Fund Supports 12 New Research Projects to Improve Companion Animal Health

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Thanks to grants from the school’s Companion Animal Fund (CAF), faculty and residents at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) will launch 12 new research projects aimed at improving animal health care.

Nearly $110,000 in grants were distributed this year to help SVM researchers explore protein biomarkers in canines with pneumonia, define laryngeal paralysis phenotypes in dogs, map the spread of tick-borne Powassan virus in Wisconsin, compare sedation protocols for feline blood donations, and more.

Special species health is another area supported this year with a study of clinical amphibian anesthetics. In an effort to develop new, species-specific protocols, zoological medicine resident Taylor Yaw and zoological medicine faculty members Christoph Mans and Kurt Sladky DVM’93 will evaluate the sedative effects and safety of two different anesthetic drug combinations in poison dart frogs.

“Most of the published literature is research oriented, not clinical. We are interested in a reversible injection sedation procedure, as it is safer and promotes rapid reversal, unlike the standard immersion techniques currently used,” says Sladky, a clinical professor of zoological medicine in the Department of Surgical Sciences.

According to Sladky, few organizations fund exotic species studies, and the CAF grants have served as an excellent foundation as preliminary studies for some of his larger grant applications. The CAF grants also support residents and students by providing a strong training component.

The CAF is made possible by donations from veterinary medical clinics with strong ties to the school as well as individual donors, including many whose animals have been patients at UW Veterinary Care. Through a competitive annual process, the school uses the funds to award faculty and staff with grants to further research that will enhance the care of companion animals. This year, the school funded 12 research projects, three more than during the 2016 awards process.

The principal investigators for this year’s funded projects are:

  • Jonathan Bach, clinical associate professor, Department of Medical Sciences
  • Heidi Barnes Heller, clinical assistant professor, Department of Medical Sciences
  • Kristen Bernard, professor, Department of Pathobiological Sciences
  • Guillaume Leblond, clinical instructor, Department of Medical Sciences
  • Peter Muir, Professor, Department of Surgical Sciences
  • Xuan Pan, Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Sciences
  • Susannah Sample, Clinical Instructor, Department of Surgical Sciences and
    assistant scientist, Department of Comparative Biosciences
  • Kurt Sladky, clinical professor, Department of Surgical Sciences
  • Lesley Smith, clinical professor, Department of Surgical Sciences
  • Lauren Trepanier, Professor, Department of Medical Sciences
  • Katrina Viviano, clinical associate professor, Department of Medical Sciences
  • Julie Walker, clinical assistant professor, Department of Medical Sciences
  • Joel Weltman, clinical instructor, Department of Medical Sciences

View study titles and descriptions

In addition to bolstering research, funds can be used to support facility and equipment improvements that help UW Veterinary Care clinicians provide enhanced diagnostics and treatments for their patients.

“We are grateful to the donors who sustain the curiosity and academic excellence of our faculty,” says Kristi Thorson, associate dean for advancement and administration. “Their gifts make it possible for our investigators to zero in on areas of diagnosis and treatment that need attention and to explore and test new methods and protocols that could directly impact the quality of care for companion animals — both locally and nationally.”

Learn more about supporting the Companion Animal Fund.

Denise Garlow

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