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Specialty Residents Share Research Results with Faculty and Peers

March 21, 2011

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March 18, 2011, an unusual number of veterinary residents were to be found outside their normal territory, the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Instead, many were making presentations at House Officer Seminar Day, an annual event in which resident veterinarians take off their white coats and pick up their laser pointers to share the results of research studies performed during their specialty training.

All residents carry out independent research studies—an important part of their graduate training—that generate new knowledge to better serve animals and their owners. House Officer Seminar Day provides early feedback for research. Many residents ultimately publish their results in peer-reviewed journals.

Forty-two residents, mostly from second or third years, made a series of 15-minute presentations over the course of the day in two lecture halls. Attendees included other residents, faculty members, staff members and veterinary students. Faculty and emeritus faculty members moderated sessions: Matthew Mellema, Dennis Meagher, Brad Smith, Joseph Zinkl and Larry Galuppo.

Research project may be developed using different approaches, including case reviews, epidemiological studies, drug experiments, diagnostic testing evaluations, disease and risk factors, and treatment assessments.

A few of the topics:

  • A review of oleander poisoning in 30 California horses
  • An assessment of feeding methods in cats with kidney disease
  • Outcomes related to lymphoma in the spleen
  • An evaluation of the use of the sedative fentanyl in red-tailed hawks to achieve safer anesthesia
  • An analysis of a fever outbreak in zoo animals


Several presentation were singled out for special recognition. A faculty committee reviewed the presentations according to clarity, style, scientific merit, use of audiovisual aids, timing and how well the project's conclusions followed from the data. 

The awards for special merit went to:

Jonathan Stockman, Resident III (3rd year) in Companion Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine, was recognized for his research in the category of Avian/Exotics/Laboratory Animals, "Physiological and biochemical measurements and response to noxious stimulation at various concentrations of MS-222 in koi." This project dealt with the best ways to anesthetize fish for examination and treatment. 

In Large Animal Medicine, Alistair Kenyon, Resident III in Dairy Production Medicine, explained "Effects of equine chorionic gonadotropin administration during the synchronization protocol on luteal volume, progesterone concentration and embryo survival in embryo-recipient lactating Holstein cows," a study related to optimal reproductive success in cows; Kenyon is based in the school's Tulare facility, the Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center.

Receiving the Christopher Smith Equine Surgery Research Award was Tiffany Sarrafian, Resident III in Equine Surgery, who presented the study, "Evaluation of the mandible as a model for bone healing in the horse using histologic and micro-CT (computed tomography) analyses." 

Three awards recognized achievement in Small Animal Medicine.

Allyson Groth, Resident III in Ophthalmology, evaluated "Antiviral efficacy of Famciclovir and its metabolites against feline herpesvirus."

Ann-Marie Della Maggiore, Resident II in Small Animal Medicine, earned recognition for her treatment evaluation, "Efficacy of protamine zinc recombinant human insulin for treating diabetes in dogs."

The Gerald V. Ling Award, recognizing research in small animal medicine, went to Debra Tokarz, Resident III, Anatomic Pathology, who outlined "Characteristics of infection of feline epithelial cells by feline calicivirus."

Largest specialty residency program in the nation

Residencies are post-doctoral clinical programs that prepare veterinarians to become eligible for certification in a chosen veterinary discipline. The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, through its teaching hospital, runs what is believed to be the largest and most diverse specialty residency program in the nation, with more than 25 veterinary disciplines represented and 100  veterinarians in residency positions at any one time. All veterinarians accepted into the program have veterinary practice experience. With some exceptions, residents are selected through a competitive match system. They spend from two to five years in intenstive training in such specialties as food animal production medicine, small animal surgery, imaging, ophthalmology, cardiology, equine medicine, pathology, oncology, nutrition and other fields that prepare residents for specialty practice or academic careers. Residents treat patients and instruct veterinary students in the real-world skills of veterinary practice. Most residents practice at clinics in the teaching hospital; some pursue training at the Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center, the Sacramento Zoo, the San Diego Zoo, the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory and other off-site facilities.

The William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital thanks Merial, Ltd., for co-sponsoring the event.