Independent and Satellite males show a remarkable interaction, where the Satellite males allow Independent males to dominate them on the leks. “Both Independents and Satellites benefit from the interaction because it increases their mating success by attracting females that are ready to mate,” explained Dr. Fredrik Widemo, who did his Ph.D. on ruff lekking behavior. Widemo also noted that fighting over territories and females is both energetically costly and risky. This created an opportunity for the evolution of alternative male mating strategies in which males spend less energy on fighting. Previous studies have indicated that these remarkable differences between male morphs are under strict genetic control and are determined by a single genetic region. These most recent studies represent an explanation for how such complex differences in behavior, size, and plumage have a simple genetic basis. To arrive at the answer, the research teams sequenced the entire ruff genome. “This is a fascinating study that exemplifies the power of modern genomics to unravel a seemingly
complex behavioral and morphological phenotype. Surprisingly, the alternative male morphs found in the ruff are the product of a single, yet strongly differentiated locus that was dramatically altered in just a few million years. The authors provide an additional illustration of the increasing role that structural mutations play in evolution and disease,” said Dr. William Murphy, professor in the department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS) at the CVM. “We discovered that both Satellite and Faeder males carry a ‘supergene,’ which is not a gene with superpower, but a cluster of about 90 genes kept together by a chromosomal inversion indicating that there is no genetic exchange between the three different morphs,” said Sangeet Lamichhaney, one of the Ph.D. students involved in the study. “The simple answer is that the ‘supergene’ contains both genes like HSD17B2 affecting the metabolism of sex hormones and the MC1R gene controlling pigmentation.” The group reports that the sequence difference between the chromosome variants is as large as 1.4 percent—higher than the average sequence difference between human and chimpanzee chromosomes. The scientists estimate that the chromosome inversion happened about 4 million years ago. “The Satellite and Faeder male morphs are the result of an evolutionary process over millions of years and involve many genetic changes among the 90 genes in this ‘supergene,’” explained Dr. Leif Andersson, who led the study at Uppsala University and also served as a Texas A&M Institute for Advanced Study (TIAS) fellow. “The ‘supergene’ contains five genes that have a role in the metabolism of steroid hormones. It is particularly interesting that we see an enrichment of genetic changes in the vicinity of a gene, HSD17B2, which determines an enzyme that converts active testosterone to a more inactive form. Independents have a significantly higher level of testosterone than Satellite and Faeder males, and we think this is the reason that, in turn, leads to an altered behavior.”
Independent male ruff (Photo by Ola Jennersten) There are many examples of associations between behavior and pigmentation in animals, but the underlying causal relationships have rarely been revealed. The present study now provides insights into why there is such a strong association between altered behavior and white color in Satellite males. “We think this evolutionary process started with the occurrence of the inversion about 4 million years ago and the inversion itself altered the regulation of one or more genes affecting the metabolism of sex hormones,” said Andersson. “This created a primitive alternative male morph, which has been further improved step by step by the accumulation of genetic changes.” “Nature has certainly ‘experimented’ a lot on sex determination, sexual development, and reproduction,” said Dr. Terje Raudsepp, associate professor in VIBS at the CVM, “but only excellent research and researchers can reveal its full complexity. I applaud the researchers for this fascinating discovery—and also ruff Faeder males for their effortless reproductive success.” “Dr. Andersson has a distinguished history of elegant discoveries in the field of genetics and evolution,” said Dr. Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni, professor and VIBS department head. “This is an example of his creative, non-invasive way of unraveling how a species evolved successfully by maintaining males with diverse behaviors and appearances.”
