AVMF, VPRF announce 2022-2023 veterinary research grant recipients

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(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) April 25, 2023—The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) and the Veterinary Pharmacology Research Foundation (VPRF) have selected two veterinary researchers as recipients of the organizations' 2022-2023 research grants. The 2022 grants are in honor of two outstanding veterinary pharmacologists who we have recently lost. This funding supports research projects designed to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases in animals.

The grant recipients were selected out of 30 top-quality applications reviewed by a committee of 20 experts. Researcher Robert Goggs, BVSc, PhD, is an Associate Professor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and is the recipient of the 2022 Honorary Lloyd E. Davis Pharmacology Grant. Emma Vaasjo, BScH, DVM, is a Veterinary Resident at the Saint Louis Zoo and is the recipient of the 2022 Honorary Ralph Claxton Pharmacokinetic Grant.

"Research is the foundation of veterinary medicine," said Dr. José Arce, AVMF Chair. "The AVMF and VPRF are keenly interested in supporting those seeking to advance animal health. We are proud to present this year's outstanding recipients of the 2022-2023 pharmacology research grants. Congratulations, Dr. Goggs and Dr. Vaasjo."

Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of direct oral anticoagulants in dogs
Dr. Goggs' research project will focus on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of direct oral anticoagulants in dogs. Abnormal blood clot formation (thrombosis) is common in critically ill dogs and makes existing illnesses worse and can be fatal. Effective and safe drugs to reduce the burden of thrombosis are urgently needed. Two oral anticoagulant drugs, developed for use in people, show promise for use in dogs, but additional information about the effect of these drugs when given long term are needed. The effects of apixaban and rivaroxaban have not been compared head-to-head in dogs and the safest way to discontinue these drugs at the end of treatment is also unknown.

"We are delighted to have received support from the Veterinary Pharmacology Research Foundation and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation for our proposed evaluation of two direct oral anticoagulant drugs in dogs," said Dr. Goggs. "We believe our study will inform clinicians seeking to prescribe these drugs for their patients and to enable future clinical studies of these drugs in dogs. Ultimately, we hope that our study will help improve patient outcomes by reducing the burden of abnormal blood clot formation."

Pharmacokinetics of ganciclovir and valganciclovir in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus)
Dr. Vaasjo's research project will focus on the pharmacokinetics of ganciclovir and valganciclovir in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Elephant endotheliotropic viruses (EEHVs) remain a major threat to the sustainability of both free-ranging and managed populations of Asian elephants. Despite significant improvements in disease monitoring that facilitate early and aggressive treatment, hemorrhagic disease caused by EEHVs is the most common cause of death in Asian elephants born in managed care.

The current recommendation for antiviral treatment for EEHV is famciclovir given orally or per rectum multiple times per day. With a continued high fatality rate despite widespread famciclovir treatment, the need for frequent dosing, and questionable absorption during clinical disease, there is a critical need for investigation of antiviral treatment options for EEHV. The antiviral ganciclovir may be more effective in EEHV cases as it is the treatment recommendation for other closely related herpesviruses in humans and can be given via intravenous injection. An oral prodrug with increased bioavailability, valganciclovir, is also available. Dosages and dosing intervals that maintain therapeutic blood levels of ganciclovir and valganciclovir in elephants still need to be established in order to provide effective treatment and minimize drug-associated side effects.

"Our research aims to determine an accurate dose and dosing interval for the intravenous antiviral drug, ganciclovir, as well as the oral prodrug, valganciclovir, in Asian elephants," said Dr. Vaasjo. "We expect that the use of an intravenous antiviral medication during clinical EEHV cases will increase treatment success and survivability. We are thrilled to have the support of the AVMF/VPRF to gain further understanding on treatment options for this devastating disease in elephants and decrease its impact on the viability of the population of this endangered species under human care."

The funding organizations are very grateful for the expert reviews by the 20 members of the 2022-23 Pharmacology Scientific Review Committee, which includes Drs. Mahmoud Abouraya, Mike Apley, Ron Baynes, Cynthia Cole, Jennifer L. Davis, Keith DeDonder, Duncan Ferguson, Dan Gustafson, Jonathan Hare, Butch KuKanich, Cory Langston, Andrew Mackin, Lara Maxwell, Kirby Pasloske, Mary Robinson, Lauren Trepanier, Sarah Wagner, Luke Wittenburg, Mark Papich (chair), and Jane Owens (co-chair).

Funding for the VPRF research grant is administered by the AVMF and supports research into new or currently approved medications for combating diseases and conditions of companion and food animals, as well as projects that ensure the safety of food products from treated livestock. Clinicians and scientists with an interest in veterinary pharmacology are eligible to serve as principal investigators.

About the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF)

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) is the charitable arm of the American Veterinary Medical Association. For 60 years, the AVMF has developed resources to advance the science and practice of veterinary medicine to improve animal and human health. Animal health research is crucial to the future of veterinary medicine. The AVMF devotes its efforts to raising financial support for research projects that will help lead to improved prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of prevalent, life-threatening diseases in animals. To donate to the AVMF, visit https://www.avmf.org/give. If you would like your donation to help fund future research grants, use AVMF code "RESEARCH" on the online donation form.

About the Veterinary Pharmacology Research Foundation (VPRF)

The Veterinary Pharmacology Research Foundation (VPRF) was founded in 2007 by the governing bodies of the American Academy of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics (AAVPT) and the American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology (ACVCP). By combining resources, these organizations were able to focus on funding for growth and innovation in the development of new veterinary therapeutics, evaluation of drugs for treatment of animal diseases, and increasing the number of trained researchers in veterinary pharmacology. To date, VPRF has provided nearly $445,000 in research funding across 7 veterinary species and has awarded twenty-five grants, many with published reports. For more information, visit https://www.vprfonline.org/.

About the AVMA

Serving more than 105,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.