RECIPIENTS OF THE 2009 PFIZER ANIMAL HEALTH–MORRIS ANIMAL FOUNDATION (MAF) VETERINARY FELLOWSHIPS FOR ADVANCED STUDY
Kevin Esch, Iowa State University, D09CA-911
Kevin Esch, a veterinarian completing a master’s degree in public health, recognizes the ways in which environment influences disease transmission between animals and people. After working in private practice and research venues, Esch has become increasingly interested in epidemiologic patterns of zoonotic diseases and ways in which public health policy may influence them. It is this connection that Esch will study with the Pfizer Animal Health–MAF Fellowship.
His previous research includes immune resistance to Salmonella enteritidis in poultry, pathology of tuberculosis in white-tailed deer and a 42-month study of Johne’s disease prevention.
Esch’s fellowship-funded studies will focus on the Leishmania parasite, which affects humans and dogs and is transmitted by a specific type of sand fly. He hopes to improve knowledge about geographic and demographic distribution of leishmaniasis and to improve its prevention and treatment in animals and people. Christine Petersen, DVM, PhD, will act as his mentor at Iowa State University.
Miriam Kool, University of Utrecht, D09CA-913
Miriam Kool, DVM, has a keen appreciation for dispelling scientific mysteries and bringing veterinary research up to par with its human equivalent. She says she is driven by a desire to learn exactly how the healthy animal body works and how disease is caused. With her Pfizer Animal Health–MAF Fellowship, she will study adrenocortical tumors, which cause Cushing’s disease, one of the most common canine endocrine disorders. Her project, which will be conducted at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, may lead to a better understanding of tumor pathogenesis. By studying pathogenesis, Kool hopes to turn cancer into a chronic disease instead of a deadly one.
Kool, who describes herself as an inquisitive individual, regularly seeks more information than textbooks provide and recognizes a need for more veterinary-specific scientific data.
“More high-quality veterinary research is obligatory because the field of veterinary research is still so far behind its human counterpart,” says Kool, who finds the scientific discovery process intellectually challenging and personally rewarding.
Joshua A. Stern, Washington State University, D09CA-909
With his Pfizer Animal Health–MAF Fellowship, Joshua A. Stern, DVM, joins a team at Washington State University that may discover the genetic mutation that causes a fatal, congenital heart defect called subvalvular aortic stenosis in golden retrievers, one of America’s most beloved breeds. Stern’s fellowship creates a new position in the university’s Veterinary Cardiac Genetics Laboratory, where he will be mentored by Kathryn Meurs, DVM, PhD, a leading veterinary cardiologist.
Stern has been involved with the golden retriever breed organization for many years. He also has been involved in studies that evaluated a genetic marker for a heart disease affecting boxers and tested for a genetic mutation that causes an often fatal heart disease in cats. He has also studied cardiovascular changes in Alaskan sled dog and racehorses.
“The Pfizer Animal Health–MAF fellowship will provide an opportunity for me to complete my training goals and to obtain my dream of working in veterinary cardiovascular research,” Stern says.
Melissa Clark, University of Illinois, D09FE-906
Melissa Clark, DVM, has a keen appreciation for small animal drug therapy. And after seeing positive effects in her animal patients, she seeks a more active role in drug research and development.
“My experiences in practice have helped me understand the need for future investigation in many areas of small animal drug therapy,” she explains.
As a Fellow, Clark will begin a clinical pharmacology residency/PhD program at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine that focuses on improving companion animal health and welfare. Specifically, her PhD studies will focus on the treatment of obesity, diabetes and hepatic lipidosis in cats. She plans to seek certification from the American College of Veterinary Clinical Pathologists and ultimately wants to design and coordinate clinical trials that deliver new tools to veterinarians. Her previous research experience includes assessment of vaccine efficacy, fluid resuscitation and bone graft healing.
Allen Page, University of Kentucky, D09EQ-908
An internship at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Kentucky exposed Allen Page, DVM, to a diverse caseload and treatment techniques—from conducting ultrasounds to developing fluid resuscitation plans—and it stoked his interest in veterinary research.
“Research is crucial for the betterment of my own knowledge base, that of veterinary students and the profession,” he says.
A recipient of the Pfizer Animal Health–MAF Fellowship, Page will complete a PhD program at the University of Kentucky and plans to study the epidemiology of Lawsonia intracellularis (LI), a bacteria that causes intestinal disease. Page studied the bacteria while at Hagyard and will continue his work with the university’s large horse populations, which have recently reported LI outbreaks.
“Little is known about LI,” says Page, “and I have seen firsthand what dedication to a project can accomplish.”
Nichol Schultz, University of Minnesota, D09EQ-907
After communicating with pet owners for six years in private practice, Nichol Schultz, DVM, is acutely aware of the types of disease that pose significant health threats to animals. Practical know-how, coupled with several years of research experience, shaped Schultz’s desire to act as an advocate for horses and develop new treatment tools.
“I believe a tremendous opportunity exists to use genetics and genomics to develop new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent equine disease,” says Schultz, a Fellow who plans to study the molecular basis of equine genetic disease and genomic influences on complex diseases at the University of Minnesota.
Schultz, who was admitted to the Comparative and Molecular Biosciences Graduate Program, is “fascinated and excited about the possibilities” to improve the lives of animals through research.
Margaret Eilidh Wilson, Michigan State University, D09EQ-910
It was a passion for animals that prompted Eilidh Wilson, BVMS, to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Her dedication to healing animals led her to veterinary research.
After working in an equine practice, Wilson became frustrated by a lack of disease knowledge and innovative treatment options.
“Research is an avenue that I find more enjoyable and gratifying than clinical medicine,” she explains. “I enjoy questioning existing beliefs and searching for answers [that] benefit animal health.”
Wilson, who is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, has conducted research projects in the areas of respiratory disorders, including investigation of diagnostic imaging modalities, heaves and exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. In addition to successful research collaborations, Wilson has conducted independent investigations.
She says the PhD program at Michigan State University, which is partially funded by the Pfizer Animal Health–MAF Fellowship, “not only enhances my training but it may open up new opportunities for me.”
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