Clinical pathology resident receives grant to study blood clotting

vClinical Pathology resident Dr. Nora Springer received a $2500 research award from the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology (ASVCP) in March 2011. For the past three years, ASVCP has given one “Share the Future” research award per year, based on the quality of the candidate’s written proposal and the potential of the project to expand the knowledge base in veterinary clinical pathology. The grants range from $1,000 to $2,500, and are used to support new research by clinical pathology residents and graduate students.

Springer will use her award to investigate how tiny particles shed from platelets in the blood can lead to blood clots and thrombotic diseases in horses. She hopes to develop tests that will detect developing problems and help prevent thrombosis. Every cell in the body sheds microparticles, and those derived from platelets are the most common kind in the blood. These platelet-derived microparticles encourage blood to coagulate, and if enough accumulate they can form clots in blood vessels that obstruct blood flow, leading to thrombotic diseases in both horses and humans.

“Horses are at risk for thrombosis with inflammatory diseases, some of which are quite common, such as colic. The onset of thrombosis can drastically alter the clinical course of the disease and result in longer hospitalization times or death,” said Springer. “Unfortunately, Thrombosis is difficult to prevent because current tests can’t detect when a patient is at risk. Identifying at-risk patients before symptoms emerge is essential to guide therapy and minimize these diseases. I aim to develop new testing methods using bead-based flow cytometry that will count platelet-derived microparticles in equine blood and plasma, and to determine how these microparticles influence thrombosis.”

These new tests may allow clinicians to detect and predict thrombosis in patients, and develop treatments or prevention plans to stop the onset of blood-clotting disease.


Alumni Spotlight: Cesar Tello ’97

Trials and triumphs of starting a new veterinary practice in NYC’s Latino community

After eight years at Cornell, Peruvian-born Cesar Tello BS ’93 DVM ’97 launched into a fast-paced veterinary career in New York City, where he now owns a thriving practice. On March 29, 2011, Tello returned to his alma mater to share his story with a diverse group of students from across the university. Tello spoke of his trials and triumphs as a sole practice owner in one of New York City’s immigrant neighborhood where a majority of his clients do not speak English, and how it has strengthened his skills and enriched his experiences as a veterinarian.
“A solid social foundation is essential, in school and beyond,” said Tello, who came from Peru to New York City when he was one and half years old with his veterinarian parents. “The worst feeling is feeling alone; you have to build and use your network. As an undergrad I joined a Latino fraternity and several cultural and political student organizations. When I started veterinary school, I stayed involved with the student groups down campus, even joining them in a sit-in protest at Day Hall. When vet school got tough, I started connecting with veterinary students as well. We all pulled each other through.”

The value of camaraderie and the networking skills Tello cultivated at Cornell proved vital later in his career. Through networking he found his first veterinary job in Staten Island. “It paid $40,000 a year for 80 hours of work per week. But the working habits you established in the first two years out of veterinary school stay with you forever. I was a sponge and was determined to learn everything I could.”

kTello built his skills in various kinds of practices, including a house call service and an emergency night service where he worked from 5 pm to 8 am. “Emergencies taught me to do what needed to be done despite the anxiety. You see some scary things and have to act fast. I was scared, but I wasn’t scared enough not to help,” said Tello. “That’s where I really learned leadership.”

At the age of 29, Tello had gained enough confidence, experience, and leadership to brave the trials of starting his own practice. He opened Noah’s Ark Pet Clinic in Jackson Heights, a Queens’ neighborhood housing 130,000 people in a one-mile radius, 80 percent of who speak only Spanish. Tello is the sole owner and practitioner, managing seven employees and fielding a heavy stream of clients.

“I was a young guy starting a new business; there were a lot of things working against me. Speaking to people, gaining their trust, showing confidence in your knowledge and skills, it’s a vital art. So I go back to basics: honesty and integrity matter and so does a network of support. I got to know my neighbors, my colleagues, my employees, and my clients. I can call up other veterinarians in the area and refer cases, we have a good camaraderie. I try to create a comfortable space for clients where we keep an open dialogue. My office has a library; clients come in with questions about a case and I bring out textbooks and show them what I’m talking about. Owners come in all forms, and I try to be fair with everyone.”

