Graduate student honored by national parasitology group

Jeff Gruntmeir

Jeff Gruntmeir

Jeff Gruntmeir, a graduate student in the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of comparative, diagnostic and population medicine, has received the 2021 American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists-Merck Outstanding Graduate Student Award.

Gruntmeir’s research is focused on the mosquito-transmitted canine heartworm, Dirofilaria immitis, as well as other filarial nematode infections of domestic dogs, transmitted by blood-feeding arthropods, such as fleas, lice, mosquitos or ticks. Overall his research goal is to improve early diagnosis of heartworm infection in sheltered dogs, so appropriate treatment can be started to reduce the devastating effects of heartworm disease.

“My research has characterized a diagnostic method referred to as heat treatment, and how it effects the accurate diagnosis of heartworm by the diagnostic antigen test used in veterinary clinics and diagnostic labs,” Gruntmeir said.

His work also involves the diagnosis of all other parasitic helminths infecting dogs using a broad array of classical and molecular parasitology methods to determine whether non-heartworm nematode infections cause false-positive antigen test results following heat treatment. Additionally, he is investigating how heat affects antibodies which may interfere with the protein antigen targeted by the diagnostic test.

Gruntmeir’s mentor is Dr. Heather Walden, a professor of parasitology at the college.

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