Loading

VMD/PhD Alumni Profiles

The VMD-PhD Program has enjoyed a long history of training outstanding veterinarian-scientists. Nothing speaks more to the quality of our graduates than their numerous and diverse accomplishments. When you browse through these profiles, you will see for yourself the value of a Penn VMD/PhD degree.

Theresa Alenghat

  • Dr. Theresa AlenghatPostdoc at Perelman School of Medicine

    University of Pennsylvania

    VMD:  2003

    PhD:  2007

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic:  Molecular and physiologic significance of the nuclear receptor corepressor-HDAC3 complex

    Dr. Alenghat's graduate work focused on nuclear receptors which are critical transcription factors in regulating development, differentiation, and metabolism.  Her research uncovered a novel role for chromatic remodeling in the repression of gene transcription by thyroid hormone receptor and linked this mechanism to the enzymatic activity of the nuclear receptor corepressor (NCoR) complex. In order to determine the in vivo importance of this complex, she created a mouse line that expresses a mutant NCoR protein that cannot activate histone deacetylase 3.  Her work, which was recently published in Nature, uncovered a critical role for the NCoR complex in linking circadian and metabolic physiology.

Steven Bensinger

  • Dr. Steven BensingerAssistant Professor

    Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

    University of California, Los Angeles

    VMD:  1998

    PhD:  2003

    Graduate Group:  Immunology

    Thesis Topic:  Development and function of a CD4+25+ regulatory T cells

    The Bensinger laboratory is largely interested in understanding how lipid metabolism influences lymphocyte proliferation and adaptive immunity.  They have recently identified a cholesterol metabolic checkpiont that regulates mitogen-driven cell cycle progression in lymphocytes. Key ongoing studies include elucidating the signals from the T cell receptor to the lipid metabolic machinery, and the impact of lipid metabolism on the efficient generation of immunologic T cell memory.  Another important series of studies in the laboratory is focused on understanding how lipid signals alter immunologic self-tolerance, and result in chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

Jessica Bertout

  • Dr. Jessica BertoutPostdoctoral Position

    Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center

    VMD: 2010

    PhD: 2009

    Graduate Group: Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic: Hypoxia Inducible Factors Regulate the p53 and Noth Pathways to Promote Cancer

    After graduation, Jessica moved to Seattle  where her husband has accepted a human anesthesiologist position. She wanted to pursue a post-doc in cancer biology after taking a little time with their newborn baby. As of April 2011, Jessica accepted a postdoctoral position at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Dr. Jason Biela's laboratory.

    Jessica’s thesis focused on the role of Hypoxia Inducible Factors (HIF1alpha and HIF2alpha) in tumorigenesis and tumor responses to radiation therapy. Hypoxia Inducible Factors (HIFs) are alpha-beta heterodimeric transcription factors that regulate important cellular processes, allowing both normal and cancerous cells to adapt to low oxygen conditions. Two central HIFalpha subunits, HIF1alpha and HIF2alpha, are highly expressed in many tumors and are correlated with poor patient prognosis. Jessica sought to further characterize their roles in cancer therapy responses and in tumorigenesis. While HIF1alpha promotes p53-dependent cell death in tumor cells, HIF2alpha has been suggested to regulate a subset of antioxidant enzymes, leading us to hypothesize that HIF2alpha may protect cells against Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)-dependent damaging agents such as radiation. She demonstrated that HIF2alpha inhibits the p53 pathway both in vitro and in Renal Clear Cell Carcinoma (ccRCC) patient samples, by limiting the amount of DNA damage incurred by the cell. HIF2alpha’s protective effect stems from its ability to maintain cellular redox balance, in the absence of which intracellular ROS increase and cells become much more sensitive to damage. Moreover, a novel p53 mutant mouse model suggested a role for HIF1alpha-mediated Notch stabilization in tumorigenesis. Indeed, HIF1alpha heterozygosity led to a significant reduction in the incidence of thymic lymphomas strongly associated with impaired Notch pathway activity. Both studies elucidated mechanisms whereby the HIFalpha subunits impact directly on tumor biology and provided evidence in support of the development of specific HIF inhibitors for use in cancer therapy.

Susan Bender

  • Dr. Susan BenderResident in Anatomic Pathology

    School of Veterinary Medicine

    University of Pennsylvania

    VMD: 2011

    PhD: 2010

    Graduate Group: Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic:  Receptor utilization and antiviral CD8 T cell responses during central nervous system infection with a murine coronavirus

    Post-graduation, entered a residency in Anatomic Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. She currently envisions a career in academia incorporating diagnostic pathology, teaching, and research.

