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2021 VPRF Grant Recipients Announced

Updated: Jul 11, 2022



(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) February 17, 2022—The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) and the Veterinary Pharmacology Research Foundation (VPRF) have selected two veterinary researchers as recipients of the organizations’ 2021-2022 pharmacology research grants. This funding supports research projects designed to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases in animals. The grant recipients were selected out of 29 top-quality applications reviewed by a committee of 17 experts. Researcher Megan Grobman, DVM, MS, DACVIM (SAIM), PhD is an Assistant Professor of Small Animal Internal Medicine at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. Sarah A. Hamer,

MS, PhD, DVM, DACVPM (epi), is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS).


Dr. Grobman’s research project will focus on the impact of single-dose administration of the antidepressant, trazadone, on the production of the stress hormone, cortisol, in healthy dogs. She explained, “The use of trazodone to improve animal welfare and stress management within the veterinary hospital is becoming increasingly common. However, few studies have been published about trazodone use in dogs. Due to trazodone’s mechanism of action, potential interference with the production of cortisol, use of the drug may interfere with the evaluation of endocrine (hormonal) disease in dogs. Thanks to the generous grant provided by the AVMF/VPRF, we are able to launch the first study investigating possible interference with the diagnosis and treatment of canine endocrine disease due to trazodone administration in dogs.”


Dr. Hamer’s research project is designed to improve clinical outcomes in client-owned, naturally-infected dogs with Chagas disease, a potentially life-threatening disease of people, dogs, and other animals. Her work focuses on assessing the treatment efficacy of the drug, benznidazole, for curing infection with Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease. “After years of epidemiological work to describe the magnitude of the canine Chagas disease problem, we are so excited and thankful to have support from AVMF/VPRF to work toward a solution. Diseases in nature – especially those spread by insects and persist in wildlife - present major challenges to manage in our veterinary patients because these pathogens are all around. This research grant will allow us to work with dogs in some of the most affected areas, where the kissing bug that transmits the parasite are common,” said Dr. Hamer.


The funding organizations are very grateful for the expert reviews by the 17 members of the 2021-22 Pharmacology Scientific Review Committee, which includes Drs. Mahmoud Abouraya, Michael Apley, Ron Baynes, Cynthia Cole, Jennifer L. Davis, Keith DeDonder, Dan Gustafson, Butch KuKanich, Andrew Mackin, Lara Maxwell, Kirby Pasloske, Mary Robinson, Lauren Trepanier, Sarah Wagner, Luke Wittenburg, Mark Papich (chair), and Jane Owens (co-chair).


Funding for the VPRF research grant is administered by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) and supports research into new or currently-approved medications for combating diseases and conditions of companion and food animals, as well as projects that ensure the safety of food products from treated livestock. Clinicians and scientists with an interest in veterinary pharmacology are eligible to serve as principal investigators.

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