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Faculty, Staff, and Student News

Published: Oct 29, 2015

Urs Giger, Dr med vet, was selected as the recipient of the 2015 AVMF/Winn Feline Foundation Excellence in Research Award, presented this summer at the 2015 Merial NIH National Veterinary Scholars Symposium at UC Davis. He also was an invited speaker at the annual European Veterinary Congress in Amsterdam in April and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress in Bangkok in May.

Ronald Harty, PhD, was invited to Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend/University of Notre Dame to present a research seminar on Ebola virus budding, host interactions, and therapeutic intervention. He published the following: Ziying Han, Jonathan J. Madara, Yuliang Liu, Wenbo Liu, Gordon Ruthel, Bruce D. Freedman, and Ronald N. Harty. ALIX Rescues Budding of a Double PTAP/PPEY L-Domain Deletion Mutant of Ebola VP40: A Role for ALIX in Ebola Virus Egress. J. Infect. Dis. 2015. He also published: Jonathan J. Madara, Ziying Han, Gordon Ruthel, Bruce D. Freedman, and Ronald N. Harty. The Multi-Functional Ebola Virus VP40 Matrix Protein is a Promising Therapeutic Target. Future Virology. 2015.

Chris Hunter, PhD, served as a Visiting Professor at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He also delivered major, invited talks in plenary sessions at conferences in Shanghai, Asilomar (California), Keystone meeting (Utah), Woods Hole (Massachusetts), as well as invited speaker presentations at UVA and UMass (Worcester).

Malcolm “Mac” KeiterAssociate Dean for Admissions Malcolm “Mac” Keiter retired at the end of June after more than 26 years in Admissions at Penn Vet. Keiter arrived here from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), armed with years of admissions experience. He advanced the Admissions Office to the level well deserving of a premier veterinary school. Through the years, he served on the Dean’s Council and also chaired the Admissions Committee with wisdom and guidance, resulting in exceptionally qualified, competitive Penn Vet applicants and accepted students. He also formed many valued relationships with faculty, staff, and students during his tenure.

Leszek Kubin, PhD, Research Professor of Physiology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, was invited to give a lecture on the neural mechanisms of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome at the Presidential Symposium, held in April during the 55th Annual Meeting of the Japanese Respiratory Society in Tokyo.

Graziella Mann retired in July after more than 46 years of work in basic research at Penn, which included over 40 years in the Department of Animal Biology (currently Biomedical Sciences). Her expertise in studying sleepwake behavior in animals resulted in many co-authored articles and publications. Through the years, Mann collaborated with Penn Vet Dean Joan Hendricks, Professor Emeritus Adrian Morrison, and Dr. Leszek Kubin among many other researchers from around the world. 

(From left) Professor Emeritus Adrian Morrison, Graziella Mann, Dr. Richard J. Ross, Dr. Leszek Kubin, and Dr. Larry D. Sanford.Kathryn Michel, DVM, spoke about Nutrition Fads Across Species at the American Society of Nutrition Meeting’s “One Nutrition” session in Boston. 

Cynthia Otto, DVM, PhD, gave three invited lectures at the 2015 International Working Dog Conference in La Grande- Motte, France, last March. Her topics were: Early puppyhood education, what are the pros and cons for detection dogs?; Incorporation of the “Fit to Work” fitness program into a canine detection training program; and Effects of hydration strategies on vehicle-screening or tracking canines in hot environments.

Alexander Reiter, Dipl. Tzt., from November 2014 to May 2015, gave lecture presentations and laboratory sessions in dentistry and oral surgery at various events in Atlanta, Georgia; Munich (Germany); Davos (Switzerland); Halmstad (Sweden); Utrecht (Netherlands); Vienna and Innsbruck (Austria); Copenhagen (Denmark); and Rimini (Italy).

Robert Schieri, Vice Dean, Administration & Finance, received the Dean’s Distinguished Service Award at the spring Board of Overseers luncheon. Voted on by the entire Dean’s Council, the award recognizes a member of our community who has contributed broadly and significantly to Penn Vet.

Makoto Senoo, PhD, published the following: Suzuki D, Sahu R, Leu NA, Senoo M. (2015) The carboxy-terminus of p63 links cell cycle control and the proliferative potential of epidermal progenitor cells. Development 142(2):282-90. PMID: 25503409.

Deborah Silverstein, DVM, was the keynote speaker at the Slovenian Small Animal Congress in April 2015 in Portoroz, Slovenia. She published the following: Santoro-Beer KA, Silverstein DC. The Use of Fresh Frozen Plasma in Critically Ill Patients. J Vet Emerg Crit Care 2015;25(1):101-106. She also published: Silverstein DC, Santoro-Beer KA. Controversies Regarding the choice of vasopressor therapy for management of septic shock in animals. J Vet Emerg Crit Care 2015;25(1):48-54. In addition, she published: Silverstein, DC. Systemic inflammatory response syndrome and sepsis. Part I: recognition and diagnosis. Today’s Veterinary Practice;2015;5(1):38-44. 

