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th e NEWS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
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Denise Morales and Mondri
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UF cardiologists begin study using gene-modified stem cells to help
Dobermans with common heart condition
BY SARAH CAREY
E expanding earlier research, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine
cardiologists have begun a pilot study using adult stem cells to repair heart function
in Doberman Pinschers with a common heart condition.
Researchers hope to build on their results to further explore the technique in other breeds
"Our goal would be to try to regenerate and bring new muscle cells into the heart," said
Amara Estrada, D.V.M., an assistant professor and chief of the UF Veterinary Medical Center's
The Doberman Pinscher Club of America has provided $72,000 for Estrada's team to study
up to 15 dogs with early-stage dilated cardiomyopathy. A common disease of the heart muscle,
DCM affects both dogs and people. Although people may benefit from aggressive therapy,
such as heart transplants or ventricular-assist devices, medical therapy is the only current
treatment option for dogs afflicted with the disease.
At best, however, such treatment only prolongs the inevitable.
"When a person gets this disease and their heart fails, they typically go on a list to receive
a transplant," Estrada said. "But when our patients get it, they are done."
Procedures such as open heart surgery or ventricular assist devices would be cost-prohibi-
tive for most animal owners, Estrada said.
"If this technique works, it would provide an affordable treatment option and one which
never existed before," she said. "People wouldn't have to watch their dogs suffer."
Dobermans are afflicted with DCM more frequently than any other dog breed, and experi-
ence extremely high mortality rates. Most Dobermans with this condition die within six
"Other breeds of dogs with this condition do not have as rapid a course, but do eventually
succumb due to refractory heart failure," Estrada said.
Judith Brown from the Doberman Pincher Club said she heard Estrada's name mentioned
by another researcher with an interest in DCM. Brown contacted Estrada right away.
"This disease is an enormous problem in our breed," she said. "We are all losing dogs
because of it. We have been looking for some time for a viable study to donate funds, and
which we could really believe in," Brown said. "I feel like if you are going to donate to
;mI', Iliill-. you might as well make a difference."
Brown said she had spoken to a lot of investigators, but was immediately impressed with
"Our dogs are dropping dead in front of our faces," Brown said. "Dr. Estrada had the
empathy and understanding of what we're dealing with. A lot of people don't seem to get it,
but she did."
Preliminary data from Estrada's study will be used to apply for larger scale clinical trials for
Dobermans with DCM, and also for possible exploration as a translational model for additional
studies of the disease in people, Estrada said. Over the past one and a half years, Estrada and
her colleagues at the Powell Gene Therapy Center at UF explored the transplantation of
modified autologous mesenchymal stem cells for the repair of damaged tissue after a myocar-
dial infarction in rats and swine with encouraging results.
"The major advantage of this cell type is their ability to avoid the immune system,
therefore allowing them to engraft in the heart and survive without rejection," Estrada said.
Transplantation of these stem cells has emerged as a safe and effective means to repair left
ventricular pump function in experimental animal and human patients with chronically
infarcted or ischemic hearts, researchers said.
The commercially available cells will be cultured and maintained in the laboratories of
Barry Byrne, MD, Ph.D. and Thomas Conlon, Ph.D., at the Powell Gene Therapy Center. There
the cells will be modified with a virus that will enhance cell growth potential, hence the
likelihood of attracting healthy new cells as well as longer overall cell life in the heart.
"This technique follows the latest trend in gene therapy with combination of stem cells as a
platform for expressing therapeutic proteins," Conlon said. "We are really encouraged by the
previous studies and excited to be a part of Dr. Estrada's research as not only a potential
treatment in canines, but it could be potentially therapeutic in people too."Once the cells
mature, dogs participating in the study will be anesthetized and cells will be injected via
catheter into the coronary sinus essentially a channel through which blood flows into the
heart. Follow up examinations will take place at one month, six months, 12 months and 18
To identify registered Dobermans appropriate for the study, Estrada will be arranging
several screening clinics at dog shows and other venues during the next few months. To meet
the criteria, dogs must be asymptomatic but will show evidence of cardiac dysfunction as the
result of various screening tests.
For more information about the study, contact Estrada via email at
email@example.com or through UF's small animal hospital at (352) 392-2235.
Estrada named one of America's "Best Vets"
SlaiC, -nlhnrn Gar.ry Anlinll'. i i d Illeir dOg Scoo j ,..i h Dr E-slrad L iin .?1 ~. Thle ArllnI 'Iic.
limjriIIIialed EiArada in Ihe TlI,aiill ioir ,il Ior HeaIllh P I e5S.a, ConlesI I Sh, vI,Is IIe
Sclllle.iIeA, ?l H re] l. l ia illelr
A mara Estrada, D.VM., an assistant professor of cardiology at the
University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, is the
Southeast Regional winner of the nationwide "Thank Your Vet for a
Healthy Pet" contest.
