OVC News

Grad program a singular achievement for OVC alumnus

Posted: February 11, 2014

Adam Little had intended his speech to be touching but humorous. “Touching” turned out to be an understatement for one listener. His mom attended the closing ceremony for Little and his classmates in last summer’s graduate studies program at Singularity University (SU) in California.

Chosen as class spokesperson, Little delivered a “Letters to Mom” speech about what he calls his life-changing experience last summer. What did Mom say afterward? “She bawled her eyes out.”

Back in Guelph a few months later, Little still shakes his head over his experience this past summer.

He was still completing his DVM here last spring when he learned he’d been accepted to the SU summer program. From among several thousand applicants worldwide, he was one of 80 students from about 40 countries – and the only veterinarian — to take part in the prestigious program.

Dr. Adam Little, OVC ‘13

Based at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, the school runs curricula in emerging technologies, including biotechnology, computers, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology.

Little took part in the school’s fifth graduate studies program. Launched in 2009, SU also offers executive programs and medical conferences.

The programs bring together participants worldwide to discuss and develop technologies for tackling so-called grand challenges in such areas as food, water and poverty.

Little was working in a clinical radiology rotation at the Ontario Veterinary College when he was interviewed for SU. Just being considered for the program was exciting enough, he says.

“I think I almost broke down when I found out I got an interview”— never mind being selected as class spokesperson during the closing ceremony. “I don’t know how to explain it, but I had to go there.”

For more, see the story in At Guelph.

Virologist nears milestone in poutry vaccine development

Posted: February 10, 2014

The road from research to application and development can be long, but Dr. Eva Nagy is nearing a milestone in her work in veterinary virology as she works with Mexico-based vaccine company, Avimex Animal Health, on poultry vaccine development. There are no Canadian poultry vaccine manufacturers.

Nagy and her research team are using a strain of fowl adenovirus, FAdV-9, a strain that doesn’t cause disease in poultry, as a vaccine vector for recombinant virus vaccine.

The biological platform went to Avimex in 2010, but they are now at the stage they are confident it will be a success, says Nagy. This platform will have many applications for many different avian viruses, such as Newcastle disease virus, avian influenza virus, infectious bronchitis virus, and even for bacteria.

“The significance of the FAdV-9 system is that we can generate multivalent vaccines and very importantly it allows us to differentiate infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA),” adds Nagy.

At present, Avimex is working on the registration of FAdV-9 and scaling up production.

Nagy also provided a second platform, FAdV-4, to Avimex more recently. Vaccine development with this platform is not as fully developed.

Nagy worked on the licensing process for FAdV-9 and FAdV-4 with the University of Guelph’s Catalyst Centre.

Funding for Nagy’s work was provided by the Canadian Poultry Research Council in partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and OMAF.

Nagy is a member of the Poultry Health Research Network, which was recently launched at the University of Guelph. Network researchers work collaboratively to find solutions to a wide-range of poultry issues and offer expertise in a wide range of areas, from virology and vaccine development and disease modelling, to field-level issues that affect flock health and welfare such as parasite management and caging systems and lighting in barns.  

imageDr. Eva Nagy

College hosts Family and Friends Day

Posted: February 7, 2014

About 400 members of the Ontario Veterinary College’s extended family will get a glimpse into the life of their favourite student veterinarian at Family and Friends Day on Saturday.

Organized by first-year veterinary students, the annual event treats invited guests to an informal program of lectures and labs with OVC faculty members, as well as lunch and tours of the college led by OVC students.

Activities kick off at 9 a.m. with welcoming remarks by U of G president Alastair Summerlee; OVC dean Elizabeth Stone; Dr. Peter Conlon, associate dean, students; and Dr. Brad Hanna, president of the OVC Alumni Association.

Talks this year include:

• Animal Behaviour and Welfare – Dr. Derek Haley, Population Medicine

• Rumen With a View – Dr. Kerry Lissemore

• The Wonderful World of Histology – Dr. Lisa Robertson

• Anatomy Lab Demonstration – Dr. Jeff Thomason, Roman Poterski and Dave Robinson

• Small Animal Clinical Cases and Imaging – Dr. Shauna Blois

• Parasitology – Dr. Andrew Peregrine

• Fundamentals of Veterinary Anatomy – Dr. Pavneesh Madan

Spring into action: Foal Watch program one of the many ways OVC supports equine industry

Posted: January 30, 2014

While for some it might seem like winter just won’t go away, it is already spring in the eyes of the equine world as foaling season began in January.  At the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) Large Animal Hospital, students have the unique opportunity to be a part of this special time of year through the Foal Watch program.  

From January to June — North America’s foaling season — OVC offers specialized equine services for clients in need of care for premature or critically ill neonatal foals while providing educational opportunities for students. 

