Three Professorships Announced

Benefactors invest in faculty and research at Cummings School
Dr. Maureen Murray and Dean Alastair Cribb pose for a picture while shaking hands
Dr. Maureen Murray and Dean Alastair Cribb

Three faculty were recognized with professorships and a directorship at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and celebrated at a ceremony held June 7, 2022.

The Gabriel and Valerie Schmergel Directorship in Wildlife Medicine, the Anne Engen and Belle Professorship in Clinical Nephrology, and the Elizabeth Arnold Stevens Faculty Development Professorship were recognized.

In his welcoming remarks, Tufts University President Anthony P. Monaco, acknowledged the critical role of the University’s professors. “Faculty are at the heart of what we do in teaching, research, and clinical practice,” he said.

Dr. Alastair Cribb, Cummings School Dean and Henry and Lois Foster Professor, confirmed the importance of this generosity. “Professorships allow us to recognize and support our outstanding faculty,” he said. “They allow us to recruit more faculty, which leads to better education, better patient care, and more research that makes a difference. We cannot do this without the support of our donors, for which we are very grateful.”

Gabriel and Valerie Schmergel Term Directorship in Wildlife Medicine
The Gabriel and Valerie Schmergel Term Directorship in Wildlife Medicine was established in support of Tufts Wildlife Clinic.

The Schmergels are longtime supporters of the school, according to Ana Alvarado, senior director of development and alumni engagement at Cummings School. “Their goal is to support the school’s internationally recognized program in wildlife medicine to ensure a strong future for Tufts Wildlife Clinic,” she shared.

Dr. Maureen Murray, V03, the Gabriel and Valerie Schmergel Director of the Tufts Wildlife Clinic, is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health. A board-certified specialist in avian medicine, she has studied anticoagulant rodenticides in birds of prey since 2006. Along with acting as director of Tufts Wildlife Clinic, Dr. Murray teaches veterinary interns, pre-clinical students, and fourth-year students during their clinical year rotation in the Wildlife Clinic.

Murray presented a talk, titled “Wildlife Medicine and Research at Tufts Wildlife Clinic,” at the event, where she shared information about her research and her clinical work through brief stories of three Wildlife Clinic patients—all birds of prey—which provided a glimpse into the types of work performed by the clinic’s dedicated staff.

Also included was a mention of the three studies Murray has published over the past 12 years; the most recent revealed that 100% of the birds involved tested positive for anticoagulant rodenticides. Dr. Murray’s research has led to the creation of legislation that is expected to help protect birds from this poisoning.

Anne Engen and Belle Term Professorship in Clinical Nephrology
The Anne Engen and Belle Term Professorship in Clinical Nephrology was created by Anne Engen, a long time Cummings School friend and supporter, to help build Tufts University’s strengths in veterinary clinical nephrology. Anne’s primary interest is in strengthening client, patient, and student experiences through initiatives that promote science and learning while providing the most advanced care possible for critically ill or injured animals, like her beloved Corgi, Belle.

The Anne Engen and Belle Professor in Clinical Nephrology is Dr. Mary Anna Labato, V83. Dr. Labato was a member of Cummings School’s inaugural class and completed her residency training in small animal internal medicine in the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals. Labato mentors residents and interns, teaches pre-clinical students, and is course director for Foster Hospital.

A clinical professor and associate chair overseeing post-graduate (house officer) training in the Department of Clinical Sciences, Labato is a board-certified specialist in internal medicine and director of renal and endourology services. She is a member of the founding committee of the newly recognized specialty college, the American College of Veterinary Nephrology and Urology, and serves as president-elect of the American Board of Veterinary Nephrology and Urology.

Dr. Labato has undertaken numerous clinical research studies in nephrology/urology in dogs and cats and is recognized internationally for her work. The Anne Engen and Belle professorship has allowed Cummings School to expand its clinical nephrology service and will continue to support its efforts to advance the field.

In her presentation, “It Takes a Village to Develop a Center of Excellence: Team Nephrology/Urology,” Labato shared an overview of the school’s nephrology/urology service from its first dialysis case to recent advances in the services provided.

“I truly feel this Center leads the nation,” Dr. Labato said, noting its collaborative research programs with other schools and biotech groups. It started a dialysis program in 2000 and has grown and expanded its program over two decades through the work of its dedicated team.

“We are among the few centers to offer all five dialysis modalities … and we will soon be the only veterinary school in the country to have a new dialysis machine called a CarpeDiem to treat small animals such as ferrets, rabbits and small dogs and cats,” she said.

Elizabeth Arnold Stevens Professorship
The Elizabeth Arnold Stevens Professorship was established in 2015 through the estate of longtime and generous donor, Elizabeth (Libby) Arnold Stevens. The E.A. Stevens faculty development professorship helps Cummings School recruit and nurture talented early-career scholars.

Dr. Amanda Martinot is an assistant professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Global Health. A veterinarian-scientist and board-certified veterinary anatomic pathologist, she specializes in animal models of infectious diseases of global health importance such as tuberculosis (TB), Zika virus, and SARS-CoV-2.

She completed residency training in comparative pathology at the New England Primate Research Center at Harvard Medical School and earned a Ph.D. at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she studied the microbiology and immunopathology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection.

With over 14 years of experience in TB biology, her research focuses on using animal models to understand virulence determinants for TB infections and to support TB vaccine development.

In addition, she is working on models for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and therapeutic development.
Martinot is investigating whether certain types of immune cells that prevent clearance of cancer cells are similarly found in TB infections and prevent the clearance of the infection from the lungs of people and animals.
Dr. Martinot shared her perspective on TB. “Tuberculosis is a highly debilitating disease. Much like cancer, it causes chronic wasting and those who contract it, their lungs slowly fill with infection so they can’t breathe anymore … Over two billion people worldwide have either active or latent TB, which causes up to 250,000 childhood deaths annually.”

Martinot expressed her gratitude for the support of her team and mentors, the funding she has received, and the key collaborations with colleagues at Harvard Medical School and Tufts Medical Center.