As the intensive labor of opening settled and business bloomed, Tello sought new ways of becoming involved with his community. He began a mentorship program for diverse high school and college students. “The first thing I do is ask them for resumes,” he said. “Many of them don’t have one so making them prepare one shows them what they need to start off in the world. We talk about their goals, activities, and educational decisions. Each year about 10-15 students come through my office. I let them know that as long as they keep in touch, I’ll write a good recommendation for them. Maybe four in the past 5 years have actually gone on to vet school.”

TelloAsked why there are so few minorities in veterinary school, Tello said there is no easy answer. “To be a veterinarian is the number one aspiration of kindergarten students around the country,” said Tello. “Somewhere in the education pipeline, something breaks down. Grades are the gatekeeper into vet school, and grades start in kindergarten. No matter who you are, a strong education and supportive social network are essential. I try to be a role model, to show it can be done.”

Tello finished paying his student loans two years ago, ends appointments at 4pm, and leaves work promptly at 5pm to return to his wife and young daughter. He continues his involvement in Cornell as a College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Board Member, and as part of the Cornell Alumni Trustee nominating committee. His talk was arranged by the students of VOICE (Veterinarians as One in Color and Ethnicity), in collaboration with the Latino Studies Program, Cornell’s Pre-Vet Society, and the College’s Student-Alumni Network Group.


Common parasite uncovers key cause of Crohn’s disease

A single human lymphocyte, a white blood cell that acts as part of the immune system. Intraepithelial lymphocytes, which specialize in patrolling intestinal walls, can cause human Crohn's disease.

Immune systems have their sinister side, especially when they have not learned how hard to fight. Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases inflict more than a million Americans with debilitating pain and digestive unrest because of uncontrolled immune responses in the gut.

How this happens remained a mystery until immunologists at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine caught a key culprit in Crohn’s disease: a cell from our own immune forces. With unconventional help from a common parasite, Eric Denkers, professor of immunology, and research associate Charlotte Egan identified a renegade cell responsible for this largely arcane and increasingly prevalent illness.

“Auto-immune diseases are on the rise in this country but their causes have remained largely unknown,” said Denkers. “It’s possible that these diseases are more common in the West because we’re too clean. Exposure to germs trains immune systems how to respond to threats. Early protection from germs may contribute to the increasing prevalence of immune system overreactions in our population, leading to auto-immune problems like allergies and inflammatory bowel disease.”

Similar symptoms arise when some hosts first face the prevalent protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. Denkers’ lab studies this parasite’s arsenal of host-manipulating powers, but recently they have steered Toxoplasma research in an entirely new direction.

Intestinal wall after Toxoplasma infection and inflammation, compared to undamaged intestinal wall.

“We noticed that the initial intestinal inflammation these parasites can cause looks very similar to what happens during Crohn’s disease,” said Denkers, one of the first to study this connection. “Our lab has started using Toxoplasma to model Crohn’s disease in humans and help us find the pivotal perpetrator, which has turned out to be a cell from our own immune forces.”

Specialized immune cells called intraepithelial lymphocytes patrol intestinal walls. Upon encountering invaders, they release messenger proteins that call more immune cells to the battleground. “Too many messenger proteins recruit too many immune cells, causing inflammation that can devastate the host’s own tissue,” Denkers explained. “Bad balance between good bacteria, bad bacteria, and immune interactions like inflammation cause Crohn’s disease.”

“For the first time we’ve discovered how infection can turn these immune cells pathogenic, stimulating them to cause disease, inflammation and necrosis in the small intestine,” said Denkers. “This marks a major leap toward understanding human Crohn’s disease. Unveiling this kind of immunological interplay may lead to improved prevention and care in an array of auto-immune diseases.”

