February 2015

APLU, AAVMC Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance Gets to Work

The Task Force on Antibiotic Resistance in Production Agriculture, formed by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), held its first meeting on January 6, 2015, in Washington, D.C. Officials from the United States Department of Agriculture, the Food & Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control were on hand to participate in the meeting.

Task Force Chair Dr. Lonnie King outlined circumstances that led to the task force formation and described it as a public health crisis of multifaceted origins that threatens patient care, public health, agriculture, economic growth, and national security.

King referenced studies forecasting that, if left unabated, the antimicrobial resistance problem could lead to an estimated 10 million deaths worldwide each year by 2050. He urged task force members to “begin with an end in mind” as they formulate strategies designed to serve as a “road map” for federal government efforts aimed at reducing the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

During the daylong meeting, various task force members and government officials summarized the scope of the problem, looked at existing programs and action plans, and began to outline an initial approach to addressing the problem.

The task force was created in November 2014 and consists of representatives from U.S. land grant universities and veterinary colleges, as well as key representatives from the production animal agriculture community and the pharmaceutical industry.

The goals of the task force are to advise the federal government on the formulation of a research agenda and help disseminate information on the use of antibiotics in production agriculture.

Scientists and the public have grown increasingly concerned about the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria in veterinary and human medicine. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have expressed serious concerns as well.

The CDC reports that the antimicrobial resistance problem costs an estimated $20 billion a year in direct health care and up to $35 billion in lost productivity as a result of hospitalizations and sick days, according to White House officials.

On September 18, 2014, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report entitled “Combatting Antibiotic Resistance,” which led President Obama to issue an executive order that described it as a national security priority. The administration’s “National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria” outlines measures the federal government will take to improve prevention, detection and control of resistant pathogens.

President’s Obama’s proposed 2016 Budget includes more than $1.2 billion in funding to support the effort.

Corporate Executives Address AAVMC Board During Naples Meeting

Responding to an invitation from the AAVMC, several executives from corporations doing business in veterinary medicine and animal health made presentations during the winter meeting of the AAVMC Board of Directors in Naples, Florida.

The executives were invited as the result of an AAVMC effort to increase engagement and collaboration with partners in the private sector, according to AAVMC Executive Director Andrew T. Maccabe. Over 30 academic deans also participated in the meeting.

Making presentations and participating in group discussions were Mr. Clint Lewis, executive vice president and president of U.S. Operations, Zoetis; Mr. Kostas Kontopanos, president of Hill's North America, Hill's Pet Nutrition; and Mr. Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA) and president of the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI).

Guests were asked to share specific remarks regarding their impressions of 1) the economic viability of the profession and their specific sectors of interest, 2) Strategies regarding the promotion of diversity in the workplace and their thoughts on what veterinary colleges should do to increase diversity, 3) professional and technical competencies they would like to see in new graduates, and 4) research priorities and opportunities for collaboration with colleges of veterinary medicine.

The business executives agreed that market conditions are conducive for success in the veterinary profession, with human population growth, increased consumption of animal protein, rising discretionary incomes and consumer desire for optimal pet health all creating demand.

Existing challenges, for example, include the “under-medicalization of pets,” according to Lewis. Many pets are not being seen for preventive care, he said, and veterinarians need to increase their proficiency in conveying the value of veterinary services to consumers. Kontopanos agreed, and said considering the growing intensity of the human/animal bond veterinarians need to move from an emphasis on curing disease to preventive care and become better partners in the relationship owners have with their pets.

Vetere reminded participants that the fastest growing sectors of the U. S. population are minorities who historically have had fewer pets. The benefit of owning pets, from companionship to human health and wellbeing, is an important message to share with all sectors of society, he said. 

Guests agreed that diversity is an imperative in business that bestows a competitive advantage, and agreed the profession needs to continue to work toward achieving greater diversity in many respects.

The presentations stimulated a lively dialogue with members of the board of directors and participating deans.

Still Time to Beat the AAVMC Conference Early Registration Deadline

There is still time to meet the early registration deadline of Feb.18 for the 2015 AAVMC Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium, “Recruiting & Selecting for the Future of Veterinary Medicine.”

The conference, focusing on recruitment, admissions and diversity, is designed to help schools and colleges of veterinary medicine keep informed regarding the latest societal changes, how those changes are affecting recruitment, and how to develop strategies to adapt to both short-term and long-term admissions and recruitment challenges. This will include the pressing challenge of recruiting students from historically under-represented populations and also the new minorities in academic veterinary medicine: males and rural students.

The conference will be held March 13-15 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. Learn more and register.

Save the Date for the AAVMC Health and Wellness Summit

Save the date for the third Health and Wellness Summit, hosted this year by the University of Tennessee, November 2-3, 2015, in Knoxville. The summit,  convened by the AAVMC and sponsored by Zoetis, is in response to a growing body of evidence that veterinary students are experiencing increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression and that these factors may impact productivity, longevity, and professional enjoyment. The goals of the conference sought to develop a common understanding of the health and wellness issues in veterinary students and recent graduates and continue to formulate and implement an action plan for enhancing health and wellness within the profession.

AVMA Releases Report on Veterinary Markets

The AVMA recently released its Report on Veterinary Markets, which summarizes information presented at the AVMA Economic Summit last October. The report includes a section on the veterinary education market with the following findings: 
  • In the past, the demand for a veterinary education exceeded supply, but currently, it is at, or very near, equilibrium. The cost of veterinary education is expected to rise faster than veterinary compensation, with the likely result that some higher priced seats will be vacant.
  • On the positive side, veterinary unemployment is low, there is a negative underemployment rate, and an increasing proportion of veterinary practices are working at full capacity. Overall, however, veterinary compensation is not sufficient to provide a positive return on educational investment.
  • Data suggest that we are currently in a down cycle of an applicant-to-seat ratio that has cycled twice between 1980 and 2014. The current ratio is 1.64:1. In all likelihood, the gap between escalating educational costs and compensation will become large enough to reduce applicant pool size.
The AVMA Report on Veterinary Markets is the first in a six-report series that will be released throughout 2015. The series will explore in detail the topics of debt and income, the market for veterinarians, veterinary capacity, and the market for veterinary education, all of which are summarily covered in this first report.

National Academies Study Examines Future of Animal Agriculture

Experts forecast global population may swell to between nine and 10 billion people by mid-century and animal agriculture will play an enormous role in helping feed these masses. In order to address that challenge, the National Research Council conducted a study titled “Critical Role of Animal Science Research in Food Security and Sustainability.”

While global demand for food from animal agriculture is expected to roughly double during the next 35 years, variables such as climate change, diminished natural resources, technology, international trade, animal welfare, food safety, and more are all expected to exert challenges as animal agriculture steps up to meet the increased global demand.

Experts convened to participate in the study were tasked with identifying critical areas of need in research and development at the national and international level. The 260-page report contains a comprehensive series of recommendations, including several directly related to veterinary medicine.

First, the sub-therapeutic use of medically important antibiotics in animal production is being phased out, and the report recommends that alternatives be identified that can provide “the same or greater benefits in improved feed efficiency, disease prevention and overall animal health.”

The second is focused on zoonotic disease prevention, which accounts for 70 percent of emerging infectious disease challenges. The report calls for increased research, education, and infrastructure development such as diagnostic laboratory facilities in developing countries.

The study was sponsored by the AAVMC, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, National Pork Board, Tyson Foods, Inc., the USDA and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association.

Learn more.

CSU Researchers Trace ‘Superbug’ Genes to Better Understand Antibiotic-Resistant Germs
Dr. Paul Morley, left, and Dr. Keith Belk are using DNA sequencing to trace antimicrobial genes in cattle.

Each year in the United States, at least two million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, resulting in 23,000 deaths. Researchers at Colorado State University are using recent advance in DNA sequencing to track the genetic footprint of drug resistant bacteria in order to determine how  infectious organisms originate and move through the food system and environment to people. The study, funded with $2.25 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is one of the largest of its kind. Learn more.

Note: The above story is part of a series of stories that the AAVMC highlights in the Vet-Med Educator on a regular basis from member institutions that demonstrate the many benefits of federal investment in schools and colleges of veterinary medicine.

Academic Veterinary Medicine in the News

Purdue Dean Awarded Dreamer Award

Lafayette Journal Courier

Reid Reappointed Principal of Royal Veterinary College

The Horse

Dr. Keefe Appointed New Dean of Atlantic Veterinary College

Journal Pioneer

UF Veterinary, Dental Specialists Implant Metal Prosthesis in Cat's Mouth


Study Models FMD Vaccine Strategies

Bovine Veterinarian


Donors Bankroll Wisconsin Shelter Program

Veterinary Practice News


Study: Dogs with Spinal Cord Injuries May Require Customized Treatments

Veterinary Practice News


Virginia Tech Researcher to Develop New Vaccine Against Swine Disease

Augusta Free Press

Veterinarians Seek to Help Paralyzed Pups Walk Again

NBC Bay Area


Over $35M in Federal Funding Could Further Pet Health

Global News


Leadership Award



Will We Be Hungry in a Warming World? USDA Wants to Know  (mentions AAVMC)

Environment and Energy Publishing


Researchers Discover That Mycoplasma Pneumoniae CARDS Toxin Induces Inflammation in Lungs

Lung Disease News



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