Avrama Blackwell

  • Dr. Avrama BlackwellProfessor

    Molecular Neurosciences

    George Mason University

    VMD:  1986

    PhD:  1988

    Graduate Group:  Bioengineering

    Thesis Topic:  The role of spatial and chromatic parameters in image processing by the visual system

    The Blackwell laboratory studies the molecular, cellular and network mechanisms of long term memory storage using computational and electrophysiological techniques.  The lab studies neuromodulators and their role in Parkinson's disorder and mental illness.

    Dr. Blackwell has co-written an article in the April 2010 issue of Nature Review Neuroscience titled, "Modeling the Molecular Mechanisms of Synaptic Plasticity Using Systems Biology Approaches."

Sarah Bushmeyer

  • Dr. Sarah BushmeyerAssociate Veterinarian

    Mostly Cats Veterinary Clinic

    VMD:  1992

    PhD:  1997

    Graduate Group: Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic:  Transcription factor YY1 and its role in regulating transcription of the immunoglobulin light chain enhancer

Bryan Cherry

  • Dr. Bryan CherryInterim Director, Regional Epidemiology Program

    Bureau of Communicable Disease Control

    New York State Department of Health

    VMD:  1997

    PhD:  2003

    Graduate Group: Parasitology

    Thesis Topic:  Infection dynamics of Ichthyophthirius multifillis in zebrafish and catfish

    Dr. Cherry's main interest is control and prevention of zoonotic diseases.  Currently, he directs statewide surveillance for communicable diseases occurring in the community setting, evaluates surveillance methods, and implements and evaluates education and prevention programs for communicable diseases.

Michelle Cook Sanger

  • Dr. Michelle Cook SangerResidency in Seattle TBA

    VMD: 2011

    PhD: 2010

    Graduate Group: Pharmacology

    Thesis Topic: The role of mitochondrial-targeted human Cytochrome P450 2D6 in drug metabolism and toxicity

    Post-graduation, Michelle a Postdoc position at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle.  She hopes the postdoc will prepare her for both a career in academic research as well as in industry.

LaTasha Crawford

  • Dr. LaTasha CrawfordAnatomical Pathology Residency and Post-doctoral Research Position

    Johns Hopkins University

    VMD: 2011

    PhD: 2010

    Graduate Group: Neuroscience

    Thesis Topic: Probing the Neurophysiology of anxiety: Social stress alters the modulation of serotonin neurons

    LaTasha's thesis project characterized 2 subpopulations of serotonin cells and revealed that those 2 subpopulations are regulated differently in social stress-based model of anxiety.

    LaTasha’s post-graduation plans include an anatomical pathology residency and post-doctoral research position at Johns Hopkins University.  She is looking forward to gaining a more substantial background in comparative neuropathology and she is especially excited about learning how the central nervous system interacts with body organ systems.  Ultimately, LaTasha would like to pursue a career in research examining the links between mental disease and somatic diseases (such as cardiovascular disease or urinary tract disease) that are often comorbid in human and veterinary medicine.  

Mary Anne Della Fera

  • Dr. Mary Anne Della FeraAssistant Research Scientist, University of Georgia

    Chief Scientific Officer, AptoTec, Inc.

    President, Biomedical Information Services

    VMD:  1979

    PhD:  1980

    Graduate Group:  Anatomy

    Thesis Topic:  Role of CNS cholecystokinin in hypothalamic control of food

    Dr. DellaFera's primary area of interst is in regulation of energy balance of food intake.  In recent years, she has focused on regulation of adipose tissue mass, and, in particular, the effects of natural compounds on adipogenesis, lipolysis, lipogenesis, and adipocyte apoptosis.

Lise Desquenne-Clark

  • Dr. Lise Desquenne-ClarkStaff Scientist

    The Wistar Institute

    VMD:  1984

    PhD:  1988

    Graduate Group:  Immunology

    Thesis Topic:  Studies on neonatal transplantation tolerance:  A role for MHC restriction

Aimee Edinger

  • Dr. Aimee Edinger Associate Professor

    Cell and Developmental Biology

    University of California, Irvine

    VMD:  1996

    PhD:  1999

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic:  HIV/SIV Entry

    A resurgence of interest in cancer cell metabolism has led to the discovery that many oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes transform cells by altering cellular bioenergetics.  While essential for oncogenesis, this metabolic reprogramming makes cancer cells exquisitely dependent upon a high rate of nutrient flux.  This is a potential Achilles' heel; constitutively-active oncogenes and the deletion of tumor suppressor genes prevent tumor cells from reducing biosynthesis and increasing catabolic reactions.  Thus, cancer cells die when deprived of nutrients while normal cells become quiescent.  Dr. Edinger's laboratory is taking a unique approach to fighting cancer by trying to exploit this difference by developing therapies that selectively starve cancer cells to death by down-regulating nutrient transporter proteins.

