Twin scholarships support future equine veterinarians

Two aspiring equine veterinarians at Cornell will soon start horse-healing careers
with less student debt, thanks to twin scholarship gifts. The Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA) Endowment Board recently awarded two fourth-year students at the College of Veterinary Medicine $6,000 each to help offset the costs of education and ease their transition into equine practice.

quirkphoto1

TCA’s Endowment Board supports and promotes equine education and research by sponsoring scholarships in veterinary medicine and supporting organizations that are educating the public in the proper care of horses.

“We first started and continue a student scholarship program at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine and wanted to expand the program to other schools. Cornell was chosen for too many reasons to mention,” said Dr. James Orsini ’77, Associate Professor of Surgery and director of the Laminitis Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, who co-chairs TCA’s endowment with Herb Moelis. “The scholarship program is an important component of our mission. Our goal is to support as many worthy students as possible at veterinary colleges across the United States and we hope to continue to do more.”

Susan Shaffer ’13 and Kaitlin Quirk ’13 were selected by the Board to receive the award because of their outstanding academic success and strong interest in equine medicine. Born in Texas, Shaffer is an enthusiastic equestrienne planning to pursue equine practice. She gives regular tours for prospective students and has taken her interests abroad in various international service learning projects. Quirk grew up in Albany, N.Y. and studied animal science as an undergraduate at Cornell. An avid rider planning to pursue equine medicine, she is also interested in applying her veterinary training to international medicine and public health.

“We seek to support the best and brightest veterinary students with a financial need and who plan to work in equine practice, academic medicine, and related equine fields,” said Orsini. “We want the next generation of equine veterinarians to be superbly trained and educated. We hope this scholarship will lighten the financial burden for these students’ veterinary education so they can focus their passion on their careers helping horses.”

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http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/orsini.cfm

Mike meets Minnie

Cornell University’s Hospital for Animals welcomes its newest resident: Minnie the miniature horse. Minnie’s stint at the hospital as a patient turned into a career as a companion when her owner generously donated her after learning the Hospital was seeking company for Mike, the College’s blood-donor draft-horse.

“Mike lived by himself, and horses are herd animals that do better in groups,” said Dr. Sally Ness, internal medicine resident.

Good timing is a great matchmaker, and despite the size difference the unlikely pair clicked. Minnie has also become a star attraction at the College’s Annual Open House, where she made her first public debut in April 2012 by popular request.

“Twenty kids lined up along the paddock fence asking to ‘pet the pony,’” said Ness. “Students spiffed her up with ribbons, and she was a huge hit. Mike loves his new pal and was actually a little concerned when we borrowed her for the festivities. They are fully moved in together and share his stall and paddock. She is definitely the boss:we were worried about Mike stealing her grain, but in fact she will finish and go over and push him away from his breakfast! But he seems to appreciate the company and doesn’t seem to mind.”

Flag flown over Afghanistan in honor of Animal Hospital goes on display

 flagA new display featuring a special American flag now adorns Cornell University Hospital for Animals’ waiting room. To express thanks for CUHA’s life-saving services, Jessica and Mark Chamberlin gifted the folded flag to CUHA after Mark returned from military duty in Afghanistan, where he had flown it from a Chinook helicopter in honor of CUHA’s doctors, students, and staff.

While serving as a pilot in Afghanistan from October 2010 to October 2011, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mark Chamberlin received bad news from his wife back home. Lucy, their husky, had been diagnosed with both acute and chronic liver failure. The prognosis looked bleak but Jessica took Lucy to Cornell to see what could be done.

“A biopsy revealed Lucy had hepatitis, extreme liver inflammation,” said Dr. Andrea Johnston, a third-year resident in Hepatology who led the case. “Much of the damage is irreversible and her liver will never function normally, but we were able to get the inflammation under control and develop a nutritional regime specially adapted to her condition. Jessica and Mark worked diligently with the new diet, home-cooking all the food—it’s clear how committed they are to helping Lucy.”

Lucy’s history of hardship began in an abusive dog yard in Alaska. When she got her foot caught in a chain, her former owners cut it off with a chainsaw and left her without medical care. Animal control officers investigating the dog yard found the injured husky and brought her to the animal hospital where Jessica worked as a licensed veterinary technician.

