June 2020 - Vol. 15, No. 6
Research team receives $11.3 million grant to establish infectious disease research center
The National Institutes of Health is awarding a Kansas State University-led team of veterinary researchers with a prestigious five-year, $11.3 million grant under the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence, or COBRE, program to establish a new Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, or CEZID.
Drs. Jürgen Richt and Philip Hardwidge will be the respective director and assistant director of K-State's new Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, or CEZID.
The center will comprise four primary research projects that will bridge areas of excellence in the collective infectious diseases programs at Kansas State University involving the colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Arts and Sciences.
"Our projects will examine virulence factors and host-pathogen interactions of various pathogens, utilizing both basic and translational approaches in in vitro systems and in models," said
Dr. Jürgen Richt, Regents distinguished professor at Kansas State University and a Kansas Bioscience Authority eminent scholar in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Richt will serve as director of the center. Dr. Philip Hardwidge, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, will serve as associate director.
"The overarching goal of the CEZID is to advance our overall understanding of emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases based on research performed in the state of Kansas," Dr. Richt said. "Our goals are also clearly aligned with NIH's strategic plan "Turning Discovery into Health.'"
"The truly unique and competitive advantage of the CEZID program is that it brings a multipronged and multidisciplinary approach to understanding and attacking zoonotic infectious diseases," said Peter Dorhout, vice president for research at K-State. "Our ability to better understand how these diseases behave, which include the family of coronaviruses that comprises our current global pandemic, will enable our researchers to create rapid responses to future calamitous outbreaks that affect both human and animal health. These teams will deliver science-based solutions to improve people's lives."
Dr. Richt said there will be two research core facilities to support the research projects and programs: an Animal Model/Pathology Core and a Molecular and Cellular Biology Core, offering unique research infrastructure resources at Kansas State University and the state of Kansas.
The success and growth of CEZID will be enabled through various programs:
• A faculty mentoring program that will provide outstanding mentoring of the research project leaders by nationally and internationally recognized mentors.
• New faculty recruitment at K-State within the center's mission space to ensure the growth and sustainability of CEZID.
• A pilot grant program that will promote center growth by funding smaller projects at universities in the state of Kansas.
• A regional scientific network that will provide interdisciplinary and interinstitutional collaborations and will ensure increased usage of CEZID's core facilities and access to additional core facilities, and training opportunities at universities in the state of Kansas and surrounding states.
According to Dr. Richt, these Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases programs will be the basis by which research productivity is enabled and supported, helping to advance the overall success and reputation of CEZID core projects, pilot projects, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, and center faculty.
Dr. Hardwidge said the Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases has the potential to provide a vital service to the nation in the area of infectious disease research.
"In this era, interest in the control of the spread of infectious diseases is obviously of substantial importance both within the scientific community and in the general population, Dr. Hardwidge said. "We believe this center can greatly expand our general ability to respond effectively to future outbreaks."
Dr. Roman Ganta to use $3 million-plus NIH grant to develop vaccines for several tick-borne diseases
Dr. Roman Ganta, director of the CVM's Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases, has received a $3.125 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue his longtime work on tick-borne diseases.This is the second major highly competitive NIH R01 grant secured by Dr. Ganta within a year.
Dr. Roman Ganta, professor of diagnostic medicine and director of Kansas State University's Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases.
The research focus for this grant is to develop vaccines against several important tick-borne diseases that affect human and animal health.
Previously, Ganta has received several grants from the NIH under the R01 research grant program: $2.7 million in 2019, $1.8 million in 2014, $1.8 million in 2007, and $1.7 million in 2002. Ganta also received NIH funding through P20, R13 and R56 grants.
The goals of Dr. Ganta's research with the previously funded grants are to study pathogenesis, host immune response and develop novel genetic tools to combat human monocytic ehrlichiosis, or HME, caused by the rickettsial bacterium, Ehrlichia chaffeensis. With new funding, Dr. Ganta will work to develop vaccines against HME and other important tick-borne diseases caused by several Ehrlichia and Anaplasma species pathogens.