Students taking part in the Foal Watch program gain valuable experience and exposure to clinical insight, diagnosis and resolution tactics required to provide neonatal intensive care for foals.  Patients and owners receive access to expert medical care, plus the 24-hour monitoring, attention and nursing that is critical during the first days of a foal’s life. 

“Much of our work is with high-risk mares, and while the number of foals in Ontario has reduced due to recent changes in the industry, there is still a strong need for advanced care for ailing foals,” says Dr. Daniel Kenney, an internal medicine specialist in the Large Animal Hospital.Foal Watch volunteers stand by as their patient balances on his still-wobbly legs.

OVC takes a team-based medical approach, which is crucial in identifying, diagnosing and developing appropriate treatment plans on a case-by-case basis, Kenney adds.

“The Ontario Veterinary College offers top-notch care for mares and foals. Our team of veterinary technicians, board certified specialists including: reproductive, internal medicine, surgical, diagnostic imaging and anesthesia specialists, combined with the support of our graduate and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) students, and of course our volunteers, ensures we can create well supported, customized, comprehensive care plans that match individual animal and owner’s needs.”

Neonatal care for foals is one of many services offered by OVC for the equine industry, including Equine Sports Medicine and Reproduction Services focused on quality of life and health care of equine athlete and/or breeding horses. OVC specialists offer a wide array of reproductive services including advanced  diagnostic evaluation, ultrasound examination, fresh chilled or frozen semen artificial insemination, embryo transfer, fertility evaluation, pregnancy monitoring and delivery.

Learning outcomes and experience for students and future students is also invaluable. Foal Watch is made up of volunteers that include undergraduate students from across the University of Guelph and student veterinarians.  It has even attracted the interest of high school students eager to join the team.

“This volunteer program is a great opportunity for our future vets to become familiar with the processes involved in delivering critical care and gives great exposure to the demands of working within the equine field itself,” says Dr. Stephanie Nykamp, associate dean, clinical program.

Foal Watch is just one part of the broad range of experiential training, education and services OVC offers to support the equine industry.

“Although the horse racing industry has faced some major challenges over the past few years, horses, both racing and performance, continue to be a major economic driver within the province, particularly for our rural communities,” says OVC dean Elizabeth Stone. 

“OVC will continue to play a critical role to support our local and provincial partners through offering cutting edge services to our clients and training to our future veterinarians - ensuring they have the necessary skills and knowledge to support the rejuvenation of our local industry.”

What Students Say:

“This will be my sixth year as a member of Foal Watch. I’ve held a variety of positions, from rookie to paid member to captain, and no matter where you’re at it’s hard not to get invested in the program. I often find myself wandering into the wards when I’m not scheduled, just to check on the foal and get updates on its progress! Though at this point, for me, it’s a paid position, it has never felt like ‘work’. I’m there, first and foremost, because I love learning about neonatal care and health as well as teaching the skills required to new members,” says Megan Perron, OVC Class of 2016.

"Foal watch is a fantastic opportunity.  As a member for the past three years I’ve had the privilege of gaining invaluable and unique insight into the care of neonatal foals and the functioning of OVC.  You’d be hard pressed to find the same kind of hands-on experience in this area at any other facility,” says Emily Zakrajsek, a third-year BSc student who hopes to enter the DVM program.

Quick Facts:
The OVC Large Animal Hospital offers:

• 24/7 emergency service including neo-natal intensive care

• Specialized facilities for infectious patients in our isolation unit

• Equine cardiology

• Poor-performance evaluations including cardiac, respiratory and neurological analyses

• Team-based medicine involving collaboration with OVC specialty services as needed

• Elective and emergency (day and night) surgery service

• Specialist supervised intensive care

• Detailed lameness and poor performance evaluation and treatment.

• Soft-tissue and orthopedic surgery

For more information on Equine Sports Medicine & Reproduction Services at OVC please visit http://www.ovc.uoguelph.ca/hsc

To learn more about the Foal Watch Program visit www.ovc.uoguelph.ca/foalwatch  or find Foal Watch on Facebook www.facebook.com/foalwatch

Memorial service Thursday for OVC alumna

Posted: January 29, 2014

The veterinary community is mourning the loss of a former OVC pathologist whose Guelph company provided consultations in clinical pathology to veterinarians and researchers in Canada, the United States and Europe.

Dr. Judith A. Taylor died Jan. 26 in her 56th year. A memorial service will be held on Thursday at 2 p.m. at Gilbert MacIntyre and Son Funeral Home, Hart Chapel, 1099 Gordon St., Guelph.

As expressions of sympathy, the family would appreciate donations to the OVC Pet Trust Fund or the University of Guelph in support of OVC scholarships. Cards are available at the funeral home or condolences can be sent online at www.gilbertmacintyreandson.com.