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College News Study shows migratory songbirds can carry ticks into the United States
Acadian Flycatcher, Empidonax virescens, with ticks around its eye (Photo credit Tim Guida, The Smithsonian Institution) When billions of songbirds make their yearly trip from their winter homes in South and Central America to North America, they are not alone. Some migratory songbirds pick up hitchhikers—specifically ticks, according to a study from researchers at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Migratory Bird Center. Researchers screened songbirds in the springs of 2013 and 2014 at stopover sites along the Gulf of Mexico’s northern coast, where birds rest and feed during their northward migration. From this sampling, the study’s investigators estimated the number of neotropical ticks from South and Central America making their way into North America on songbirds, as well as which birds were more likely to carry ticks. The study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, found 3.56 percent of the 3,844 birds sampled 94 •
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carried ticks, the majority of which were neotropical tick species. While this percentage may seem small, when extrapolated to all migratory birds making their way into North America annually, the researchers estimate over 19 million neotropical ticks are imported each spring. “Even though birds carrying exotic ticks into Texas was a rare event, about 3 percent of the birds we sampled, this equates to a really large number of ticks when you consider that billions of birds move along this migratory path each spring,” said Dr. Sarah Hamer, assistant professor in Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS) at the CVM and an author on the study. These ticks were not picky about which bird species they used as hosts. In fact, 36 of the 85 bird species sampled were tick carriers. “These ticks are generalists as larvae and nymphs,” said Hamer. “They can feed on a lot of different types of birds.” Birds more likely to pick up ticks were those that foraged closer to the
ground, according to the study. Ticks often drop on the ground to enter their next life stage—from larva to nymph or from nymph to adult. This is when ticks seek a new host, making birds closer to the ground more likely to become infected, said Hamer. This tick transport could be cause for concern because of the pathogens ticks can carry. Of the ticks found on migratory birds, 29 percent carried one or more species of the bacteria Rickettsia, including some responsible for diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever. “We found there are lots of diverse Rickettsia species found in ticks removed from migratory birds,” said Hamer. “Some are endosymbionts that are not known to have a negative impact on the tick or human or animal, but others are recognized pathogens, like spotted fever group Rickettsia species that certainly can cause disease in people and animals if they get the opportunity.” Additionally, researchers point out that many of the tick species found in the study are not native to the United States. “Most of these species are not typically found in the U.S., except one—Ambylomma maculatum, the Gulf Coast tick,” said Lisa Auckland, a research associate at the CVM and an author on the study. Currently, most of the tick species found in this study do not have known established populations in the United States. However, researchers caution that ticks could establish populations in the United States in the future, given an ever-shifting environment and climate change. “It’s good to be aware of this because our environment is constantly changing,” said Hamer. “Maybe some of those changes may result in an environment that’s warmer and more receptive to the establishment of these exotic ticks. Then, we may have new medical problems on our hands.” Further research is also needed to understand what happens after neotropical ticks make their way to the United States, she said.
College News Stress symposium educates attendees on the effects of stress
Dr. Robert M. Sapolsky speaking at the Stress Symposium On Oct. 8–9, the symposium titled “Evolution of Stress: From Genome to Disease,” facilitated discussions on the mechanisms and effects of stress. The event was jointly sponsored by the Institute for Genomic Sciences and Society, the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), and the One Health Initiative. The stress symposium began with a presentation from Dr. Robert M. Sapolsky, professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Stanford University and author of the book, “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.” At the presentation, he discussed how chronic stress contributes to many modern ailments, such as heart disease.
For most mammals, stress is acute, but stress has become chronic for modern humans, Sapolsky said. Despite this difference, the hormones that make a zebra outrunning a lion stressed are the same ones that make humans stress in social situations. “We’re being dominated by our evolutionary fortune, being so smart and socially sophisticated, we can chronically generate psychological stress in ourselves, and that’s to the detriment of our health,” said Saplosky. Sapolsky noted that the stress response causes non-essential bodily functions to shut down. This is helpful in short bursts, but harmful in the long run, he said. In the lion chasing
the zebra example, he joked that the zebra’s body will say, “The lion is coming! Ovulate some other time!” However, when the stress is chronic, the body continues to allocate its resources to the stress response in lieu of repair and maintenance, often leading to disease. Although stress is prevalent in modern society, not everyone experiences stress the same way, said Sapolsky. Having a strong social network, a sense of control, an outlet for stress, and predictability can help mitigate the stress response, he said.