"Tick-borne diseases have been continuously emerging in the U.S. and many parts of the world for over four decades and remain a threat to the health of people, dogs and farm animals," said
Dr. Ganta, a professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology.
Dr. Ganta's research at K-State since 1998 remains at the forefront in tackling various tick-borne diseases with a primary focus on pathogenesis, surveillance, diagnosis and disease prevention with funding received from federal, foundation and industry sources. He credits the successful progress that he and his research team have made over the last two decades in securing a second NIH R01 grant even while the other grant is still active.
"Our prior NIH-funded studies have demonstrated the feasibility of developing live attenuated vaccines for the first time for Ehrlichia species pathogens," Dr. Ganta said. "Live attenuated vaccine development is feasible using our recently patented technology of targeted mutagenesis that is broadly applicable for several rickettsial diseases caused by Ehrlichia and Anaplasma species pathogens. This is the foundation for the new five-year NIH grant."
Dr. Ganta anticipates making substantial progress toward developing vaccines that will be suitable to combat various tick-borne diseases affecting the health of people, dogs and various vertebrate hosts.
Dr. Ganta has been continuously funded by the NIH to pursue research on HME since 2002 and the latest grant pushes that funding to 2025. Ongoing NIH-funded research supports investigations on how Ehrlichia chaffeensis regulates its gene expression in response to tick and vertebrate host environmental signals and how it develops strategies to evade host immunity for its persistent survival in vertebrate hosts and ticks.
CVM goes live on Facebook to recognize faculty nominees for the Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award
Good things come to those who wait. While focusing on critical missions at the CVM this spring due to concerns over COVID-19, the annual senior honors banquet had to be postponed. Usually the Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award is presented at this banquet, but because of the delay and the need for social distancing, the CVM decided to present the award in a very unique way.
Dr. Jeff Comer's CAREER grant a first for College of Veterinary Medicine
A Kansas State University researcher is the first in the College of Veterinary Medicine to receive a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Jeff Comer, associate professor of anatomy and physiology, has received a $450,513 award from the NSF Faculty Early Career Development, or CAREER, Program.
The grant period is for five years. Depending on funding availability and scientific progress of his project, funding could be increased by $115,344 in the fifth year, bringing the total of the award to $565,857.
Dr. Jeff Comer, associate professor of anatomy and physiology, is the first faculty member ever from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine to receive a National Science Foundation CAREER award.
The CAREER program offers the NSF's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education, and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.
"The NSF CAREER program is different from other NSF grants in that it is not only a research grant but also is meant for academic career development of the faculty," Dr. Comer said. "As such, it includes a substantial educational component along with the research."
"Dr. Comer works at the intersection of biology, physics and mathematics," said Hans Coetzee, professor and head of the anatomy and physiology department. "His groundbreaking research uses innovative computational methods to solve contemporary biological problems. He has leveraged these skills to establish productive interdisciplinary collaborations with many of our faculty with a traditional biomedical research focus. We are fortunate to have Dr. Comer at K-State and we are proud of his recent NSF award."
The CAREER award funds Comer's research using computer simulations and complementary experiments to design protein-like molecules that can easily be programmed to arrange themselves into complex devices for biomedical applications such as diagnostic tests.
"The miniaturization of devices such as computers and cellphones has been so successful that the size of their parts is now similar to the size of molecules and atoms," Dr. Comer said. "Soon, the old ways of building things will no longer work. The future is building things out of individual molecules. It is as if we are going from building sandcastles to building tiny castles out of individual grains of sand."
His research team also seeks to develop computer simulations of molecules for use in college classrooms and in K-12 outreach. These simulations will give students a better understanding of how molecules move.
"The interactive simulations will be aimed at helping students understand how medicines work and how new medicines can be designed," Dr. Comer said. "The educational modules and simulation programs will be made freely available to educators and the public, and will include English- and Spanish-language versions."