Duncan Ferguson

  • Dr. Duncan FergusonProfessor and Department Head, Veterinary Biosciences

    College of Veterinary Medicine

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    VMD:  1979

    PhD:  1982

    Graduate Group:  Pharmacology

    Thesis Topic:  Tyroid hormone metabolism in the isolated perfused rat kidney

    Dr. Ferguson is interested in the interaction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis nutrient metabolism and vice versa.  Current basic research interests include: 1) the effects of thyroid disrupting compounds such as organohalides, bisphenol A and soy isoflavones in the environment and diet on neurodevelopment using rodent models and human embryonic stem cells, and 2) the interplay between the HPT, dietary components, and energy metabolism using the obese cat as a model of insulin resistance.  Collaborative work includes the application of non-invasive techniques such as nuclear magnetic resonance (MRI) for the study of intermediary metabolism.  A veterinary clinical pharmacologist, he is also interested in comparative pharmacology and veterinary clinical endocrinology, and has focused attention on the improvement of thyroid function tests in domestic animals.

Alan Fine

  • Dr. Alan FineDirector, Neuroscience Institute

    Professor, Department of Physiology and Biophysics

    Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine

    VMD:  1979

    PhD:  1987

    Graduate Group: Physiology

    Thesis Topic:  Cortical acetylcholine

    Dr. Fine's laboratory investigates mechanisms of information processing and storage in the central nervous system; development and application of advanced optical imaging methods for neuroscience, including extrinsic and genetically-encoded fluorescent ion and voltage indicators in conjunction with multiphoton, confocal- and fast CCD-imaging.

Marnie FitzMaurice

  • Dr. Marnie FitzMauriceInstructor

    College of Veterinary Medicine

    Cornell University

    VMD:  1996

    PhD:  2002

    Graduate Group:  Neuroscience

    Thesis Topic:  Role of the superior colliculus in visual detection

    Dr. FitzMaurice is the course leader for the Neuroanatomy course at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University.  She instructs first year classes in topics including anatomy, histology, embryology, physiology and pharmacology.

Bruce Freedman

  • Dr. Bruce FreedmanAssociate Professor of Pathobiology

    School of Veterinary Medicine

    University of Pennsylvania

    VMD:  1987

    PhD:  1992

    Graduate Group:  Physiology

    Thesis Topic:  Expression and function of Kv channels during T cell differentiation

    The general focus of the Freedman laboratory is physiological processes that regulate lymphocyte and macrophage development and function. They are specifically interested in pathways that regulate calcium signaling in T and B cells and the mechanisms by which diverse and complex inputs (antigen and coactivating and inhibitory stimuli) are encoded as functionally specific Ca2+ signals and translated into appropriate biological responses that regulate lymphocyte development and differentiation. They are also interested in the viral and cellular determinants of viral tropism and pathogenesis. The lab has focused on the signal transduction pathways activated in human macrophages and T cells by HIV-1 envelope protein (gp120) upon interaction with CD4 and chemokine receptors. The goal is to understand the functional consequences of signaling on virus entry, post-entry steps of viral replication, and the consequences on target cell functions apart from infection.

Hannah Galantino-Homer

  • Dr. Hannah Galantino-HomerSenior Research Investigator

    Laminitis Research Initiative

    Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center

    School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

    VMD:  1993

    PhD:  2000

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic:  Using molecular genetic techniques to investigate a putative muscarinic receptor homologue in mouse sperm that may be involved in sperm-egg binding and/or the acrosome reaction

Joan C. Hendricks

  • Dean Joan HendricksGilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine

    School of Veterinary Medicine

    University of Pennsylvania

    VMD:  1980

    PhD:  1980

    Graduate Group:  Anatomy

    Thesis Topic:  Studies of the effects of small pontine lesions producing paradoxical sleep without atonia in freely behaving cats

    After decades studying physiology and anatomy of sleep and an animal model of sleep apnea (the English bulldog), Dr. Hendricks turned her attention to a simpler model - Drosophila.  She showed, using behavioral, pharmaceutical, and molecular approaches, that Drosophila's rest state has sleep-like properties.  Dr. Hendricks' lab used this model organism to show that the cAMP-PKA-CREB signaling pathway is involved in rest regulation as well as its well-known role in long-term memory consolidation.  This role is conserved in mice.  The Drosophila model can be used to discover genes involved in rest homeostasis using comprehensive mutagenesis as well as the canddiate gene approach and for characterizing the biochemical profile of rest and waking in flies.

