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Vaccination program for pet dogs may not fully prevent lion infections in Serengeti

In June 2014, Health Talk first shared that a virus carried by domestic dogs is threatening the health of wild cats like the Serengeti lion. Now, in an update to that research, new findings led by the University of Glasgow and co-authored by the University of Minnesota suggest vaccinating domestic dogs against this virus, known as canine distemper, is not enough to keep Serengeti lions and their cohabitants, the endangered African wild dog, safe from infection.

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news-and-notes

Minnesota invests in regenerative medicine

Last year, the 2014 Minnesota legislative session brought a big win for regenerative medicine, as legislators passed a bill allotting nearly $50 million over 10 years for regenerative medicine research, clinical translation and commercialization efforts.

Some of that research funding has now been awarded to Bruce Walcheck, Ph.D., professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, whose proposal was one of six funded out of 90 applications. Bruce is the principal investigator on a new $500,000 grant for research on engineering human pluripotent stem cells to generate enhanced natural killer cells for cancer therapy. The ultimate goal: treating cancer using the patient’s immune system.

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research-and-clinical-trials

UMN research finds room for improvement in Latin American & Caribbean food safety safeguards

Food safety standards can be shaky at best in developing Caribbean and Latin American regions. In 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated at least one-third of individuals in developing countries likely contract a foodborne illness each year. And with Latin America and the Caribbean forecasted to play a growing role in global food production and exports in the coming years, that high rate of foodborne illness is one worth paying attention to.

University of Minnesota food safety risk analyst and assistant professor, Fernando Sampedro Parra, Ph.D., has focused his sights on the problem and recently conducted first-of-its-kind research for the region.

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news-and-notes

Rat poisoning’s secondary effects can harm Minnesota owls

Winter can invite household nuisances like mice and rats inside along with unwelcome gnawing habits, putrid droppings and disease. But as you look to eradicate vermin from your house this winter, The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota invites you to take a moment and pause.

Your choice between rat poison and an old-school snap trap could impact human, pet and wildlife health.

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in-the-news

In the News: UMN researchers identify new strain of deadly pig virus in U.S.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) has resulted in the deaths of millions of pigs and piglets since its introduction to the United States in early 2013. Since its introduction, the University of Minnesota has been on the frontline of PEDV disease spread prevention research with the development of rapid detection and herd surveillance tests.

University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine experts have now contributed to PEDV understanding by detecting a new, third strain of the disease on a Minnesota hog farm. The strain was found to be at least as virulent as the original strain that emerged in the U.S. in early 2013, according to Reuters.

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news-and-notes

Searching for ways to eliminate invasive rats, without adding new threats to island ecosystems

Invasive rodents are a problem for oceanic islands throughout the world. Rats transported by sea-faring humans from landmass to landmass plague ecosystems off the coast of Australia and in the Hawaiian and Galápagos Islands. Rats can endanger native species, damage agriculture crops and even prevent trees from re-growing. Efforts to remove the invasive species, however, sometimes result in their own unintended consequences.

“You can’t just remove 70 percent or 90 percent,” said Julia Ponder, D.V.M., executive director of The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. “You have to remove 100 percent of the invasive species, and that’s what makes it so hard. There’s no margin of error and eradication efforts are expensive.”

Eradication efforts can put other species such as birds at risk, too.

That’s why Ponder became involved in research recently published in the journal Biological Conservation.

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