Corinne Sweeney, DVM, of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, was re-elected to the Association of Racing Commissioners International’s Board of Directors at their annual meeting in Tampa, Florida, in April 2015.

Charles Vite, DVM, PhD, spoke at the National Institutes of Health’s “One Health: Integrating the Veterinarian Scientist into the Biomedical Research Enterprise” on April 7. His talk focused on The comparative medicine team approach to treating neurodegenerative diseases. He also spoke about Penn Vet’s National Referral Center for Animal Models of Human Genetic Disease at BioMarin Pharmaceuticals on April 16. He published the following: Vite CH, Bagel JH, Swain GP, Prociuk M, Sikora TU, Stein VM, O’Donnell P, Ruane T, Ward S, Crooks A, Li S, Mauldin E, Stellar S, De Meulder M, Kao ML, Ory DS, Davidson C, Vanier MT, Walkley SU. (2014) Intracisternal cyclodextrin prevents cerebellar dysfunction and Purkinje cell death in feline Niemann-Pick type C1 disease. Sci Trans Med. He also published: Cantuti-Castelvetri L, Maravilla E, Tamayo T, Monge J, Jeffries J, Lopez-Rosas A, Li G, Garcia K, van Bremmen R, Vite C, Sural-Fehr T, Garcia J, Bongarzone, ER. Deficient activation of AKT mediates neuromuscular dysfunction in Krabbe disease. J Neurosci. In addition, he published: Bradbury AM, Gurda BL, Casal ML, Ponder K, Vite C, Haskins ME. A review of gene therapy in canine and feline models of lysosomal storage disorders. Hum Gene Ther Clin Dev.

Jeremy Wang, PhD, MD, received the 2015 Zoetis Award for Veterinary Research Excellence at the Annual Faculty Research Retreat. He also published the following: Vourekas A, Zheng K, Fu Q, Maragkakis M, Alexiou P, Ma J, Pillai RS, Mourelatos Z, and Wang PJ. MOV10L1 binds piRNA precursors to initiate piRNA processing. Genes & Development. 2015 29: 617-629. He also published: Luo M, Zhou J, Leu NA, Abreu CM, Wang J, Anguera MC, de Rooij DG, Jasin M, Wang PJ. Polycomb protein SCML2 associates with USP7 and counteracts histone H2A ubiquitination in the XY chromatin during male meiosis. PloS Genetics, 2015 Jan 29;11(1):e1004954. 


Gustavo Aguirre, VMD, PhD, received a $3,421,800 grant from NIH/NEI for Models for Therapy of Hereditary Retinal Degeneration. The grant spans from January 1, 2015, through November 30, 2019.

Jorge Alvarez, PhD, received a one-year, $19,323 grant from the McCabe Foundation Pilot Fund to study the role of the Hh pathway in regulating CNS immunity. He also received a $360,000 grant (Canadian dollars) from the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada to study the role of non-conventional CNS barriers during homeostasis and neuroinflammation. This grant spans from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2017.

Montserrat Anguera, PhD, received a one-year, $47,000 grant from the University Research Foundation to study Faulty X-chromosome silencing as significant contributor for female- bias in autoimmunity.

Narayan Avadhani, PhD, received a $1,953,811 NIH/NIAAA grant for CYP2E1 Mediated Mitochondrial Injury and Cell Damage in Alcohol Liver Disease R01-AA022986. He also received a $1,077,300 NIH/NIGM grant for Role of Mitochondria-Targeted CYP2D6 in Chemical Toxicity. Both grants span from February 2015 through December 31, 2019.

Kendra Bence, PhD, received a one-year, $30,000 grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Pilot, Chronobiology Program) for investigating a novel link between phosphatase regulation of central GLP-1 activity and the circadian control of feeding.

Igor Brodsky, PhD, received the New Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. The award provides $500,000 over five years to support accomplished investigators at the assistant professor level to study pathogenesis, with a focus on the interplay between human and microbial biology. He will work on defining the role of caspase-8 in the regulation of anti-microbial host defense. He also received a $280,725 NIH R21 AI117365 grant for Harnessing inflammasome activation to enhance efficacy of Salmonella vaccines. The grant spans from January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2016. 

JD Foster, VMD, received a $82,323 grant from Immunicom for A multi-center, open-label study to evaluate safety and effectiveness of Immunicom Apheresis Immunoadsorption Affinity column in combination with Terumo BCT Spectra Optia Apheresis system for treatment of malignant melanoma and other naturally occurring malignancies in the dog. The grant spans from January 5 through December 31, 2015.

Michelle Giuffrida, VMD, received a $64,000 grant from Merial Limited for Evaluation of the efficacy and safety of feline interleukin-2 immunomodulator (ALVAC® IL-2) as an adjunct treatment for feline fibrosarcoma following surgical excision of the tumor. The grant spans from December 1, 2014, through December 31, 2017.

Ronald Harty, PhD, received a one-year, $84,374 grant from Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center to study development of small molecule therapeutics against RNA viruses.