Alice Hsu

  • Dr. Alice Hsu Veterinarian

    Blackhorse Pike Animal Hospital

    VMD:  2009

    PhD:  2008

    Graduate Group:  Immunology

    Thesis Topic:  Leishmania mexicana infection

    The goal of Alice's project was to better understand how Leishmania mexicana infection induces a non-healing response in mice that are fully capable of controlling infection with L. major via the generation of a strong cell-mediated Th1 response.  She found that L. mexicana induces normal T cell proliferation but fails to elicit lymph node (LN) expansion or Th1 differentiation of responding T cells, relative to the strong responses observed in mice infected with L. major.  The lab hypothesized that impaired dendritic cell (DC) activation by L. mexicana might be responsible for this partial T cell priming defect, and they found the DCs exposed to the intracellular amastigote form of L. mexicana fails to provide appropriate signals for Th1 effector differentiation of naive T cells.  This defect in DC activation appears to result from active inhibition of specific DC responses to the Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) ligand, CpG DNA, suggesting a potential role for TLR9 signaling during the normal course of infection with Leishmania.  DNA isolated from differentLeishmania species are capable of directly activating DCs, suggesting that inhibition of TLR9-dependent DC activation may allow L. mexicana parasites to actively suppress immune responses to Leishmania infection itself.  Further, they found that TLR9 plays a role in the early control of L. major infection, whereas few differences in the early response to L. mexicana were observed in the presence or absence of TLR9. Therefore, the capacity to inhibit TLR9 signaling by L. mexicana may have evolved as a strategy to ensure parasite survival.  Together, these data suggest that L. mexicanamay inhibit TLR9-associated activation of DCs or other cells during the course of infection with L. mexicana, preventing the generation of curative Th1 responses.

Douglas Jones

  • Dr. Douglas JonesAssociate Professor

    College of Veterinary Medicine

    Iowa State University

    VMD:  1989

    PhD:  1993

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic:  Defensin expression in the human small intestine:  A study of the human defensin family

    Dr. Jones studies Leishmania amazonesis, a disease that can have a variety of symptoms from skin ulcers and organ disease to facial disfigurations and immune system malfunctions.  Current studies examine the role of the parasite in inhibiting IL-12 production, and determining what host factors influence the IL-12 responsiveness of the CD4+ T cell response during L. amazonesis infection. The long-term goal of this work is to determine how the paraiste inhibits the development of an effective cell-mediated immune response in the presence of high parasite numbers.  The understanding will lead to methods of immunmodulation that can be used for vaccination strategies or alter the host immune response in the presence of chronic infection.  The principles of immune evasion that these parasites employ are probably not unique to Leishmania and will be applicable to other pathogens of chronic infectious diseases, such as mycobacteria.  Dr. Jones is also examining noval vaccine modalities via immunologic and engineering technology.

Colleen Kane

  • Dr. Colleen KaneResearch Scientist (Immunology)

    Janssen Biotech.

    VMD:  2007

    PhD:  2007

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic: Helminth antigens modulate TLR-ligand induced dendritic cell activation

James Kehler

  • Dr. James KehlerResearch Associate

    Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center

    School of Veterinary Medicine

    University of Pennsylvania

    VMD:  2002

    PhD:  2004

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology - Genetics and Gene Regulation

    Thesis Topic:  Investigating the role of Oct4, a transcription factor, during germline development of the mouse

    Dr. Kehler is currently working at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to study comparative signaling pathways involved in mammalian developmental biology, embryonic stem cell biology, and oncology.  He is completing a 5-year SERCA award to characterize and generate new feline models of human diseases.

Robert Kieval

  • Dr. Robert KievalExecutive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer

    CVRx, Inc.

    VMD:  1987

    PhD:  1991

    Graduate Group:  Physiology

    Thesis Topic:  Electrical cell coupling in post-ischemic, arrhythmia-prone myocardium

    Dr. Kieval is the founder and Chief Technology Officer of CVRx, a private company located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The company has developed a proprietary, electrical stimulation-based implantable medical devise for the treatment of hypertension that cannot be controlled with medications.  Ths product is market-approved in Europe and is in advanced clinical trials in the United States.

Joyce Knoll

  • Dr. Joyce KnollAssociate Professor

    Department of Biomedical Science

    Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

    Tufts University

    VMD:  1984

    PhD:  1987

    Graduate Group:  Pathology

    Thesis Topic:  A mouse model for alpha thalassemia:  A characterization using electron microscopy, autoradiography, and iron kinetics

    Dr. Knoll is interested in veterinary hematology, cytology, and clinical endocrinology. Previous investigations focused on clinical applications and validation of diagnostic tests and/or instrumentation for use with veterinary specimens.  Dr. Knoll played a role in validation of an ACTH assay for diagnosis of hyperadrenocorticism in horses and ponies. She has also evaluated several automated hematology instruments and some automated hormone assays using a chemiluminescent based system.