Denkers and colleagues published their discovery in Mucosal Immunology, followed by a review article discussing Toxoplasma infection as a model for Crohn’s disease in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology in 2010.


Cornell Chronicle, February 22, 2011…

Scientific Computing, February 23, 2011…


R&D Magazine…


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The Ithaca Journal

Training future leaders in diagnostics

Graduation rarely means the end of education, especially in the medical world. A veterinary degree opens doors to countless further training opportunities. The College of Veterinary Medicine and the AHDC offer residency programs that let DVMs delve into in the cellular side of disease. In the residencies for Diagnostic Sciences and Clinical Pathology, veterinarians wanting to gain more experience in diagnostics come to Cornell to practice for three years under the mentorship of seasoned specialists before testing to become board-certified specialists themselves.

Residency in Diagnostic Sciences

Wonhee Cha pioneers the nation’s first veterinary residency program in diagnostic sciences here at the AHDC. With a collection of experience in international clinical service and epidemiology research under her belt, she is honing her diagnostic tools in preparation for a future foray facing infectious diseases of the third world.

After earning her DVM from Kon-kuk University in Korea, Cha volunteered in Tanzania for two years as a public veterinarian. “The entire country has just one veterinary school and about 250 registered veterinarians,” says Cha. “Everywhere I turned, people and their animals needed help. One day I would be stitching up dogs or helping breed livestock, the next I would be educating farmers about husbandry techniques, or working on my biggest project establishing Tanzania’s first x-ray-capable veterinary center.”

Cha’s commitment to international veterinary fieldwork blossomed during her tenure in Tanzania. “When I visited villages to vaccinate chickens against New Castle Virus, I began to see just how vital their animals’ health was to their livelihood. People relied on their chickens for eggs, meat, and trade. Any infectious outbreak could be devastating.”

When the service period ended, Cha went on to pursue her burgeoning interest in epidemiology at the laboratory of infectious diseases and molecular biology at Ohio State University, where she earned her master’s degree.

“I was studying ways of detecting and differentiating types of the Avian Influenza virus,” says Cha, “and I began to realize how important it is to have good diagnostic tools. Without accurate diagnostics, you can never hope to study any epidemic. I wanted to learn these tools in a clinical setting.”

So Cha came to the College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 to learn the diagnostic tools she needed, and to apply them to hands-on disease research at the College’s integrated hospital and diagnostic lab. As the solitary inaugural resident in the country’s first diagnostic sciences residency program, Cha is paving the way for the future of the field.

“We need more people who can do veterinary diagnostic work,” says Dr. Craig Altier, microbiologist at the AHDC and supervisor of the innovative position. “Most of us got our experience on the job. We were starting to worry about what will happen as we grow older. There are very few diagnostics training programs and it’s hard for a young person to get involved. So we worked to develop this new kind of residency.”

While other diagnostic residencies focus on a single area from the start, residents in this program spend the first year rotating through each of the AHDC’s thirteen sections, gaining an understanding of each diagnostic area and a comprehensive look at the field as a whole. In her first year Cha spent time in each section, including anatomical pathology, avian disease, bacteriology, clinical pathology, comparative coagulation, serology and immunology, endocrinology, molecular diagnostics, parasitology, quality milk production services, toxicology, virology, and veterinary support services.

“This is the only program that gives such an expansive overview, and that allows veterinarians to choose between different diagnostic specialties,” says Altier. “We want to train students who will become leaders in the field, with a broad enough scope that they could one day actually run a diagnostic laboratory.”

Following a year of rotations, Cha settled into the section of bacteriology, where she does a combination of fieldwork and research studying bacteria in dairy cattle of the New York State watershed. “Everyone is my teacher,” says Cha. “I’m surrounded by a wealth of knowledge and experience, from the technicians to the faculty, everyone has so much to teach. I feel humbler every day.”

In her third and final year, Cha continues her work in bacteriology, hoping to finish her PhD before setting out to pursue her dream of addressing infectious diseases of animals in developing countries.