Vet Med ROCKS to host virtual summer camp for youth
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vet Met ROCKS summer day camp will take place in a virtual format this year — and it's free of charge.
"We hope to still interact with campers through Facebook Live and present information on interesting topics, assign tasks to campers and allow campers to ask questions and upload photos of their projects for camp counselors to evaluate," said Michael Demmin, a third-year veterinary student and summer camp chair for Vet Med ROCKS, the Recruitment and Outreach Club of Kansas State, in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
From Aug. 3-6, students in kindergarten through the eighth grade will have the opportunity to learn about a different system/organ every day. Participants will get to enjoy fun hands-on activities using household items to enhance learning about each day's topic. Each day will end with a live Q&A session where campers can ask questions to current K-State veterinary students about the daily topic or veterinary school.
On Aug. 7, the club will host a virtual rounds session for high school and college students where clinicians will run through clinical cases. A Q&A session will also be conducted by admissions representatives and current students to get details of how to get into veterinary school and life as a vet student.
Preregister at vet.k-state.edu/asp/rocks/ and follow the Vet Med ROCKS Facebook page for updates.
Veterinary Health Center/Clinical Sciences recognize faculty and house officers
Similar to the situation with the Zoetis Teaching Award, the Veterinary Health Center and Clinical Sciences department made delayed presentations of the annual Pet Tribute Awards and Mentoring Awards. Presentations were made in early June rather than in May, since the annual honors banquet had to be canceled. Awards were presented in limited gatherings on separate occasions.
Dr. Neta Amber, intern in zoological medicine, celebrates with Dr. David Eshar on his receipt of the Award for Excellence in Resident Mentoring.
Dr. Nicky Cassel was selected for a 2020 Award for Excellence in Resident Mentoring, joined here with the rest of the diagnostic imaging and radiology team (from left): Drs. Erin Hennessey, Erica Chavez-Peon, David Biller, Nicky Cassel, Hannah Turner and Clay Hallman.
Dr. David Upchurch presents Dr. Walter Renberg with the 2020 Award for Excellence in Junior Faculty Mentoring.
Dr. Marjorie Artzer was selected for the Pet Tribute Faculty Award.
Dr. Nalani Yamada is the recipient of one of two Pet Tribute House Officer Awards.
Dr. Emily Benfield is the recipient of the other Pet Tribute House Officer Award.
Addie Houchin rounds out the VHC's 2020 awards with the Pet Tribute Veterinary Nurse Award. Congratulations to all!
SORT Steps Up to Help with COVID-19 Efforts in Riley County
By Cheyenne Swoope
With the impact of COVID-19 on the United States, Kansas and Riley County, everyday life has been significantly impacted on many levels. Classes and extracurricular activities have been cancelled, postponed or moved to an online format, giving many students more time outside of classes.
Some Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine graduate, MPH and veterinary students have decided to use their time to positively impact COVID-19 efforts through their involvement with the Student Outbreak Response Team (SORT).
According to Andrew Adams, public health emergency preparedness coordinator for the Riley County Health Department (RCHD), the KSU SORT was created with the help of a K-State Master of Public Health (MPH) student in 2017 to serve as a part of the health department’s surge capacity protocol for disease investigations and outbreak control, and has been a vital part of the public health response to COVID-19 in Riley County.
“When training the students on epidemiological practices and disease investigation, I usually have a comment about hoping to never have to activate the team, and that we’re preparing for the worst-case scenario – from a widespread outbreak to a full-blown pandemic - and here we are,” Adams said.
Second-year veterinary student Maya Djordjevich serves as vice president for SORT, but said she did not originally expect to be called to volunteer on the front lines of a global pandemic during her time as a veterinary student. Nevertheless, she is grateful for the learning opportunity.
“Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, I scheduled and hosted outbreak response trainings with Andrew Adams, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator at RCHD, and our members,” Djordjevich said. “I was thinking [we would be working] more along the lines of a local food-borne outbreak or natural disaster as opposed to a viral pandemic.”