Debra Kotloff

  • Dr. Debra KotloffVeterinarian

    Rau Animal Hospital

    VMD:  1984

    PhD:  1987

    Graduate Group:  Immunology

    Thesis Topic:  The regulation of isotype expression on T dependent antibody responses

David Kowalczyk

  • Dr. David KowalczykDirector of Regulatory Affairs

    Monstano Company

    VMD:  1975

    PhD:  1976

    Graduate Group:  Pharmacology

    Thesis Topic:  The effect of Pb on K flux in frog sartorius muscle

Dara Kraitchman

  • Dr. Dara KraitchmanAssociate Professor of Radiology and Radiological Science

    School of Medicine

    Johns Hopkins University

    VMD:  1992

    PhD:  1996

    Graduate Group:  Bioengineering

    Thesis Topic:  Integrated magnetic resonance imaging studies of cardiac function and perfusion

    Dr. Kraitchman's research intersts are concentrated on non-invasive imaging of cardiovascular disease.  She has been actively involved in developing new methods to image myocardial function and perfusion using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  Recently, she has focused on methods to label stem cells for noninvasive delivery and tracking of stem cell biodistribution and efficacy.  These labeling techniques have been developed using FDA-approved contrast agents in large animal preclinical models of cardiovascular disease using clinical MR, radionucleotide, and CT imagining scanners for rapid translation to the clinical realm.

Leslie MacGregor-Levine

  • Dr. Leslie MacGregor-LevineChief Intellectual Property Counsel

    Perkin-Elmer

    VMD:  1981

    PhD:  1986

    Graduate Group:  Physiology

    Thesis Topic:  Biochemical and electrophysical abnormalities in retinas of diabetic animals

Katherine Masek Hammerman

  • Dr. Katherine Masek HammermanAfter graduation Katie entered a Postdoctoral Fellow/Resident position in Comparative and Experimental Pathology at the New England Primate Research Center, Harvard University.  She is currently:

    Principal Scientist and Pathologist, Pfizer Inc.

    VMD:  2002

    PhD:  2006

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic:  Innate immunity to Toxoplasma gondii

Amy Matthews

  • Dr. Amy MatthewsVeterinarian

    Frontier Medicine

    VMD:  2001

    PhD:  2001

    Graduate Group:  Immunology

    Thesis Topic:  The role of B lymphocytes in murine hepatitis (strain A59 clearance and pathology)

James MacLeod

  • Dr. James MacLeodProfessor of Veterinary Science

    John S. and Elizabeth A. Knight Chair

    Director, Equine Initiative

    Unviersity of Kentucky

    VMD:  1984

    PhD:  1990

    Graduate Group:  Pathology

    Thesis Topic:  Hormonal regulation of hepatic P450 monooxygenases

    Dr. MacLeod's laboratory studies biological and biomedical aspects of the musculoskeletal system, with an emphasis on the growth and maturation of articular cartilage, the development of osteoarthritis, repair of cartilage lesions, and the effects of intra-articular glucocorticoid medications on chrondrocyte function.  Experiments are conducted primarily on a cellular and molecular level.  In addition to articular cartilage, recent projects have been initiated on tendons, cervical stenosis myelopathy, and broad analyses of the equine transcriptome.

Patricia McManus

  • Dr. Patricia McManusClinical Pathologist

    IDEXX Reference Laboratories

    Associate Editor

    Veterinary Clinical Pathology

    An International Journal of Laboratory Medicine

    VMD:  1980

    PhD:  1983

    Graduate Group:  Pathology

    Thesis Topic:  Bone marrow failure syndromes

    Dr. McManus handles daily pathology cases and occasional resident training at IDEXX.  Dr. McManus has been editing for the Veterinary Clinical Pathology journal for four years. She first started out as a Section Editor for Hematology and Immunology, and then recently became an Associate Editor. She is also a member of the IDEXX Medical Review Board.

Albee Messing

  • Dr. Albee MessingProfessor of Neuropathology

    Department of Comparative Biosciences

    School of Veterinary Medicine

    University of Wisconsin, Madison

    VMD:  1978

    PhD:  1982

    Graduate Group:  Pathology

    Thesis Topic:  Alpha-bungarotoxin receptors of cultured chick ciliary ganglion neurons

    Research in Dr. Messing's laboratory is directed at understanding developmental and pathologic aspects of glial cell biology in the nervous system of the mouse, with a particular focus on astrocytes and their major intermediate filament protein, GFAP.  Main strategies involve genetic manipulation of glial gene expression using transgenic techniques, and gene targeting in embryonic stem cells, to generate mutant strains of mice. Current projects address a variety of topics such as regulation of gene expression, the role of GFAP mutations and accumulation in the pathogenesis of Alexander disease.  A major effort is devoted to devising novel therapeutic strategies for treatment of the disorder, and identifying biomarkers to permit monitoring severity or progression of the disease.

