Gifts in Action

Your Gifts Tell the Story

Behind every gift to WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine is a story. The detection of a new disease helps save lives. A scholarship makes school more affordable. A beloved animal's life is saved from cancer. From everyone at the college, you have our sincere gratitude for your generous support.

  • Training our Students for Success

    Story by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04 | Photo by Henry Moore Jr.

    Keesha Matz with Dr. Alan Goodman
    Keesha Matz with Dr. Alan Goodman.

    Keesha Matz wants to understand some of the world’s deadliest viruses. Raised in Chehalis, Washington, her love for microbiology began in a molecular genetics high school class taught by WSU alumnus Henri Weeks.

    “The class gave me a real feel for research, which I think is unique for a high school class,” says Matz.

    That experience inspired her to apply to the WSU School of Molecular Bioscience’s STARS program. Students Targeted toward Advanced Research Studies, or STARS, accelerates learning and provides hands-on research experience. “They help you get into a research lab right away,” she says. For Matz, it meant that she could spend the summers after her freshman and sophomore years conducting research instead of going back home to get a job.

    Her first experience in a research lab was with Dr. Hector Aguilar-Carreño in the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health who studies the Nipah virus. First discovered in 1999 in Malaysia and Singapore, the deadly virus was the subject of the 2011 film, Contagion, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. In Aguilar-Carreño’s lab, she studied how proteins of the virus can spread the disease throughout the body. She also studied Lyme disease with Dr. Troy Bankhead, who has a joint appointment in the Allen School and the Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology department. She is currently conducting research on the Nipah virus with Dr. Alan Goodman in the School of Molecular Biosciences.

    “I am able to directly apply what I learned in Dr. Aguilar-Carreño’s lab in Dr. Goodman’s lab,” she says.

    In Goodman’s lab, rather than trying to understand how the virus spreads throughout the body, they want to know how the virus can evade the body’s innate immune response. When a virus enters the body, the immune system typically responds to the foreign invader. But with the Nipah virus, certain proteins signal the body to decrease its immune response.

    “Keesha is not afraid to take on new, large-scale, challenging experiments,” says Goodman. “She carefully plans every step beforehand to make sure that the experiments are carried out properly and that she can perform them independently.”

    This summer as an undergraduate research fellow at Mayo Clinic, Matz will study a protein of the Ebola virus that also evades the antiviral response at the cellular level, similar to the work she had done at WSU.

    For Matz, the support she has received at WSU to pursue research opportunities and apply for scholarships has made a difference in her academic success. She is 1 of only 240 students nationwide to receive the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships for 2017–18. She also received two scholarships through the School of Molecular Biosciences—the Alice Lloyd Diers and William E. Diers Microbiology Student Endowment Scholarship in 2016 and the Walter L. & Pauline W. Harris Microbiology Endowment Scholarship in 2017.

    “It was a huge honor to be awarded a national scholarship,” says Matz, who has maintained nearly a 4.0 GPA while working in the research labs. “Being selected for these scholarships has allowed me to focus more on academics and research and take advantage of other opportunities. It feels like a big pat on the back.”

    Matz will graduate in the spring of 2018 with a bachelor of science degree in microbiology. From there she plans to go to graduate school. Berkeley, Mayo Clinic, and Cornell are places she is considering applying to, but the dream is Stanford. “You have to try,” she says.

    Thinking about the future, Matz would eventually like to work in government lab or private industry conducting medical research that can be used to design treatments for infectious diseases, like Nipah. “I would like to be in an organization that works globally, such as the World Health Organization,” she says. She also wants to support the university that has given her so much.

    “In the future, I definitely want to give back, because I know how much it means to students,” she says. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the mentoring I’ve had at WSU.”

  • A Gift to the WSU Clinical Simulation Center Trains Future Veterinarians

    Story by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04

    Students using endoscope to grab a button inside the digestive model
    (right) Nick Larson (’18 DVM) and Drew Fleischman (’19 DVM) use the endoscope to grab a button inside the digestive model. Models like these give students the opportunity to practice their medical skills.

    Nick Larson gently guides a long flexible line with a light on the end into a model made of soft latex tubing in search for a “foreign body.” The light helps him see his way. Called an endoscope, the device is used to look inside a patient’s body to examine the esophagus, stomach, intestines, and other internal organs. A video image is projected on a screen so they can see where they are going and other students in the room can see what is happening inside the patient.

    In the WSU Clinical Simulation Center, veterinary students use medical models and sophisticated equipment, like the endoscope, to practice their diagnostic and treatment skills before they work with live patients. The endoscope model recreates a patient’s intestinal tract using latex tubing. At the end of the tubing is a hollow ball, which creates a “stomach.” Students learn to navigate through the intestines, reach the stomach, and use a grasper that runs through the endoscope to retrieve items such as a small button.

    The first time Larson and his other classmates tried to get the button, it took 45 minutes.

