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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

A Summer Full of Bones

October 9th, 2015

Laura Macintyre, Jackie Houser, Rachael Cunningham, and Ben Ulrich hold some of the models they constructed this summer.

The CVM anatomy lab is chocked full of models, including full-sized llama and horse skeletons, several cow rumen, and, of course, a stuffed beaver in an orange bandana. Many of the models were constructed by students.

This year, some of the models assigned by Dr. Fikru Nigussie, Associate Professor of anatomy, were a bit different; they required movable parts and paint.

Dr. Nigussie is creating a display of the limbs of many different animals, so students Ben Ulrich and Laura Macintyre constructed dog, cat and cougar limb skeletons, then painted each bone a different color and labeled it with a number.

“Carpal and tarsal bones are really complicated and can vary between species,” says Ulrich. “Dr. Nigussie wanted a comparative limb display where you can look across the species, and the colors correlate to specific bones. The beetles are still working on horse, cow, sheep and goat limbs.”


Many of the skeletons that students assemble for use in the anatomy lab arrive as loose pieces in a box ordered from a supplier, but the limbs for the new comparative display arrived as meat. Rachael Cunningham took on the task of turning them into clean bones.

“We set up a colony of beetles in a wooden box, with a grate at the bottom where the bedding is; that’s where they live and hang out,” she says. “It seals tightly, and has a filter and fan at one end. Beetles are pretty particular about the temp they live in; you have to keep them cool in the summer, and warm in the winter, in order to keep them alive.”

Once Cunningham placed a leg in the box, it took about three weeks for the bugs to strip it. “Before I put the specimens in with the beetles, I would dissect off as much tissue as I could,” says Cunningham. “But there is still a lot of stuff around the joint, and really close to the bone, that is very difficult to remove. The beetle’s job was to clean up everything I couldn’t get off.” When the beetles are done, the bones come out of the box looking dirty, so Cunningham’s last step was to soak the bones in hydrogen peroxide to make them white.

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Alumni Class Years in Multiples of ‘5’ Are Invited to Big Reunion

October 8th, 2015

Class-of-1990The College of Veterinary Medicine is planning two interesting days of multi-class reunion events at Magruder Hall on homecoming weekend, November 20-22, 2015.

On Friday, November 20, 4:30 – 7 pm, alumni from the classes of 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015 are invited to an invitation-only celebration of the tenth anniversary of the small animal hospital. You can take tours, see clinic demonstrations, and chat with hospital directors and Dean Tornquist. Food and drink will be provided.

On Saturday, November 21, at 9 am, Dean Tornquist will host an alumni breakfast. Later that day, prior to kickoff (time TBD), there’s a CVM tailgate party hosted by alum Jeff Brant, Class of 1985. Both events are at Magruder Hall.

Please RSVP for the Dean’s breakfast: cvmalumni@oregonstate.edu.

McPartlin Shares Her Cancer Journey

October 6th, 2015
Allana McPartlin met her Welch Cob filly, Emi, while she was fighting cancer.

Allana McPartlin met her Welsh Cob filly, Emi.

Alanna McPartlin, office manager in the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, is three years into her recovery from breast cancer. She was diagnosed at the young age of twenty-four and wrote about the difficult journey on her blog, because she wanted to be a voice of encouragement and support to other people dealing with cancer.

“Some experiences in life are difficult but you just have to keep marching through,” she says, “There are days when you don’t think you can go on, but you continue to put one foot in front of the other, and eventually you end up on the other side. Although I hope cancer is an experience I never have to go through again, I made it!”

Happily, Alanna is now feeling good and blogging about equestrian pursuits and her bay ponies, Emi, Roz, and Benny. One of the many things she learned from this experience: “Enjoy every precious moment you are given… that’s what I’m trying to do!”

Recently, Sidelines Magazine featured the story of Alanna’s battle with cancer and how ‘equestrian therapy’ helped her.

Service Trip Organizers Honed Their Problem-Solving Skills

October 5th, 2015
Rebecca Lulay and Ariana Borba, Class of 2017, spent their summer tackling the big job of planning the annual IVSA service trip to Nicaragua.

Rebecca Lulay (L) and Ariana Borba (R), Class of 2017, spent their summer tackling the big job of planning the annual IVSA service trip to Nicaragua.

Each year, a team of OSU veterinary students, veterinary technicians, and veterinarians undertake a two-week service trip to the island of Ometepe, Nicaragua. Because the island has no resident veterinarian, the people of Ometepe rely on OSU to bring much-needed care to their livestock and pets.

The Ometepe trip is sponsored by the OSU International Veterinary Student Association, and they do everything from fundraising, to transportation arrangements, to clinic organization. It is no small task.

This year Ariana Borba, IVSA Secretary, and Rebecca Lulay, IVSA Co-President, began serious planning for the trip in April, and worked through the summer to pull everything together.

This was Borba’s second year on the service trip. “I really, really enjoyed the first year, so I joined the IVSA and was one of the main planners for the trip this year,” she says. “I volunteered because Becca [Lulay] and I were the only ones who had been before, except for two fourth-years, but they were just planning on doing surgery the whole time, so they needed us to oversee the whole rest of the clinic.”

