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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

Vet Med Scientist Is Investigating Potential New Therapies For Gonorrhea

February 13th, 2015
Assitant Professor Deidre Johns specializes in synthesizing new drug therapies.

Assistant Professor Deidre Johns specializes in synthesizing new drug therapies.

Gonorrhea infects 100 million new people every year. Here’s the really scary part: the disease is becoming resistant to third-generation antibiotics. According to the World Health Organization “Gonorrhea may soon become untreatable, as no vaccines or new drugs are in development. It is an increasingly serious threat to global public health.”

Assistant Professor Deidre Johns, OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, is collaborating with Assistant Professor Aleksandra Sikora, OSU College of Pharmacy, to identify targets for the development of new therapies for Gonorrhea.

The bacteria that causes Gonorrhea, N. gonorrhoea, has been particularly adept at mutating to resist treatment, so Johns and Sikora are working on a new approach with unique modes of action. Specifically, Johns is designing compounds that can interact with, and possibly inhibit, extracellular proteasome, a protein complex that forms in the outer membrane of bacteria.

Proteins are very large, complex molecules consisting of chains of amino acids. They can interact with other substances at specific locations known as binding sites. Johns is designing analogs, a series of small-molecule compounds whose structure makes them likely candidates for binding with, and inhibiting, these proteins. “Looking at the crystal structure gives me a 3-D picture of the pocket where I want the small molecule to interact with the protein,” she says. “So I look at the amino acid residues in that pocket and that guides me as to what kind of functional groups would have a favorable interaction. You also want the shape of the small molecule to fit the pocket.” Once she has the analogs designed, Johns will create compounds via chemical synthesis. Then Sikora will test the compounds for activity against the protein target.

Johns is proposing to design 200 compounds, but may not have to synthesize that many. “It takes me a little while to prepare each one,” she says, “so I’ll make a few, they’ll test them and we’ll learn from those. We might find that some of those 200 do not work, so we won’t go in that direction,” says Johns. “We will work very closely together, go back and forth, and Sikora’s insights from running the assay can inform the design of the next generation of compounds.”

Once Johns and Sikora have identified compounds that effectively interact with the protein, they can test them on the bacteria that causes Gonorrhoea. If any of them kill the bacteria, then the next step would be testing them on infected mice. “But, for now, we are looking at the protein to get better inhibitors before we go into the pathogen itself, because once you do that, you become concerned with many other factors that can occur. So first we take those variables away and just look at the protein.”

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New Scholarships Available From AVMF

February 13th, 2015

dollar_signThe American Veterinary Medical Foundation is offering more than two dozen scholarships for 2015. New this year are $1,000 scholarships for 12 first-, second-, or third-year veterinary students. Specifically, two scholarships each will be awarded to students interested in the following areas of veterinary medicine:

  • Companion animal
  • Equine
  • Food animal
  • Poultry
  • Aquatic animal
  • Zoo animal

For more information and a link to an application, visit the AVMF website.

How To Build A Veterinary College From Scratch

February 13th, 2015

MagruderGroundBreakIn 1975, the Oregon State Legislature responded to the need for more veterinarians in Oregon by establishing the OSU Veterinary School – on paper only. They did not appropriate any funds.

Lucky for us, they appointed Dr. E. Edward Wedman as the Dean, and he was determined to get the money and build a college.

To do that, Wedman had to rely on his abundant social skills and his connections in the veterinary world. “He was excellent at outreach,” says Dr. Linda Blythe, Professor of Neuroscience. “He got the veterinary school funded by going out to people in the community: he went to every livestock meeting, every sheep herders meeting, every meeting there was; he really endeared himself to the grass roots.” Those groups lobbied their legislators and were critical in helping Wedman get the OSU Veterinary School (as it was known then) funded in 1977. Then he needed to find faculty.

