Faculty and students from five Vermont colleges met recently to share their research on wildlife disease and related subjects. While the diseases in question were studied in animals, the meeting addressed some major human concerns. A large portion of the day was spent discussing Lyme disease’s virility, distribution, and what makes the disease “tick” on a genetic level. Swimmer’s itch was also on the table, along with bobcat gamma herpes virus research that could be connected to HIV and its feline equivalent in domestic cats, FIV.
Attendees gathered for nearly a full day of talking methods, data, and potential moves to make in the future of studying wildlife pathology. After each student and faculty presentation, the group launched into conversation about techniques for DNA extraction and statistical analysis, contamination prevention, and ways to extend current research. Representatives came from Saint Michael’s College, The University of Vermont, Middlebury College, Green Mountain College, and Norwich College.
The meeting was sponsored by The Vermont Genetics Network, which also provided funding for most of the research under discussion. VGN director, Rex Forehand shared his goal to “create thematic groups” of researchers across the state, bringing them together to share their work. “The major reason for this,” said Forehand, “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.”