Student presents research at national One Health meeting
Leandra Mosca, a sophomore veterinary medical student, attended the first-ever national One Health meeting, hosted by Washington University in St. Louis in September, to present work she began in the Florida Veterinary Scholars Program and completed in the laboratory of her UFCVM mentor.
Mosca’s mentor, Dr. Roy Curtiss, is a preeminent scientist and professor at the college whose expertise is in infectious diseases and vaccine development. He nominated her for the opportunity to travel to and present her work at the One Health meeting.
The conference, held at the world-renowned St. Louis Zoo, included students and professionals across disciplines, from human health to research to ecology, Mosca said.
Mosca worked on comparing the immunogenicity of different genetically engineered Salmonella Typhimurium strains for the development of recombinant attenuated Salmonella vaccines, or RASVs. RASVs are orally administered, low-cost, needle-free vaccinations made of live, attenuated Salmonella that are capable of delivering protective antigens from other pathogens.
“The vaccines use Salmonella’s proficiency at eliciting an immune reaction for protection against pathogens of agriculturally important animals, and a number of important human pathogens as well,” she said.
Mosca’s project focused on determining if the initial virulence, colonizing ability and genotype of a RASV parental strain is critical to the vaccine’s ability to elicit an effective immune response.
“I chose to focus on this project because of the exciting opportunity it lent me to learn more about microbiology, immunology and comparative medicine,” Mosca said. “Working with Dr. Curtiss introduced me first-hand to the profound impact of research on furthering animal, human and environmental health.”
She added that the experience “really solidified” the idea that an interdisciplinary, species-spanning approach to health “is our future.”
Mosca said she had sought out Dr. Curtiss because of her interest in immunology and vaccine development, and added that her participation in the Florida Veterinary Scholars Program, which held its national symposium this past summer, offered her the ability to become involved in her research project and continue with it up to this point.
Twelve UFCVM students are funded for summer research through the FVSP and several, including Mosca, attended the summer national symposium this year at The Ohio State University. The list of funded students this year, in addition to Mosca, and their sponsors included Hillary Algood (Dr. Jim Wellehan), Nicole Furst (Dr. Bonnie Gatson), Courtney Howard (Dr. David Baekey), Michael Khan (Dr. Nancy Denslow), Rosalind Kopp (Dr. Taralyn McCarrel), Dr. Kelly Mills (Dr. Fiona Maunsell), Alexa Stephen (Dr. Carlos Souza), Kaylee Brown (Dr. Chris Martyniuk), Sidney Chautin (Dr. Matt Johnson), Mallory Cooley (Dr. Kijiro Shiomitsu), Timothy O’Leary (Dr. Heather Walden) and Chelsey Tournade (Dr. Rick Johnson.)
Others participated without direct funding, said Dr. Chris Sanchez, an associate professor of large animal medicine who serves as the program’s director.