Mathematicians may help diagnose diseases in pets


College Station, Texas - Mathematics is adding a new dimension to the practice of veterinary medicine.

College Station, Texas - Mathematics is adding a new dimensionto the practice of veterinary medicine.

Sue Geller, a professor of mathematics at Texas A&M University hasa joint appointment with the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and PublicHealth to assist veterinarians in the design of experiments and analysisof their data.

Geller has collaborated with Dr. Margaret Slater, an epidemiologist,veterinarian, and associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Anatomyand Public Health at Texas A&M, to study the cause of renal diseasein cats.

Slater conducted a survey to study diet and habits of cats with renaldisease. Geller then ran models to study the phenomena that are correlatedwith having renal diseases.

"A loss of weight indicates that cats may be getting renal disease,"Geller said. "The finding is important because renal disease cannotbe diagnosed before it is fairly severe. Loss of weight is probably theresult, not the cause of renal disease."

One recommendation from the study is for veterinarians to use a moreaccurate weighing scale for cats.

Geller also works with Gwendolyn Carroll, an associate professor in theDepartment of Veterinary Small Animal Medicine & Surgery at Texas A&M,to study how drugs that are used in humans could affect animals.

"Animals react differently to drugs used treat them," Gellersays. For example, goats and cows do not react to drugs in the same fashion,even though they both are ruminant animals.

"They still have very different reactions after we adjusted forthe difference of weight," she says.

Geller and Carroll are analyzing how goats can safely and effectivelybe awakened after they have been sedated.

Because the scientists have only six goats being tested by repeated measures,Geller works on developing accurate mathematical or statistical ways ofanalyzing small sample data.

"Being a mathematician, I like to do research with scientists inapplied fields," Geller says.

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