Veterinary college’s Ruple inducted into two scientific honor societies
October 26, 2023
Audrey Ruple has recently been inducted into two prestigious organizations honoring scientific advancement.
Ruple, the Metcalf Professor of Veterinary Medical Informatics at Virginia Tech and an associate professor of quantitative epidemiology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, was nominated and elected to membership in Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society, and the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health.
Ruple’s research focuses on the comparative biomedical aspects of cancer and aging between dogs and humans. She also has several publications related to informatics and veterinary big data.
"Everything that I'm doing is novel in that I'm studying health outcomes in dogs in order to learn about risks related to human health outcomes."
Ruple is a co-principal investigator and member of the executive operations team for the Dog Aging Project, the largest-ever health data study conducted on canines. More than 45,000 dogs are presently enrolled by their owners, who serve as volunteer scientists collecting the data throughout each dog’s lifetime for research aimed at enhancing the health of both dogs and the humans who share their environment.
“Everything that I'm doing is novel in that I'm studying health outcomes in dogs in order to learn about risks related to human health outcomes,” Ruple said. “So that's not normal. Usually, we use dogs to study dogs or we use humans to study humans, but we don't often use dogs to study humans at this scale.”
Recently, the Dog Aging Project, with Ruple as a collaborator, announced that it would be developing a revolutionary frailty instrument, based on analysis and application of the collected data, that can be used to make health decisions and personalize geriatric veterinary care for individual dogs.
Ruple is chair of the Veterinary Advisory Board for pet insurance provider Fetch, a company she previously helped in developing its Fetch Forward technology, which utilizes data and artificial intelligence to predict health and disease outcomes for dogs. Ruple also led a steering committee for a panel of 56 experts that developed standardized reporting guidelines for randomized controlled clinical trials involving dogs and cats.
"Everything that I do is transdisciplinary and my research relies on forming partnerships with experts in other fields."
Ruple said she was honored and somewhat surprised by the inductions, as veterinarians are not often chosen. Ruple received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology at Colorado State and was an associate professor at Purdue University before joining Virginia Tech in 2021.
“All of my work is collaborative and I have no desire to publish single-authored papers,” Ruple said. “In fact, everything that I do is transdisciplinary and my research relies on forming partnerships with experts in other fields. The value these honors bring to my work is that they increase my visibility across research fields, which creates opportunities for more collaborations.”
Sigma Xi was founded by engineering students in 1886 at Cornell University. The organization’s membership has included more than 200 Nobel laureates, including the likes of Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, and Linus Pauling.
Kathy Lu, formerly a professor of materials science and engineering at Virginia Tech until taking over as chair of the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at the University of Alabama-Birmingham in August , is president of Sigma Xi. Deborah J. Good, an associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, is the director of the Mid-Atlantic region for Sigma Xi.
“Sigma Xi is an international, multidisciplinary community of science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) professionals dedicated to research excellence, promoting public engagement with science, and fostering the next generation of researchers,” the society’s web site states. “Sigma Xi membership is a competitive advantage that helps position one for success. Sigma Xi offers its members professional development training, leadership opportunities, and access to a myriad of necessary career development resources.”
Delta Omega was founded in 1924 at Johns Hopkins University to encourage graduate study in public health at a time when most promotion in the field was based on “practical experience and political favor,” according to the organization’s website.
“Membership in Delta Omega reflects the dedication of an individual to increasing the quality of the field, as well as to the protection and advancement of the health of all people,” the organization’s website states.