April - May Edition
Faculty of Veterinary Science Research Newsletter
From the desk of ADR
Hello to all researchers in the Faculty and wider Schools,


The 2016 – 2020 University Strategic Plan has now been launched, and it outlines a number of strategic initiatives designed to support and grow the research output of the University.  The focus is on ‘developing a culture of research excellence’. The University proposes to support this with three specific research focused strategies:  investing in research excellence, attracting and developing outstanding researchers, and to partner for impact. Each of these strategies is supported by a number of initiatives, often with a significant commitment of funding. There are a number of opportunities for the Veterinary Faculty and SOLES researchers so I urge you to have a read of the Strategic Plan . There are also opportunities in the coming weeks to attend townhall session at various locations around the campuses, you can register.

Although it may seem like old news now, you may have figured out by now that I love to celebrate the good things in life, so I would like to once again recognise the Faculty being ranked as 9th globally for Veterinary Science in 2016 QS Rankings, 1st in Southern Hemisphere, and the top ranked Faculty in the University. Congratulations and huge THANK YOU to all of our researchers and teachers who contributed to this fantastic result. The basis of this ranking relies hugely on our research output (90%), so it really is recognition of your great work.

With the aid of the research reporting group, we have spent some time analyzing how these (and other) rankings are determined. It has become apparent that many of the databases that collate information on outputs (such as papers) do not always correctly identify the origin of those papers. I would like to emphasize that to maintain our research performance and reputation; it would be helpful for researchers to include “The University of Sydney” as their primary address. Where this is not possible, we should then use The Faculty of Veterinary Science, followed by the School of Life and Environmental Sciences. This will allow papers to be attributed to our Faculty until staff have completed the changeover into the School of Life and Environmental Sciences.

On other matters, which are just as exciting, the Compact funds have all been allocated. From the 65 applications, 45 were funded with over $317,000 worth of support. Thank you for the efforts you have put into making these decisions very tough on the committee. The compacts are delivering in terms of research outputs with 50 of our 235 peer reviewed papers in 2014 and 56 of our 265 peer reviewed papers in 2015 written by compact recipients!

We have received 78 applications for bequest funding, and the selection committee has already awarded 25 projects $85k to the first round of applications. A big thank you to David Phalen and his team for taking the lead on this. We will have the final outcomes on the second round of Compacts and Bequests in the next couple of weeks.

Next week there will be a strategic planning meeting to start developing a commercial plan to identify partners that might work with us in the field of Wildlife research. If you are interested in contributing to this report at some stage, even if you are not able to attend this small focus group meeting, please get in touch with me via the vetsci.adr@sydney.edu.au email address.

You may be wondering about your RIBG allocations for 2016. There has been a university level delay in RIBG distribution. The Faculty is following up and we will keep you posted with news (and distribution) as soon as possible.

Finally, the Veterinary Faculty has now joined the Twittersphere. While this may seem like (and is!) just a bit of fun, Twitter is a genuinely useful tool for promoting our work. In the not too distant future-starting next year- we will be able to use non-traditional methods for reporting on the impact of our research. I believe this is a great opportunity for Veterinary researchers-  while our excellent publications may not always attain double figure impact factors, the actual impact of our work is in how it can help animals (and people) in the real world. We can use social media to efficiently disseminate these important findings and interact with the public to increase awareness of who we are, what we do and why we do it. Apparently the younger generation (!) relies on social media as their main source of news. So please, when you have something exciting to share, let me know, and I will ‘tweet’ it. If you have done a radio interview, or have a publication out, email me a link (or tag the account), and a sentence or heading you would like me to use to get attention (it must be short- only 140 characters). I will do my best to promote your work that way. Also, I would like to illustrate a little bit of the human side of the Faculty. So, if you are interested, I would love to showcase photos of your pets or your research subjects. (Please only send photos that you have rights to- so we don’t get in trouble for copyright issues). The account handle is Sydney Uni Vet Sci @Sydney_Vet, so follow & retweet if you haven’t already.

