News & Events

University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine hosts 10th annual Merial-NIH National Veterinary Scholars Symposium

The following news release was received August 30 from the University of Georgia. Contact: Kat Gilmore, University of Georgia, 706/584-5485; kygilmor@uga.edu. The two UC Davis student scholars, Lu Dao and Becky Lee, are participants in the Students Training in Advanced Research program, STAR.

ATHENS, Ga. – Five veterinarians pursing advanced research training through doctoral or post-doctoral programs were honored at the 10th annual Merial-NIH Veterinary Scholars National Symposium, hosted by the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.

The five finalists for the Young Investigator Award were among 402 people who traveled to the University of Georgia for the symposium.  All 28 veterinary colleges in the United States, as well as veterinary colleges in Europe and Canada, were represented at the event held Aug. 5-8.  The symposium focused on the topic “Beyond One Health,” and provided a forum for sharing research and ideas related to the convergence of human, animal and environmental health. 

The Young Investigator Award finalists were:  Dr. Kari Ekenstedt, of the University of Minnesota, who garnered first place; Dr. Renee Barber, of the University of Georgia, second place; Dr. David Seelig, of Colorado State University, third place; Dr. Ling Zhao, of University of Pennsylvania, fourth place; and Dr. Kathryn Gibson, of Ohio State University, fifth place.  The Young Investigator Awards were sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.

“We are honored to have served as the host campus for the 10th annual symposium,” said Dr. Sheila W. Allen, dean of the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine.  “This marks the third time we’ve hosted this great event.  We also hosted the first symposium in 2000.  So, we are proud to have participated in the growth of this event through the last decade, and in having helped to advance its stature as one of the premiere veterinary conferences in the world.”

Eighteen students were recognized for poster presentations of their work in various areas of veterinary medicine:

In Pathology:  Julia B. Honneffer, of North Carolina State University; Olivia Lamberth and Caroline Salter, of the University of Georgia; Bonnie Harrington, of Ohio State University; Nicole Rowley and Alexander Piazza, of Michigan State University.

In Infectious Disease:  Laura Adamovicz, of Virginia Tech; Melissa Cleavinger, of Oklahoma State University; Vanessa Hale, of Purdue University; Alex Miller, of Iowa State University; Pilar Rivera, of Ohio State University; and Samira Zelman, of the University of Pennsylvania.

In Physiology/Pharmacology:  Lu Dao and Becky Lee, of UC Davis; Kevin Fuller, of Auburn University; Megan Hays and John Litterine, of the University of Pennsylvania; and Cecilia Montes of Texas A&M.

This year also marked the first time the conference has welcomed European veterinary scholars from international summer programs supported by Merial.  A veterinary career development course organized by the Burroughs Welcome Fund also ran concurrent with the symposium for the second year in a row.

“This year’s symposium was focused on how research in veterinary medicine is currently addressing global health,” said Dr. Harry W. Dickerson, the college’s associate dean for research and graduate affairs. “We expect this event will further strengthen the reputation of these national symposia as the premier national meetings for veterinary research and research training.”

The keynote speaker was Dr. James Fox, director of the Division of Comparative Medicine at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Fox has authored over 490 articles, 80 chapters, obtained three patents on his work, and has edited and authored 13 texts in the field of in vivo model development and comparative medicine. Fox’s speech was part of the George H. Boyd Distinguished Lecture series, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research with funding from the William S. and Elizabeth K. Boyd Foundation.

Other notable speakers included Dr. Guy Palmer, Creighton Chair and Director of the School for Global Animal Health, Washington State University; Dr. Lisa Freeman, vice president for research and graduate studies at Northern Illinois University; and Dr. Gregory Bossart, senior vice president of veterinary services and the chief veterinary officer for the Georgia Aquarium.

The Merial-NIH Veterinary Scholars National Symposium could not have been achieved without the help of generous sponsors including Merial, the National Institutes of Health, the Burroughs Welcome Fund, the AVMA, the AVMF, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and many other veterinary professional organizations.

The UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1946, is dedicated to training future veterinarians, to conducting research related to animal diseases, and to providing veterinary services for animals and their owners.  Research efforts are aimed at enhancing the quality of life for animals and people, improving the productivity of poultry and livestock, and preserving a healthy interface between wildlife and people in the environment they share.  The college enrolls 102 students each fall out of more than 550 who apply.   For more information, see www.vet.uga.edu.


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