“It took a week to get the infection under control and we had to amputate her leg,” said Jessica. “I spent so much time with her that I got attached and brought her home. She’s been like a child to us ever since.”

The Chamberlin’s parent-like dedication continued through Lucy’s latest ordeal. On the couple’s 10th anniversary, instead of going on the vacation they had originally planned, Jessica and Mark spent their time in Ithaca supporting Lucy during her biopsy and liver care. After Lucy’s initial recovery, they spent time cooking Lucy’s special diet and nursing her back to health.

Their work paid off, and when Mark returned to Afghanistan to lead the flight mission “Operation Enduring Freedom XI,” he flew a flag from the CH-47F “Chinook” helicopter in CUHA’s honor.

“When we first brought Lucy to Cornell we thought she only had a couple weeks,” said Jessica. “Cornell was able to save our girl, and we wanted to do something special to honor the people at the hospital. We are so grateful that Cornell was an option and that all of the doctors and staff were so kind and helpful in getting Lucy back on her feet. We are honored that Cornell has chosen to display the flag in the lobby.”

The flag is proudly displayed in a wooden plaque along with a certificate signed by Mark Chamberlin and the four other officers who flew during the mission under his command. It can be viewed in CUHA’s waiting room to the right of the reception desk window.

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http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/Flag.cfm

Scholarship recognizes a perseverance to finish

Whitefield

When John W. Whitefield ’65 passed away in 2004, his colleagues and friends began raising funds for a scholarship that would keep his memory alive through generations of students who would receive the award. Through the work and creativity of some of his closest friends, including fellow alumni Dr. Ed Dalland ’68 and Dr. Joel Edwards ’64, the scholarship fund recently reached $100,000 with more than 350 donations from friends, family, colleagues, classmates, and clients.

“John was a good friend of mine and when he became ill I recruited a number of Cornell alumni to form a fundraising committee headed by Joel Edwards to establish the Whitefield Scholarship,” said Dalland. “We wanted to honor John while he was still alive, and he was very humbled. We mailed brochures to all practicing veterinarians in New York State letting them know of our efforts and asked veterinarians to give their clients the opportunity to contribute, especially those with pets on which John had performed surgery.

“The College’s alumni are devoted to the profession, the College, and their communities. Reaching our goal of $100,000 took approximately five years of effort, but we made it! John upheld that spirit of service, and in his honor we hope to support students that will do the same.”

The John W. Whitefield ’65 Memorial Scholarship will be given every year in perpetuity.

“Dr. Whitefield had to drop out of Cornell for one year because he ran out of money,” said Dalland. “Thankfully he was able to earn enough to complete his education. That is why the scholarship is to be awarded to a third-year student interested in pursuing a surgery internship or residency after graduation. What a terrible loss our profession would have suffered if he was unable to finish his education.”

The minimum for scholarship endowments at the University and College is $100,000, which provides annual support in perpetuity to qualifying students. Scholarships may be named for individuals, animals, or beloved faculty members and provide much-needed assistance. If you are interested in establishing a scholarship or know of individuals who might be, contact Amy Robinson in the Office of Alumni Affairs and Development at amy.robinson@cornell.edu.

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http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/whitefield.cfm

Life-saving surgery inspires gift to help the hospital see inside ailing wildlife

When their dog, Buzz, faced a life-threatening condition in October 2009, Richard and Stacy Hoffman drove their Scottish terrier six hours from Maryland to Cornell University Hospital for Animals, where a timely surgery saved his life.

Their experience inspired several donations to the Companion Animal Hospital, and as strong supporters of animal welfare they were keen to learn more about the College’s commitment to animal care. The Hoffmans oversee a family foundation that funds projects supporting otherwise overlooked wildlife. When they took a tour of Cornell’s Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center, which provides hospitalization and medical care to sick or injured wild animals brought in by the public with the goal of releasing them back to their original habitat, they knew they had found a match.

“Some wildlife species get a lot of attention while others that might not be quite as ‘sexy’ fall under the radar,” said Richard Hoffman. “It’s important to us and to Earth’s ecosystems that species don’t dwindle because no one noticed or cared. We took a tour of the Center and saw the work they do helping local wildlife and training students who could someday translate that experience to a greater scale, and we wanted to give something tangible to help.”

