Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) second-year student Melanie Sailor was one of 25 veterinary student scholars nationally to be awarded a Morris Animal Foundation summer research grant for 2015.

The Morris Animal Foundation Veterinary Student Scholars Program encourages veterinary students to pursue research careers, providing students with summer stipends to focus on a project of their own design, while working with a mentor at their respective veterinary colleges, according to the Morris Animal Foundation.

Sailor and her mentor, CVM Assistant Professor of Physiology Gagandeep Kaur, DVM, PhD, recently completed a 12-week summer research project titled "Difference in Number of Arginine Vasopressin-Producing Neurons in Medial Amygdala of Male and Female Dogs."

Sailor said she knew she wanted to do research that would improve companion animal health and be relative to veterinary medicine.

"We successfully localized and identified a neuropeptide called arginine vasopressin in the amygdala of dogs," Sailor said. "The amygdala region of the brain is responsible for controlling emotions. This neuropeptide has been shown to play a role in aggressive behavior of rodent species, but the data on dogs is limited."

Sailor hopes that the research with Dr. Kaur will continue so that they can understand arginine vasopressin’s role in aggressive behavior of dogs, and to elicit sexual dimorphism, which is comparing whether this protein is greater in male than female dogs.

"This past summer, Dr. Kaur guided me the whole way," Sailor said. "She was there to mentor me through various new techniques, and taught me a lot about animal research in this field."

Over the past nine years, Morris Animal Foundation has awarded 385 highly competitive grants, totaling more than $1.4 million, to veterinary students from more than 50 different colleges and universities in 15 countries. This summer, 25 veterinary student projects are going on across the country, covering a wide range of species and animal health issues, according to the Morris Animal Foundation.