Moving forty-three people, and hundreds of pounds of supplies, to an island in the middle of a lake, in a third-world country, has unusual challenges. “The airline allows one checked bag and one carry-on, so everyone fills their checked bag with 50 pounds of supplies,” says Borba. “That causes problems with customs, because they search through some of the bags, and they don’t like us bringing in expired drugs. The problem is all our drugs are donated and people mostly donate expired drugs – they are still good but can’t be used in the U.S.” This year they lost three bags of supplies, including most of their flea and tick medication.

For students who are working hard to bring as much care as possible to needy animals, the logistical challenges are very frustrating. “It’s hard to understand,” says Borba, “The fact that we bring these supplies to help them, and then they take it. They even kept one of our microscopes: it was donated, and it was beautiful, and we loved it and they took it.”

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Wide Range of Presentations at Canine Health Conference

September 29th, 2015

Mattravers_AKCBy Megan Mattravers

In August I had the opportunity to attend the AKC National Parent Club Canine Health Conference, and learn about cutting-edge research focused on improving canine health. The conference included three days of presentations by veterinarians and researchers whose projects had been funded by the AKC, Purina and the Canine Health Foundation.

The conference also encouraged networking and interacting with delegates from breed clubs, renowned scientists, veterinary students from other schools and AKC officials. The veterinary students were managed by Eddie Dzuik, who owns the two most recent Beagles (Miss P and Uno) to win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club. Listening to his stories and experiences were definite highlights to the trip!

Notable presentations included The Human-Animal Bond/Quality of Life (Dr. Alice Villalobos), Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease (Dr. Dominique Griffon), Personalized Cancer Treatment (Dr. Dough Thamm) and the new Purina Bright Minds formula (Dr. Yuanlong Pan).

The conference was sponsored by Purina and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Together, these organizations are trying to improve the health and breeding of purebred dogs through supporting canine research and providing top quality educational opportunities to breed clubs, veterinarians and veterinary students.

Student Research Yields Useful Results

September 25th, 2015
Kathryn Gaub (Class of 2017) discusses her summer research project with Danielle Mechur (Class of 2017).

Kathryn Gaub (Class of 2017) discusses her summer research on Oregon canids with Danielle Mechur (Class of 2017).

Veterinary students rarely spend their entire summer lying on a beach. Many first- and second-year students work in a practice or volunteer in animal welfare projects. Third- and fourth-year students are involved in preceptorships and OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital rounds. This summer sixteen students worked on research with faculty mentors from the Department of Biomedical Science.

Some students in the Summer Research Program use information obtained from the Veterinary Teaching Hospital to study clinical issues like infection. Hannah Shoen (Class of 2017) worked in the lab of Dr. Luiz Bermudez investigating the types of Staphylococcus occurring in hospital cases, and their antibiotic resistance. She also studied the efficacy of the cleaning agent VEDCO D-256. Shoen found oxacillin resistance in S. pseudintermedius. She also found that bacteria survived the current hospital cleaning protocol of wiping surfaces with VEDCO D-256, and she discovered that the manufacturer recommends leaving the cleaning agent on the surface for a full ten minutes before wiping.

Emily Swan, Class of 2017, chose to work with Dr. Kathy O’Reilly because she wanted to tackle a project that would be clinically significant. She investigated the diagnosis of urinary tract infections in the OSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Currently the VDL uses semi-quantitative grades of 1-4 to designated degree of bacteria present in urine cultures. For comparison, Swan performed quantitative cultures on urine samples, measuring colony-forming units per milliliter. She discovered that there is a gray area around Grade 2 ratings where minimal-growth cultures are sometimes being treated as significant. She concluded that the use of the more expensive, time-consuming process of measuring colony-forming units per milliliter could reduce over-treating of urinary tract infections.

Some of the students in the program this summer worked on projects that bring additional data to ongoing research. Jackie Houser (Class of 2018) examined the relationship between gut microbiota and glucose metabolism in wild mice. She worked in the lab or Dr. Natalia Shulzhenko, whose research focuses on the connection between gut microbiota and diseases like diabetes. Houser compared the gene sequencing profiles of the mouse’s gut microbiota to their glucose metabolism metrics. This information will contribute to the lab’s goal of identifying the specific gut microbes that influence host metabolism.

This is just a small sample of the meaningful work being done by veterinary students in the summer research program. All the students presented their work via posters and presentations at Research Day on September 10th. Jennifer Engelhart received the top score for her presentation on Mycobacteriosis in Lined Sea Horses.

With all the other demands of veterinary college, why should students consider summer research? “This has been a very positive experience for me,” says Emily Swan. “I could see myself pursuing a research-related career in the future. However, even if I don’t end up going in that direction, I think having this background will be very helpful in any veterinary field; being comfortable reading scientific papers and evaluating their results is useful skill for any veterinarian. The knowledge I’ve gained in the bacteriology laboratory will help me understand the diagnostic tests we use and how to interpret their results.”