Residency Program in Clinical Pathology

Sometimes you can look at an animal and know what’s wrong, but many mysteries of disease lurk far beneath the surface, in the cells themselves.

Clinical pathology residents Drs. Nora Springer and Erika Gruber ’06 are scientific sleuths who traded magnifying glasses for microscopes, investigating samples on the biochemical and cellular levels to study and diagnose disease.

“We deal with swabs, smears, and samples from almost any fluid or part of the body,” says Springer, who spent several years testing samples as a licensed veterinary technician before earning her DVM at Kansas State in 2008 followed by a small-animal internship at Louisiana State University. “This includes blood, urine, bone marrow, tumor cells, anything that could give cellular or chemical clues.”

Clues can come from all kinds of cells, and part of a clinical pathologist’s job is to recognize what is normal and what is not from each sort of sample. When a sample comes in, the clinical pathology residents provide the front line of investigation. After inspecting, describing, and forming a diagnosis, they consult with the lab’s board-certified pathologists, Drs. Tracy Stokol, Heather Priest, and Deanna Schaefer, who look over the report and discuss it with the residents.

Unlike most pathology programs, the discussion doesn’t stop there. Cornell’s program encourages collaboration, and all five staff dedicated to clinical pathology pool their perspectives three times a week.

“I chose Cornell because of the program’s strong structure and unique team-oriented approach,” says Springer, who is in her second year of the three-year residency. “This is the only program I’ve found where residents and clinical pathologists regularly meet to discuss cases as a group. Most programs have each resident meet with one mentor. At Cornell two residents and three clinical pathologists all meet together to review cases, investigate archived slides, or practice describing and diagnosing ‘mystery slides’ with interesting quirks we can learn from. It gives us a very well-rounded experience.”

“You gain a lot by hearing different opinions from people trained in different environments,” says Stokol, one of the three clinical pathologists who supervise the program. “Our residents must do a rotation in anatomic pathology, and can also choose to rotate through other specialties, including oncology, toxicology, and large or small animal medicine. That’s been very helpful for them.”Clinical pathology residents divide time between clinical service and research, exposing them to both sides of the field.

“Cornell has a rich history and philosophy regarding research,” says Stokol. “We expect our residents to complete a research project. We want to invest in them the intellectual curiosity of asking ‘why is this happening’ and ‘how can I test that?’ Residents challenging you is part of the fun. It makes you think about what you know. Is it based on true evidence or is it just something your teacher told you? It’s good to challenge the status quo, that’s how you learn new things.”

“This program drew me because it’s so well-rounded, emphasizing the diagnostic aspects of both research and clinical work,” says Gruber, a first-year resident and Cornell alum who returned after a small-animal internship at Colorado State followed by three years of veterinary relief work. “Residents also take an active teaching role, which I particularly enjoy. We help with labs in blocks, give special lectures, and guide students through their pathology rotations.”

At the end of their three years of service, Gruber and Springer will apply their knowledge in a three-day examination for board certification in clinical pathology. Several career paths branch out for a newly ordained clinical pathologist.  Some go on in academia, pursuing PhDs and becoming tenure-track research professors or joining a clinical track emphasizing teaching and service. Others go into diagnostic practice in labs like the AHDC, or into private industry, particularly in the field of pharmaceuticals. The government offers further jobs for trained clinical pathologists.

“We need people who can spread their knowledge and educate the next generation,” says Stokol. “We need future professionals who can encourage young people like Nora and Erika to go on in clinical pathology. The ultimate goal of academics is training our replacements. This is a challenging and rewarding field, and it’s a pleasure to work with people who share your passion.”

Learning genes to label germs

Genetic comparison can identify mystery pathogens

Organisms from all corners of the animal world arrive at the doors of the New York State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC). Foreign or familiar, prevalent or peculiar, pathogens must reveal their true identities before veterinarians can begin to make sense of samples, diagnose diseases, and develop treatment plans.