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College News D. Wayne Lukas visits Texas A&M University D. Wayne Lukas is well known for his success as a Thoroughbred racehorse trainer, and during a recent trip to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, he was recognized not only for his success as a racehorse trainer, but also for his generosity in sharing a piece of racing history with students at Texas A&M. During a ceremony on October 12 recognizing donors to the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex at Texas A&M, Lukas was honored for donating more than 40 pictures of the 26 Eclipse-award winning horse that he trained to be on permanent display at the Hildebrand Complex. The display was dedicated as the “D. Wayne Lukas Gallery of Racing.” The display features win pictures from major races such as the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup, and represents a glimpse into an important aspect of the equine industry that students in Texas may not be exposed to. Dedicating the “D. Wayne Lukas Gallery of Racing,” was a special privilege for Dr. Jim Heird, Glenn Blodgett Equine Chair and coordinator of the Equine Initiative. “We are honored to have Wayne support the Equine Initiative and our students at Texas A&M. The opportunity for our students and our community to walk through the gallery and be inspired and connected to the racing industry by these photos is a treasure for all of us,” said Heird. The pictures Lukas donated are featured throughout the Dr. H.B. “Woody” Bartlett Recognition Hall and the Auditorium at the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex. “We look forward to showing them off. Wayne is a great horseman and we are thrilled that his photos are now a staple in our complex,” said Heird. During the ceremony, Lukas addressed the crowd about the special nature of the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex, and the impact it will have for years to come. “There is an opportunity to do things here that have so much magnitude,” said Lukas. “The excellence and 96 •
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D. Wayne Lukas commitment at this university is unmatched. This facility is the finest in the nation, and the opportunities for student learning here are boundless.” “This is a day that I’ll never forget.” said Lukas grinning. “This campus and this facility are beyond great.” The crowd of honorees gave him a standing ovation as he left the podium after a rousing speech about Texas A&M, the equine complex, and the commitment and excellence he saw when he arrived on campus. Lukas started his horse training career in 1968, training quarter horses in California. After successfully training 24 world champions in just 10 years, he switched to training Thoroughbreds. Lukas counts 20 Breeder’s Cup wins, and holds the record for the most Triple Crown race wins. For his accomplishments, he has been awarded five Eclipse Awards as Outstanding Trainer—a high honor in the equine industry. More recently, he was presented the Eclipse Award of Merit, which represents horse racing’s lifetime achievement award. In 1999,
Lukas was officially inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and in 2007, he was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. “Everyone honored here tonight has made an investment in the youth of America that is priceless. It is unbelievable what your gift will do for people for years to come, I’m going home and telling everyone they need to come and visit this place, you can’t describe it. There’s no way I can go back home to Kentucky and tell them what’s going on. They’re going to have to come down and look for themselves,” said Lukas. Those who were honored for their service and generous donations, and those who simply attended to catch a glimpse of the hall of famer, rose to their feet to applaud and to show their appreciation for all he has done for the industry—a lifetime of commitment. As he turned to leave the podium, he stepped back and said, “Let me leave you with one thought, live every day as if it’s your last, and someday it will be.”
Development News Celebrating as we look to the future The centennial-year celebration for the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) has arrived, and we plan to celebrate this auspicious occasion in fitting fashion. Events are planned throughout the year, so please keep an eye out for your invitations and make your plans to join us for all of these events this year. Having completed the Phase 1 renovation and expansion project for the Small Animal Hospital, we now look forward to completion of the spectacular Veterinary & Biomedical Education Complex this summer. This unmatched facility will transform veterinary education and will serve as the model for the world, and we can’t wait to show it off. We hope you will come for the grand opening and see for yourself this facility that exceeds our ability to describe it. The CVM is pleased to be associated with the $4 billion “Lead by Example” capital campaign launched last fall by Texas A&M University and the Texas A&M Foundation. This is certainly optimistic, but attainable at the CVM, an institution that has established itself as capable of providing “big solutions” for “big problems.” As always, we want to express our sincerest appreciation to our supporters and donors. You are certainly an integral part of what has made this institution so successful, and we are grateful to you. Armed with plans to restore our Small Animal Hospital to a standard-setting status, your partnership with us is increasingly important. The development team is always happy to meet with you and your friends to discuss in greater detail how you can help ensure that the CVM continues to move forward in setting the pace for veterinary education around the world.
Eliana Mijangos, Noell Vance, Dr. O.J. “Bubba” Woytek, and Chastity Carrigan
O. J. “Bubba” Woytek, DVM ’65
Asst. Vice President for Development
Chastity Carrigan ’15
Senior Director of Development
Thanks and Gig ’em, The CVM Development Team
Eliana Mijangos ’14
Assistant Director of Development
Summer 2016 •
Development News Beloved Pet Makes Everlasting Impact in Neurology Many pet owners have stories about their dog or cat, but few can say their pet’s life has helped make an impact in human and animal medicine. Jeannette and David Hall’s dog, Patti, a Great Pyrenees mix, has touched the lives of many, and her story is making a difference. Patti’s positive energy and perseverance to push through various medical conditions, while being treated at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), encouraged her owners to establish a fund to help discover possible remedies for animals with similar health issues. Jeannette was pursuing a career as a veterinary technician and spending time at the Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP) shelter in Houston, when her life changed. “The clinical manager of the shelter said that someone had dropped off this little handful of a puppy,” Jeannette said. “She wanted to know if I would foster it, and of course, the answer was ‘Yes.’ All you had to do was look at her and you fell in love.” Jeannette fostered Patti for a few months, then John Walzel walked into their lives. John saw Patti and quickly fell in love, deciding this was just the dog he was hoping to find one day, and adopted her. Patti was curious and adventurous, as puppies often are, and in a sudden burst of excitement ran into the street and was hit by a car. After an emergency trip to the local veterinarian, some plates and screws in place, she went back to enjoying life. Shortly after her accident—life took a dismal turn. Patti slowly started having seizures, and her loving owner suddenly passed away. Jeannette and David, her former foster parents, heard about the passing of Patti’s owner and took her home with them. By this time, Patti was on seizure medication and needed special treatment throughout the day to prevent episodes. The Halls moved to College Station shortly after welcoming Patti back into the family
