The 10 Most Memorable Stories of 2016

They touched our hearts and made us think. They filled us with pride and got us excited for the future.

And they were just downright awesome.

Over the past year, as always, the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine has seen an outpouring of some of the best and brightest work from our staff and faculty, impactful and game-changing support from donors and a stellar commitment to the field from our stand-out students.

It doesn’t get much better than this — until next year.

Here’s some of our favorite stories of 2016:

Commitment to cancer research

Our sports rivalry with Duke University remains strong, but our collaboration to tackle cancer is stronger.

In March, the CVM joined forces with the Duke Cancer Institute to launch the Consortium for Canine Comparative Oncology or C3O. The program supports work that fast-tracks successful cancer treatments in dogs, which could lead to more effective treatment of human cancers.

In July, Steven Suter, medical director of the CVM’s Canine Bone Marrow Transplant Unit and Matthew Breen, Oscar J. Fletcher distinguished professor of comparative oncology genetics, were awarded inaugural C3O grants.

Read more here.

Turtle power

They’re not the first animal that comes to mind when thinking of the vet school, but we’ve had multiple memorable moments with turtles this year thanks to our partnership with the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue  and Rehabilitation Center.

In June, Kayak, a female loggerhead found in poor physical health, was rescued by the group and brought to the CVM fort cataract surgery before heading back to the center for rehab.

Read more about Kayak here.

In September, the CVM celebrated 20 years of partnership with the Beasley center. It also marked the 11th year that four-year CVM students have had clinical rotations with the coastal rehab group, the only program of its kind in the world. Read more — and see turtle release photos — here.

Accio house system!

How Hogwartsian of us.

In July we announced that the class of 2020 will be the inaugural CVM group sorted into four houses, a la “Harry Potter.”

The houses — Shalihotra, Salmon, Bourgelat and Webb — are named after people who shaped the history of veterinary medicine. Students earn points for their houses by participating in various events and programs that promote intellectual growth, mental, physical and emotional health, social development and cultural competence.

A Quidditch tournament can’t be too far behind.

Read more here.

A wild journey

CVM colleagues and close friends Anthony Blikslager and Mathew Gerard had never worked with rhinos before. But this summer they joined forces for research that could save hundreds of the critically endangered animal.

Over a week in South Africa, the pair mapped the paranasal sinus anatomy of the white rhino, believed to be the first such project of its kind. Blikslager and Gerard’s work to develop a complete understanding what exactly happens to a rhino when it is poached for its horn will be used to help treat rhinos who survive the ordeal.

It’s particularly vital work for a species that could disappear from the wild in eight short years.

Read more here.

Spirit of generosity

It was a decision no pet owner wants to make. When Michele and Ross Annable’s beloved German shepherd, Jordan, was diagnosed with hip dysplasia the couple were suddenly faced with choosing between euthanasia and complex surgery.

So the Annables turned to the CVM.

Jordan’s surgery was a success, and the Annables’ “thank you” will help hundreds of other animals and the budding vets devoted to caring for them. Their $5 million donation established the Michele M. and Ross M. Annable Scholarship, a need-based program that covers up to half the cost of tuition and fees for doctor of veterinary medicine candidates.

A big bonus: The R. B. Terry Charitable Foundation matched the Annable’s gift, bringing it up to $10 million.

Read more here.

High-flying dreams

CVM students are all incredibly talented and academically impressive, but we haven’t seen someone quite like class of 2020 member Amie Pflaum.

A Blackhawk helicopter pilot with plans to eventually return to the United States Army as a public health veterinarian, Pflaum is one of just 60 people this year across the country selected as a Tillman Scholar by the Pat Tillman Foundation.

While pursuing her studies, Pflaum still flies with the North Carolina Army National Guard.

“I discovered that NC State has a world-class veterinary program. It’s a powerhouse,” said Pflaum this summer. “Choosing to go here was really a no-brainer.”

We’re honored to have you, Amie.

Read more here.

The great hereafter

Dog backlight silhouette in sunset

Death is a fact of life, but is afterlife?

In an attention-grabbing and intriguing study, three CVM professors explored American belief in the animal afterlife.

Published in August by the journal Anthrozoos, “Do All Dogs Go to Heaven?” from clinical science professors Kenneth Royal, April Kedrowicz and Amy Snyder, found that afterlife belief depended heavily on cultural and religious backgrounds, among other factors.

The findings, which led to national press coverage, could also help guide veterinarians in interactions with pet owners. “Veterinarians should explore and acknowledge client perspectives to build trust and actively engage them in the process of animal care,” said Kedrowicz.

Read more here.

Amazing Grace

She weighed in at just 1.5 pounds, but Grace the Nigerian dwarf goat had strength to spare.

Grace was brought to the CVM after a llama on the Durham farm of Grace’s owners accidently stepped on the goat’s neck with she was just 1 week old.

Recovery was uncertain, but after weeks of treatment for severe pain, and internal bleeding (she was also unable to stand), Grace’s weight increased — and she was back to her feisty and playful self. Soon, she was back with her family, literally jumping for joy.

Grace’s owners said they’d bring their tiny goat with a big spirit back to campus for visits. Her fan club will be waiting.

Read more here.

An innovative equine focus

Graduate research assistant Alix Berglund’s work could help generations of horses to come.

A member of of the lab of Lauren Schnabel, CVM assistant professor of equine orthopedic surgery, Berglund’s research, funded through a Morris Animal Foundation grant, among other sources, focuses on how equine stem cell therapy can effectively treat musculoskeletal injuries in horses, especially high-performance equine athletes.

Berglund, who moved to North Carolina from Washington state with her horse, Oliver, hopes to stay on campus working for Schnabel after an anticipated 2018 graduation. She also hopes to develop the horse as a large animal model for immunology research that could benefit humans.

Through her work to make them more reliable in equine therapy, donor stem cells may one day be used “as an off-the-shelf product,” she said, given to a horse immediately after an injury or at the first sign of disease.

Read more here.

Game changers

basketball court

Randy and Tiffany Ramsey are not your average sports fans and horse lovers.

In February, the Ramseys were honored for giving both the single largest gift to the Equine Sports Medicine Program at the CVM and the single largest athletics endowment gift in Wolfpack Club history.

The Tiffany and Randy Ramsey Equine Sports Medicine program provides operational support for CVM’s unparalleled equine program, while the Randy and Tiffany Ramsey Men’s Basketball Team Endowment covers the costs of scholarships for the 13-player team.

The Ramseys have long served the university. Tiffany Ramsey worked as a licensed veterinary technician in a CVM externship in 2010 and served on the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation Board. Randy Ramsey has served on the Wolfpack Club Board of Directors, the Athletics Council and the NC State Board of Trustees.

“Every time I visit our campus and interact with the students here, I feel optimistic for the future of our country,” said Randy Ramsey.

With the Ramseys gifts, there’s even more reason to be optimistic.

Read more here.

~Jordan Bartel/NC State Veterinary Medicine