Student receives Morris Animal Foundation scholarship

Mallory Cooley, a UF veterinary medical student, is shown at a symposium where she presented her research this summer. (Photo courtesy of Mallory Cooley)

Mallory Smith, a UF veterinary medical student, is shown on July 30 at the Merial Veterinary Scholars Program symposium, where she presented her research.  (Photo courtesy of Mallory Smith.)

Mallory (Cooley) Smith, a second-year student at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, has been chosen as a Morris Animal Foundation 2016 Veterinary Student Scholar.

Smith  is one of 26 veterinary medical students from the United States and abroad to receive this scholarship.

The Morris Animal Foundation’s Veterinary Student Scholars program provides funding for a select number of students to conduct mentored research projects. The program is aimed at providing summer research opportunities that “ignite an interest in research careers for our students,” said Dr. Barbara Wolfe, chief scientific officer for the foundation.

Smith presented her research this summer at the Merial Veterinary Scholar’s Program symposium, hosted by The Ohio State University. Her project concerns the effects of a chemotherapeutic agent, water-soluble paclitaxel, on canine mast cell tumor cell lines.

The class of chemotherapeutic drugs that water-soluble paclitaxel belongs to is widely prescribed in human oncology based on their effects on a wide variety of tumor types and their predictability safety profile. Two in vivo studies evaluating the efficacy of water-soluble paclitaxel in canine mast cell tumors suggest a potential clinical benefit from this drug for these patients.

Her project examines the effects and mechanisms of action of water-soluble paclitaxel on three mast cell tumor cell lines, specifically the drug’s ability to promote cell death and inhibit blood vessel growth in vitro.

“During her Merial summer scholar project, Mallory demonstrated the ability to work independently with great creativity and enthusiasm,” said Keijiro Shiomitsu, an associate professor of oncology at UF. “She put in a lot of effort and worked hard to  successfully complete the project.”

He called Smith “a very sharp, bright and talented student” and said he had enjoyed working with her on the project this summer.

“While chemotherapeutic drugs are available to treat canine mast cell tumors, resistance to these drugs often arises and may lead to disease progression and patient death,” Shiomitsu said, adding that it was important to determine the efficacy of the agent Smith is studying in canine mast cell tumor lines so that its mechanism of action can be understood and further clinical trials using this drug can be performed.

 

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