Happy Researching,

30 seconds with.... Dr Natasha Hamilton
 1. What is your area of expertise?
 I have an interest in all things equine, but particularly with racehorses and racehorse genetics. My PhD involved molecular characterisation of a candidate gene for racing performance, and this is what really triggered my interest in horse genetics. My research now focuses on identifying factors that influence performance and soundness in racehorses, and developing methods for detection of gene doping. I also have some ‘just for fun’ projects investigating the genetic basis of unusual white colouring in Thoroughbreds with Bianca Waud, and the association between behaviour and coat colours.

2.   Most exciting Research discovery to date?
 A PhD student supervised by myself and Claire Wade recently showed that traits representing racehorse ‘durability’ (signified by career length and frequency of racing) are significantly influenced by genetics in the Australian and Hong Kong Thoroughbred racehorse population. This is exciting because we now know there is scope for genetic improvement in the breed. By expanding this project to identify some of the genes involved, we may also be able to develop a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the causes of reduced durability. These include catastrophic breakdown, epistaxis, tying up and even poor performance. These traits are all influenced by genetic and non-genetic factors, so a better understanding of the genes underlying these traits will also allow us to identify at risk individuals and better manipulate the environment to prevent the occurrence of the condition in those horses.

3.    What is on your Research bucket list? 
Apart from being awarded a ginormous grant... I would like to develop a genetic test for a wide range of different traits in racehorses. There is increasing evidence that traits such as fracture and tendon injuries are also partially heritable, while there are a number of traits such as epistaxis, roaring and typing up that we know are heritable. Being able to test for them all would give owners and trainers more information about what their racehorse might be susceptible too, and allow them to modify training to try and prevent these issues. I would also like to breed the next Criterion…

4.   Something about you that we don’t know ?
I am awesome at karaoke (and by awesome, I mean very enthusiastic)
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News from Philanthropy office
The Faculty has received the following three gifts in 2016, which will make a tremendous difference to companion animal health:
1. A gift of $300K from Lynne Cattell (a referral client of the UVTH) to support the Dog Ownership and Human Health project node – a joint collaboration between the CPC and Faculty of Veterinary Science

2. A gift of $7.5K from a grateful client, Arthur Witten of our clinical services at Camden has provided a gift of a defibrillator for the Sydney Veterinary Hospital cardiology team

 3. A gift of $50K from a grateful client of UVTH, Ian Brown to support Julia Beatty and her team in research into feline infectious diseases

  • Harkeet’s role is to facilitate major philanthropic gifts to the Faculty (through Alumni and non-Alumni i.e. grateful clients) for world-class research, quality teaching and state of the art equipment that will benefit the health & welfare of animals
  • Harkeet tailors her approach for all philanthropic gifts to ensure the best outcome for the donor and the University.
  • Harkeet can be contacted via harkeet.puria@sydney.edu.au or 02 8627 0836

Harkeet Puria – Associate Director, Development
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Who has been creating news....
April/ May 2016
Professor Paul McGreevy from the Faculty of Veterinary Science was quoted in The Guardian about his research into the physiological impact of nosebands on horses.

702 ABC Sydney interviewed Dr Peter Higgins from the Faculty of Veterinary Science about the genetic makeup of Labradors which may explain their appetite.

ABC Southern Queensland mentioned Dr Robyn Alders from the Faculty of Veterinary Science has designed a project to deliver vaccinations to chickens in East Timor.
MSN (New Zealand) quoted Professor Paul McGreevy from the Faculty of Veterinary Science in a story about the impact of tight nosebands on horsesPhD candidate from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Elizabeth Arnott, was interviewed on SBS Insight about the intelligence and behaviours of dogs.

An online resource developed by the Faculty of Veterinary Science for information on dog breeds and illnesses was mentioned in the Adelaide Advertiser.

Professor Paul McGreevy from the Faculty of Veterinary Science was interviewed on Radio National about new research on the health problems of dogs with small skulls.

Radio National Breakfast mentioned Dr Robyn Alders from the Faculty of Veterinary Science has designed a vaccination program for use in chicken herds in Asia and Africa.