Sponsored by Morris Animal Foundation, Hills Pet Nutrition, Inc., and BowTie,
Inc., the essay-based contest allows clients to honor outstanding veterinarians for
their dedication to helping animals and strengthening the human-animal bond.
Nominating Estrada for the award was Gary Anthon of South Jordan, Utah.
Anthon and his family members wrote about how their dog, Scooby, came to be a
participant in Estrada's pacemaker study. The Anthons learned in early 2007 that
Scooby, a black Lab, had a heart condition known as third-degree heart block.
Continued on p. 2
Veterinarian, community volunteer
and entrepreneur Dale Kaplan-Stein
honored as first UF Distinguished
Alumnus from College of Vet Med
D r. Dale Kaplan-Stein, a 1981 graduate of the University of Florida College of
Veterinary Medicine, has received a UF Distinguished Alumnus Award,
becoming the first veterinary college graduate to be so honored by her alma mater.
Kaplan-Stein, who also received her undergraduate degree in animal sciences
from UF in 1976, owns Oaks Veterinary Hospital and Northwood Oaks Veterinary
Hospital, both located in Gainesville. She also helped establish Affiliated Pet
Emergency Services in Gainesville in 1988. For more than 20 years, Kaplan-Stein
worked tirelessly as a volunteer for Gainesville Pet Rescue, Alachua County
Animal Services and No More Homeless Pets, among other groups. In 2007, she
founded the St. Francis House Pet Care Clinic, through which she has helped
provide veterinary care to more than 600 dogs and cats belonging to homeless and
disadvantaged people from the Alachua County area.
UF veterinary students have also benefited from the St. Francis House clinic, as
students on their shelter medicine rotation visit the clinic weekly to participate as
part of their training. The experience provides an opportunity for community
outreach as well as additional clinical training.
Kaplan-Stein's commitment to UF veterinary college life and programs through
service and generous philanthropic gifts resulted in her receiving the college's
2009 Alumni Achievement Award. The college subsequently nominated her for the
Kaplan-Stein's daughter, Sara, is currently a junior veterinary student at UF
UF President Bernie Machen said the award was being given in recognition of
the honor and prestige Kaplan-Stein had brought her alma mater through her
accomplishments and service. He called her "an excellent example of what our
students should strive to become as they step off campus and into the world as
She received her award Dec. 18 during UF commencement ceremonies.
Dr. Dale Kaplan-Stein is shown with her horse, Sage. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Kaplan-Stein)
Emeritus professor of pathology receives Olafson Medal
for contributions to the field
D r. Claus Buergelt, an emeritus professor of p.aIh, .1 at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, has received the
C.L. Davis Foundation's Olafson Medal for his contributions to veterinary p.ii Iih .
Buergelt joined UF's faculty in 1978. His primary research focus while in academia was bovine paratuberculosis, resulting in 33
publications on the topic and two patent applications.
"My career highlight was the training of 55 residents in anatomic p.ih, I.1 -.g, with the vast majority going on to become board
certified," Buergelt said.
The foundation, which supports the advancement of veterinary and comparative p.uIi h1 -,.l, awards the medal each year to an
esteemed member of the profession who embodies the ideals of the late Cornell pathologist Peter J. Olafson specifically excellence in
service, teaching and research.
Buergelt received the award in December during the foundation's annual meeting in Monterey, Calif.
In addition to the Olafson medal, Buergelt was honored in August by the International Association for Paratuberculosis, which
presented him with its Outstanding Service award. Dr. Claus Buergelt
The family was told Scooby needed a pacemaker and that without one, he would die within weeks.
"We were devastated," Anthon said. "We didn't even think they put pacemakers in dogs."
The Anthons came across Estrada's name and contacted her immediately after learning about her Morris Animal Foundation-sponsored study.
"She wrote back immediately, but there was an obvious problem. She was in Florida and we were 2000 miles away," Anthon said. "All the other dogs in the study were local, but she
was willing to try."
Despite many challenges, Scooby was enrolled in the program. Estrada, along with volunteers at UF, even provided housing for Scooby for three months so the Anthons would not
have to travel as much with Scooby back and forth from Utah.
When he returned home for good in June of 2007, Anthon said Scooby was full of health and energy and acting like his normal self. Thanks to Estrada, a devastating experience turned
into a great experience, he said.
"Dr. Estrada saved our dog's life," Anthon said in his nomination essay. "We now consider Amara our friend and we could never repay her for what she has done for us."
Sadly, Scooby passed away due to unrelated causes in September 2009. Still, the Anthons said they would always be grateful to Estrada for prolonging the time they had left with their
.Aliki IgIi we are saddened by the loss of Scooby, we will always be grateful for the two and a half years that we were able to have Scooby in our lives," Anthon said. "It would not have
been possible without Dr. Estrada."
