NC State College of Veterinary Medicine 

Annual Research Forum and Litwack Lecture

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Annual CVM Research Forum sponsored by the Faculty Committee on Research is scheduled for Friday, September 22nd at the CVM. The forum will be followed by an awards ceremony.

The forum includes the Litwack Lecture, given annually in honor of the late Dr. Martin Litwack, a Raleigh veterinarian and an early advocate of the College of Veterinary Medicine. This year’s lecture will be presented by Dr. Roeland Nusse, Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Professor in Cancer Research and Professor of Developmental Biology at Stanford Bio-X. Dr. Nusse was awarded the 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for his contributions to the understanding a signaling molecule called Wnt.

The Research Forum will include three levels of participation:

  • A poster session, open to DVM students, graduate students, house officers, and staff.
  • Oral presentations by DVM students, graduate students/house officers, and staff.
  • First Annual Research Image Competition – Do you have a scientific image that is beautiful enough to share? Enter your science images in the Research Image Competition at the CVM Litwack Research Day! Images will be enlarged and displayed on Research Day, and winners will be selected by popular vote (fan favorites). The rules are simple:
    – All types of images are welcome – microscopy, protein structure predictions, western blots, clinical photos – anything that you think is visually appealing and is/was part of a research study
    – Everyone is eligible to submit – students, house officers, post docs, staff, faculty
    – The only restriction is that the image must be yours and associated with a past or present research study

CVM faculty will judge poster & oral presentation sessions. Prizes for oral and poster categories will be awarded as follows:

  • The top 2 posters, oral presentations will receive a Top Honor award – $150 each.
  • The next 2 posters and oral presentations will receive an Honorable Mention award – $75 each.

Oral presentations will be limited to 10 minutes (eight minutes for presentation and two minutes for questions). Presentations will be strictly timed to ensure that all are completed in a reasonable time frame. Poster presentations will be on display all day at the Research Forum. Poster presentations must be set up by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 21st. All CVM faculty are asked to attend.

Litwack Lecture 

Dr. Roeland Nusse

Roeland Nusse, PhD - 2017 Life Sciences Breakthrough Prize Laureate

This year’s Litwack Lecturer is Life Sciences Breakthrough Prize Laureate Dr. Roeland Nusse. Nusse won the 2017 Prize for pioneering research on the Wnt pathway, one of the crucial intercellular signaling systems in development, cancer and stem cell biology.

Dr. Nusse’s laboratory is interested in the growth, development and integrity of animal tissues. They study multiple different organs, trying to identify common principles, and they extend these investigations to cancer and injury repair. In most organs, different cell types are generated by stem cells – cells that also make copies of themselves and thereby maintain the tissue. An optimal balance between the number of stem and differentiated cells is essential for the proper function of the organs. Locally-acting signals are important to maintain this balance in a spatially-organized manner and these signals are key to understanding the regulation of growth.

A common theme linking their work together are Wnt signals. Work from many laboratories, including their own, has shown that Wnt proteins are essential for the control over stem cells. How this is achieved is far from clear and is the subject of studies in the lab, both in vivo and in cell culture. In vivo, a particular question they address is how physiological changes, such as those occurring during hormonal stimuli, injury or programmed tissue degeneration have an impact on the self-renewal signals and on stem cell biology.

In their most recent work, Dr. Nusse’s lab has designed cell fate tracking experiments to study stem cells in vivo. They identified Wnt-responsive stem cells by their expression of Axin2 (a common Wnt target gene) and generated a mouse strain with the CreERT2 recombination signal inserted into the Axin2 locus, Axin2-Cre. By clonal labeling, they showed that single stem cells differentiate into different cell types of the tissues of interest. Unexpectedly, in the liver, they found that hepatocytes that reside in the pericentral domain of the liver demonstrate stem cell behavior. Although these cells are functional hepatocytes, they are diploid and thus differ from the mostly polyploid mature hepatocyte population. They are active in homeostatic cell replacement. Adjacent central vein endothelial cells provide the essential source of Wnt signals for the hepatocyte stem cells and thereby constitute the liver stem cell niche.

Schedule of Events

Time Event Location
8:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Coffee & Bagels D-239/Green Commons
8:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Oral Presentations D-239
8:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Oral Presentations North Theater
9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. CVM Research Image Competition CVM lobbies
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. House Officer/Graduate Student Posters Judged Green Commons
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch (provided by vendors & sponsors) Blue Commons
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. DVM Student Posters Judged Green Commons
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Oral Presentations North Theater
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Oral Presentations D-239
3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Faculty Team Science Abstract Competition North Theater
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Litwack Lecture – Dr. Roeland Nusse North Theater
5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Awards Ceremony (awards presented by Dr. Nusse) North Theater


Vendor and Sponsor Showcase will occur in the Blue Commons during lunch from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

History of the Litwack Lecture 

Martin Litwack

A Legacy of Leadership in Veterinary Medicine

The Litwack Lectures are supported by the Martin Litwack Fund, an endowment created by family and friends as a living memorial to Dr. Litwack, who was an acknowledged leader in establishing the College of Veterinary Medicine at NC State University. Dr. Litwack was a charter member of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation and was active in many professional organizations including the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association. He served as president of the Triangle, Eastern North Carolina and North Carolina Veterinary Medical Associations. Dr. Litwack was also very active in community affairs and received many awards in recognition of his service and leadership, including the North Carolina Association of the Professions Special Recognition Award. Dr. Litwack is perhaps best remembered for his love of his family and profession, his deep commitment to education and to North Carolina State University, and his strong sense of obligation to the North Carolina livestock industry and to the general public.