For more, see the announcement on the funeral home website.

A member of OVC’s Class of ’84, Taylor spent four years in small animal practice before returning to complete a DVSc in clinical pathology. After teaching for one year, she returned to the private sector and provided clinical pathology diagnoses for practitioners Canada-wide. In 1997 she rejoined OVC as special graduate faculty in the Department of Pathobiology teaching clinical pathology and providing diagnostic services.

A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists, she presented seminars at numerous national and international veterinary meetings and had a special interest in immune hematopathology, oncology and endocrinology. In 2002, she established LabVet Consultations, for which she won the 2004 Guelph New Business Award sponsored by the Guelph Business Enterprise Centre.

OVC scientist receives Michelson Grant to support reproductive research

Posted: January 24, 2014

An Ontario Veterinary College researcher has received a $260,000 grant in support of research aimed at developing an inexpensive, non-surgical alternative for sterilizing shelter animals.

Dr. Jonathan LaMarre, Biomedical Sciences, is looking at looking at ways to target and disrupt small RNA pathways that control the development of sperm cells and egg cells in dogs and cats. The project is supported by a two-year Michelson Grant in Reproductive Biology from the Found Animals Foundation.  

LaMarre states that the ultimate goal is to prevent the needless deaths of the large number of healthy dogs and cats that are euthanized each year in animal shelters. An effective, low-cost alternative to spay/neuter surgery will also have a major public health benefit in countries where feral dogs and rabies are a big concern.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the mission of the Found Animals Foundation,” said LaMarre. “They are investing millions of dollars around the world to find practical solutions that will have a real impact on the health and well-being of animals.”

imageDr. Jonathan LaMarre

Found Animals is a independently funded non-profit that supports a variety of programs, from microchips to adoption programs to health research, that benefit the health and safety of animals. The foundation will award the $25 million Michelson Prize to the first researcher to develop an effective non-surgical technology to safely sterilize cats and dogs.

Small RNAs play important roles in many fundamental biological processes including reproduction, where RNA strands act as regulators during meiosis (the process of cell division that produces egg cells or sperm cells with half the chromosomes of the parent cell).

“If the processes that these RNAs regulate fail, then meiosis fails and sterility ensues,” said LaMarre, who aims to target specific small RNA molecules and cell types in the testes and ovaries without affecting other cells. “By antagonizing small RNAs during meiosis we hope to cause permanent sterilization in dogs and cats.”

No animals will be used in the studies, LaMarre said. Preliminary work will be done in cultured cells and tissues from testes and ovaries that have been discarded after spaying and neutering. Funding from the Michelson Grant will support a graduate student and a post-doctoral fellow who will be recruited for the project.

The goal is to produce an effective, low-cost injection that will work on male and female cats and dogs.

“Will we be able to deliver the antagonist to the cells that we want to target? Will it be selective? Will it inhibit meiosis? Will it be long-term? Those are all questions that we hope to answer with this project.”

About Found Animals
Found Animals is an independently funded nonprofit that works to achieve one goal – find the big ideas that help reduce the number of pets euthanized in shelters each year. Led by business and medical professionals, Found Animals works directly within the animal welfare community to reduce the use of euthanasia in shelters by developing innovative programs including: Adopt & Shop, the Found Animals Registry, and Michelson Prize and Grants, along with subsidizing low-cost spay and neuter surgeries in underserved areas. For more information on Found Animals and its programs, please visit www.FoundAnimals.org, or connect with them online at Facebook or Twitter.

Deadline for abstracts extended for Global Development Symposium

Posted: January 23, 2014

OVC faculty, students and staff are invited to be a part of the 2014 Global Development Symposium May 4-7.

This is an exciting opportunity to showcase your research at an international symposium and network with leading scientists, health professionals, and community leaders tackling some of the most critical issues facing the world.

The deadline for abstract submissions for oral and poster research presentations has been extended to Feb. 3. Organizers are also be accepting “Pitches for Progress” — an opportunity for participants of all levels of experience and backgrounds to share their bold idea to address global challenges.

Come showcase your research at this international symposium. Your research is a very important part of the connection between animals and people.  Submit your abstract here.

The symposium costs only $295 ($150 for students). Register before March 4 to receive the early bird rate.

