[Sidebar] Veterinary Report Header Back Issues Features CVM News Dean Research Kudos Alumni Events Contact University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine


How I Spent My Summer Vacation...

* Ten Weeks at Stanford
* Ten Weeks at Cornell

Ten Weeks at Stanford

[Kevin Lewis]Absence epilepsy affects 100,000 children per year and plagues researchers day-to-day. Absence is a disease that causes researchers to rub their face and toss up their pens, as the pathogenesis of the disease is as unrecognized as the disease itself. While on a fellowship sponsored by the National Institutes of Health last summer, I too found myself presenting similar symptoms as I worked with John Huguenard and David Prince at Stanford University to define the pathogenesis of the disease.

The idiopathic disease is more characteristically described as sporadic moments of behavioral arrest and spatial unawareness occurring unknowingly to the patient. These moments of unawareness are a typical manifestation of hypersynchronous brain activity and are termed an absence seizure. The thalamus, a major organizing center in the brain, was identified as the venue for absence seizures through previous studies by Professor Huguenard’s lab. These studies, however, were performed in vitro. During my stay at Stanford, I worked with Professor Huguenard, Dr. Prince, and staff veterinarians to establish an in vivo model to test the previous in vitro results.

The project birthed new technology and galvanized classic scientific thought, while unexpected challenges spiked moments of rapid creativity. And at the project’s completion a novel mouse electroencephalogram was established and functional within the lab. Preliminary data gained through the equipment support previous in vitro findings that the thalamus is responsible for absence seizures.

As we discovered, the transition to in vivo experiments presents a debilitating number of variables; however, such balanced studies are required to resolve present and future questions. While I become increasingly more asymptomatic of absence epilepsy, I remain extremely infected by its perplexity and plan to return to Stanford and further develop the technology in the coming months.—Kevin Lewis, Class of 2006

Back to Top

Ten Weeks at Cornell

[Lyn Wancket and her team at Cornell]
Lyn Wancket (top, center) and her team presented a plan for designing and marketing a hypothetical drug for canine osteoarthritis.

This summer, I participated in Cornell’s Leadership Program for Veterinary Students with 26 other veterinary students from across the country and around the world (including Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, UK).

We spent 10 weeks in Ithaca, N.Y., working on individual research projects and group modules designed to develop leadership and critical-thinking skills. My project involved developing a cell culture assay to differentiate virulent strains of Listeria monocytogenes, a food-borne pathogen affecting both animal and human health. Our group modules covered such diverse topics as the monkeypox outbreak, bioterrorism, and designing a novel drug for the treatment of canine osteoarthritis (my team utilized nanobio- technology).

It was an unforgettable summer that not only gave me additional laboratory experience but introduced me to so many other veterinary students passionate about research. Many thanks to all those here at the College who supported my trip.— Lyn Wancket, Class of 2006

Back To Features