International Studies & Programs

Aquatic Animal Research and Relationship Building: Professor Bartolomeo Gorgoglione Expands MSU’s Engagement in Southeast Asia

With support from the VIPP Islamic Civilization and Society Endowment and MSU Asia Hub, Dr. Gorgoglione shared his innovative teaching approaches in aquatic veterinary education on a trip to Thailand and Indonesia

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Published: Wednesday, 29 May 2024 Author: Visiting International Professional Program

2024-02-06 (253) Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan(1).jpgDr. Bartolomeo Gorgoglione is an internationally recognized scientist dedicated to fish pathobiology and immunology. He serves as PI of the Fish Pathobiology & Immunology Laboratory (FPIL), in the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Pathobiology & Diagnostic Investigation. In February of 2024, Gorgoglione traveled to Southeast Asia to share his expertise in aquatic veterinary medicine.

The first stop on his trip was to Kasetsart University, where Gorgoglione was invited to serve as the external examiner for the thesis defense of PhD student Puntanat Tattiyapong. To complete her PhD training, Puntanat traveled to Michigan and was hosted at MSU from March to November of 2023. Puntanat studied and contributed to the ongoing activities at the FPIL, working with both fish viruses and parasites, participating in field sampling trips in the Great Lakes basin, and attending the PDI 636 Aquatic Animal Medicine clerkship. She successfully defended her thesis “Development and application of vaccine for the prevention of emerging tilapia lake virus in tilapia,” which produced many publications under the supervision of Professor Win Surachetpong (PI from the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine). Their fundamental work earned recognition by the World Organization for Animal Health, listing TILV as a new notifiable aquatic pathogen.KU with Win Group.jpg

Dr. Gorgoglione’s visit provided a great opportunity to deliver several guest lectures in Thailand and Indonesia. In Thailand he visited two veterinary campuses of Kasetsart University and lectured to vet students at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the Bangkhen Campus in central Bangkok. He visited the modern and very busy small animals’ clinics, and the new zebrafish facilities, implemented and directed by a former MSU graduate student Dr. Kannika Siripattarapravat. The visit to the Kamphaengsaen campus included the facilities of the large animal teaching hospital and diagnostic center, the Raptor Rehabilitation unit (KURU) and the elephant rescue center. These centers may be considered by MSU vet students for an externship/rotation focusing on wildlife and aquatic animals.

IPB.jpgIn addition to the visits in Thailand, thanks to the support of the MSU Visiting International Professional Program (VIPP) endowment award, Dr. Gorgoglione also traveled to Indonesia, visiting their facilities, and delivering guest lectures at the IPB University in Bogor. While his lectures illustrated research on heterogeneous disease patterns, research approaches to the study of polymicrobial infections, and the detection of emerging fish pathogens in the Great Lakes basin, Dr. Gorgoglione also focused on international career opportunities to work on fish pathogens, showcasing the opportunities that helped him build his own career. To IPB vet students, he illustrated the many learning opportunities provided by the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association (WAVMA), of which he was President in 2023, and fostered by the Education and Student Committee (ESC), which he chairs, and established in 2019.

While visiting universities, Dr. Gorgoglione met with academic representatives, illustrating to them the international exchange program opportunities offered by MSU, including through the Visiting International Professional Program (VIPP) and Asia Hub. He introduced his innovative teaching approaches in aquatic veterinary education, inviting both Thai and Indonesian vet students to attend the PDI 636 Clerkship in Aquatic Animal Medicine at MSU. The visit to IPB University was particularly relevant to consolidate their long term relationship with MSU, opening new collaboration opportunities in the field of veterinary medicine.

Dr. Gorgoglione next visited the IPB Agribusiness and Technology Park, where innovative research in agriculture and aquaculture is connected to local producers, so they can get trained, test new products and farming techniques, and then sell products to a network of local commercial partners. Together with a delegation of IPB researchers, Dr. Gorgoglione met scientists at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) research ABT.jpgcenter, recently established in Cibinong by the Indonesian Government. BRIN offers modern laboratory facilities and infection challenge units that allow researchers to carry out diagnostic procedures, and in vivo and in vitro studies with a wide range of animals, including with aquatics. The Animal Health session is composed of seven research groups, including one focusing on Aquatic Animal Health, led by Dr. Angela Lusiastuti, with active research projects on surveillance, epidemiology, vaccine development and drug testing. BRIN aims to attract international collaborators, and thus may offer funding and opportunities to access their modern facility and equipment to visiting scientists. These research centers in the Bogor area may offer great externship opportunities to MSU students.

Other highlights from this very busy trip included a tour of the Manit Group in Phetchaburi, a leading company in tilapia and shrimp aquaculture with a large commercial hatchery and genetic laboratory, and a visit to the Veterinary Medical Aquatic Research Center at the Faculty of Veterinary Science in Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. The visit was followed by a business lunch with representatives of the Thai association of aquatic veterinarians (TAVA.) In 2023 WAVMA and TAVA signed an MOU to secure a strategic partnership in Southeast Asia. New opportunities for collaborative activities between WAVMA and TAVA were discussed, from upcoming joint WebCEPD webinars to the decision to start working together towards the organization of an international joint conference in Pattaya, Thailand in 2026.2024-02-12 IPB dinner(1).jpeg

During his travels, Dr. Gorgoglione also took advantage of some free time to visit famous tourist attractions and taste local delicacies. In Thailand he visited the ruins of the old city Ayutthaya (UNESCO patrimony), cruised on the Chao Phraya River, the Bangkok’s China Town, the Grand Palace, the Golden Mount, and visited many other Buddhist temples, such as the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun), Wat Phra and Wat Pho with the gigantic sleeping Buddha. In Indonesia he enjoyed walking around in Jakarta downtown. One site that especially left an impresssion on Gorgoglione was the location where the Istiqlal Mosque (the largest in Southeast Asia) and a majestic neo-gothic Roman Catholic cathedral face each other, a fitting symbol of cultures coming together. During Dr. Gorgoglione's trip many partnerships and collaborations were fostered, both professional and personal, and the connections will make a lasting impact both in and out of the water, in Southeast Asia, and at Michigan State University.