Streamlining and improving access

The Constitution and Bylaws of the College are definitely not a set of dusty forgotten files, at least not for the Council and Secretariat. The original documents have been amended many times over the years, each time requiring a more than ⅔ vote of those present to approve them. 

Some amendments have been made because our parent organisation, the EBVS, required changes of all Colleges in order to both harmonise and improve the quality of the management of the organisation. An appeals process, for example, was clearly delineated a few years ago to ensure that we knew how to handle potential challenges to an official College decision.

Of the amendments made over the past 5 years, those involving the dreaded publication requirements have incurred the most discussion among the Diplomates. We try to reflect the core values of our members, while encouraging residents to attain the qualification. But EBVS is clear that specialists in veterinary medicine must contribute to the body of knowledge in their disciplines, and the most acceptable way to do that is to conduct research and publish in the journals.

Meanwhile, as veterinarians are being asked to do more with less regardless of where they work, we find it difficult to get sufficient volunteers to serve the needs of our growing College. We try to strike a balance between asking for too much time to serve on committees or Council and the need to retain corporate memory to maintain leadership stability. New Diplomates should feel that they are needed in positions of leadership, and to start participating in the affairs of the College from the beginning of their tenure. Without their enthusiasm and fresh ideas the College will not continue to advance.

2019 brings yet another crop of amendments to be considered, and the ballots have been sent out. By October we will have counted the votes and put new procedures in place to keep ECLAM the action-oriented, enthusiastic organisation it has always been. 2020 will mark our 20th year; may we all commit ourselves to  supporting our mission for many years to come.

For the past few days I’ve been reading and hearing about some exciting news: the microbiome may affect neurologic disease like ALS. This news has popped up on my local public radio station, my Twitter feed, the weekly AVMA news, and as of this morning, the EARA newsletter. Somebody, I’m thinking, has a great public relations department!

And so when I saw it again on the EARA newsletter, I took the bait and clicked. Turns out the news is from the Weizmann Institute in Jerusalem. One of the co-authors is Alon Harmelin, a de facto member of ECLAM since 2003 and formerly the chair of the Training Committee.  Alon currently supervises two residents, with a third scheduled to sit the examinations this year.

The research, which was published in Nature on 22 July, describes extensive experiments using mice transgenic for the human SOD1 (G93A) mutation on a C57BL/6J background. The mice have a shortened lifespan and develop hindlimb paralysis, and are a recognised model for ALS. The authors show that they also have a unique microbiome compared to wild-type littermates. After a lengthy series of experiments, they identified Akkermansia muciniphila as a source of nicotinamide, which improved motor signs in the mice on Rotarod and grip-strength testing as well as neurologic exam. In a small cohort of human ALS patients, a similar correlation with nicotinamide levels and possibly even the same bacterial species was identified. 

Congratulations to Prof Harmelin and his staff on helping to bring this significant research to fruition! We hope it results someday in improved treatments for people with Lou Gehrig’s disease.