Beyond STAR

What happens once you finish your STAR project?  Where did your classmates end up after they finished their studies?

From time to time, former students drop us a line, and let us know what they're up to.

Or, they post the information on DVM Tales, a blog by and about UC Davis veterinary students.

Did you publish your research?  Let us know.  We'll feature your work here.

It's always exciting to see where a research project idea can take us!


Photo: Emily Brown and dog

Emily Brown

A recent publication in Veterinary Ophthalmology, "Genetic analysis of optic nerve head coloboma in the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever identifies discordance with the NHEJ1 intronic deletion (collie eye anomaly mutation)," was started as a STAR project in the summer of 2012. The study was continued as a part of Emily Brown's dissertation work and was published in July 2017. This study highlights the lack of concordance of a routinely used genetic test with clinical disease in the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, and suggests that eye exams of puppies to screen for optic nerve head coloboma may be more beneficial to guide breeding decisions than relying only on CEA test results.  

(http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/vop.12488/full)

Photo: Katrijn Whisenant

Katrijn Whisenant

Katrijn was a 2016 STAR student and is a DVM candidate in the Class of 2019.  She is interested in Equine Orthopedics and Surgery.  Her STAR research, working in the labs of Dr. Peter Ernst and Dr. Monica Guma, focused on targeting glycolysis to reduce inflammation in mouse models of Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. A review with Dr. Guma was recently published in Arthritis Research & Therapy addressing the metabolic changes in fibroblast-like synoviocytes in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis.

-Read Article-

Photo: Connor Long

Connor Long

Connor Long is a DVM candidate from the class of 2020 and a 2017 STAR Fellow. His work with canine placenta-derived mesenchymal stem cells was recently published in Cytometry Part A. Cell lines Connor isolated and characterized as part of this project are currently being tested in two veterinary clinical trials at UC Davis.

Connor first became interested in studying the therapeutic capabilities of placenta-derived mesenchymal stem cells (PMSCs) while working as a staff researcher at the UC Davis School of Medicine under renowned fetal and neonatal surgeon Dr. Diana Farmer and bioengineer Dr. Aijun Wang. The Farmer/Wang lab had isolated a number of human PMSC lines for use as an in utero therapy for spina bifida. Connor realized that English Bulldogs are prone to developing spina bifida, and suggested the group isolate canine PMSCs to treat affected Bulldog puppies. Preliminary results of the treatment in spina bifida Bulldogs are promising, and if successful, this therapy will provide cutting edge medical care for veterinary patients while generating data that can be presented to the FDA in support of a clinical trial in humans.

-Read full article-

Photo: Chris Greiner

Christopher Greiner

"When I was first considering my STAR project, I was interested in pursuing research that would be directly applicable to clinical medicine. However, it was only after I had met with Dr. Arzi to discuss a project that I realized I can do just that with his mentorship. Thanks to his help and guidance, I was able to succeed in completing my project as well as getting it accepted for publication in the American Journal of Veterinary Research. I would also have not been able to succeed without the experience and expertise of Dr. Sue Stover and her staff at the Veterinary Orthopedic Research Lab. I hope I can continue to make strides in improving veterinary clinical medicine with the lessons I learned from the STAR program."

The results of Chris' STAR project were recently published in AJVR. Link to the full article below.

Greiner CL, Verstraete FJM, Stover SM, Garcia TC, Leale D, Arzi B. Biomechanical evaluation of two plating configurations for fixation of a simple transverse caudal mandibular fracture model in cats. Am J Vet Res. 2017;78(6):702–11.

-Read full article-

Photo: Victoria Yang

Victoria Yang

"I grew up in the city, but have always loved farm animals and wanted to have my own ranch one day.  I would like to work with food animals and the agricultural community to help increase and improve animal and human health outcomes. Ultimately, I would like to build an educational farm that teaches people where their meats and dairy products come from.  I also love going on hikes and adventures with my rescue dog from Taiwan as well as just sitting in bed and read a novel on a gloomy day."

Her 2015 STAR project with Dr. Munashe Chigerwe is being published in an upcoming issue of Research in Veterinary Science. To read the entire article (as an Epub ahead of print), please use the link below.

-Link to Article-

Photo: Ella Clark

Ella Clark

Ella was a 2016 STAR student and is a DVM candidate in the Class of 2018. Her primary interest is zoo medicine and conservation, with a species focus on megavertebrates, bears, and big cats. When she learned that Dr. Verstraete was looking for somebody to pursue a project on black bears, it was the perfect opportunity. Their research on the dental pathology of the American black bear is recently published in the Journal of Comparative Pathology.

Photo: Hannah Savage

Hannah Savage

Hannah is a dual-degree DVM/PhD student, who just completed the 2016 STAR program.

"While rotating through the Pinkerton lab, I contributed to work showing that in utero and neonatal exposure to tobacco smoke increases susceptibility to bacterial infections after influenza infection (1). I then joined the Baumgarth lab for my PhD. While in the Baumgarth lab, I published a review that examines what is currently known about the cells that secrete natural IgM and the regulation of their IgM secretion (2). I also have submitted my first paper for publication, which identifies three populations of natural IgM secreting cells, one of which does not rely on the normal plasma cell differentiation pathway to control secretion and is able to adjust secretion in response to serum IgM levels (3).”