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and were referred to the CVM for Patti’s reoccurring seizures. Dr. Jonathan Levine, professor in the Small Animal Hospital (SAH) neurology service, began treating Patti with care. Like many cases of seizures in dogs, the cause was unknown. “Dr. Levine did everything,” said David. “The SAH at Texas A&M did lab work and a CT scan, but they could never find a cause of the seizures. Even when Patti’s necropsy was done, her brain pathology was normal.” Communicating and working with Levine, the Halls learned how the studies conducted at Texas A&M were leading to potential human therapies. The information Levine collected from managing Patti’s case was key to advancing the science behind seizure treatments in both humans and animals. In addition to the clinical data Levine used to advance the neurology discipline, the Halls noted Patti’s case had even more far-reaching impacts than knowledge alone. “It’s just amazing what they are doing at Texas A&M,” said Jeannette. “That’s why we wanted to give. We want more people to understand what Texas A&M did for Patti and what that means for human medicine.” The neurology program has since expanded through their funded research, and Levine and his team are now studying the possible similarities between human and canine tumors. Levine noted that, even though it seems like Patti’s story is about seizures and researching new possible treatments for cancer, the common thread is that some medical conditions are hard to treat. At Texas A&M, Levine and his colleagues represent those that are really dedicated and want to continue moving forward to find answers for their clients. “The importance of funds, like those donated by the Halls, is that we have been able to expand beyond spinal cord injury in our service,” Levine said. “We have collaborated with neurosurgeons in human medicine to investigate new therapies for brain
Patti Hall tumors and see what works on canine brain tumors will translate into treatment for human brain tumors.” Pets often depend on their owners to teach them good character, but the Halls further developed their character because of Patti. “She gave us love, unconditional love,” said Jeannette. Even after her death, the Halls’ commitment to Patti’s legacy lives on in the fund that bears her name, the Patti Hall Endowment in Neurology, supporting the growth and research efforts of the CVM neurology service at the SAH. Her spirit lives on through her contributions and the many memories she gave to those who helped care for her. “The thing that Patti taught us,” said Jeannette, “is to never give up. There’s always something coming, and it’s always better.”
Alumni News by Dr. Megan Palsa and Jaleesia Amos
McAda Family Values:
An Aggie Legacy of Veterinary Medicine
The McAda family in 1942, from left to right: Acie, Creg (father), Bill, Rosemarie, Annie (mother), Dorothy, Frances Although they didn’t know it at the time, Dr. William Edward McAda (Bill) ’52 and his brother Dr. A.C. McAda (Acie) ’50, started a family tradition when they graduated from the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine. The name was later changed to Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM). Bill is among seven veterinarians in the extended McAda family. He has been practicing at the Yorktown Veterinary Clinic in Yorktown, Texas, for 63 years. His early practice focused on dairy and beef cattle and small animals. As years progressed and dairies in the county closed, his focus turned to beef cattle and other animals, which has included everything from skunks to bears. Other veterinarians in the family include Bill’s sons, Hampton McAda ’81 and Wesley McAda ’86, nephews, Travis Respondek ’94 and Warren Migura ’97, and son-in-law, Michael Jacob ’77, all of whom were inspired by Bill’s hard work and determination.
Bill serves as a role model for the family and others, continuing a legacy that began at the CVM.
Growing Up Born in 1925 near Kenedy, Texas, Bill was one of five children. His parents, Creg and Annie, were farmers, meaning each of the McAda children had chore lists to complete before leaving for school. “We milked the cows every morning before we went to school and walked about three miles to the Michna Country School,” Bill explained. The family also raised pigs and chickens. At the time, the school had three to four students in each grade. Bill, Acie, and their three sisters attended school there until going into Kenedy for high school. When he wasn’t at school, Bill was an active hunter and athlete. These activities helped shape him into the person he is today. During his senior year of high school, he served as captain of the football team, which he
said helped him develop leadership skills. Bill also excelled in track and field, winning awards in events such as the broad jump. As a dove hunter, Bill developed his shooting skills, which helped when serving in World War II. The activity that first led Bill to Texas A&M University was Future Farmers of America (FFA). As a member of the local high school FFA chapter, Bill competed in judging contests held at Texas A&M. At one competition, he recalled sleeping under the bleachers at Kyle Field with hay as bedding. There was nowhere else to house the judging team at the time, he said. “We had hay about a foot deep. That’s what we slept on.” Bill’s time spent in FFA and on the family farm ultimately influenced his choice to pursue veterinary medicine. “I was raised on a farm, and I raised cattle ever since I was five years old. I just kind of grew into veterinary medicine,” he said.
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Alumni News came back, he applied for veterinary school and got in, and he finished two years before I did,” Bill said.
The Aggie Spirit
Bill prepared for military service in 1944.
