October 01, 2014


 Research symposium highlights students’ work

​Noted scientists give talks relating to one health

Posted Sept. 17, 2014  


The 2014 Merial­–National Institutes of Health Veterinary Scholars Symposium was held July 31-Aug. 3 at Cornell University. This year’s theme was “One Health,” addressed through the perspective of four plenary sessions: sustainability, genetics, cancer, and infectious disease. The event attracted 620 registered attendees from 10 countries who were a mix of scientists and veterinary students who have been engaged in mentored research experiences over the course of the summer at U.S. and Canadian veterinary colleges. 

Since 1989, the Veterinary Scholars Program has provided an opportunity for veterinary schools to introduce first- and
second-year students to conducting biomedical research in a laboratory and clinical setting during the summer. The program works with the participating veterinary schools, Merial, the NIH, the AVMA, and several other institutions to attract a talented pool of veterinary students who are interested in biomedical research and comparative medicine. Veterinary scholars share their research findings in poster sessions and have the chance to hear and interact with scientists from diverse fields at the symposium, which caps off their experience.

Veterinary students have a chance to present their findings from mentored research they conducted over the course of the summer at veterinary colleges in the U.S. and Canada. (Photos by Michael P. Carroll)
This year’s keynote speaker, Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, MD, is a cardiology professor at the University of California-Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine and co-director of UCLA’s Evolutionary Medicine Program. Dr. Natterson-Horowitz published the book “Zoobiquity: The Astonishing Connection Between Human and Animal Health” and is the founder and chair of the Zoobiquity Conference.

Other speakers at the conference included Dr. Alexander Travis, director of the Cornell Center for Wildlife Conservation, who studies methods to preserve spermatogonial stem cells as a means of maintaining genetic diversity; Elaine Ostrander, PhD, chief and NIH distinguished investigator, whose laboratory in Bethesda, Maryland, aims to find genes that control the morphologic body plan of the domestic dog, which has an extraordinary level of variation between breeds, and to identify disease susceptibility genes in dogs; Lewis Cantley, PhD, director of the new Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, who discovered and continues to study the enzyme PI-3-kinase, now known to be important to understanding cancer and diabetes mellitus; and Dr. Jorge Galan, chair of the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis at the Yale Cancer Center, whose research focuses on defining the molecular details of host-pathogen interactions and the atomic interphase between the pathogens and the host.

The 2014 Merial­–National Institutes of Health Veterinary Scholars Symposium, held July 31-Aug. 3 at Cornell University, saw 452 veterinary students present results from their summer research projects.
The symposium also featured the Young Investigator Award Competition, sponsored by the AVMA and American Veterinary Medical Foundation. The Young Investigator Award is given to graduate veterinarians pursuing advanced research training through doctoral or postdoctoral programs who presented their research at the symposium. The winners were as follows:
  • First place went to Dr. Elizabeth More Lennon of North Carolina State University College of Veteri­­nary Medicine for “Mast cells play a protective role in a model of inflammatory bowel disease.” 
  • Second place was awarded to Dr. Blake “Eason” Hildreth III of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine for “Deletion of the nuclear localization sequence and C-terminus of PTHrP decreases osteogenesis and chondrogenesis but increases adipogenesis and myogenesis in mesenchymal stem cells.”
  • Third place went to Dr. Katherine M. Tolbert of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine for “Cysteine protease activity of feline Tritrichomonas foetus promotes adhesion-dependent cytotoxicity to intestinal epithelial cells.” 

The 2014 Merial Veterinary Scholars Award went to Nida Intarapanich (Tufts ’16) for her research project “Characterization and comparison of injuries caused by spontaneous vs. illegal organized dogfighting.” 

Dr. Dan Regan (Georgia ’11) was the recipient of the Merial Graduate Veterinary Scholar Award. He is a resident in the
Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Regan was recognized for his research looking at the role inflammatory monocytes play in the promotion of tumor metastasis as well as the regulation of tumor vaccine immunity.

For other awards handed out at the symposium, see article.

In addition, the inaugural Second Opportunity Summer Scholars Awards went to 10 third-year veterinary students who
participated in the 2013 summer research program. They were awarded $5,000 stipends from the AVMA and the AVMF to perform a second research project this past summer. Each award includes $1,000 to cover travel expenses to the symposium. The recipients are as follows: Kelsey Brakel, Adam Brown, Mark Byrum, Brian Dent, Ashley Heard-Ganir, Ellen Jackson, Rebekah Packer, Patrick Reilly, Samantha Salmon, and Katherine Watson.

Related JAVMA content:

One-health wonders (Oct. 1, 2008)