(1) Claude, J.A.; Grimm, A.; Savage, H.P.; Pinkerton, K.E. Perinatal Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) Enhances Susceptibility to Viral and Secondary Bacterial Infections. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9, 3954-3964.

(2) Savage, H. P. and N. Baumgarth. Characteristics of natural antibody-secreting cells. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2015, 1362, 132-42.

(3) Savage, H.P., V.M. Yenson, and N. Baumgarth. Different Requirements for Blimp-1-dependent and -independent Natural Antibody Production by B-1 cells and B-1-derived plasma cells. The Journal of Experimental Medicine 214(9).

Photo: Ashley Pooch

Ashley Pooch

Ashley was a 2015 STAR student and is a DVM candidate from the class of 2018. Her research on Bulldog genetics with Dr. Neils Pedersen from CCAH was recently published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology.

When asked how she came to study bulldog genetics, Ashley replied: "For my STAR project, I wanted to do research that pertained to small animal health, since that is my primary area of interest.  I approached Dr. Pedersen because of his huge impact in this field, and asked him if he had any projects in mind that might work for a summer of STAR.  He told me about his research into the genetic diversity of several dog breeds, and suggested that I apply these concepts to a breed that had not yet been the focus of such a project.  We threw around several breeds, and when he suggested the English Bulldog, I knew we had found the right one.  The breed is so beloved, and yet has so many health issues, many of which are related to their lack of genetic diversity.  It is my hope that, with the publishing of our research, changes will be made in the breeding of these friendly, iconic dogs so that they can enjoy the healthy lives that they deserve." 

-Link to Article-

Photo: Athena Gianopolous

Athena Gianopoulos

Athena was a 2014 STAR participant, under mentor Mary Christopher. She was trained by Dr. Christopher in blood smear cytology and 200-count leukocyte differentials,and travelled to Greece during her summer project to work in partnership with Dr. Mylonakis in reviewing the CME cases from The Companion Animal Clinic, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Through STAR I gained skills in cytology, statistics, research, scientific writing, as well as networked internationally.
This was my opportunity to get involved with, perform, and potentially publish clinically-relevant research in veterinary medicine with the support of a faculty mentor while exploring my interest in clinical pathology.

Her STAR project resulted in a publication in Veterinary Clinical Pathology.

-Link to publication (.pdf)-

Photo: Aimee Reed

Aimee Reed

Dr. Aimee Reed is a graduate of UC Davis SVM class of 2011, where she received focused training in aquatic animal medicine and research.  Through the STAR program at UC Davis, she worked on many research projects, including novel virus discovery, free-ranging primate disease surveillance, and the development of diagnostic tools for viral diseases of sharks.  She is currently a graduate student at Oregon State University by way of the NIH T32 Aquatic Animal Disease Modeling program with the granting of a PhD in Microbiology to be conferred in December 2014.  Her research demonstrates the molecular biology of koi herpesvirus latency, an important and deadly virus of koi and carp.  Her research has significantly broadened the current understanding of herpesvirus latency for KHV and has contributed to understanding the conserved biology of herpesvirus latency across taxa. She plans to contribute teaching and serving in rural aquaculture practices in underdeveloped countries.

Photo: Tobias Aalderink

Tobias Aalderink

During Dr. Aalderink's STAR project, skulls of 214 Eastern Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardii) were examined macroscopically for dental lesions and temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis. The results have been published in the Journal of Comparative Pathology.

M. T. Aalderink, H. P. Nguyen, P. H. Kass, B. Arzi and F. J. M. Verstraete. Dental and Temporomandibular Joint Pathology of the Northern Fur Seal (Callorhinus ursinus). Journal of Comparative Pathology (2015)

-link to article-

Skulls of 145 northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus) were examined macroscopically for dental lesions and temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis.  Results have been published in the Journal of Comparative Pathology.

M. T. Aalderink, H. P. Nguyen, P. H. Kass, B. Arzi and F. J. M. Verstraete. Dental and Temporomandibular Joint Pathology of the Eastern Pacific Harbour Seal (Phoca vitulina richardii). Journal of Comparative Pathology (2015)

-link to article-

Photo: Maayam McDonald

Maayan MCDonald

Maayan was a 2014 STAR student, under mentor Boaz Arzi.

Her STAR research project results were recently published in the Archives in Oral Biology. Characterization of the temporomandibular joint of the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) and Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus), Archives in Oral Biology, 2015 Apr;60(4):582-92. doi: 10.1016/j.archoralbio.2015.01.005. Epub 2015 Jan 9.

-link to article-

Image: Armeti Aghashani

Armeti Aghashani

Armeti was a 2015 STAR student, under the mentorship of Dr. Frank Verstraete.

Her STAR project findings were recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Comparative Pathology. Dental Pathology of the California Bobcat (Lynx rufus californicus), Journal of Comparative Pathology, 2016: 1-12 (in press).

-link to article-