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MAF Rewards Five Future Vets for Their Contributions to Wildlife Research

Media Contact:

Tina M. Martinez

July 22, 2010

Denver — Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) recently gave five aspiring veterinarians more than $10,000 to recognize the animal health projects they did to advance the Foundation's mission to improve the health and well-being of companion animals and wildlife. The funds were awarded at the Foundation's annual meeting in Denver last month.

Each student was part of MAF's Veterinary Student Scholars (VSS) program, which gives students hands-on involvement in research early in their career so they will consider entering this field where they are so critically needed. Through the program, veterinary students or non-veterinary graduate students receive stipends of up to $4,000 to participate in clinical or basic animal health and/or welfare research. Students whose research projects involved small companion animals (dogs and cats) presented their projects in a poster competition at MAF's annual meeting in June.  The posters and student presentations of their research were judged by MAF's small companion animal scientific advisory board and cash prizes were awarded for first, second, and third places.

First place was awarded to Claire Fellman of Mississippi State University for her research involving the proper dosages of immunosuppressant to treat inflammatory diseases in dogs. Along with the recognition Fellman received a $5,000 prize.

Second place went to Angela Fusello of the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focused on non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which accounts for roughly 25 percent of all canine cancer. Her research will provide a foundation for the development of new chemotherapeutic strategies to treat canine cancer. MAF granted her a $2,500 prize.

Third place was awarded to three veterinary scholars because the quality of their work made choosing among them a difficult decision. These third-place winners each received $1,000:

  • Zachary Neumann, from the University of Illinois, for his research on bone cancer cell lines to determine whether elevated levels of certain proteins are associated with negative outcomes for dogs with bone cancer. His research may help improve the prognosis and treatment of bone cancer in dogs.
  • Alexandra O'Keefe, from the University of Pennsylvania, for her study on immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) in American cocker spaniels. She hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the molecular basis of IMHA, a disorder in which the immune system attacks its own red blood cells.
  • Marike Visser, from Auburn University, for her research on antibiotics that cause part of the body's defense mechanism to pump toxins out before the antibiotic can disable them. This study may help determine how to reverse this process.

MAF funds about 70 VSS studies each year, and these five students are shining examples of the type of work that is accomplished through the VSS program each year. For more examples of VSS studies, or to support any of the student scholars' research, visit us at or on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter for up-to-date information. 

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