Through a gift from their foundation, the Hoffmans helped the Center purchase four pieces of imaging equipment that will provide invaluable diagnosis and treatment options for the animals treated at the Center while simultaneously building a multimedia library usable for teaching and research in wildlife medicine.

“The biggest new piece is an endogo®HD, a totally portable, wireless, high-definition endoscopic imaging platform that can record, store, and play back images and videos taken from inside an animal’s body, making it particularly useful for diagnosis and teaching,” said Dr. George Kollias, Jay Hyman Professor of Wildlife Medicine and Chief of the Center. “We also purchased a small-diameter rigid endoscope for birds and small mammals that allows veterinarians to use surgical instruments to take biopsies, retrieve ingested foreign bodies, and conduct minimally invasive surgeries.”

For their tiniest patients, the Center purchased a fully functional miniature endoscope. Finally, all endoscopes were updated with new, more powerful light sources.

“We use this technology to help diagnose and treat wildlife when laboratory tests and other diagnostics don’t provide definitive answers,” said Kollias. “It lets us use minimally invasive techniques to visualize the organ surfaces and to take tissue samples if organs or tissues safely. The equipment is also particularly useful in species for which there is little or no published clinical laboratory data or disease description.”

The Hoffmans hope their gift will help veterinarians, students, and researchers find ways to prevent future problems in wildlife and promote research to help wildlife.

‘Scopes Magazine
February 2012

Committed to canine care

Devoted dachshund-lover establishes fund to improve the lives of dogs
Relationships with her dachshunds comforted Friedl Summerer throughout her life, from a war-torn childhood to the passing of three husbands, and throughout her golden years in New York City.

Born in Germany in 1918, Friedl Summerer grew up in Austria, where she began life as a budding actress. World War II soon brought her career to a crashing halt, and she narrowly escaped the Holocaust by fleeing to Paris and eventually settling in New York City.

“She had three passions: dogs, children, and public broadcasting,” said Imssy Klebe, a close friend of Summerer. “She could not have children, though she always wanted to. She was extremely devoted to her dogs. All through her life she had dachshunds, which she loved in particular. I walked many evenings with her and her dachshund Sissy. She was particularly close with Sissy.”

Dr. Lewis Berman ’57 served as Sissy’s veterinarian, and Summerer left a generous portion of her estate to Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where Berman received his training.

“She knew Cornell conducted research and patient care to help prolong the lives of dogs and wanted to support those efforts,” said Klebe.

Summerer passed on April 16, 2010, leaving a bequest in honor of Sissy for more than $2.2 million to the College, to be used for direct canine care.

The Sissy Summerer Canine Care fund will help the College and the Department of Clinical Sciences support lecturer positions that have direct impact on canine patient care and student training.  The fund currently supports Dr. Andi Looney, an anesthesiologist in the Pain Management Service committed to providing care and comfort to canine companions, and Dr. Brian Collins in the Community Practice Service, part of Cornell’s distinctive training program that enables veterinary students to begin practicing their hands-on skills as first-year students.

“This endowment has a very real impact on the delivery of canine patient care, which runs the gamut from routine vaccinations to advanced end-of-life care,” said Dr. Margaret McEntee, chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences. “It will also expand our ability to train future veterinarians by providing significant hands-on experience in the Cornell University Hospital for Animals through the Community Practice Service as a core component of the veterinary curriculum. This is a great opportunity for them, and I think is invaluable for their training as future veterinarians.”

‘Scopes Magazine
October 2011

Grateful pig owner gives gift of sight to Cornell’s future animal patients

TrixieHours before she was scheduled to leave for vacation, Dr. Nita Irby received a distressed call in the ophthalmology service. Trixie, a beloved miniature potbellied pig, was suffering from an undiagnosed painful eye problem that had been ongoing for several months. Irby agreed to see the pig and in May 2011 Kathy Ruttenberg, a successful artist hugely inspired by her relationships with her adored pets, drove Trixie four hours to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals (CUHA).

“Trixie was squinting, had a great deal of tears from her eye, and was clearly in pain,” said Irby. “Examining her eye, we found a small, shallow ulcer scarring on the eye and hairs trapped in the eye that might have been causing ulcers. We carefully removed the hairs and Trixie improved within days.”

Unfortunately, a week or so after the eye healed it became painful once again and Trixie returned to the CUHA for a second examination.