How do you identify a microscopic organism? The traditional method has guided doctors and scientists through the past 100 years. Smear a sample on an agar plate, a petri dish covered with gelatin made from seaweed, and study the culture as it grows. What shape does it take? Does it move or stay still? What is its biochemical profile? What food does it prefer? Scientists use these kinds of questions to match mystery organisms to those successfully identified in the past.

But sometimes matching lists of characteristics isn’t enough.

“We deal with some oddball organisms,” says Dr. Craig Altier, a microbiologist with big aspirations for the future of identifying small life-forms.  While traditional methods of identification can reliably distinguish common or easily differentiated organisms, they shed less light on outliers, including newly mutated species, rare breeds of bacteria, and fraudulent fungi.

“Fungi look very similar under a microscope, and often biochemical differences between species prove undetectable,” says Altier. “We really needed a better way to tell such species apart. So when physical characteristics failed, we turned to genetics.”

Every individual has a unique DNA fingerprint, and so does every species. Evolution shakes the genetic dice many times over, but all species have certain genes that survive unchanged for generations.

“These highly conserved genes usually code for essential functional elements that would not work if they were changed, such as proteins required for basic cellular function,” says Altier. “They don’t vary much between individuals, but they do vary across species. We can use these genes to accurately identify organisms.”

Researchers have already been looking at conserved genes to map out relationships between species, and now Altier and his colleagues are adapting these techniques for veterinary medicine.

“We have finally reached a point where we can use these tools quickly and efficiently enough to diagnose disease,” says Altier. “Human medicine will benefit as well, but the technique is most valuable in veterinary medicine because there are so many different species of host animals and pathogens.”

The new approach uses PCR techniques to amplify DNA from selected conserved genes. Cornell’s on-campus DNA Sequencing Center decodes samples into a string of about 500 bases of A, T, C, or G, then compares them to samples in the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s genetic database to look for similarities.

The technique is already revolutionizing diagnostics, revealing relationships that could never have been found before. “One day we received a swab from the flipper of a sick sea lion,” says Altier. “We had no idea what kind of organisms might live there, but we found the answer quickly through DNA sequencing and a quick genetic comparison. We couldn’t have done that without this database.”

Genetic comparison tools raise the bar for diagnostic accuracy. “With the old methods we frequently got stuck saying one organism is ‘like’ another,” says Altier. “Now we can usually hone in on a more exact label. We match sequences down to the letter to find efficient, accurate diagnoses.”

Comparative genetics can also expand our knowledge of a given disease.

“We may find the same kinds of pathogens in different animals we never knew could host them, or on the same host species but at a different body site,” says Altier. “These techniques have already shed new light on how organisms evolve and how different species are related. We may soon begin discovering new important pathogens previously left unnoticed.”

Even unidentified organisms could prove priceless down the road. Many currently unidentified sequences float nameless through the database waiting to be compared. “When enough of these orphans begin to match,” says Altier, “we will begin to discover new disease-causing agents.”

Looking through the window

Clinical pathology bridges animals and answers

 “Blood is the window to the body,” says Dr. Tracy Stokol, a professor with a passion for pathology puzzles. Microscopic magnification opens that window, revealing a cellular world which veterinarians explore in the quest to analyze disease. Clinical pathologists like Stokol navigate that world as diagnostic detectives, using cellular samples from body tissue and fluids to piece together a patient’s story.

If an animal has a bodily bump, how do you tell if it’s a bruise or inflammation, a fatty tumor or malignant cancer? Veterinarians use needles to take samples for examination. Clinical pathologists use these cellular clues to solve medical mysteries.

“It’s critical for veterinarians to know clinical pathology because they use it every single day,” says Stokol. “Sick animals can’t tell you what’s wrong. Samples speak for the animals and clinical pathology translates. It’s a bridge between the animal and the answer.”

