For more than 40 years, the Companion Animal Health Fund (CAHF) and Townsend Equine Health Research Fund (TEHRF) have supported pet health and horse health research, specialized training and awareness at the veterinary college. Private donations from animal owners, organizations and businesses linked to equine and pet industries are integral to the funds’ activities and accomplishments.
For the upcoming year, the two funds have earmarked a total of $184,542 for new research projects.
Testing a more affordable option for treating congestive heart failure in horses, studying the role of two hormones and their role in pregnancy recognition in mares and investigating how veterinarians can better diagnose intestinal parasites in horses are the research focuses for three WCVM research teams that received a total of $82,000 in support. Click here for more information about the projects.
Eight research teams at the WCVM will receive just over $102,500 for pet health studies, including a project that will test a better method for treating osteosarcoma in dogs, a study that will help to set an information baseline for skin conditions in guinea pigs and an investigation of hyperthyroidism and its effect on blood clots in cats. Click here to view full list of research studies.
Education and specialized training
Each year, the WCVM’s equine fund provides financial support for an undergraduate research student whose summer research focuses on equine health. This year, the TEHRF summer research student is Mateo Castano Ospina, a second-year veterinary student whose research mentor is Dr. Joe Bracamonte, an associate professor and large animal surgical specialist in the WCVM’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.
This summer, Ospina will be helping to study the potential use of a stall-side serum amyloid A (SAA) test for the diagnosis of septic arthritis.
TEHRF has also presented five tuition awards — worth a total of about $31,200 — to WCVM graduate students studying different issues in horse health. Here’s an overview of the students’ research efforts:
Roman Koziy is a PhD student who is supervised by Dr. Elemir Simko (Veterinary Pathology). Research focus: identification of amino acid differences in the sequence of systemic- and joint-specific serum amyloid A (SAA) isoforms.
Dr. Nicole van der Vossen is a Master of Science (MSc) student and resident in large animal internal medicine who is supervised by Dr. Tiago Afonso (Large Animal Clinical Sciences). Research focus: evaluating angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to better manage heart failure in horses.
Dr. Karen Pimentel is a MSc student and equine field service resident who is supervised by Dr. Stephen Manning (Large Animal Clinical Sciences). Research focus: investigating whether the dorsal or ventral pouches of the temporomandibular joint of horses communicate with each other.
Toni Saworski is a MSc student who is supervised by Dr. Emily Jenkins (Veterinary Microbiology). Research focus: how we can better diagnose intestinal parasites in horses and identifying parasites that have the most potential of becoming resistant.
Dr. José Antonio Guerra is a MSc student and large animal surgical resident who is supervised by Dr. Keri Thomas (Large Animal Clinical Sciences). Research focus: testing the use of alpha 2 agonist (xylazine) for regional neural blockade in combination with a short-action local anesthetic drug (lidocaine) to determine if it results in increased duration of sensory blockades.
The CAHF awarded its 2021 Dr. Michael Powell Award of Excellence to Dr. Rina Nabeta, a Master of Veterinary Science (MVetSc) student whose work is supervised by Dr. Melissa Meachem of the WCVM’s Department of Veterinary Pathology. Nabeta’s work focuses on finding a novel plasma biomarker for feline pancreatic carcinoma, an aggressive tumour in cats, that will facilitate earlier diagnosis of the disease.
In addition to a CAHF tuition award, Nabeta also received $1,000 through the award, which honours Dr. Michael Powell, a Saskatoon-area veterinarian who left more than $800,000 to the CAHF through his estate.
The CAHF also presented nine other tuition awards to WCVM graduate students whose research studies target companion animal health issues:
Dr. Erica Sims is a MSc student who is supervised by Dr. Tasha Epp (Large Animal Clinical Services). Research focus: public health and zoonotic diseases in companion animal medicine.
Elise Bokshowan is a MSc student who is supervised by Dr. Lynn Weber (Veterinary Biomedical Sciences). Research focus: investigating whether grain-free, legume-based diets cause heart failure in dogs.
Chloe Quilliam is a MSc student who is also supervised by Weber. Research focus: the effects of feeding pulse-based, grain-free diets on cardiovascular health, glycemic response and digestibility in dogs.
Luciana Guimaraes Reis is a MSc student who is also supervised by Weber. Research focus: the effect of fermentation of high- or low-tannin fava bean on cardiovascular function and plasma levels of taurine, cysteine and methionine.
Alexandra Foley-Eby is a PhD student who is supervised by Dr. Maarten Voordouw (Veterinary Microbiology). Research focus: co-infections with multiple strains of Borrelia burgdorferi in female mice and transmission of maternal antibodies to offspring.
Evelyn Harris is a MSc student who is supervised by Dr. Behzad Toosi (Small Animal Clinical Sciences). Research focus: evaluation of expression and function of the EphA2 receptor tyrosine kinase in canine and human osteosarcoma.
Jessica Sharpe is a MSc student who is also supervised by Toosi. Research focus: expression and function of the EphB4 receptor in canine and human osteosarcoma.
Dr. Jennifer Pelchat is an anesthesiology resident who is supervised by Dr. Shannon Beazley (Small Animal Clinical Sciences). Research focus: the effect of different blood pressure cuff looseness factors, which can lead to false readings of hypertension on arterial blood pressure readings of healthy dogs under general anesthesia.
Dr. Siu To (Toad) Koo is a resident of medicine who is supervised by Dr. Tony Carr (Small Animal Clinical Sciences). Research focus: investigating the effect of Yunnan Baiyao, a traditional Chinese medicine, in dogs’ platelets.
Jessica Colby of Montmartre, Sask., is a fourth-year student in the University of Regina’s School of Journalism. She is working as a research communications intern at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) for summer 2021.