“We found nothing abnormal other than a small ulcer at a new location on the eye,” said Irby. “But her hair coat appeared unhealthy and her skin seemed abnormally scaly. Dr. Danny Scott in dermatology diagnosed congenital ichthyosis and prescribed colloidal oatmeal baths and nutritional supplements. In follow-up appointments Trixie’s coat has been looking great. At her last visit the Zeiss operating microscope was used to carefully examine the eye and diagnose a qualitative tear film deficiency. Although Trixie’s eye has continued to cause intermittent painful episodes, we hope to see an improvement over the next four to six weeks as the new medication we prescribed begins to work.”

“From the moment I first called, Dr. Irby was there for us”, said Ruttenberg, who contacted the Hospital wanting to donate in Irby’s honor shortly after the initial visit and soon decided to fund the purchase of a new phacoemulsification machine used by the ophthalmology service for cataract removal surgery.

“Shortly after Trixie’s initial visit, the ophthalmology service discovered a major potential hardship,” said Irby. “Ophthalmology provides a life-changing service by removing cataracts from dogs, cats, horses, and many other animal species to restore sight to animals blinded by cataracts. The surgery requires a phacoemulsification machine, the same device used on humans that utilizes ultrasound to break apart the lens and remove the pieces from the eye. The manufacturer was phasing out our model and would soon stop making the packs we needed to ensure each patient has a new, sterile setup for surgery. We had no money to upgrade to a new machine. The very next day after hearing that we could not purchase the new machine Kathy asked me how she could provide more support to us. Our new machine has been ordered and will arrive any day. Kathy’s gift will help restore vision to many, many animals now and in the future.”

Ruttenberg is well known for her love of animals, which has been the subject of several news articles, including one in The New York Timescovering her habit of sleeping with Trixie and others from her menagerie of 70 animals in her mountain home in upstate N.Y. Her generous gift to CUHA will help many animals live better quality lives.

“Dr. Irby exudes such positive energy,” said Ruttenberg. “We need more good vets like her, and I wanted to give a gift in her honor. Cornell’s hospital strongly impressed me with its professionalism and warmth. Everyone was so nice and knowledgeable and clearly adored animals. From the technicians and staff to the students and faculty, they were patient talking me through things and sharing my care for Trixie. There is nowhere else in the world I would leave my pig.”

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Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine News

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/alumni/11Aug/trixie.cfm

The Francis H. Fox Scholarship

How Fox’s friends and former students gave the prankster his best surprise yet

What comes to mind when you think of Francis H. Fox? If you were one of the legions he trained, you might remember lively lectures offset by mischievous humor, or rolling up farm roads for firsthand lessons in large animal medicine. Perhaps you’ve only heard his name in the College’s legends: rumors of preternatural diagnostic powers, or elaborate pranks exchanged with students. If you’ve ever driven down Route 366 near the College, you may think of his name in white paint, infamously emblazoned on the side of an old bridge over the road and accompanied by a public birthday counter.

This symbol has become a lasting tribute to the strong bonds between one of the College’s most well-known professors and the generation of veterinary students he trained, challenged, inspired, and befriended. That close camaraderie roused a large group of Fox’s former students and fast friends to unite and establish a scholarship in his honor, gathering supporters happy to give their mentor a legacy that would continue his passion for helping veterinary students for years to come.

“When I was a student I spent a lot of extra time with Dr. Fox,” said Dr. Pete Malnati ’52, who spearheaded the project. “He would call up interested students to go out on special cases with him. He was an exceptionally committed teacher, happy to share his knowledge and experience and sense of humor. I appreciated what he did for me, and for my fellow students, and we wanted to give back.”

The Friends of Francis Fox had no trouble getting support from enthusiastic peers. More than 200 people contributed over $22,000 in the first year alone. When Fox entered the Centennial New York State Veterinary Medical Society meeting in Rochester, NY in Fall 1990, he was surprised with a formal announcement establishing the endowment in his name.

“We are honoring Dr. Fox for his contributions to veterinary medicine in the field of large animal medicine and ophthalmology, especially as a teacher, clinician, and advocate of the art of physical diagnosis,” said Malnati. “He has given many of us this basic foundation in veterinary medicine. Thus we owe him this measure of gratitude as a friend, teacher, and fellow veterinarian.”