Djordjevich volunteers her time twice weekly conducting contact-tracing interviews with individuals, hospitals and businesses. Contact tracing involves gathering symptoms, travel habits and locations visited before and after onset of symptoms, as well as any names and contact information for close contacts of those who are affected by the virus.
“I am empowered by the vital work that I am doing with the knowledge that contact tracing is an integral factor in reopening communities and businesses,” Djordjevich said. “Volunteering with RCHD has furthered my interest in public health and disaster response. I will be entering a Master of Public Health Program in Fall 2020.”
Second-year veterinary student Molly Allison felt welcomed by the RCHD team during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All employees at RCHD that we've encountered have been extremely welcoming and have provided an encouraging environment to learn and enhance practical public health skills,” Allison said. “Adams has given us great guidance in one important task – contact tracing.”
This task has allowed Allison and other student volunteers to learn and grow in the public health aspects of their education while making an impact within the community.
“For myself, practicing contact tracing has not only allowed me to become more acquainted with the many jobs our health department do to ensure our health and safety as a community, but it has also given me insight on how to provide public health education, how to effectively communicate with people who are looking for answers and provide some encouragement to those who have, and are currently struggling with this disease,” Allison said. “All of these things are powerful and speak to the impact of SORT's partnership with RCHD.”
Adams said the RCHD is thankful for programs such as SORT that have been able to make an impact as the community navigates through this challenging time.
“Having a trained cadre of volunteers ready to jump in at a moment’s notice has been hugely impactful,” Adams explained. “[The students are] helping RCHD to quickly contact confirmed cases of COVID-19 and identify their close contacts – all as a part of controlling the pandemic locally – and helping to flatten the curve, raise the bar and push past the negative impacts of COVID.”
SORT is an official student organization. If you are interested in participating, contact Dr. Ellyn R. Mulcahy at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the MPH program, visit https://www.k-state.edu/mphealth/.
K-State beef cattle experts share tips for treating calves
Spring branding and processing day is often a time when community members and families join together to administer vaccinations, castrate, implant calves and apply hide identification before summer pasture turnout.
Spring is the right time to administer an implant in a 45-90 day old calf.
But this spring’s COVID-19 pandemic may require some changes, said experts at Kansas State University’s Beef Cattle Institute. They offered up some advice during a recent Cattle Chat podcast.
“It is critical to have the right labor on hand to help on processing day,” said K-State veterinarian Dr. Bob Larson, adding that families may need to manage that differently this year because of the COVID-19 human health challenge.
“This COVID-19 spring means that we may need to organize our labor into family groups to promote social distance between folks who don’t live together,” Larson said.
He also said that it is important for cow-calf producers to involve help that know how to best move around the animals.
“A few people that handle cattle well are way more helpful than a bunch of folks who don’t know what they are doing,” Dr. Larson said.
One way that cattle producers can inform themselves on good animal handling protocols is to complete the National Cattlemen’s Association’s Beef Quality Assurance trainings, said Dr. Brad White, K-State veterinarian and BCI director.
Bob Weaber, a beef cattle specialist with K-State Research and Extension, added that the training helps producers understand biological products and protocols,
“For example, modified live vaccines need to be protected from sunlight, so you’ll want to have a cooler for storage when you are working the calves,” Weaber said. “Also syringe maintenance is important. If you are using an automated syringe, make sure the tubes and gaskets are clean and in good shape.”
He also said this is the time to implant the calves.
“We know that through implanting there is an improved efficiency of gain and performance of calves and that is really valuable going into this fall with so much uncertainty in the markets,” Weaber said.
Dr. White added that while the calves are gathered up, go ahead and castrate the bulls to make them steers.
Dr. White added a note of caution: “As always, it is important to work with your veterinarian to come up with the right plan to fit the needs of your operation.”