Richard Miselis

  • Dr. Richard MiselisProfessor of Animal Biology

    Head, Laboratories of Anatomy

    School of Veterinary Medicine

    University of Pennsylvania

    VMD:  1973

    PhD:  1973

    Graduate Groups:  Biology

    Thesis Topic:  The glucoprivic control of ingestive behavior

    The Miselis laboratory is interested in the neurobiology of visceral function and ingestive behavior.  Dr. Miselis is particularly concerned with the neuroanatomical identification and functional evaluation of neural circuits involved in mediating behavioral and physiological control of homeostatic processes.  Current research is on 1) neurotropic viruses as transynaptic tract tracing tools to study the visceral neuraxis of the brain, 2) cellular topography of viral transsynaptic movement, 3) electron microscopy of synaptic relations in the vagal complex of the medulla, 4) the visceral afferent and efferent projections of abdominal and thoracic viscera, 5) the circumventricular organs as sites of central receptors and their neural projections, 6) hypothalamic modulation of the autonomic nervous system, the pituitary gland, and behavior.

Jaime Modiano

  • Dr. Jaime ModianoPerlman Professor of Oncology and Comparative Medicine

    Director of Animal Cancer Center

    College of Veterinary Medicine

    University of Minnesota

    VMD:  1991

    PhD:  1991

    Graduate Group:  Immunology

    Thesis Topic:  Calcium and protein kinase C as mediators of T cell activation

    Jaime Modiano is the Director of the University of Minnesota Animal Cancer Care and Research Program. His lab is interested in understanding the basic differences between normal cells and tumor cells.  They use spontaneous animal models of human disease to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with cancer in both humans and animals. Dr. Modiano's research focuses on three main themes:  heritable factors that determine cancer risk and etiology, lymphocyte negative regulation, and novel approaches to cancer immunotherapy.

Kenneth Mohn

  • Dr. Kenneth MohnSenior Research Scientist

    Associate Director

    Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc.

    VMD:  1987

    PhD:  1991

    Graduate Group:  Molecular Biology/Genetics

    Thesis Topic:  Characterization of the immeidate-early growth response in regenerating liver and insulin-stimulated Reuber H-35 cells

    Dr. Mohn's career to date has focused on discovery and/or acquisition of novel pharmaceuticals for virtually the entire range of economically important medical conditions in domestic species.  Areas of significant focus have included growth promotion in swine, management of pain and inflammation in horses, dogs and cats, control of parasites in the range of veterinary species, and treatment of a wide variety of important conditions in companion animals.  His work has been as basic as equipping, managing and adapting assays for a medium through-put (800,000 compounds per year) screening laboratory and as clinical as providing veterinary care for a research farm.

Stephanie Murphy

  • Dr. Stephanie MurphyAssociate Professor

    Department of Anesthesiology and Peri-Operative Medicine

    Department of Comparative Medicine

    Oregon Health and Science University

    VMD:  1994

    PhD:  1996

    Graduate Group:  Biochemistry

    Thesis Topic:  Possible mechanisms of neurotoxicity and dopamine-mediated injury in the newborn brain during hypoxia and posthypoxic reoxygenation

    Dr. Murphy's main research interest is in exploring the role of gender and female sex steroids in perioperative stroke risk using a mouse model of anesthetic preconditioning and experimental stroke.  She is also examining how male gender and testosterone act in an age-specific manner during experimental stroke in preconditioned brain.  Clinically, she is recognized for her expertise in animal stroke models, rodent surgery and anesthesia, and breeding management of genetically engineered mouse colonies.

    Dr. Murphy has been named the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) Comparative Medicine Scientist for 2010. The award, which is ACLAM's highest award for scientific achievement for outstanding contributions, is given every one to three years.

Xuan Pan

  • Dr. Xuan PanOncology Resident

    University of Wisconsin

    VMD:  2008

    PhD: 2010

    Thesis Topic: YY1 functions in B lymphocyte development

    Xuan Pan’s thesis project focused on how transcription factor YY1 regulates B cell development.  Her work focused on three inter-related projects.  First, she worked on how elevated levels of  YY1 promotes affects long-term hematopoietic stem cell development as well as apoptosis specifically in B cells.  Xuan’s second project focused on how YY1 Polycomb Group (PcG) function influenced B cell development.  For these studies, she performed bone marrow reconstitution studies in a YY1 conditional knock-out system using a YY1 mutant that removes the 25 amino acid REPO domain necessary for PcG function.  These studies showed that YY1 PcG function is required for development past the pro-B cell stage.  In Xuan’s third project she found that the YY1 REPO domain physically interacts with condensin and cohesin proteins and co-localizes with YY1 at various sites across the Ig kappa locus.  These binding sites are believed to be involved in Ig locus contraction needed for rearrangement of distal V genes.  She utilized both transgenic mouse and RNAi methods to study these mechanisms. Her work addresses key functions in B cell biology and development, and may also have clinical applications.  

    After graduating from the program, she and her husband moved to Michigan where she pursued a small animal clinical internship at Michigan State University.  After completion of this program she took an oncology residency position at University of Wisconsin.