    “It takes some practice to know where you are in a patient’s body, and how to turn to make sure you get to the right place,” says Dr. Julie Cary, director of the center. “Students may get frustrated, but then they can also start to see that they are getting better the more they practice.”

    The endoscope, used exclusively for training veterinary students, was donated by Jim and Lisa King, WSU graduates and friends of the college.

    “Having the support of donors is incredible,” says Larson. “I find it exciting and humbling to know that there are individuals who are choosing to invest in us and our education.”

    From Sutures to the Emergency Room

    Students watch the endoscope procedure on the screen
    Students Liz Soler (’18 DVM), Nick Larson, and Shelby Turnbull (’18 DVM) watch the endoscope procedure on the screen.

    Veterinary students start in the Clinical Simulation Center on the very first day of their first semester in a surgery class designed to give them the skills and the confidence to do basic surgical techniques, such as closing skin incisions when they mentor with a veterinarian later in their education. All students are encouraged to come to the open lab, now in its sixth year, where they can practice the specific skills they would like to improve. The peer taught lab is run by veterinary teaching assistants. If a student needs practice with basic sutures, or has mastered that skill and is ready to perform entire surgical procedures, the lab has options for students at all skill levels.

    “There is no judging student competence,” says Cary. “It is a safe space where students can come, practice, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes.”

    “Jerry,” one of the canine models, has a speaker inside so students can practice listening for heart and lung sounds. Careful listening and developing fine-tuned listening skills is very important, particularly since the animals can’t speak for themselves. Students practice listening and then interpret what the sounds could mean, what tests to perform, and treatment to recommend.

    “One way we diagnose as veterinarians is by very carefully listening to the heart and lungs in many places,” says Cary. “Arrhythmias, murmurs, pneumonia, and asthma all have different sounds.”

    In the technical simulation room, or “Oz Room” as Dr. Cary calls it, they simulate operating room and emergency room situations using an anesthesia team, surgical team, and code team (cardiac life support). On the video screen, using a model developed by Dr. Robert Keegan, a graphic eyeball blinks when the “mock” patient is wide awake. If it is still blinking after the student has given anesthesia, the students know that the patient is not all the way under. The pupil dilates based on what is happening in the room, and then students try to figure out what is causing the reaction in the patient. Blood pressure readings can also change so a student may see a sudden drop in the patient’s blood pressure and then they must decide how to treat, what to administer, and at what dose.

    “This is what you have to practice before doing it on a live animal so that it is second nature,” says Larson.

    Besides honing their technical skills, students also get to see how they perform together as a team, and learn how they could have communicated better, especially when faced with an emergency.

    “The quality of the teamwork affects the outcomes for patients and clients,” says Cary.

    Cows and Horses

    In the barn side of the simulation center are Gladys and Ferdinand, a cow and her calf ready to be born. Gladys, the 31st model of her kind, is life-sized.

    “Having the full-sized model the student can better understand their relative size to the cow”, says Cary.

    I find it exciting and humbling to know that there are individuals who are choosing to invest in us and our education.” Nick Larson (’18 DVM)

    Ferdinand is made from a heavy pliable rubber-like material, so when he gets wet it feels like a real calf being born. Students learn to practice pulling a calf out in different positions, much like they would experience on live animals. Students learn to feel for a leg, where to put the straps to pull out the calf, and how much force to use. They may learn if they need to stand on a stool and how to position themselves. For some students, just being next to something this big and figuring out how position themselves can make a difference.

    “Assisting with a difficult birth is something the most students don’t get exposure to,” says Cary. “If you never have the experience, you don’t get good at it. The model lets them have that experience.”

    Standing next to Gladys is Whiskey, the horse. Whiskey has all parts of a horse’s digestive tract so students can practice exams for colic, a common illness. In the center, they can create in the model symptoms for different kinds of colic so students learn how to accurately diagnose them. It is important to be able to tell the common kinds of colic from the dangerous kinds so a horse can get care quickly. Students also learn where to stand so they are less likely to get kicked.

    “It is nice to learn these things prior to standing in front of a client,” says Cary with a smile.

    Practice Makes Perfect

    Confidence, says Larson, is what practice in the center’s labs gives him and other students. Confidence not only helps with the procedure, but also in how to talk to a client who may be feeling upset or distressed.

    “Until you have the opportunity to try something new, you always have that self-doubt,” says Larson. “Being able to practice numerous procedures gives me the confidence that I can tackle anything down the road in my career.”

    Simulations improve techniques and give students feedback as to how they could do better the next time. It might be how team members communicate with each other during an emergency, and what they could do to improve communication to better help future patients. Or it could be something as simple as if the students had lowered the table, they could have given more effective chest compressions to the patient.

    “We reinforce with models so they see the common things they are going to see in their practice,” says Cary. “A lot of times it is the confidence that gets you through the whole thing.”