David Holt, BVSc, reported that the Section of Surgery was awarded a one-year grant from the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and the Kislak Family Foundation to repair fractures in shelter dogs and cats.

Olena Jacenko, PhD, received a one-year, $50,000 grant from the University Research Foundation to study the following: Could a young niche rejuvenate hematopoiesis.

Christopher Lengner, PhD, received a one-year, $50,000 grant from the University Research Foundation for Identifying markers for the prospective isolation of reserve intestinal stem cells.

James Lok, PhD, received a $1,158,891 NIH/AI grant for Mechanisms and Treatment of Chronic, Latent Human Strongyloidiasis. The grant spans from March 16, 2015, to February 28, 2018.

Frank Luca, PhD, received a one-year, $50,000 grant from the University Research Foundation for A Zebrafish model for investigation Ndr Kinase-dependent retina development.

James Marx, DVM, PhD, received a $5,000 grant from the ASLAP Foundation Summer Fellowship Program, which spans from May 1 to September 30, 2015. 

Lisa Murphy, VMD, received a one-year, $50,000 USDA grant for Maintenance of Membership Laboratory Requirements.

Michael Povelones, PhD, received a one-year, $19,323 grant from the McCabe Foundation Pilot Fund.

Alexander Reiter, Dipl. Tzt., and Maria Soltero-Rivera, DVM, received a one-year, $9,000 grant from the Edwin & Fannie Gray Hall Center for Human Appearance (CHA) for studies relating to craniofacial disfigurement from a One Health perspective.

Mark Rondeau, DVM, received a $39,999 grant from Royal Canin to study the role of the microbiome in resolution of canine chronic enteropathy. The grant spans from December 15, 2014, to June 30, 2016.

Thomas Schaer, VMD, received a $100,055 grant from NIH (subcontract from Thomas Jefferson University) for Creating an infection-free intraosseus transcutaneous amputation prosthesis. The grant spans from January 1, 2014, through January 31, 2016.

Billy Smith, DVM, received a $12,020 grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for Using low street handling techniques and acclimation to decrease stress during transition and early lactation in dairy heifers. The grant spanned from January 1 through June 30, 2015.

Louise Southwood, PhD, received a $12,958 grant from North Carolina State University (Grayson Jockey Club) for Flunixin or Firocoxib in postoperative colic patients. The grant spans from May 1, 2015, to March 31, 2017.

J. Oriol Sunyer, PhD, received a $862,045 NIH R01 GM085207 grant for Primordially conserved principles governing mucosal immune responses to pathogens and microbiota. The grant spans from February 15, 2015, to November 30, 2018.

Raymond Sweeney, VMD, received a one-year, $97,760 grant from Immune Solutions Ltd for evaluation of an oral vaccine for Johne’s Disease in calves.

P. Jeremy Wang, PhD, MD, received a $1,400,000 NIH/ U01HD084007 grant for Targeting the piRNA pathway and meiotic recombination for male contraception. The grant spans from May 1, 2015, through March 31, 2020.

Zhiguo Wu, PhD, received a $35,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for Management of phosphorus nutrition to reduce dairy cow milk fever. The grant spanned from January 1 through June 30, 2015. 

Student News

Caitlin Doran, V’17, received the annual Schad Prize in Parasitology. The award is named for the late Dr. Gerry Schad, a beloved Penn Vet Professor of Parasitology. It is given to the student with the highest numerical average in the Parasitology core.

Caitlin Doran, V17, and Dr. James 'Sparky' Lok in front of Dr. Schad's portraitBrittney Gurda, V’17, was awarded a one-year, $35,000 postdoctoral fellowship from January to December 2015 for her work with Charles Vite, DVM, PhD, in the feline Niemann-Pick type C (NPC1) model. They are studying the potential of vector- mediated gene therapy as a treatment for this disease using an adeno-associated virus (AAV) to deliver a functional copy of the NPC1 gene. The fellowship was funded by the Million Dollar Bike Ride through the Orphan Disease Research Center at Penn.

Gabriel Innes, V’16, won the prestigious Lois F. Fairchild Scholarship, designed to encourage veterinarians to enter the field of public practice or service as a career goal.

Nikhil Joshi, V’15, defended his capstone thesis, Public-private partnership for dairy in India: a vision for food security, to complete requirements for the certificate of veterinary public health. 

The essay submission by Melanie Lang, V’16, was chosen as Penn’s winner of the Simmons Education Fund Business Aptitude Award. In addition to a $3,000 scholarship, the award also allows her to compete for the national prize of $15,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to NAVC in 2016.

Marc Myers, V’15, was appointed to a one-year rotating internship in companion animal medicine and surgery at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals beginning in June 2015. 

Veterinary students lost two colleagues this past March and responded with an outpouring of support. Penn Vet united with veterinary schools around the world for a moment of reflection and healing. Students and staff signed notebooks with words of support to send to the families of the vet students at UC Davis and Michigan State, as well as the family of Penn Vet’s Dr. Ben Martin, who also passed away in March.

Vet Students United