Aggies Who Served Obtaining a doctor of veterinary medicine was not a straight shot for Bill—first he had to make it through a war. The McAda brothers were two of over 20,000 Aggies who served during World War II. “I had just gotten out of high school when I was drafted, and after 16 weeks of training at Fort Hood, they shipped me overseas to the Philippines,” Bill explained. As a scout in the 40th Infantry, Bill was given reconnaissance missions, which required him to travel ahead of his unit learning about enemy positions and the unfamiliar terrain. He spent two and a half years in the military, serving in the Pacific, the Philippines, and Korea, before attending college at Texas A&M. Although Bill entered the military after high school graduation, Acie was already in College Station when he was called upon to serve. “Acie was a sophomore at Texas A&M when he was drafted into the service,” explained Bill. “He went into the military as a second lieutenant and served in Europe during World War II.” After their service, both brothers continued pursuing their dreams of becoming veterinarians. “When Acie 100 •
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At 22, Bill started his veterinary training as one of 64 students at the CVM and one of 9,000 at Texas A&M. As an all-male, mostly military school, the demographics at the time were quite different than today. Like Bill, most of his classmates were World War II veterans, and a few students were active in the Corps of Cadets. “We probably had six or seven young boys that were in the Corps in our class, but most of them were veterans,” he said. The location of the CVM at that time was as different as the demographics. Bill and other members of the class of ’52 were the last to study at the original CVM site near the Sterling Evans Library. Students were housed at the Riverside campus, just off of Texas Highway 47. “We lived in the university barracks—15 to 20 of us lived in one barrack,” Bill said. Despite changes to the campus and student enrollment, the vigor of the Aggie spirit remained unchanged. Kyle Field was smaller at the time, but Bill still remembers students filling the stadium for every game. Life as a veterinary student did not lend free time, but Bill never missed a chance to cheer on the Aggie football team.
Moving to Yorktown For two years before he graduated, Bill worked at the veterinary clinic Acie set up close to home in Kenedy. Bill spent his summers helping his brother, gaining valuable veterinary experience. After graduation, Bill established his own practice in Yorktown, where he still practices today. His first office was a small room at the town’s cotton gin. Most of the time he would “go out on calls,” though some brought their animals to him, he said. Yorktown not only meant the start of Bill’s career, but also meant finding the love of his life. After moving to Yorktown, Bill met his future wife, Pauline Migura. “She worked in the hardware store,” said Wesley, “and he went in to buy a broom. This cute, little, dark-haired lady waited on him, and he ended up buying a broom, a mop, and a bucket!” Bill added, “She worked at the hardware store right next to the gin, and we ate dinner together and went to the café.” Bill and Pauline had “a very symbiotic relationship” and were devoted to each other, Hampton explained. “I don’t think either one could have done it without the other,” he said. They married two years after they met and had four children: Hampton, Vickie, Wesley, and David. Pauline became Bill’s full-time office manager when they moved to their permanent location in 1961.
First veterinary clinic in Yorktown, Texas, 1952
Bill and Pauline with their children Vickie, Wesley, David, and Hampton in 1968
Giving Back to Future Generations Inspired by their father’s work, Hampton and Wesley found their passion for veterinary medicine and followed in his footsteps by receiving their DVMs from the CVM. Their journey to veterinary medicine began when they, along with Vickie and David, helped at their father’s clinic. The McAda siblings recalled how the clinic became an integral part of their childhood. The clinic was located about a hundred yards in front of the house with a path in between. The phone number was and is still the same for both the clinic and house. “We all
had a part. If there was a calving at night, Dad would pick somebody to go out with him,” Vickie said. “Somebody needed to open the gate, and someone had to hold a flashlight.” Because of their experience in their father’s clinic, Hampton and Wesley had more hands-on experience than most of their classmates in veterinary school. Hampton recalled one day when his class observed a bovine C-section. Having helped with the procedure countless times, he decided to leave. The instructor went to stop him, but replied, “Oh, that’s right. Your dad is a vet. Go on home. I would, too.” Today, Wesley and Hampton practice close to home. Hampton joined his
Bill and his children in 2014 From left to right: Wesley, Vickie, David, and Hampton
father’s practice after graduating, intending to only work there six months. “About a year and a half went by, and I thought, ‘Hey, I’ve been here longer than six months,’” he said. After 35 years, Hampton is still practicing alongside his father. Wesley practices in Hallettsville, 50 miles from Yorktown. Bill mentored more than just his children; he helped numerous students over the years by allowing them to work in his clinic. Michael, who later married Vickie, worked at the clinic upon his acceptance into veterinary school. Bill also mentored his nephew, Travis. “It was a dirty job,” Travis said. “The last thing I wanted to do was veterinary medicine until he started letting me help.” Working with his uncle helped him choose to study veterinary medicine at the CVM and ultimately become a veterinarian. Aside from mentoring, Bill has contributed to veterinary students and the CVM in other ways. He was instrumental in the development of the Francis Schneider Endowed Scholarship, which helps five students each year pay for their education at the CVM. The scholarship was one of the first endowed scholarships from a client and is worth nearly $500,000. In his 63 years of practice, Bill has had a lasting impact on those around him and has made his family proud. “I feel very privileged to have been raised in the family that I was and have great role models all around me,” said Wesley. “I am very proud of my family.” Bill echoed this sentiment, saying, “I am very proud of all of us.”
