SVM researchers receive more than $95,000 to research endangered species



BATON ROUGE- Four researchers at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine have been awarded grants from the LSU-ACRES (Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species) Project for research studies designed to contribute to the development of methods to sustain and support threatened or endangered species. The grant periods are for one year from July 1, 2016 – 1 June 30, 2017.


Carlos Pinto, MedVet, PhD (LSU SVM 2001), DACT, associate professor of theriogenology in the department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences (VCS), and Chelsey Leisinger, MS, PhD candidate in VCS, received $50,000 for their research project entitled, “Kinetics of in vitro oocyte maturation and blastocyst development of equine and bovine oocytes held at room temperature.” The funds cover costs associated with the execution of these in vitro procedures involving oocyte maturation and in vitro embryo production. A special camera connected to a compact digital inverted microscope will be purchased to regularly observe and image embryos, undisturbed, when inside the incubator.


“Our study will investigate how well oocytes can be preserved for one or two days before undergoing in vitro maturation and fertilization for embryo production,” said Dr. Pinto. “Despite using advanced technology we hope this study will help us to devise practical methods to recover and transport oocytes from animals that might become deceased in the wild. The ultimate goal is to benefit conservation efforts of species of interest.”


Mark Mitchell, DVM, MS, PhD (LSU SVM 2011), DECZM, hospital director for the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and Sean Perry, PhD candidate in VCS, received $45,260 for their research project entitled, “Preventing the permanent camouflaging of chameleons: Establishing an assisted reproductive program for male chameleons using the panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) as a model.” The researchers will use the funds to develop assisted reproductive methods for male chameleons, with the long term goal of successfully collecting and cryopreserving sperm. Researchers expect to use this study to develop similar programs for female chameleons, with the ultimate goal of performing artificial insemination.


 “This research project is going to allow us to develop assisted reproductive methods for one of the most endangered groups of animals in the world. More than 50% of all chameleon species are threatened or endangered,” said Dr. Mitchell. “As veterinarians, our role in conservation is growing and it is essential we bring these skills forward to help assist these animals. Imagine a world without chameleons; it would be a much less colorful world.”


The Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species has long been guided by a mission to safeguard endangered animals for future generations through innovative scientific sustainability programs that accelerate reproduction and preserve the earth’s genetic heritage. Research areas were to focus on science that will enhance conservation of threatened/endangered animal species. That included studies involving various aspects of reproduction, both natural and assisted, habitat management, animal health, or infectious diseases. Collaborative projects involving LSU (e.g., LSU – SVM, A&M, LSU Health Sciences Centers, Pennington Biomedical Research Center or other LSU campuses) and ACRES scientists were highly encouraged.




The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is one of only 30 veterinary schools in the U.S. and the only one in Louisiana. The LSU SVM is dedicated to improving the lives of people and animals through education, research and service. We teach. We heal. We discover. We protect.