Thomas Parsons

  • Tom Parsons, Penn Vet, New Bolton Center, swineAssociate Professor, Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center

    School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

    Associate Professor, Otorhinolaryngology

    School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

    VMD:  1986

    PhD:  1989

    Graduate Group:  Neuroscience

    Thesis Topic:  Optical monitoring of the electrical activity of neuronal ensembles constructed from identified invertebrate cells

    The Parsons laboratory focuses on pre-synaptic mechanisms of neurotransmitter release.  Hearing dictates that the inner hair cell of the cochlea must release transmitter for prolonged periods and with exquisite temporal fidelity.  Mechanisms of neurotransmitter release are being studied to understand the cellular and molecular specializations utilized by different parts of the nervous system to meet their unique requirements for neurotransmission.  Dr. Parsons has also carried out some clinical research that has in recent years focused on the welfare of gestating sows.

Caroline Patten

  • Dr. Caroline PattenVeterinarian

    Blackhorse Pike Veterinary Hospital

    VMD:  2009

    PhD:  2007

    Graduate Group:  Neuroscience

    Thesis Topic:  Intracellular signaling pathways of the melanocortin type 3 and type 4 receptors

    Dr. Patten studied intracelluar signaling pathways of the melanocortin type 3 and type 4 receptors.  Both of these receptors are found in the brain and are important for regulating food intake and energy homeostasis.  Her research involved evaluating the structural and signaling requirements for the intracellular signaling pathways of these receptors.  She evaluated how different mutations in the receptors, some of which are naturally occurring and are known to be associated with obesity, affect the intracellular signaling pathways.

Jenni Punt

  • Dr. Jenni PuntProfessor

    Department of Biology

    Haverford College

    VMD:  1988

    PhD:  1991

    Graduate Group:  Immunology

    Thesis Topic:  Regulation of positive selection and lineage commitment during thymocyte development

    Dr. Punt is an immunologist working with undergraduates to understand the molecular basis for negative selection - a process that is central to the ability to rid developing T lymphocytes of autoreactive cells.  Specifically, she is interested in the molecular reasons that immature T lymphocytes respond to strong receptor signals by dying, whereas their direct descendants, mature single positive T cells, respond to the same signals by proliferating.  This marked difference in response is at the heart of the ability of the immune system to respond to infection without harming self.

Mark Pykett

  • Dr. Mark PykettChief Executive Officer

    Navidea Biopharmaceuticals Inc.

    VMD:  1991

    PhD:  1994

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic:  Identification of molecular alterations in human meningiomas

Sarah Ralston

  • Dr. Sarah RalstonAssociate Professor

    Department of Animal Sciences

    School of Environmental and Biological Sciences

    Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

    VMD:  1980

    PhD:  1982

    Graduate Group:  Anatomy

    Thesis Topic:  Factors in the control of feed intake in ponies

    Dr. Ralston's primary focus is on the effect of diet on glucose and insulin metabolism in young horses as part of the Young Horse Research and Training Program she initiated in 1999.  She is using metabonomic analysis of Nuclear Magnetic Spectroscopy spectra of blood and saliva in collaboration with Dr. Istvan Pelczer of Princeton University to detect metabolic abnormalities and to identify horses with abnormal glucose metabolism.  This research will also hopefully lead to the development of rations that will reduce the risk of developmental orthopedic disease in genetically predisposed foals. Previously her research focused on metabolism and nutrient requirements of geriatric horses, which was in part responsible for the formulation of "senior" feeds for failing old horses.  Another on-going research interest is the effect of prolonged transport on immune function in horses and dietary supplements (ie. vitamins C and E) that might reduce the incidence of infectious diseases in horses transported long distances.

    Dr. Ralston received the 2010 SEBS Academic Professional Excellence Award under the category of Academic Innovation.

Peter Bart Reiner

  • Peter Bart ReinerProfessor

    Kinsmen Laboratory of Neurological Research

    University of British Columbia

    VMD:  1982

    PhD:  1984

    Graduate Group:  Anatomy

    Thesis Topic:  The activity of neurons in the area of the Locus Coeruleus during the states of sleep

    Dr. Reiner has studied the neurobiology of behavioral states and the molecular underpinnings of neurodegenerative disease. He also has experience in the private sector as President and CEO of Active Pass Pharmaceuticals, a drug discovery company that he founded to tackle the Alzheimer's disease.  Currently Dr. Reiner's work focuses in the area of neuroethics, with interests in neuroessentialism, the neuroethics of cognitive enhancement, and the commercialization of neuroscience.

John Robertson

  • Dr. John RobertsonProfessor of Pathology

    Director, Center for Comparative Oncology

    Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

    VMD:  1976

    PhD:  1977

    Graduate Group:  Pathology

    Thesis Topic:  Tubulointestinal and glomerulonephritis in the Brown Norway rat:  A model for autoimmune nephritis

    Dr. Robertson's research interests include comparative oncology of malignant melanoma and malignant lymphoma, chronic renal disease, and implantable biomaterials.