Body fluids can reveal much of what goes on inside an animal’s body. “Blood can tell you why a joint is swelling, expose cancer cells, or show abnormalities that indicate underlying liver disease,” illustrates Stokol. “We also work with bone marrow aspirates, samples from lymph nodes, cerebrospinal fluids, anything you can put a needle into and take a sample of could give an important clue.”

Stokol has taught the visual language of cellular samples at the College of Veterinary Medicine since 1993, and is now an associate professor in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences. A skilled specialist, Stokol attributes her passion for clinical pathology to the fun of solving a mystery.

“I like a challenge,” says Stokol with steady eyes that have faced plenty of challenge in the microscopic realm. “I’m always intrigued by difficult cases and love figuring things out. Clinical pathology is a very visual field. You’re seeing interesting changes that are visually fascinating. It’s fun to look at things, but it’s also about putting pieces of information together to make a story.”

Stokol’s story started in Melbourne, Australia, where she earned her veterinary degree in 1987, worked for two years as an assistant veterinarian, and earned a PhD before coming to Cornell. She belongs to several societies for clinical pathology, chemistry, and diagnostics, and has published several book chapters and over 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals, reflecting her dedication to furthering research in her field.

“Research stimulates a kind of intellectualism you don’t get from puzzling out a case. It’s an entirely different way of thinking,” explains Stokol. “A lot of what we do in clinical work is memorizing facts and recognizing patterns. Research lets you ask more kinds of questions, it makes you think ahead and plan, and learn to deal with things that don’t work out the first time.”

That’s why Stokol and her colleagues require that the College’s clinical pathology residents complete a research project.

“Working in an academic environment, we need to advance the knowledge of our field. We have to continue to grow and understand more about the diseases we’re working with and the only way to do that is through research.”

As an academic clinician, Stokol furthers her passion through her teaching. Together with fellow clinical pathologists Dr. Heather Priest and Dr. Diana Schaefer, Stokol supervises the College’s residency program in clinical pathology.

“We need academic clinical pathologists to keep advancing the field and to keep it alive. Fewer people go into clinical pathology because there are fewer residencies available. We’re graduating fewer people, so fewer people are trained.”

Specialists in this field need thorough training to learn to successfully sort out the secrets cells can tell. But for Stokol and her peers, the challenge is worth it.

“One of the job’s biggest appeals is the instant gratification, knowing that you’re making a difference,” Stokol says. “Clinical pathology gets rapid results that help animals and their owners almost immediately. You’re giving vital information that a veterinarian can use to decide how to manage or treat a patient, or helping an owner make a decision about whether to continue a treatment. We can make a diagnosis and know we’re having a real effect.”

“I like that I can do everything with clinical pathology at Cornell,” says Stokol. “Service helps patients in real-time, research expands our knowledge, teaching ensures the future. It’s the best of all worlds.”



Lifetime achievement award for contributions to poultry health

SchatTwin passions for veterinary research and international development work propelled Dr. Karel “Ton” Schat through a far-reaching career in avian virology and immunology. This past October, friends and colleagues surprised Schat with a unique award at the 5th International Workshop on the Molecular Pathogenesis of Marek’s Disease Virus in Athens, Georgia.

The plaque reads: “in recognition of outstanding research and contributions to poultry health,” commemorating contributions that have spanned flocks and nations around the world and summarizing the adventures and discoveries that have shaped Schat’s career.

“This award is a fitting capstone to Ton’s scientific career,” said Dr. Avery August, chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology to which Schat belongs after 32 years of teaching and research at the College of Veterinary Medicine. “I believe that it illustrates the esteem with which his colleagues view him and his work in avian health research, particular his work on Marek’s disease. The department is very proud to have someone of this caliber amongst our faculty.”

A dual degree professor, Schat earned his DVM from the State University in Utrecht, Holland, in 1972, and spent several years exercising his enthusiasm for health research and international development work before earning his PHD from Cornell in 1978. “I knew I wanted to do projects in international development before going on to graduate school,” Schat said, “so during my final year in veterinary school I got a fellowship to spend five months in northern Nigeria researching bacteriological causes of infertility in Fulani cattle. I really enjoyed the work and interacting with the people.”

