Grad student’s feline research earns award

Feline health research conducted by Dr. Melissa Meachem of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) earned top marks during the 2011 American College of Veterinary Pathologists‘ (ACVP) annual meeting that was held from December 3-7 in Nashville, Tenn.

Meachem, a 2008 WCVM graduate and a PhD student in the college’s Department of Veterinary Pathology, received the ACVP Young Investigator Award for her research poster, “Putative biomarkers of feline pancreatic neoplasia.”

The ACVP Young Investigator Awards program recognizes quality poster presentations by veterinary pathology residents and graduate students across North America. Besides the recognition, Meachem earned $500 for her first-place honour.

Feline pancreatic cancer (FePAC) is an aggressive and life-threatening disease that’s difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are often non-specific and resemble those for pancreatitis — a more common and benign disease.

The objective of Meachem’s study was to characterize proteins in cats with malignant and inflammatory pancreatic disease in comparison to age-matched healthy adult cats. Results of the WCVM-based study showed that there are significant differences in the plasma proteomes (entire set of proteins expressed by an organism) between cats diagnosed with pancreatic adenocarcinoma compared to cats with pancreatitis and normal, healthy cats. Some of these plasma proteins may eventually act as putative biomarkers of disease.

Meachem conducted the research with her graduate supervisor, Dr. Elemir Simko, along with the WCVM’s Drs. Elisabeth Snead, Beverly Kidney and Marion Jackson. Other research collaborators included Dr. Ryan Dickinson of Prairie Diagnostic Services and Dr. Victoria Larson of the Calgary Animal Referral and Emergency Centre.

The study received financial support from the WCVM’s Companion Animal Health Fund. A summary of Meachem’s study proposal was published in the article, “New Season of Research Begins” (pages 4-5) that appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of Vet Topics, the CAHF’s news publication.

Download a copy of Meachem’s award-winning research poster (PDF 366 KB).


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