The symposium features outstanding outstanding key note speakers including:

James Orbinski (Munk School of Global Affairs, Past President Médecins Sans Frontières )

Joy Pritchard (The Brooke; University of Bristol, Clinical and Veterinary Science)

Margot Parks (Canada Research Chair in Health, Ecosystems and Society, University of Northern British Columbia)

• Rohinton Medhora (president, Centre for International Governance Innovation)  

• Alastair Summerlee (president, University of Guelph)

• Maya Ajmera (founder, Global Fund for Children; Johns Hopkins University)

Join international scholars examining critical issues affecting the world today as they explore the following themes:

• Public Health

Ecosystem approaches to health; one health; crisis intervention; domestic, wild and feral animals; translating research to action; educating future leaders

Food and Water Security

Human and animal relations; adding value to agriculture; sustaining communities; market integration; climate change and health

Community Empowerment

The role of animals in the community; conservation, biodiversity and natural resource management; participatory research, monitoring, evaluation; qualitative and quantitative methods.

For more information, download the poster or visit the GDS 2014 website.

OVC researcher suggests minimizing antibiotic use in horses

Posted: January 21, 2014

Antibiotics, as we know, can help kill the bacteria that make us sick. But many people may not realize that these medications can also destroy some of the bacteria in our bodies that help keep us healthy.

Working with pathobiology professor Scott Weese, PhD student Marcio Costa has been conducting research on the importance of a healthy bacterial balance in horses – and his results are likely to apply to other species as well. Costa uses DNA sequencing techniques to identify the bacteria in the intestines of horses and examines how they change under various conditions.

His first step was to establish the normal equine bacteria. He studied healthy adult horses from several farms, all kept on pasture, and discovered that the intestinal bacteria were very similar from one horse to the next, even though there was some geographical distance between them. “Many of the bacteria we found had not been previously identified,” Costa says.

“The only two horses that were different were the two OVC teaching horses we included in the study,” he adds. “They were similar to each other but very different from the rest. This may be because they were kept in stalls much of the time. It certainly shows the importance of the environment in determining the intestinal bacteria.”

For more, see the story in At Guelph.

OVC poultry expert outlines myths and facts about H5N1 avian influenza virus

Posted: January 16, 2014

A recent case of H5N1 avian influenza virus in Canada sparked a number of media reports about this virus.

Dr. Shayan Sharif, professor of poultry immunology at the Ontario Veterinary College, outlines some of the myths and facts about H5N1 in a guest blog for Burnbrae Farms.

An Alberta woman died of H5N1 on Jan. 3 after returning home from a trip to China, where health officials believe she became infected.

Sharif’s research focuses on understanding how the chicken’s immune system sees avian influenza viruses and how it responds to these viruses. The ultimate goal of this research is to develop effective vaccines to control avian influenza viruses.

“Although this virus is highly contagious in poultry, thankfully it has much less ability to infect humans,” Sharif writes in the blog. “More importantly, when this virus infects humans, there is no evidence that it can be transmitted from infected patients to other people. This means that there is an extremely low risk (or virtually no risk) for those passengers who took the same flight as the infected woman from Beijing to Vancouver. But could this virus jump from humans to poultry? This is very unlikely, so chances are Canadian poultry flocks will never become infected with the exact same virus that sadly killed the Albertan woman.”

Read the entire blog post here  http://www.burnbraefarms.com/blog/page.asp?c=0&id=26.

Sharif is also the leader of the Poultry Health Research Network, a cross-disciplinary network of poultry researchers and health specialists committed to addressing a wide range of issues from basic biology to environmental concerns to poultry disease, production and welfare.

 The University of Guelph has one of the largest groups of poultry scientists and poultry experts in North America, says Sharif, and has one of the largest numbers of avian influenza experts in Canada.

Telephones, Internet unavailable during maintenance Jan. 19

Posted: January 14, 2014

The OVC’s telephone, website and email services will be shut down temporarily on Sunday, Jan. 19 to allow for maintenance on the entire University of Guelph network.

The telephones will be offline from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Jan. 19. However, emergency veterinary services will still be available through the OVC Health Sciences Centre’s answering service.

To contact the HSC — including the Small Animal Clinic, Animal Cancer Centre, Primary Healthcare Centre, Large Animal Hospital or Ruminant Field Service — during the shutdown, please call 1-877-682-3637.

Computing and Communications Services (CCS) will perform scheduled maintenance on the U of G network during the early hours of January 19. Access to University-provided services such as the Internet, the campus phone system – including residence phones – Gryph Mail and all University applications will be unavailable for several hours starting at midnight.

To ensure emergency calls are appropriately directed during the maintenance, the main number 519-824-4120 will be working on a back-up system with an operator on duty. No campus extensions will be working during the scheduled down time.

For more, see the story in At Guelph.

For the health of all species, including our own.

The Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) is a world leader in veterinary health care, learning and research. We work at the intersection of animal, human and ecosystem health: training future veterinarians and scientists, improving the health of our animal companions, ensuring the safety of the food we eat and protecting the environment that we all share. It's been that way since 1862.

About OVC

We are dedicated to the advancement of veterinary and comparative medicine through teaching, research and service.