The experience fueled his international interests, which brought him to Mexico where he met the man who would launch the rest of his career. “The Dutch government hired me to help set up a laboratory in Mexico, researching Marek’s disease,” recalled Schat. “I took six weeks of Spanish and spent a few months learning how to culture cells and grow viruses. Then off I went.”

awardSchat helped get a new laboratory off the ground, trained Mexican counterparts in basic research skills, and conducted his own research on Marek’s disease in chickens. While working in Mexico, Schat met his future mentor, Dr. Bruce Calnek, an eminent poultry professor at Cornell studying Marek’s disease. “He invited me to join his lab at Cornell as a graduate student. When my job in Mexico ended, I came here and I’ve been based here every since,” said Schat.

Early in his graduate career, Schat met Dr. Randy Cole, who had a flock of 28-week-old chickens in full production and free of Marek’s disease on Game Farm Road near campus. Schat took blood samples from the birds and discovered within them a new type of Marek’s disease virus. He used this to develop the SB-1 vaccine for Marek’s disease, dubbed by Schat himself. The widespread vaccine continues to prevent disease in countless chickens, ensuring the health of poultry and its consumers.

After making his mark on Marek’s disease, Schat has continued avian virology research to this day as faculty in the College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Microbiology and Immunology and unit director for avian facilities and research. He has maintained a focus in avian virology, and more recently in chicken infectious anemia virus. In 2006 Schat began making annual pilgrimages to Australia to study the pathogenesis of avian influenza virus in a specialized high-containment disease center. There he works with a mutated strain of the virus taken from an infected human, in research that could have a direct impact on human health.

Schat has attended every one of the eight Marek’s disease symposia that have occurred since they began in 1978 and played important roles in orchestrating several of them. He has attended each of the five workshops for the molecular pathogenesis of Marek’s disease since they began in 2005, and the last such workshop gave him a surprise. “They asked me to present a paper for this meeting, so I arranged to fly down for the fifth time, expecting to give a talk. The award presentation came as a complete surprise. I have worked with and befriended many of the people who come to these meetings and work on these issues, and it was an honor to be recognized by them.”
The lifetime achievement award joins four other awards given to Schat for his work in poultry health. He and fellow College faculty Dr. Doug Antczak won the first-ever Beecham Award for Research Excellence in 1986, a prestigious award for young investigators in their first six years after post-doc work. That year proved particularly fruitful for Schat, who also won the Upjohn Achievement Award for distinguished contributions in avian medicine.

The year after, Schat received another, particularly meaningful award, the Bart Rispens Research Award in recognition of an outstanding research contribution in the field of avian pathology, from the World Veterinary Poultry Association. It was named after Dr. Bart Rispens, who first taught Schat about Marek’s disease and how to culture viruses. Schat became chair of the award committee the following year.

He later received the Pfizer Award for Excellence in Poultry Research at the 136th Annual Convention of the AVMA in New Orleans, July 1999, and the Merck Award for Achievement in Poultry Science at the 98th Annual meeting of the Poultry Science Association in Auburn, August 2005. The fifth and latest in this series of awards “in recognition of outstanding research and contributions to poultry health” honors Schat’s legacy of accomplishments in his field.…
World Poultry News, January 18, 2011…
Poultry Production News, January 21, 2011

Newly promoted Senior Lecturer continues contributions to wildlife

PenguinAfter thirteen years of service at Cornell University, wildlife specialist Dr. Noha Abou-Madi has been promoted to Senior Lecturer. As a member of Section of Zoological Medicine in the Department of Clinical Sciences, she has seen the wildlife specialty within the College grow over the years. Services offered by this section have expanded since its inception, and now include teaching, research, clinical service, and consultations involving all aspects of conservation medicine.