Attention dog owners: Veterinary Health Center looking for K9 blood donors
By Brooke Neiberger
The K-State Veterinary Health Center is looking for volunteer K9 blood donors. Just like people, dogs have diseases or injuries that require blood transfusions. Many of our canine patients receive transfusions; the dogs enrolled in the Canine Blood Donor Program provide the blood products for them. The demand for blood products for our patients increases every year.
We need volunteer blood donors to ensure that every patient in need can be treated.
Healthy dogs 1 to 5 years of age and weighing more than 55 pounds can safely donate a unit of blood every eight weeks.
Canine blood donors will receive an annual health screening consisting of physical examination, appropriate vaccinations, blood tests such as a complete blood cell count, serum chemistry, heartworm test and a stool examination for intestinal parasites. For the protection of the donor and the blood supply, we provide monthly preventatives for heartworms, fleas and tick-borne infectious diseases.
Contact email@example.com to enroll your dog or find out more information.
Regulatory requirements for animal drugs and vaccines are topics of upcoming workshops
Three professional development workshops about regulatory affairs in animal health are being offered this fall by Kansas State University's Olathe campus. Workshops cover the regulatory aspects of animal drug and vaccine development, with options for introductory and advanced courses.
"We are excited to bring together leading professionals in the regulatory field and provide education for an unmet need in the animal health industry," said Angela Buzard, manager of training and development at K-State Olathe. "This set of workshops, as well as previous seminars on similar topics, are making a positive impact. We look forward to continuing to work with industry partners to launch additional programs as new needs arise."
Animal Health Regulatory 101 is 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 26-27. It is a two-day introductory course on the regulatory requirements of animal drug and vaccine development. Attendees will learn how to navigate the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the two federal agencies that oversee these products. They also will learn about the requirements the agencies place on the development and maintenance of drugs and vaccines.
This workshop returns because of popular demand. Twenty-four participants from 12 animal health companies attended the previous workshop and scored it a 4.48 on a 5.0 scale. Several of these companies contacted K-State Olathe to ask about the next offering to send additional employees.
The Advanced Animal Biologics Workshop is from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 21-22. The workshop covers practical issues in animal health regulatory affairs as it relates to the development of vaccines and other biologics to aid in assuring developed biologics are pure, safe, potent and effective. Attendees will learn about the history of applicable regulations used by the USDA's Center for Veterinary Biologics and gain an understanding of the integration of science into successful product approval and maintenances.
The Advanced Animal Pharmaceutical Workshop is from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 11-12. This workshop provides a detailed, practical and experience-based review of the veterinary drug approval process. Content covers the five topics that comprise the four major technical sections of a product submission to the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine – chemistry, manufacturing and control; efficacy; target animal safety; human food safety; and efficacy for generic products.
All three workshops have content is designed for professionals who are tasked with developing and maintaining an animal health company's product portfolio or who are involved with the company's regulatory strategies.
The workshops can be attended in-person at the Olathe campus or virtually. Those who attend on campus are required to practice social distancing to aide in participant safety.
The workshops are part of the campus' ongoing Regulatory Affairs Animal Health Program, which provides the latest information about the regulatory field through workshops and seminars. More than 400 professionals from animal health companies and affiliated industries have attended program events since it launched in 2017.
Alumni Events, Development and Continuing Education
The Veterinary Medical Alumni Association organizes alumni receptions at several of the national annual conferences plus continuing education events and more. This month's section includes the monthly listings of recently departed alumni and links to their obituaries, plus a new link for submitting nominations for Alumni Recognition Awards.
The Clinical Nutrition Symposium for Small Animal Veterinarians, sponsored by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, is now available online for free! To access the video, register with Continuing Education Online: http://vet.ksu.edu/onlinece/index.aspx. The symposium can be found under the Small Animal icon.
More activities and accomplishments in the College of Veterinary Medicine:
Drs. Kate KuKanich, Greg Grauer, Christopher George and James Roush published, “Effects of low-dose meloxicam in cats with chronic kidney disease” in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.