“I first met Dr. Wedman at the Peachtree Hotel in Atlanta. I was there for the AVMA conference,” remembers Blythe. At that time, she was a graduate student at the UC Davis College of Veterinary Medicine. “The phone rang in my room and a man said, ‘Hello, I’m Dr. Wedman and I’m the Dean of the vet school in Oregon. I’d like to sit down and talk with you.’ I was thinking, ‘What is going on here? There is no vet school in Oregon’.”

Blythe warily agreed to a meeting, and of course it turned out that Wedman was the real deal. “He was recruiting by going out to all of his colleagues and asking if they had any promising young graduate students,” says Blythe. Wedman invited Blythe to dinner with other newly recruited faculty. “We talked, and by the end of the dinner, he said, ‘You have a job’. That’s the way they did it in the old days.”

The OSU Veterinary School began with a handful of faculty in a few spare classrooms in Dryden Hall. But the budget was so slim, Wedman continued working to get support from the community.

“He had connections at the racing commission,” says Blythe, “so he came up with the idea to go after one-tenth of one percent of the paramutuel handle [a betting pool in which those who bet on competitors finishing in the first three places share the total amount], and it passed. We got $100,000 a year for racing research.” In those days, dog and horse racing were very popular in Oregon. “Dr. Wedman would drag Morrie [Craig], Duane Lassen, and I to these racing commission meetings because we could interact and sell the college. We were his PR faculty.”

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OSU Mobile Equine Vet Featured at Horse Expo

February 9th, 2015

MechamOn Friday, March 20 at 2:30 pm Dr. Jacob Mecham, Assistant Professor at the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, will give a presentation at the Northwest Horse Expo on chiropractics and acupuncture for horses. Mecham is a certified equine acupuncturist and heads the Mobile Equine Service for the large animal hospital.

The OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital will also have a booth at the NW Horse Expo including a minimally invasive surgery simulation (fun for kids and adults to try), an equine radiology display, horse treadmill video, and lots of fun giveaways.

OSU Vet Med Alumni Reception in Las Vegas

February 9th, 2015
OSU Vet Med Class of 1983

OSU Vet Med Class of 1983

OSU Alumni who are attending the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas are invited to join faculty and students at the Buca di Beppo restaurant in the Excalibur on Monday, February 16, 2015 from 7:30 pm to 9:3 pm. Your host will be Dr. Terri Clark, anatomy professor. There will be food, drinks, and lots of fun giveways. Come reconnect with your fellow Beaver Believers!

February Full of CVM Food Drive Events

February 9th, 2015

FoodDriveCars

Lots of caring folks in OSU CVM have organized a fun array of events to raise money for the Linn Benton Food Share:

-Vet Med Bake Sale: Vet Med will be hosting a bake sale from 8AM-5PM on Wednesday, February 11 through Friday, February 13 in the atrium of Magruder Hall. Stop by and buy some sweets for your sweetie! There will be cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and more. Gluten free options are also available!

– Vet Med Hot Dog Sale: Vet Med will be hosting a hot dog sale from 11:30AM-1:00PM on Thursday, February 19th. Come to Magruder Hall Lobby to enjoy two hot dogs, chips and a soda for $5 or just hot dogs for $2 each. For questions, contact david.meyer@oregonstate.edu.

-Vet Med Silent Auction: Vet Med will be hosting a silent auction during the week of February 23-February 27. Stop by Magruder Hall Lobby throughout the week to make a bid on any items you enjoy! Please bring any donations you may have to Katie Larsen in the Dean’s Office, 200 Magruder Hall.

– Vet Med Yard Sale: Please stop by the Equine Arena behind Magruder Hall on Saturday, February 28th from 8AM-4PM or Sunday, March 1st from 8AM-noon. Browse our yard sale for donated items that may catch your eye. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Food Share!

– Vet Med 50/50 Cash Raffle: Tickets are currently on sale for just $1! Come to Magruder Hall Lobby from 8AM-5PM, Monday-Friday to purchase your ticket from Derrick. The winner will be determined Friday, 2/27, and will receive 50% of all money raised, with the other 50% going to the Food Share.