Dr Glenn Shea from the Faculty of Veterinary Science was interviewed on 720 ABC Perth about his research on blind snakes in the Northern Territory region.

Australian Jewish News and The Land reported a memorandum of understanding between the University of Sydney and the Agricultural Research Organisation of Israel was signed to pave the path towards research collaboration on livestock, dairy and aquaculture issues. Pro-Vice Chancellor (Global Engagement) Professor Katherine Belov was quoted.

ABC (Radio National, South West WA, Illawarra) spoke to Associate Professor Robyn Alders from the Faculty of Veterinary Science about a project in East Timor designed and supported by the Australian government to vaccinate chickens.

Associate Professor Jan Slapeta from the Faculty of Veterinary Science wrote an article published in The Conversation about fleas which live in major coastal cities.

Yahoo! News (US), Vice (Sweden) reported on a University of Sydney study from the Faculty of Veterinary Science which found small dogs are increasing in popularity despite the serious health problems they endure.

Research from the Faculty of Veterinary Science has shown smaller breeds of dogs experience serious health problems, reported the Sunday Mail Adelaide.

ABC Western Plains NSW reported on a University of Sydney study from the Faculty of Veterinary Science which found small dogs are increasing in popularity despite the serious health problems they endure.

Professor Paul McGreevy from the Faculty of Veterinary Science was interviewed on Channel 7 News (Sydney, Melbourne, Perth), Southern Cross Tasmania and ABC (North Queensland, Far North) about a new study which has warned of the health problems experienced by dogs with flat and wide-shaped skulls. Honorary Associate Professor Max Zuber from the Faculty of Veterinary Science was interviewed on ABC News (24, Perth) about the study and 2GB Sydney mentioned the research.

The Guardian (UK) reported on research by Professor Paul McGreevy from the Faculty of Veterinary Science about the new breed of smaller dogs and the health issues associated with flat-nosed breeds.

Professor Claire Wade from the Faculty of Veterinary Science was interviewed on ABC (Southern Queensland, Eyre Peninsula and West Coast) about research on the behaviour traits of different coloured horses.

Dr Anne Fawcett from the Faculty of Veterinary Science was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald about the toxicity of chocolate if consumed by dogs.

Professor Richard Whittington from the Faculty of Veterinary Science was interviewed on ABC (666 Canberra, New England North West) about the Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS).
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Faculty publications that have been creating lots of interest:
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Maximising the impact of research publications
New data base from the research office

Developed by the Research Portfolio, the Journal Finder spreadsheet provides commonly sought-after information on journals across disciplines.

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Where to publish?
Briefing paper
The costs and benefits to the research community of Open Access: A briefing paper.

This briefing paper describes where the main costs lie in providing Open Access and in the traditional subscription-based system.  It provides indicative costs for Green and Gold Open Access and summarises studies to date on the comparative costs of different systems of scholarly communication

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Funding opportunities
Closing soon....
  • The American Society for Microbiology invites nominations for the Maurice Hilleman/Merck award. Closing Date 15 May 2016
  • The Society for Reproductive Biology invites applications for its award for excellence in reproductive biology research. Closing Date 16 May 2016
  • Are you working to make a difference? You might be an AMP Tomorrow Maker. Grants of $10K - $100K available, so here's your chance to get some funding. Applications close 18 May 2016
  • Australian Society for Fish Biology invites applications for its student international travel scholarship. Applications close 31 May 2016
  • Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia invites applications for its university student grants. These support research projects of direct relevance to the conservation of Australian wildlife. Applications close 31 May 2016
  • The Australian National Kennel Council invites applications for its canine research foundation grants. These support research projects producing benefit in some aspect of canine health. Applications close 31 May 2016
  • Birdlife Australia, supported by funding from the Australian Bird Environment Foundation, invites applications for its small conservation grants. Applications close 31 May 2016
  • The PRSS provides University funding for travel to, attendance at, and participation in conferences around the world. Funding under PRSS can also support your fieldwork or research overseas. In 2016, total funding available is $1.5 million. Closing 1 July 2016
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Research Professional
How to perform your own research professional search
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Upcoming Events/Conferences
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