Dr. Chieko Azuma (Co-Investigator) with Dr. Masaaki Tamura (PI), Jeffery Comer (Co-Inv), Brian Geisbrecht (Co-Inv) were awarded $20,700 from the Johnson Cancer Research Center through the Innovative Research Award for their project, “Cancer-targeted dendritic cell-based immunotherapy with PD-L1 inhibitory peptide for the treatment of lung cancer.”
Congratulations! The awards for the Best House Officer Seminar by an Intern or Resident went to:
- Dr. Tess Rooney for her presentation, “Comparing dromedary camel seroprevalence to Coxiella burnetii with C. burnetii DNA in ticks collected from camels in Laikipia, Kenya”
- Dr. Clay Hallman for his presentation, “ECG-gated 64-slice computed tomography of coronary artery morphology in brachycephalic dogs with pulmonic stenosis”
Several Clinical Sciences members presented at the 82nd Annual Conference for Veterinarians that was held remotely on May 31 – June 1.
- Dr. Warren Beard – “Analgesia and Standing Chemical Restrain in Horses”
- Dr. Chris Blevins – Pre-recorded presentation, “Standing oral Procedures”
- Dr. Maria Jugan – “A How-To Guide: A Case-Based Approach to Utilization of Feeding Tubes in Small Animal Patients” and a pre-recorded presentation, “A How-To Guide: Placement and Management of Nasogastric and Esophageal Feeding Tubes in Small Animal Patients”
- Dr. Jessica Meekins - “Feline Uveitis: Ocular Manifestations of Systemic Disease in the Midwestern United States”
- Dr. Matt Miesner – “Field Anesthesia and Surgery Techniques – Food Animal”
- Dr. Jordan Roberts – Pre-recorded presentation, “Recognizing and Treating Corneal Ulcers in Horses”
- Dr. Leslie Wagner – Pre-recorded presentation, “An update on pregnancy toxemia in small ruminants”
- Dr. Will Whitehouse – “Management of Hypertension in Dogs and Cats” and a pre-recorded presentation, “Update on Proteinuria in Dogs and Cats”
- Dr. Doug Winter – “Pediatric Dentistry” and a pre-recorded presentation, “Feline Oral Pathology”
- Dr. Raelene Wouda – “The Emergence of Atypical and Indolent Lymphomas in Dogs” and a pre-recorded presentation, “Immunotherapy for Veterinary Cancer Patients”
Dr. Callie Rost and Dave Hoffman conducted a Virtual Admissions Town Hall event live in June on the KSUCVM Facebook page. Their goal was to connect with prospective students and answer questions about how to prepare and apply for veterinary college.
We have expanded our social channels!
Join the College of Veterinary Medicine on LinkedIn and add us to your profile under education and/or employment to help build and engage our online social community! Follow the LinkedIn page here: www.linkedin.com/company/kstatevetmed
New Arrivals/Recent Departures
Dr. Samuel Hocker, Clinical Sciences, Assistant Professor
Dr. Ruth Hallman, Clinical Sciences, Clinical Assistant Professor
Dr. Sarah Bosch, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Intern
Dr. Brooke Davis, Veterinary Health Center, Intern
Dr. Kristen Gabriel, Veterinary Health Center, Intern
Dr. Morgan Johnson, Veterinary Health Center, Intern
Dr. Abby McKisson, Veterinary Health Center, Intern
Dr. Abigail Sturbaum, Veterinary Health Center, Intern
Dr. Wenjun Ma, Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, Associate Professor
Dr. Charan Ganta, Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, Clinical Associate Professor
Dr. Xuming Liu, Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, Research Assistant Professor
Catherine Kasper, Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, Laboratory Client Services Assistant
Cassandra Kniebel, Clinical Sciences, Program/Project Manager I
Dr. Andrea Montano Hernandez, Veterinary Health Center, Intern
Yuan Feng, Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, Research Assistant
Addison Houchin, Veterinary Health Center, Veterinary Nurse II
Lifelines is published each month by the Marketing and Communications Office at the College of Veterinary Medicine. The editor is Joe Montgomery, firstname.lastname@example.org.