The selection criteria reflect Fox’s interests and ideals, seeking students highly motivated to serve the large animal sector, and those showing a gift mirroring Fox’s famous talent for physical diagnosis.

“It was all done behind my back,” said Fox. “I never expected such a thing, and felt very humbled. I hope it will help students who love the profession, and feel a calling to medicine because of their love of animals and satisfaction in working with them.”

The Francis H. Fox Scholarship fund has grown substantially since its inception in 1990, with continual support from hundreds of contributors. It aids two to four students in need a year, and has supported a total of 29 to date. Should you have interest in contributing to the Francis H. Fox Scholarship, please contact Amy Robinson in the Alumni Affairs and Development Office at amy.robinson@cornell.edu or (607) 253-3742.


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‘Scopes Magazine
July 2011

Fund established for Expanding Horizons

Grants give students veterinary experience in developing nations

“Working abroad can change your life,” says Dr. Ton Schat, an avian pathology professor whose veterinary adventures abroad helped forge a fruitful career. “That kind of eye-opening experience affects all the people and animals you help as a veterinarian and shapes the kind of person you become.”

He hails from Holland, battled bacteria in Nigeria, launched labs against Marek’s disease in Mexico, and recently returned from an Australian excursion studying one of the more dangerous strains of Avian Influenza. With Cornell as his home-base since 1975, he has continued collaborations with researchers around the world. Best known for his industry-changing work improving poultry health for which he recently received a lifetime achievement award, Schat attributes the inspiration and success of his career to his early experiences abroad.

“I knew early on that I wanted to pursue international development,” says Schat, who earned his DVM degree from the State University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. “During my final and practical year of my studies in Utrecht  I went to Northern Nigeria on a fellowship to study causes of infertility in Fulani cattle. I really enjoyed my months there, from the hands-on work to interacting with the Nigerian students.”

Schat returned from Nigeria determined to pursue international work before going to graduate school. “I landed a job through the Dutch government to work on Marek’s disease in Mexico. I arrived in 1971 and worked there for four years, setting up a lab, training Mexican researchers, and working towards a vaccine.”

In Mexico, Schat met Dr. Bruce Calnek, an avian pathology professor from Cornell who shared Schat’s growing interest in Marek’s disease. Calnek invited Schat to work in his lab as a graduate student, and Schat has worked at Cornell ever since. While pursuing his PhD, Schat isolated the SB-1 strain of Marek’s disease in chickens and used it to develop a vital vaccine still used on the market today. The vaccine generated significant royalties for the College, and continues to generate income.

Most of that money went back to the former Department of Avian and Aquatic Animal Medicine, pooling with other departmental money to support grad students and research expenses. When the department later merged into the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the flock of avian medicine students pursuing PhDs thinned, the money lay dormant for many years.

“Dr. Calnek was in charge of the former department’s funds. When he retired in 1996 I was charged with overseeing their use,” Schat explains. The Expanding Horizons program seemed like the perfect choice for Schat, who shares its core philosophy: that working in developing nations empowers students to improve themselves and their world.

Expanding Horizons provides Cornell veterinary students with grants to spend 6-10 weeks in a developing nation engaged in a hands-on veterinary experience or research project. Projects span the veterinary spectrum, from rehabilitating wildlife or teaching farmers vaccination techniques, to researching rhino parasites or promoting habitat conservation. Students have traveled to all corners of the world, including Kenya, Madagascar, Honduras, Bolivia, Italy, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, and many more.

“More students are growing a keen interest in reaching out to the world around them,” says Schat, who teaches a biannual course in international veterinary medicine that has grown to an average class size of 60 students. “For most students who have gotten the chance to go abroad, it has opened their eyes and broadened their perspectives. My own time abroad was crucial to my personal development. I feel it is extremely important for our students to be able to have the same kind of experience that was for me so life-changing.”

“Since the program began in 1985, we have been able to support five to ten students a year,” says Jai Sweet, Director of student Services and multicultural Affairs who oversees the program. “This new fund sets the foundation for a steady, stable stream of support that will ensure more students can continue to pursue these extraordinary international opportunities.”

Should you have an interest in contributing to this fund, please contact Amy Robinson in the Alumni Affairs and Development Office at amy.robinson@cornell.edu or 607.253.3742.