From left to right: Michael Jacob ’77, Wesley McAda ’86, Bill McAda ’52, Hampton McAda ’81, Travis Respondek ’94 Summer 2016 •
VBEC under construction
by Callie Rainosek and Heather Quiram
VBEC: Ready for move in Summer 2016 The Centennial Celebration of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) includes the completion of the Veterinary & Biomedical Education Complex (VBEC), which is scheduled for May 2016. The complex is composed of three buildings: the Veterinary Integrative Collaboration Building (VICI), the Veterinary Interdisciplinary Innovation Building (VIDI), and the Veterinary Education & Administration Building (VENI). Together, these buildings will offer students and faculty more flexibility and opportunities to collaborate, as well as room to accommodate alternative teaching paradigms that differ from traditional lecture. Despite previous setbacks from large amounts of rain, all three buildings are still on schedule for move-in over 102 •
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the summer of 2016. While all of the buildings are making excellent progress, VICI is leading the race with complete waterproof walls and windows. Full power to all three buildings was achieved in mid-October 2015, and fully functional heating and air conditioning was available in midDecember 2015. Though construction often comes with road closures and traffic, Transportation Services and CVM faculty and staff have worked together to develop an alternative route to the Large Animal Hospital (LAH). The construction of the college’s new “front door” has required temporarily taking over the existing entry drive to the hospital, restricting access to the LAH and the parking areas surrounding it. The former, two-lane entrance to the LAH will be transformed by the
Skanska construction team into a gracious, tree-lined boulevard with a grassy island separating the lanes. Despite the construction obstacles, all types of vehicles have gained safe access to the entire campus and the LAH through Agronomy and Turk roads. By the time VBEC is ready for move-in over the summer of 2016, all lanes of traffic will be reopened. Although securing the entrance area to build the tree-lined boulevard did not disturb traffic, a large amount of parking previously available to the college was sacrificed. To accommodate displaced permit holders, Skanska and Transportation Services created and opened additional parking earlier than anticipated. Additionally, a parking lot immediately adjacent to the CVM was converted to an assigned lot to allow all DVM
Facilities Update students the opportunity to park closer to the college. Upon completion of the project, the CVM will gain more parking spaces for students, faculty, and visitors. The completion of VBEC will offer more to students and faculty than just an updated exterior. The VBEC’s potential for comfortable, collaborative opportunities has been a high priority since the beginning of the project in August 2014. All three buildings in the complex will offer wide corridors with soft seating areas for students and staff to visit between classes. Multiple rooms designed to seat four to 30 people will be available for small private meetings, group learning exercises, private study spaces, and faculty meetings. The goal in creating these spaces is to increase communication and collaboration, while also creating a comfortable environment for students, staff, faculty, and guests. Besides trying to meet the goal of comfort, the VBEC design team has also considered the flexibility of classrooms in order to accommodate alternative teaching paradigms. The design team, staff, students, and faculty of the CVM incorporated many innovative concepts into the building plan to meet this goal. The larger classrooms, which can seat up to 120 or 250 students, are arranged to ensure students can see the instructor. Retractable wall and seating systems will also allow each room to have alternative uses. The new ability to clear and open a room will be efficient for holding large events of any required seating. The remainder of the classrooms, seating anywhere from 30 to 80 people, have a series of arrangement options. Mobile and modular furniture will allow easy maneuverability and rapid reconfiguration. An instructor can easily rearrange a room from a linear, lecture format to an in-the-round or group-learning format. From a small veterinary hospital in 1916 to an elaborate complex in May 2016, the CVM has grown to accommodate more passionate and hardworking students. The construction of VBEC will ensure even more student success through flexible and comfortable classrooms, as well as maintain the same high-quality care for patients.
