Dean’s message: December 2023

Dori outside the College in October 2023.

It has been a pretty special December for me. My daughter has been home from college, and I revert back to the delight of family dinners, weekend breakfasts (served with tea), and family movie nights. But there is no going back, not really. Conversations change, more is at stake. Change is the one constant at home and at work. Winding down 2023 and preparing for 2024, it is good to remember to embrace change, envision the path forward, and enjoy the ride. It is, after all, one we signed up for!

The holidays are a time of giving. As a college, we give and receive. What we give to animal, human, and global health and well-being is tremendously important. Our faculty, staff, and students are exceptional in all they do. They give the gifts of time, energy, creativity, innovation, passion, knowledge, and care.

And I am tremendously grateful for all that we receive. Some of the programs that were mere memos when I arrived are nearly fully shaped, including an undergraduate public health degree starting in 2024, fingers crossed. Some of the facility upgrades we strived for to provide students with wonderful education spaces – including undergraduate STEM labs and simulation-based education – were funded by the state and are being designed as I write. Donors have given generously to scholarships, cutting-edge hospital equipment, funding for patient care for animals whose loving families can’t fully afford care, faculty innovation, our One Health program, education initiatives, and flagship programs, including Rabies Free Africa. Our federal engagement team has highlighted our impactful research programs and that will translate to expanded US Department of Agriculture funding for our resilient livestock initiative.

It has been a tremendous year, and these stories reflect just some of the highlights. We wish you all a very safe, happy, and prosperous New Year!

Some of our top stories from 2023

Another great year at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Dr. Marcie Logsdon holds Taima, an augur hawk who serves as the official live mascot for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, before a procedure to remove a growth on the bird’s foot.
Close up image of Condi's face.
Veterinary specialist Eva Downs poses for a photo with Marley, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier dog with a cancerous tumor on his hip.

It was another exciting year at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, where we cared for thousands of pets and animals — including the Seahawks’ mascot and a grizzly bear! After years of fundraising, we also finally installed our new LINAC, allowing us to provide the highest levels of cancer care to our patients.

Innovative veterinary solutions

Brooklynn Halbach, left, a veterinary assistant cuts the toenails of a kitten that is held by veterinary technician Mikaela Heisler, right.

The college now offers three Veterinary Paraprofessional Certificates – Veterinary Scribe, Junior Veterinary Scribe, and Veterinary Preventative Health – designed to prepare aspiring and experienced veterinary professionals for a range of roles in veterinary clinics and hospitals.

Feeding the world

WSU Meat Scientist Blake Foraker grills a batch of sausage made with pork from gene-edited pigs for a cookout celebrating Professor Jon Oatley's research team on the WSU Pullman campus.

Dr. Jon Oatley’s research led to WSU becoming the first university to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorization to have gene-edited pigs enter the food chain for human consumption.

Game-changing technology

Broughton-Neiswanger is holding a stack of tissue sample slides that are about to be digitally scanned.

Dr. Liam Broughton-Neiswanger, a pathologist at WADDL and an assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, led an effort to digitize all diagnostic pathology slides at WADDL and is now developing computer algorithms designed to examine and analyze the slides and to flag samples that warrant closer examination by a pathologist.

New genetic target for male contraception identified

Artistic rendering of genes. Image by Alex Sholom on iStock

Researchers in the Center for Reproductive Biology identified a gene in multiple mammalian species that could pave the way for a highly effective, reversible and non-hormonal male contraceptive for humans and animals.

Healthy people, healthy pets

Fourth-year veterinary medicine student Caitlin Juneau, left, talks with Grace Stroklund, right, about her dog, Nugget, during a One Health clinic at the New Horizons youth shelter in Seattle.

The One Health Clinic in Seattle, made possible by a collaboration between the College of Veterinary Medicine, the University of Washington Center for One Health Research and Neighborcare Health, is helping to provide health care for people experiencing homelessness and their pets.

Protecting against emerging diseases

Covid pandemic, 3d illustration.

WADDL joined a national network of labs, known as the Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence, dedicated to controlling novel microbial threats. Over the next five years, WADDL is projected to receive approximately $250,000 per year to support new infrastructure for sequencing and fund positions which will conduct sequencing and bioinformatic analyses.

Unraveling the secrets of addiction

Rita Fuchs with PhD candidate, Jobe Ritchey. They are viewing a display showing microscopic views of brain cells.

Dr. Rita Fuchs, a professor in Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience, was awarded a nearly $2.9 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse that will allow her to further explore how the brain retrieves and reforms memories of cocaine use and how the process can be manipulated to reduce occurrences of relapse. She is hopeful the research will eventually lead to more effective treatments for substance abuse disorders.

Responding to emerging public health threats

Artistic representation of a virus.

Researchers in the College of Veterinary Medicine will play a critical role in an initiative to improve disease detection, forecasting, and response throughout the Intermountain West funded by a $17.5 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The initiative will establish a new center named ForeSITE (Forecasting and Surveillance of Infectious Threats and Epidemics). 

Our researchers

Dr. Katrina Mealey at her desk, with her dog.
Katrina Mealey
Dr. Ryan Driskell sits in front of his computer.
Emily Qualls-Creekmore
Student Taylor Krilanovich, right, talks with Cynthia Cooper, left, an Associate Professor in the School of Molecular Biosciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine at WSU’s Vancouver, Wash., campus, as they view a microscopic image of a three-day old Zebra fish used to study melanoma on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022.
Cynthia Cooper
Ryan Driskell
Viveka holding a jar of fleas.
Viveka Vadyvaloo

We are fortunate to have so many amazing researchers in the College of Veterinary Medicine working to improve the lives of people and animals. During the past year we highlighted a handful of them — including Katrina Mealey, Emily Qualls-Creekmore, Ryan McLaughlin, Ryan Driskell, Cynthia Cooper, and Viveka Vadyvaloo — in our new question-and-answer series. We also have Q&As with our graduate students and undergrads throughout the college.

If you’d like to know more, you can always read the latest stories from our college on our news page. For even more content, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Be safe, healthy, happy, and stay hopeful. As I said on my first day on the job, the future is bright.

Take care and Go Cougs!