Representatives from Saint Michael’s were amongst five Vermont colleges to recently meet to share their research on wildlife disease and related subjects. Diseases studied in animals also addressed some major human concerns, with discussions on Lyme disease virility, distribution, and what makes the disease ‘tick’ on a genetic level. There was also discussion on swimmers’ itch, bobcat gamma herpes virus research with possible connection to HIV and its feline equivalent in domestic cats, FIV.
Nearly a full day of discussing methods, data and potential future moves saw attendees generate a future of studying wildlife pathology. Each student and faculty presentation was followed by conversation about techniques for DNA extraction, statistical analysis and preventing contamination as well as ways to extend current research.
The Vermont Genetics Network sponsored the meeting, also providing funding for most of the research. VGN director, Rex Forehand voiced his goal to “create thematic groups” of researchers across the state, sharing work. Forehand said: “The major reason for this is that in many of the institutions that you’re from, people don’t really have the opportunity to talk with other faculty and other students about their research. And it may overlap more with somebody from (another Vermont) university than somebody else in your own institution.”