An artist rendering of VBEC
VBEC, right wing
VBEC, left wing Summer 2016 •
AlumniFrancis Mark News Fellows The Mark Francis Fellows recognizes donors who have given $1,000 or more to the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Donors are grouped into two alphabetical lists: New Members and Members Advancing to Higher Levels of Giving. The following donors are honored for their cumulative giving from September 1, 1991, through December 31, 2014. Mr. Thomas B. Nichols Fredericksburg, TX
Ms. Chastity A. Carrigan College Station, TX
Dr. and Mrs. Fuller Bazer College Station, TX
Mr. Roland K. Nordin Dallas, TX
Mr. William A. Cole Wetmore, TX
Ms. Denay Sanders Bennett Houston, TX
Dr. and Mrs. Charles Pipes Garland, TX
John T. and Stacey Cook Houston, TX
Ms. Barbara Bilger Dallas, TX
Mr. and Mrs. David E. Powell Houston, TX
Mrs. Karla Devin College Station, TX
Dr. James H. Bray Houston, TX
Dr. Jules B. Puschett Houston, TX
Ms. Judy W. Duck Dallas, TX
Dr. and Mrs. Patrick M. Breen Florence, TX
Dr. and Mrs. Perry L. Reeves McKinney, TX
Ms. Cathy DuPre Knoxville, TN
Dr. Laura B. Cauthen Tyler, TX
Dr. and Mrs. Jeffrey M. Schroeder Elgin, TX
Robert L. and Janice Frank Houston, TX
Dr. Ann E. Cudd Lawrence, KS
Dr. and Mrs. Jerry L. Simmons El Paso, TX
Mr. Matthew Frank San Francisco, CA
Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin M. Cutler Paradise Valley, AZ
Ms. Heather Hunter Smith Nashville, TN
Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Gates Helotes, TX
Dr. Anne M. Emsoff San Antonio, TX
Dr. and Mrs. Bobby L. Stevener Pearland, TX
Mrs. Bobbie Gee Abilene, TX
Dr. and Mrs. Orlando Garza El Paso, TX
Ms. Janine M. Terry Las Vegas, NV
Dr. Joseph P. Hemphill Coleman, TX
Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Gasson Houston, TX
Mr. and Mrs. Ray Thompson Tyler, TX
Mr. and Mrs. Stevyn Herring Austin, TX
Dr. Charles W. Graham Elgin, TX
Mr. and Mrs. John M. Ward Fulshear, TX
Ms. Susan Irza Bryan, TX
Ms. Mary C. Gregory Paradise Valley, AZ
Dr. Callie D. Willingham Chandler, AZ
Dr. and Mrs. Guy W. Johnsen El Paso, TX
Members Advancing to a Higher Level of Giving:
Drs. David L. and Jeannette G. Hall Richmond, TX Dr. and Mrs. Milton K. Herrmann Houston, TX Mr. and Mrs. Michael J. Kern The Woodlands, TX Dr. and Mrs. Joseph P. Kerwin College Station, TX Dr. and Mrs. Samuel W. Knippa Seguin, TX Ms. Betty L. Kyle Santa Fe, NM Dr. and Mrs. James E.T. Laningham Southern Pines, NC Mr. and Mrs. Jason P. Lawhorn Houston, TX Ms. Donna M. Lee Spring, TX 104 •
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New Members: Dr. and Mrs. James G. Anderson College Station, TX David S. and Anne Andras Brenham, TX Ms. Diana Beck Southlake, TX Edwin A. and Janice Beckcom Ft. Worth, TX
Dr. and Mrs. William D. Kellner Charlotte, VT Mr. and Mrs. Roy W. King Arlington, TX Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Kingsley College Station, TX Drs. Larry M. and Chris Kornegay Houston, TX Larry L. and Pamela Little Plano, TX
Dr. Anthony R. Benedetto and Ms. Gayle S. Storey The Woodlands, TX
Ms. Melissa J. Lyons Iola, TX
Mr. James Boore San Diego, CA
Ms. Jerri A. Matthews San Antonio, TX
Mr. and Mrs. James C. Byram Rio Hondo, TX
Mr. Horace McCain Gainesville, FL
Mr. Jim O. Carlton Tulia, TX
Mr. Bobby L. McDaniel Lake Kiowa, TX
Mark Francis AlumniFellows News Dr. Maria K. Montemayor San Antonio, TX
Don and Sunday B. Tidwell Albany, TX
Mr. Scot O. Walker Bryan, TX
Cliff and Linda Mountain Austin, TX
Dr. and Mrs. Ian R. Tizard College Station, TX
Dr. Edward P. Waller Jr. San Antonio, TX
Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Neilson Long Lake, MN
Sam B. and Nancy C. Todd College Station, TX
Mrs. Kathryn B. Warren Frisco, TX
Ms. Lisa S. Nivens Austin, TX
Col Edward F. Torres, USAF (Ret) College Station, TX
Mr. Rodney Wetzel Magnolia, TX
Dr. Beverlee E. Nix Weir, TX
Ms. Tracy A. Treps College Station, TX
Dr. Robin K. Woller Decatur, TX
Ms. Kathryn K. Oliver Houston, TX
Ms. Nga T. Vo Pearland, TX
Ms. Penny Youngblood Dallas, TX
