Mainely Progress, Summer 2008
Volume 5, Number 1
New Facility Sought for Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
The University of Maine operates the Maine Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (MVDL) as a service to the veterinarians, livestock producers, fishermen and aquaculturists in Maine. As a collaborative venture of the Department of Animal & Veterinary Sciences and Cooperative Extension Service, the lab has a 60-year history of sustaining agriculture and fisheries industries through the diagnosis of economically important terrestrial and aquatic animal diseases; and through research on new technologies to prevent, detect, and manage such diseases. Anne Lichtenwalner is the newly hired director of the MVDL. She is a Ph.D/DVM and an assistant professor with a joint appointment in Animal & Veterinary Sciences and Cooperative Extension.
Funds are currently being sought to construct and equip a new building for the MVDL; providing state-of-the art laboratory facilities that will support Maine’s agricultural and aquatic animal industries with technology transfer and bio-analysis relative to disease control and diagnostics. A $5,000,000 proposal has been submitted to the Maine Technology Asset Fund, administered through the Maine Technology Institute. Lichtenwalner and Jim Weber, Ph.D./DVM and Associate Professor in Animal & Veterinary Sciences, and are co-principal investigators for this project.
The MVDL is the only site in the State where deceased animals and tissue samples from local farms are examined and the cause of death determined. Attending veterinarians and staff have worked through tens of thousands of cases of disease in dogs, cats, poultry, cattle, sheep, horses, pigs, and in animals as diverse as mice, salmon, Canadian lynx, lobsters and moose. The economic value of at-risk animal agriculture and aquaculture in Maine is estimated conservatively at well over $1 billion.
Current MVDL facilities scattered throughout Hitchner Hall are outdated and inadequate. Necropsy facilities have not been updated since the 1940’s and lack the capacity to necropsy large animals. In addition, current labs operate primarily at Bio-Safety Level I, which limits the ability to effectively and safely handle or contain many pathogenic organisms. Also needed is an on-site method for disposal of carcasses and other contaminated wastes. Currently, infectious waste from the MVDL is frozen and then trucked to a disposal service in Auburn, Maine where it is incinerated – raising concerns about the risk of transporting animal wastes that have already been identified as containing pathogenic organisms known to be harmful to animals and possibly humans.
According to Weber, “our rationale for requesting this funding is to better protect existing animal agriculture and fisheries in Maine and support the growth of new agricultural and aquaculture enterprises in the State by minimizing economic losses due to disease. The best approach for protecting Maine agriculture from future outbreaks of disease would be for Maine to have an accredited diagnostic lab that could participate in national initiatives to tackle disease issues in livestock.” Weber added that two key objectives that building a modernized MVDL would facilitate are accreditation through the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, and subsequent affiliation with the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. In addition, this unique resource should attract collaborative research funding with other institutions. Expanding research projects will substantially add to the animal health knowledge base, and will foster educational opportunities for Maine’s terrestrial and aquatic animal researchers of the future.
State Veterinarian Dr. Don Hoenig stated in a letter of support that, “We are of course in full support of the proposal. This diagnostic lab has for years been a tremendous resource not only to the department of Agriculture but to farmers and veterinarians throughout Maine. The facilities at the Diagnostic Lab, however, are long overdue for overhaul and renovation necessary to bring them into the world of 21st century technology and diagnostics. This proposal addresses that need.”
New Director for the Diagnostic Lab
Anne Lichtenwalner is the new director of the Maine Veterinary Diagnostic laboratory and is an assistant professor and assistant extension educator in Animal and Veterinary Sciences. Anne earned her DVM at Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1989, practiced for 2 years in Washington state, then entered the Northwest Equine Reproduction Lab (NERL), at University of Idaho in 1991 with a strong interest in both equine and camelid (llama, alpaca, vicuna and guanaco: south American camel-like animals) reproduction. Her dissertation investigated the mechanism of maternal recognition of pregnancy in the mare, and also evaluation of male camelid breeding soundness parameters.
She did a postdoctoral fellowship in infectious diseases at University of Washington School of Medicine, focusing on the immunopathology of chlamydial infertility in women (pelvic inflammatory disease or PID). During this time, she was the breeding colony manager for several species of nonhuman primates in the UW Seattle colony.
She has practiced clinical medicine in Washington, Oregon and the Cayman Islands. In 2005, she was invited to act as founding dean for St. Matthews University School of Veterinary Medicine on Grand Cayman Island. Her research interests include reproductive physiology, animal models of disease, immunopathology and public health.
The University of Maine team consisted of Abbie Futcher (Castine, ME), Jennifer McGintee (Windham, ME) and Sarah Turner (Lincoln, ME) all Pre-Vet majors from the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences and Katelyn McCullock (East Dummerston, VT), a Resource Economics and Policy major in the School of Economics. The team was coached by Dr. David Marcinkowski, Extension Dairy Specialist and Associate Professor of Animal and Veterinary Sciences.