Abou-Madi earned her DVM in 1984 and her MSc in Veterinary Clinical Sciences in 1986 from the University of Montreal, and completed residencies in Veterinary Anesthesiology and Zoological and Wildlife Medicine at the University of Florida from 1986-1991. She joined Cornell in 1997 after working at the Busch Gardens Inc. in Tampa, Florida for five years and became a Diplomate of the American College of Zoological Medicine in 2004.

Along with her colleagues, Abou-Madi is teaching one of the most extensive curricula in zoological medicine in North America, offering courses ranging from Conservation Medicine to Amphibian and Reptile Medicine and Surgery. She shares clinical duties at the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center and at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo with Dr. George V. Kollias, Jay Hyman Professor of Wildlife. These ties provide unique opportunities to teach the practice of conservation medicine for free-ranging and captive animals.

At the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center, graduate and undergraduate students, residents, and interns provide state-of-the-art veterinary care to injured native wild animals, under the direction of the clinicians. Students and residents benefit from the rare opportunity to participate in the care of endangered and threatened animals housed at the zoo, including programs for red pandas, Asian elephants, snow leopards, and Humboldt penguins.

Ties to the zoo have fostered Abou-Madi’s own continued work in conservation medicine. After the loss of one of the zoo’s baby elephant to the Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus, one of the leading causes of juvenile mortality in Asian elephants, Abou-Madi began an intensive research effort studying the disease that may one day lead to a greater understanding of the virus and the possible development of a vaccine.

“Conservation medicine is an essential aspect of veterinary medicine”, says Abou-Madi. “We are developing several new programs to help train the growing number of students interested in this field. Our team is involved in programs in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America, focused on teaching students and children about the conservation of animals and the importance of sustainable ecosystems.”

From teaching and clinical work to specialized zoological training and outreach, Abou-Madi will continue expanding the College’s contributions to wildlife and conservation in her new role as Senior Lecturer.

Large animal care manager helps horses at work and home

“This is Wicked Love,” says Cameron Gurney with a quiet smile as he guides a handsome yearling to reveal its shaved underbelly. You wouldn’t guess that belly was missing ten feet of large intestine; the formerly emaciated thoroughbred looks remarkably healthy after his second colic surgery. Soon he will return to Gurney’s family farm in Cazenovia, NY, where Gurney, his wife, and two daughters work together to breed and show their horses.

Gurney’s confidence and ease with horses show in every step through the barns he supervises, from navigating halls of students trotting animals to handling horses in the stalls. As Manager of Large Animal Care, Gurney is in charge of supervising a staff of animal attendants and clinic aids, keeping the facility running, maintaining a clean environment, and implementing infectious case protocols when needed. His work ensures the health of the horses, giving the animals the best possible experience while in his barns.

“I’ve been in the horse business for 20 years,” says Gurney. “At Cornell we get all sorts of different breeds coming through, and many interesting cases I wouldn’t normally see. The people are very friendly, it’s a good atmosphere. Some professionals act guarded with information, but Cornell’s doctors are very open and engaging. Even out in the field they teach as they work. I’ve learned a lot through them about horse health and care.”

That learning carries over to Gurney’s home. His wife, Jennifer, is an accomplished equestrian whose passion proved infectious. The couple moved from Long Island to Cazenovia and built a successful breeding program from the ground up. Starting as a high school social studies teacher with no equestrian experience, Cameron ended up working with horses full time as business blossomed.

“Now I bring our horses here for surgery. We’re becoming a major client!” He laughs, but with a farm of 25 horses and more on the way, Gurney is in a good position to trade business with Cornell. His farm often takes in Cornell’s lay-up cases that need to be housed off campus, usually injured horses or horses in training. The Gurneys house them, monitor their health, and transport them to and from Cornell.

“We raced two young horses in Belmont last weekend,” Gurney says, patting Wicked Love encouragingly. “They took second and third. Their future is looking promising.” The future of horses in his family looks equally promising. Twelve-year old Ava is already winning prizes at shows, and her six-year-old sister Eliza Grace has just begun to show horses herself.