Program continues to foster young researchers

Published on October 01, 2011
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Leslie Wintz and Dr. Murray Brown
Michigan State University student Leslie Wintz discusses her
research poster with Dr. Murray Brown, professor of large
animal surgery at the University of Florida. (Courtesy of
Carolyn Whitford/University of Florida)

The 2011 Merial-National Institutes of Health Veterinary Scholars Program Symposium once again educated attendees about the latest in research and recognized future leaders in the field.

The mission of the Veterinary Scholars Program is to expose students in their first or second year of veterinary school to biomedical research and career opportunities in research.

The program culminates in a national symposium where veterinary students participating in the program gather to present their research findings and share experiences from their various programs. Presentations by, and networking opportunities with, invited veterinary scientists, researchers, and faculty members are also part of the national symposium program.

This year's event was held August 4-6 at Disney's Yacht Club Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. It drew about 450 people, including 337 students from 31 programs in the U.S., Canada, France, and the Netherlands, all of whom presented posters. The theme of the symposium was "Conservation Medicine and Human Health."

Two keynote addresses were given. On Aug. 5, Lyle L. Moldawer, PhD, vice chairman of research at the University of Florida College of Medicine, gave a talk titled "Harnessing the power of the genome to better understand the immunological response to injury: future implications and applications."

Peter A.V. Anderson, PhD, of the UF Whitney Laboratory for Marine Biosciences spoke the next day, giving the lecture "Biomedicine from the Sea."

The most popular breakout session—standing room only—was a talk given by Dr. Craig A. Pelton from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine's Aquatic Animal Health program on the rescue and rehabilitation of oiled sea turtles following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Concurrent with the symposium, the Burroughs Welcome Fund put on a Young Investigator Program for new faculty. Seventeen speakers provided insights into navigating an academic research career for 10 new faculty selected from veterinary schools and colleges around the country.

Away from the convention center on the second day of the symposium, participants were treated to an afternoon at Disney's Animal Kingdom that included a behind-the-scenes tour of veterinary operations.

The symposium again featured the Young Investigator Award Competition, sponsored by the AVMA and American Veterinary Medical Foundation. The top three winners were as follows:

  • Derek M. Foster of North Carolina State University, who won first place for "NFκB mediated expression of XIAP inhibits enterocyte shedding to defend barrier function in Cryptosporidium infection."
  • Carrie J. Finno of the University of California-Davis, who took second place with "Molecular basis of neuroaxonal dystrophy in Quarter Horses."
  • Margaret M. Brosnahan of Cornell University, who took third place with "Interleukin 22 is expressed by the chorionic girdle cells of the equine trophoblast."

In other awards, Dr. Stephen W. Barthold, a professor of veterinary and medical pathology at UC-Davis, received the Inaugural 2011 Merial-Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Excellence in Research Award.

It recognizes an individual who, over the course of his or her career, has demonstrated excellence in original research, leadership in the scientific community, and mentoring of trainees and colleagues in any discipline of veterinary medicine. Dr. Barthold researches the interaction between infectious disease agents and their hosts. While on the faculty of Yale University, he played a major role in coordinating a team of researchers who investigated and developed a Lyme disease vaccine that can be used for humans and animals.