NAIDC is a two-day competition that enables students to apply theory and learning to a real-world dairy farm. Day One began with the team receiving production and financial information about a working dairy farm in the Madison area. After an in-person inspection of the farm, the students had a brief question and answer session with the farm owner. Based on their observations, the team developed a farm analysis and presentation including recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, animal health, housing and financial management. On Day Two, the team gave their recommendations to a panel of five judges in a 20 minute presentation and then fielded questions from the judges. Presentations were evaluated based on the accuracy of their analysis and recommendations.
The Maine team drew a large, extremely well-managed dairy farm located in Middleton, WI that was milking 470 cows and averaging 91 lbs of milk per cow per day. Coach Marcinkowski said the Dairy Challenge is a test of every aspect of the student’s knowledge of dairy management, as well as their ability to apply that knowledge on a real farm. The event is supported through generous donations by agribusinesses and dairy farms throughout the US.
The students in the photo are (First Row, L to R) Patrick Heacock, Arielle Jones, Elizabeth Hilton, Tara Bunch, Jennifer McGintee, Sarah Chavaree, Kristen Harris. (Second Row) Abby Futcher, Jordan Carrier, Megan Kirkpatrick, Lindsey Walker (Third Row) Dianna Donahue, Jennifer Lehmann and Morgaine Day
Norinne H. “Nonni” Daly
Nonni Daly was appointed as adjunct faculty in Animal & Veterinary Sciences in October of 2007, after spending time volunteering with the equine clubs and working on some special events, such as the Birthday Party on the Mall for our former racehorse, One Vine Lady. A native of Old Town, Nonni attended the University of Maine, graduating with a B.A. in Sociology and, after a few years in the work world, went on to graduate study at the University of Georgia, receiving an M.Ed. in Education and an Ed.D in Educational/Research Psychology. In her work life, she has been a teacher, a psychometrician, a clinician, and an educational publisher. In this last endeavor, she served as the President of the Educational Division of Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich Publishers in New York for fifteen years.
Nonni’s close ties with the harness racing industry and her deep interest in the standardbred breed brought her to the Witter Farm. She owns a racing gelding, Bruizer’s L’il Star, who is stabled at Bangor Raceway during the season and she serves as the Vice-Chair of the Standardbred Industry Advisory Council of Maine. She is a member of the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association and the Maine Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association, along with the Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization of Maine, which specializes in the retraining and placement of retired racehorses in homes where they will become pleasure horses for the family.
Cathy Billings was recently promoted from assistant director to ssociate director for communications & development at the Lobster Institute. She holds a bachelors degree in Education and a masters degree in Public Administration, both from the University of Maine, and has been with the Institute since 2000. The Lobster Institute works for and with lobstermen on conservation, outreach, research and educational programs focused on protecting and enhancing the lobster stock and preserving lobstering as an industry…and as a way of life. Billings’ chief responsibilities include: annual fundraising through the Friends of the Lobster Institute, coordinating the C.O.R.E. Campaign to raise endowed funds for Institute operations; public relations and communications, such as the quarterly Lobster Bulletin; events management, including the Institute’s yearly Canadian/U.S. Lobstermen’s Town Meeting; and grant writing for the Institute’s various research and educational projects. Most notably, Billings coordinated the writing and submission of a successful proposal to the Marine Research Fund, administered through the Maine Technology Institute, which resulted in nearly $400,000 for the Department of Animal & Veterinary Sciences and Cooperative Extension to equip the Maine Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory.
“Working at the Lobster Institute is a daily learning experience for me,” says Billings. “Lobsters are primitive, yet at the same time complex creatures. We may never know all there is to know about them and how they react to and impact their environment. There is always something new to discover or explore.” When asked what she likes most about her job Billings responded, “It is definitely working with the lobstermen and the people in the industry. I have a great deal of respect for them. They are extremely hard working, intelligent, and have a strong sense of commitment to doing what is right for their industry. They all want to be sure there is a healthy lobster resource and successful fishery to pass on to the next generation.”
Emily Thomas graduated in 2006 with a BS in AVS. After graduation, she came back to the AVS department as a full time technician in the Diagnostic Lab, where she splits her time between the Salmonella Lab and the Maine Aquatic Animal Health Lab. She enjoys having the opportunity to participate in the various research projects associated with the lab, and is currently assisting with a project dealing with lobster. Emily and her husband recently bought a home in Garland, which they share with their three cats, dog and horse.
Visitor from the West
Dr. Ed DePeters, a ruminant nutritionist at the University of California at Davis visited with AVS faculty in late May to discuss possible cooperative research. Ed has a house in prospect and would like to volunteer at UMaine when he retires in a few years.
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