Dr. Thomas J. Palvino Austin, TX Ms. Carol C. Parker Houston, TX Dr. and Mrs. Gerald W. Parker Jr. Bryan, TX Mrs. Peggy J. Price Hot Springs Village, AR Dr. and Mrs. Chunhua Qin Chalfont, PA Mrs. Staci Reznick Dallas, TX Mr. and Mrs. Charles R. Robinson Navasota, TX J. Alex and Martha Rochelle Austin, TX Ms. Alisa Ross College Station, TX Mr. Walter W. Schorre San Antonio, TX Dr. Howard Sharpe Ontario, Canada Michael J. and Nancy Shaw Fredericksburg, TX Mr. Garlyn Shelton Bryan, TX Dr. James E. Smallwood Raleigh, NC Mr. Lance Steinberg Long Beach, NY Dr. and Mrs. Robert H. Strawser Bryan, TX Ms. Nancy Thomas-Cote San Francisco, CA
Dr. Mark Francis
Summer 2016 •
Class of 1941 Abby Jones Logie, 97, of Brooklyn, New York, died August 28, 2015. Class of 1948 Max W. Lowe, 89, of Mooresville, Indiana, died September 18, 2015. Class of 1949 Billy B. Hancock, 88, of Fort Dodge, Iowa, died on July 20, 2015. Class of 1951 Thomas Franklin Ryan Jr., 90, of San Antonio, Texas, died November 14, 2015. Burnace Harold Roberts, of Bowe, Texas, died January 20, 2006. Class of 1958 Jack D. Quinn, 82, of Houston, Texas, died in 2015. John Paul Smith, 92, of Bryan, Texas, died July 26, 2015. Wayne Todhunter Slone, 81, of Bay City, Texas, died November 9, 2015. Class of 1960 Allen D. Nelson, 84, of China Spring, Texas, died September 6, 2015. Jerry Ray Berryman, 84, of Ada, Oklahoma, died September 9, 2015. Alton “Buddy” Smith, 79, of Shiner, Texas, died September 13, 2015. Class of 1962 Dane Oren Petty, 84, of Cumby, Texas, died July 20, 2015. Class of 1964 Jerry Don Bell, 79, of Lamesa, Texas, died on November 2, 2015. Class of 1966 C. Kim “Doc” Orrell, 75, of Lakeview, Texas, died August 22, 2015. 106 •
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Class of 1970 John W. Kahla, 68, of Jasper, Texas, died on August 26, 2015. Class of 1974 James “Jim” R. Roberts, 66, of North Richland Hills, Texas, died November 26, 2015 Class of 1977 Bill Perry McCaleb, 62, of Anson, Texas, died on August 26, 2015. Class of 1980 Michael Terry Gilbreath, 60, died on October 28, 2015. Class of 1990 Dawn Michelle Aberwald, 50, of West Palm Beach, Florida, died July 25, 2015. Class of 1995 Lee Kellie Sims, 46, of Bryan, Texas, died September 15, 2015. Class of 2002 Valori Dee Morris, 51, of St. Louis, Missouri, died July 13, 2015. Class of 2014 Samantha Pohl, 29, of Hallettsville, Texas, died July 29, 2015.
Call for Nominations Help us celebrate our Centennial by nominating graduates of the CVM for the 2017 Outstanding Alumni and Rising Star Awards! A resume, or curriculum vitae, that summarizes major career accomplishments and two letters of support are required to nominate an alumnus or alumna. Additional information or letters may also be helpful to the selection committee. Nomination packets may be found online at http://vetmed.tamu. edu/ or by contacting Noell Vance, Development and Alumni Relations Coordinator, at 979-845-9043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continuing Education 2016 Schedule*
August 26 - 28, 2016 Canine Conference Chair: Dr. Johanna Heseltine October 22 - 23, 2016 Emergency & Critical Care Conference Chair: Dr. James Barr
Office of Continuing Education 4470 TAMU, Texas A&M University College Station, TX 77843-4470 Tel. 979.845.9102 | Fax 979.862.2832 vetmed.tamu.edu/ce
November 5, 2016 Cargill Equine Nutrition Chair: Dr. Jim Ward Dec. 9 - 11, 2016 Anesthesia & Analgesia Conference Chair: Dr. Mauricio Lepiz *All dates subject to change.
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Communications, Media, & Public Relations Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences Texas A&M University, 4461 TAMU College Station, TX 77843-4461
Reflecting on the past... with a vision of the future
COLLEGE STATION TEXAS 77843 PERMIT NO. 215 CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED
by Tim Stephenson
A semi-annual publication for the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical...
Published on Jul 25, 2016
A semi-annual publication for the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical...