April 2014

One Health - AAVMC 2014 Conference Spurs Momentum

Imagine a future where veterinarians, physicians and other health professionals work together to solve some of the world’s most perplexing problems using integrated approaches and systems-thinking that seamlessly blend the knowledge and strengths of each scientific discipline. Then imagine the effect of that approach on veterinary medical education.

That vision, called “One Health,” inspired the AAVMC’s recent 2014 Annual Conference on “One Health in Veterinary Medical Education,” which attracted a record number of about 300 attendees.

“Clearly, it’s a topic that resonates with our community,” said AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andrew Maccabe.

See a student’s clear and concise description of One Health on YouTube.

See another student’s depiction of what the future of medical education might look like.

Examples of One Health approaches highlighted throughout the conference included work being done at veterinary schools to control zoonotic infectious diseases (transmissible from animals to humans), improve clinical care for people and animals, and conduct research that enhances the health and wellbeing of both animals and people.

During more than 60 conference presentations from more than 90 presenters, attendees also learned about:
  • Interdisciplinary, often international, educational outreach and partnerships
  • Innovative, interactive, cross-disciplinary teaching methodologies
  • Examples of integrated clinical experiences, research and medical technology
On the first day of the conference, Dr. Bernadette Dunham, director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, emphasized the need to communicate a One Health message. “I’m so proud of this profession,” she said, “but we always talk to ourselves. We need to help others understand what we do.”

Some recurrent conference themes included the importance of developing One Health competencies related to communication, problem-solving, strategic, “systems” thinking, leadership, and collaboration.

The conference highlighted some examples of inter-professional education where veterinary students work together with students from other health professions, some international in scope. Veterinary students are also involved in internships and externships in federal agencies, such as the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), where they work closely with students from other professions. “It’s thrilling to see veterinary and human medical students working together on One Health,” said the Hon. Catherine Woteki, the USDA’s chief scientist and undersecretary for research, education and economics.

Both Dr. John Clifford, the chief veterinary officer and deputy administrator for veterinary services at APHIS, and Dr. Juan Lubroth, chief veterinary officer of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, stressed the importance of food animal veterinary care to meet the world’s increasing need for protein.

Worldwide, there are more than 20 “megacities” that have populations of more than 10 million people, mostly in the developing world, and such cities are continuing to grow, creating tremendous sustainability challenges related to food production, disease transmission, and the environment. This growth in the developing world, where livestock is viewed in very different ways culturally and economically, creates special challenges, said Lubroth, requiring a multicultural, One Health perspective.

On the final day of the conference, a closing workshop and wrap-up summarized conference content and solicited audience feedback for the purpose of assessing next steps.

Dr. Will Hueston, who directs global leadership programs of the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety at the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Lonnie King, dean of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, led the workshop, which Hueston framed as an opportunity “…to brainstorm how we can bring our vision for an interdisciplinary, interconnected medical future to fruition.”

“I want to get you pumped up,” Hueston said. “You are some of the finest minds in academic veterinary medicine–so how can we take this forward? … Ten years ago, we were just starting conversations and One Health was not a big thing, but at this conference, we’ve heard some great presentations by people doing amazing things … We’ve made a lot of progress, but where should we be in another ten years and how do we ensure progress?”

Then, using electronic polling devices, Hueston and King asked the audience a series of questions, including how to move One Health forward, and how to overcome barriers. View details of the closing workshop.

Answers included identifying a One Health leader or champion at each school, and communicating the benefits of One Health to funders and the public.

But no matter how much progress is made, transformation requires relentless focus and perseverance, said Dr. King. “It’s a new way of thinking that requires new skills and new opportunities,” he said. “It’s about transformation successfully executed via a sense of urgency, a guiding coalition, vision, and whatever communications you think might be required – times ten.”

Another recurrent conference theme was the need for veterinarians to lead the charge for One Health.

A YouTube video titled “The Power of One” emphasized the power of individuals to affect positive change.

View an online conference summary that includes a conference photo gallery and other photo galleries, the program book and links to PowerPoint presentations.

Telling the Story of Academic Veterinary Medicine on Advocacy Day

The message that veterinarians do important work that also affects humans and the environment is woven into the AAVMC’s legislative priorities, which CVM deans and their representatives conveyed during 130 legislative visits to Congress during Advocacy Day on the Thursday preceding the conference.

During a busy day on the Hill, AAVMC representatives sat down with many Congressional members and staff to discuss and garner support for the AAVMC’s legislative priorities. They encouraged the legislators to:
  • Implement and fund new provisions of the Farm Bill. This includes support for $10 million in appropriations for the Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP), a new USDA program that would allow recipients to establish or expand veterinary practices, establish mobile veterinary facilities, recruit veterinarians, technicians and students, and support continuing education and extension programs, among other important activities.
  • Support the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) Enhancement Act (H.R. 1125 and S. 553). This legislation would exempt VMLRP awards from being taxed at a rate of 39 percent, which is consistent with exemptions for the educational loans for other health professions.
  • Support the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (H.R. 1528 & S.553). This legislation would modify the Controlled Substances Act and Drug Enforcement Agency policy to allow veterinarians to transport controlled substances outside of registered locations for the treatment of animals. The legislation has already passed the Senate by a voice vote.
  • Support Senate Labor HHS Appropriations Report Language. More than a year ago, the AAVMC successfully worked for the inclusion of language that specifically expanded the eligibility for loan repayment programs at NIH to include DVMs. Now we are asking the NIH for a progress report on whether the language change has increased program participation, as well as the inclusion of  language in the bill that asks NIH to “continue to make this eligibility change more widely known to potential applicants, institutes and centers, and reviewers.” We have asked the House and Senate to include identical report language.
  • Expand the membership of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus. With the election of Rep. Yoho (R-FL), the House now has two veterinarians, one Democrat and one Republican. With encouragement from the AAVMC and AVMA, they have formed the first-ever House Veterinary Medicine Caucus, which currently has 21 members. We encourage all members from states with veterinary colleges to join.
While U.S. participants met with Congressional offices, Canadian schools met with the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to discuss cross-border agriculture and trade issues.

“Advocacy Day was extremely successful,” said Kevin Cain, the AAVMC’s director of governmental relations. “In the meetings that I sat in on, our deans were very expressive and persuasive. I’m sure that we made progress in advancing our legislative goals and establishing relationships that we can continue to build upon in the future. I think that everyone felt that this year was a very positive experience on the Hill.”

Reaching Out to the Next Generation of Veterinarians at the AAVMC's Career Fair

“Veterinary medicine will give you the keys to a job anywhere in the world,” Dr. Jason Johnson, medical director of the Large Animal Teaching and Research Center at Lincoln Memorial University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, told student participants in the AAVMC’s Career Fair and Information Sessions in March. 

Dr. Johnson’s engaging stories about his journey as a veterinarian included  “a lot of cool stuff” about practicing veterinary medicine everywhere from rural Tennessee  to a hut in South Sudan. “The world is growing smaller and veterinary medicine is on the front lines,” he said.

He was one of several veterinarians who spoke at the Career Fair, which drew more than 250 students interested in learning more about veterinary medical careers and how to prepare to apply to veterinary medical school.

Johnson described how, after graduating from Auburn University’s CVM, he worked in a mixed animal practice, “where you might see an iguana, sheep, cow, horse and groundhog all in one day.”  While obtaining a master’s degree, also from Auburn, he researched alpaca viruses, and then, after encountering such interesting abnormalities as an eight-legged goat, he decided to specialize in theriogenology (the study of animal reproduction). 

Johnson developed teaching models for theriogenology, and taught at Ross University before moving to Lincoln Memorial in Tennessee, where he is also an assistant professor of theriogenology in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Discover your passions and follow your dreams,” he advised the prospective veterinarians, adding that the “career options in veterinary medicine are vast.”

Other veterinarians spoke about veterinary public health careers, including  Dr. Carol Clarke, a research specialist with the animal care unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Dr. SanYvette Williams-Foy, a commander and veterinary medical officer with the antimicrobials division of the U.S. Public Health Service.

Other sessions advised both high school and undergraduate students on what they need to know about preparing for and applying to veterinary medical school.

The Career Fair follows the AAVMC’s Annual Conference and provides an opportunity for some veterinary college deans to stay afterwards and meet directly with prospective students. “It’s always a pleasure to meet face-to-face with young people who could represent the future of veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Willie Reed, dean of the college of veterinary medicine at Purdue University. “It’s  refreshing to encounter inquisitive young people with an interest in veterinary medicine who are just beginning to learn about all of the options a veterinary medical career path provides.”

Some data about students who registered to attend the Career Fair:
  • 77% are currently high school students
  • 87% are women
  • 80% are most interested in treating companion animals, 63% reported being interested in zoo or wildlife medicine, and 50% expressed an interest in food animal/production medicine.  Students could choose as many or as few categories as they liked.
  • 37% of registrants are racially/ethnically underrepresented in veterinary medicine
  • 27% are or will be first generation college attendees
  • Nearly 31% of student registrants reported believing the estimated vet student debt load to be less than $100K; another 18% believed it to be $100K, and 12% percent believed the debt load to be over $200K.

View a Career Fair photo gallery.

NIH Visits Highlight Importance of Academic Veterinary Medicine in Research

On March 12, 13 AAVMC members met in four face-to-face sessions with National Institutes of Health (NIH) leaders, including  five  institute-level directors and deputy directors, to help spread the word about the important role that academic veterinary medicine plays in research and discovery.

During the sessions, participants provided some background on the AAVMC and highlighted the results of NIH-funded research being conducted at member institutions. They also addressed the benefits of including DVMs, who bring a comprehensive, comparative medical perspective, to biomedical research teams. 

“This year marks the first time that we met in multiple sessions using this small-group, panel style format,” said AAVMC Executive Director Dr. Andy Maccabe. “It provided an opportunity for us to share our story and educate many high, institute-level NIH officials about research activity at member institutions and the importance of continued funding and collaboration. The sessions resulted in some lively and informative discussions.”

The visits also included a teleconference with Dr. Franziska Grieder, the director of the NIH Office of Research Infrastructure Programs.

NIH panel participants were:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Dr. Story Landis, Director

National Cancer Institute
Dr. Mark Simpson, Head of the Comparative Molecular Pathology Unit at the Center for Cancer Research

National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Dr. Hugh Auchincloss, Deputy Director
Dr. Carole Hudgings, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Director

Center for Scientific Review (CSR) Division of Basic and Integrative Biological Sciences

Dr. Noni Byrnes, Director

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Dr. Yvonne Maddox, Deputy Director

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Dr. Susan Shurin, Deputy Director

Center for Scientific Review (CSR) Division of Basic and Integrative Biological Sciences
Dr. Noni Byrnes, Director

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)

Dr. Christopher Austin, Director

Division of Comparative Medicine
Dr. John Harding, Acting Division Director
Dr. Manuel Moro, Health Scientist Administrator

Many conversations also included discussions about the current programs being run at the institutes and how DVMs can participate both in research but also on panels and councils assembled by the institutes.

AAVMC Regional DiVersity Matters Symposium at LSU
The Biennial Southeast Regional DiVersity Matters Symposium gets underway April 11- 14, 2014 on the campus of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine.
Held during years in which the annual AAVMC meeting does not feature a national Iverson Bell Symposium, regional symposia convene leaders who discuss methods for creating more sustainable and appropriate workplace and educational environments in academic veterinary medicine.
Sponsored by Zoetis, the two-day symposium will feature presentations from a variety of experts and focus on the creation of more supportive environments for individuals with disabilities. More than a dozen individual presentations and panel discussions will be presented.
Opening sessions include “Diversity within higher education: How do we impact it?” presented by Louisiana State University Interim Provost for Equity, Diversity and Community Outreach Kenneth O. Miles and “Diversity Within Veterinary Medicine: What do we look like and what does our climate look like in veterinary schools?” by AAVMC Director of Institutional Research and Diversity Lisa Greenhill.
A variety of university experts, practitioners, former students and other officials will discuss strategies for creating more appropriate environments for individuals with disabilities.
Among these, AVMA Immediate Past-President Dr. Douglas G. Aspros will present “Disability as a diversity: the practitioner’s perspective” and International Association of Assistance Dog Partners President Toni Eames will present “Disability as a diversity: client’s perspective.”
The meeting will conclude with break-out sessions, reports and suggestions for future strategies.

Register here.

AAVMC Joins Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH)

The AAVMC is now a member of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH), which is dedicated to “making the university a transforming force in global health.”

The AAVMC Board of Directors approved the membership during its recent March meeting.

According to its mission statement, CUGH is committed to translating knowledge into action by helping to build interdisciplinary collaborations and facilitate the sharing of knowledge to address global health challenges by assisting  members in sharing their expertise across education, research, and service.

Dean Olson Named to USDA Advisory Board

Dr. Neil Olson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri, was recently named to represent American colleges of veterinary medicine on the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board. He is among eight appointees recently named by USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to serve on the board. Learn more.

UC-Davis Equine Research Could Resolve Human Reproductive Problem

mare and foalIdentification of a new pregnancy-supporting hormone in horses has resolved a reproductive mystery that has puzzled scientists for decades, and it may have important implications for sustaining human pregnancies, reports a team of researchers, led by a UC Davis veterinary scientist.

Characterization of the hormone, dihydroprogesterone, or DHP, may lead the way to better hormone therapies for preventing pre-term labor in pregnant women.  The findings are reported online in the Feb. 18 Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences at: http://bit.ly/1fp35n7.

“This work ends 50 years of speculation as to how horses sustain the last half of their pregnancies, despite the fact that the hormone progesterone is no longer detectable in blood,” said Professor Alan Conley, a reproductive physiologist in the School of Veterinary Medicine and senior author on the study.

“We show for the first time that in horses this ‘new’ progestin, DHP, is equally effective as progesterone in sustaining pregnancy during the last few months,” he said.

Read 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

From Dogs, Answers About Breast Cancer
New York Times
Extending Pet Longevity: Our Companions in Sickness and Health
The Futurist
Drug Shows Promise for Fighting Bone Cancer in People, Pets
Sun Sentinel
Neuroscientist Investigates How Brain Repairs Itself After a Stroke

Funding for U of A Vet School Provided by House Almost $2 Million Less Than Required
East Valley Tribune
Renowned Researcher in Debilitating Parasitic Disease To Lead Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine’s New One Health Research Center

Wall Street Journal MarketWatch (press release)
Zoetis Appoints Noted Veterinarian Dr. Willie M. Reed to its Board of Directors
452 Veterinary Students Awarded $904,000 in Scholarships from Zoetis and American Veterinary Medical Foundation