Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine building research center in Roanoke

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) The Virginia Tech Carilion Health Sciences and Technology Campus continues to grow in Roanoke, and soon veterinary medicine will be an important part of the equation.

A unique collaboration will offer benefits for people and their pets in Roanoke and beyond.

On a visit to the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, we met Dana McAlister and her dog Charlotte, visiting the community practice there to address some minor health concerns.

But the students, faculty and staff on the Blacksburg campus see the full range of medical issues, including cancer. And soon they will be sharing their expertise at the new center in Roanoke.

"I think 'excited' doesn't even begin to cover it," said Dr. Shawna Klahn, Associate Professor of Medical Oncology. "We've been planning this for as long as I have been here, which has been seven years, and to see it physically, actually happen is just amazing to me."

The Comparative Oncology Research Center will be housed in the building now under construction, right next to the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute.

Klahn and her colleagues at the College of Veterinary Medicine have been following the construction with great interest,

The new center will include a state-of-the-art clinical setting, but also the research hub they believe will pay dividends for animals and humans.

Dr. Greg Daniel is the Interim Dean of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

"We can apply techniques and technologies that we can develop in animals that can be translated to people and vice versa," Daniel said. "We can apply leading-edge technologies that are currently used in people and apply them to our animal patients."

"And so joining together with human researchers, human doctors in order to parallel clinical trials, get drugs to market faster, and benefit all species is really the most exciting part about all of this," added Klahn.

The new center will give people in the Roanoke Valley another option for their animals who require cancer care.

The center will also include the only radiation oncology center for veterinary care between Knoxville and Richmond.