Estrada, who is chief of the cardiology service at the UF Veterinary Medical Center, said she was honored to receive the award.
"It makes me realize that my passion for veterinary medicine, in particular veterinary cardiology, is recognized and appreciated by my clients," Estrada said.
Hundreds of pet owners throughout the country submitted nominations, and stories about the award winners already have appeared in Dog Fancy, Cat Fancy and Veterinary Practice
news, all of which are owned by one of the contest sponsors, Bowtie, Inc.
A complete list of nominees and the winners' profiles are posted at www.thankyourvet.org.
Cold-stunned sea turtles warm to UF during massive turtle rescue effort
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Dr. John Harvey receives prestigious Mark L. Morris Sr. award at NAVC
College of Veterinary Medicine, has received 2010 Mark L. Morris, Sr. Lifetime
Achievement Award for his lifetime contributions to the field of comparative
The award is given annually by Hills Pet Food, Inc. to a veterinarian who has made
significant contributions to the welfare of companion animals through a lifetime of
professional work. Harvey received the award Jan. 16 during the opening ceremony of the
North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando.
In recognition of Harvey's lifetime of service, Hill's will donate $20,000 to Morris Animal
Foundation in his name.
"This year we had many outstanding nominees for this prestigious award," said Daniel
Aja, D.V.M., director of professional affairs at Hill's. "Dr. Harvey is a highly dedicated and 2 () a (-o i
world renowned educator, and his accomplishments make him very deserving of this Lifetime
Achievement Award." Ifosa and 10o/l10)
A board-certified veterinary clinical pathologist, Harvey has been a member of UF's ientt. f[ Il L I \ ut a ttw, lc.
veterinary college faculty since 1974. His scholastic accomplishments include the
publication of 113 refereed papers many describing syndromes not previously recognized
- in both veterinary and human medicine; three books; 46 book chapters; 56 proceedings
papers; 65 abstracts and 31 research grants. He is an accomplished lecturer both nationally
and internationally, having participated in more than 250 major seminar engagements
throughout the world.
Harvey has held numerous leadership roles, serving as president and board member of the
American Society for Veterinary Clinical P.iIh 1 l- -, and as president and treasurer of the
International Society for Animal Clinical P.ilhI, ,1 A board certified veterinary clinical D .I ill Har,,e, riill IS oh'.wil tiilh Dr Daniel ma dre1,;lr o I pr',liMsiclal rlairs HIII Pel rlIj1r11on Iln and
pathologist, he has served on the examination committee of the American College of Paul Raylouil e-.euer ui, e presiaerI r.orr,r Ar,.niial Fourali~on dtrin-J Mre as~ar( prtesernsalion held Jan 16
Veterinary Pathologists and has been a member of several other national and state veterinary al r!a ,'
Among Harvey's previous awards are the Norden Distinguished Teaching Award, the
American Association of Feline Practitioners Research Award and the Alumni Recognition
Award from Kansas State University. In 2007, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award
from the American Society for Veterinary Clinical P.RiI 11 l1,.
Training the trainers
Around the college
International graduate students recognized
Several of the CVM's graduate students were honored recently for their academic
accomplishments during the 15th Annual International Students Awards Ceremony
sponsored by UF's International Center.
The awards are designed to recognize students who not only meet exemplary
academic achievements, but also show a wider range of accomplishments and contri-
The ceremony is held as an effort to promote and foster continued involvement and
outstanding achievement and service.
Or r.1arl funf ar dizcu.zs an micr os cpl l -?P'liualez ,arnou IzemalologiIcr dri olr rsl aogz and calc on
.Ian 8 ias par l a1 i emplllons lralOll ,~im d al -1lp lll_ lul lre It Jigh ~,11i griC J rll, lll r l?'.-nhlrs
i PllOicO Dy Svarah Car ,I
Congratulations to recent graduate degree recipients
The following individuals received their doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in Decem-
ber: Joslyn Ahlgren; Bob Bonde, Yingling Huang, Carla Phillips, Josh Powe, Carie Reynolds,
Karen Von Deneen, and LeAnn White.
Receiving thesis-based master of science (M.S.) degrees were: Melissa Clark, Meghan
Connor, Beatriz Sanz, and Kelley Thieman.
Receiving web-based master of science, non-thesis based degrees with a concentration in
forensic toxicology were Eugenia Brazwell, Ashley Elliott, James Lavelle, Anita Rapp and
From nl r hi- r, h1il .ire [ir r 1.111irr n L,?nq .f i ,,.,i..l pr.le z i ...r I n1 ,, ,,'r.1r iz I-,r Z i rll .n Phoialli .i
Congrats to all!
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