Photo by Edwin Remsberg (click here for hi res image)
Researchers at the Aquatic Pathobiology Center have a new home at the Avrum Gudelsky Veterinary Center in College Park, part of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM). Their focus: environmental toxicology, pathology, and the husbandry of fish and other aquatic and marine organisms.
"But why?" you might ask. "Why the major focus on fish?"
The answer is actually quite simple, especially given the center's proximity to the Chesapeake Bay. Crabs, rockfish, and other bay residents support a local community of watermen and draw thousands of tourists to Maryland beaches each year. Other aquatic species provide good human disease models for medical research. And many, like the tiny killifish, serve as environmental "sentinels" in the bay and elsewhere, responding to even the slightest changes in their habitat.
"The Aquatic Pathobiology Center provides students and faculty with a unique opportunity to conduct a wide array of basic and applied research on aquatic animals in state-of-the-art facilities," says director Dr. Andrew Kane. The 4,000-square-foot center, which receives support from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the VMRCVM, relocated from the medical school in 2000 and became fully functional last year.
Current research projects focus on such diverse subjects as the effects of nutrient runoff on the presence, growth, and virulence of fish pathogens; the relationship between fish skin ulcers and such microorganisms as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and Pfiesteria; quantification of behavioral changes due to various environmental stressors; and the metabolism and analysis of antimicrobial drugs for aquaculture species.
What makes this work different from much other animal research, according to Kane, is its focus on endpoints that involve an integration of cellular, tissue-level, and whole-animal responses. "The relationship between molecular changes and the animal as a whole is often unclear," he explains. "And the effects seen in the laboratory rarely mimic real-world field events. We're trying to clarify and quantify these links."
To this end, faculty and students collaborate with-and receive support from-numerous federal, state, and private organizations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Smithsonian Institution; Maryland departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and the Environment; and National Aquarium in Baltimore. In addition, researchers from the Blacksburg campus, including Steve Smith, make the VMRCVM a winning aquatic/environmental research team. They and other center partners are united by an underlying goal: to conduct research that supports the health of fish -- especially aquacultured species and fauna of the Chesapeake Bay. (Pam Townsend)
On Monday, July 9th, 2001, a celebration was held at the Avrum Guldelsky Veterinary Center for the program and new facilities of the VMRCVM's new Aquatic Pathobiology Center on the UMCP campus. Andrew S. Kane, Center director, led a tour of the wet lab facilities for participants including (below, l to r): J. Glenn Morris, Chair, Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, UM Baltimore; Gerhardt Schurig, Associate Dean for Research, VMRCVM; Renate Reimschuessel, US Food and Drug Administration, Center for Veterinary Medicine; James Wade, Associate Dean, UM College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Dan Mote, President, UMCP; Robert Summers, Director of Water Management Administration, MD Department of the Environment; and Thomas Fretz, Dean, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, UMCP. At right is Kane with son Collin, age 2. The Center's partnerships with the Food and Drug Administration, the VMRCVM, and the MD Department of the Environment support ongoing research in the Center. Above, Kane discusses some of the finer points of the Center's ongoing research projects with an inquisitive Mote.
Photo by Cynthia Mitchel (click here for hi res image)