Equine Researcher Honored as LSU Distinguished Alumni

The Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Veterinary Medicine honored two alumni with the Distinguished Alumnus Award at its 77th Annual Conference for Veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians. The recipients are Debra Sellon, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM (LSU 1983), and Marie Louise Martin, DVM, MS (LSU 1982).

Sellon is an outstanding educator, as evidenced by numerous teaching awards. In addition to her lectures, labs, and clinical duties at Washington State University, where she is associate dean of the Graduate School, she mentors interns, ACVIM resident candidates, and doctoral students.

Sellon has excelled in several areas of research beginning with studies in equine infectious anemia at North Carolina State University and going on to research concentrations at WSU in immunology and immune suppression in animals. She has developed an international reputation. Her studies involving equine protozoal myeloencephalitis are on the cutting edge and continue to provide greater insights into the pathogenesis of this crippling disease in horses. She is a successful grantsman with over $2 million in extramural funding, including awards from the National Institutes of Health.

Sellon has published more than 55 manuscripts in peer reviewed journals, contributed to many publications and book chapters, and is currently co-editor of the textbook Equine Internal Medicine. These scholarly contributions to the literature are further examples of her dedication to academics.

Sellon holds awards for leadership, excelling on both local and national levels with her service on committees at WSU, North Carolina State University, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, and the American Veterinary Medical Association. She has always been a passionate champion for her alma mater and the profession.

Martin was a graduate of St. Joseph's Academy in Baton Rouge. She received her DVM from the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine in 1982, and followed with an MS in genetics from LSU. She studied at the Woods Hole Institute and did an internship at the University of Pennsylvania, where she specialized in cardiology.

Martin was the first veterinarian to be selected for a fellowship by Children's Hospital in Boston. In 1985, she went to work at the Centers for Disease Control, where she was head of the congenital birth defects section.

Martin left her job at the CDC and moved to Nairobi, Kenya, in 1995, when her husband was assigned to work in a polio immunization program there for the World Health Organization. In Nairobi, Martin worked as the director of the Jimmy Carter Foundation in the fight against malaria. She became a Medivac pilot while in Africa.

Martin lost her life in the terrorist bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi on Aug. 7, 1998.

The Distinguished Alumnus Award is a means to recognize alumni of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine for outstanding professional and personal achievements. The award is presented at the Annual Conference each year. Any veterinarian who received the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Louisiana State University before 1998 is eligible for the award. Candidates will be recognized for their accomplishments in veterinary medicine and/or contributions to the community through public service.

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