Mary Robinson

  • Dr. Mary RobinsonLecturer

    Clinical Studies at New Bolton Center

    School of Veterinary Medicine

    University of Pennsylvania

    VMD: 2010

    PhD: 2009

    Thesis Topic: Changes in Oxygen Tension Rapidly and Reversibly Regulate Macrophage Nitric Oxide Production

    Mary’s thesis work focused on the effect of a hypoxic environment on macrophage function. Specifially, she was interested in effects on nitric oxide production, one of the key components of the respiratory burst. Oxygen is a known substrate for nitric oxide, but the amount of oxygen needed and speed at which changes in oxygen tension would alter nitric oxide production were unknown. She used a system developed by my mentor, Cindy Otto, to show that  changes in physiologic oxygen tensions significantly alter nitric oxide production within 30 seconds. This research has direct relevance to how we think about macrophage function in wounds and tumours where oxygen is much lower than normal due to an abberant vascular supply. 

    Mary received a 3-year fellowship from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium to study equine pharmacology at Penn's New Bolton Center with the guidance of Dr Larry Soma. They plan to use proteomics based techniques to enable the detection of horses treated with shock wave therapy prior to racing. Shock wave therapy has been shown to be as effective as denerving a horse in the first 24 to 36 hours after treatment, which means that horses running may over exert and seriously injure themselves. The racing jurisdictions consider it a priority to minimize catastrophic breakdowns at the track, and this research will help enable detection of horses that are at risk due to the illegal usage of shockwave therapy.  

Allen Rushmer

  • Dr. Allen RushmerVeterinarian and Owner

    Next Generation Embryo Transfer

    VMD:  1975

    PhD:  1981

    Graduate Group: Physiology

    Thesis Topic:  Examination of the interaction of oocytes and their surrounding cumulus cells

Melissa Sanchez

  • Dr. Melissa SanchezLecturer

    School of Veterinary Medicine

    University of Pennsylvania

    VMD:  2002

    PhD:  2006

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic:  Characterization of neutralizing antibodies against West Nile virus in mice and horses

    Dr. Sanchez's thesis research involved the study of the hormonal immune response against West Nile virus (WNV).  The first goal was to produce a panel of monoclonal antibodies against WNV in order to further elucidate the antigenic structure of the WNV envelope proteins, and understand virus neutralization by antibodies.  The second goal of the research entailed understanding how antibodies against the WNV envelope protein protect animals against disease caused by the virus.  She explored the importance of the humoral immune response against WNV in two populations of horses, vaccinated and naturally infected.

Eric Sandgren

  • Dr. Eric SandgrenAssociate Professor of Pathobiological Sciences

    School of Veterinary Medicine

    University of Wisconsin, Madison

    VMD:  1986

    PhD:  1992

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic:  Transforming growth factor alpha and multistage cancer in the mouse

    The overall goal of Dr. Sandgren's research program is to understand genetic and extracellular mechanisms that regulate cell and tissue growth, whether that growth is a reparative response to tissue damage or an abnormal condition leading to cancer.  Growth and its disorders are critically important medical subjects with enormous public health significance.  To study growth regulation, the Sandgren lab creates and uses genetically modified mice, and are focusing their studies on three organ systems:  liver, mammary gland, and pancreas.

Linda Schuler

  • Dr. Linda SchulerProfessor, Comparative Biosciences

    School of Veterinary Medicine

    University of Wisconsin, Madison

    VMD:  1981

    PhD:  1980

    Graduate Group: Physiology

    Thesis Topic:  Cholesterol metabolism in the ovary of the rat

    Prolactin and related hormones modulate numerous processes which facilitate fetal development and maternal adaptations, including mammary gland development and lactation, as well as disease events in these same target tissues at other times in life.  The Schuler lab is interested in the determinants of cell and context specific actions, including ligand specificity, receptor signal transduction, receptor processing and cross talk with other signaling pathways. These areas allow them to examine hormonal, growth factor and cytokine interactions in the modulation of physiologic and pathogenic processes.  They are particularly interested in the action of prolactin on the mammary gland, and how it interacts with estrogenic and growth factor signals to increase the development and progression of breast cancer.

W. Douglas Sheffield

  • Dr. W. Douglas SheffieldVice President, Clinical Research

    NeuroVista Corporation

    VMD:  1975

    PhD:  1977

    Graduate Group:  Pathology

    Thesis Topic:  Pathogenesis of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis

    Dr. Sheffield has over 25 years experience directing the research and development of medical devices, biologies and pharmaceutical products.  Previously, he was Director of New Technologies at Northstar Neuroscience, Inc., a Seattle-based medical device company seeking to improve neurological recovery following stroke through targeted electrical stimulation of the brain. While at Northstar, Dr. Sheffield was responsible for leading the stroke recovery program that developed a cortical stimulation technology to enhance post-stroke motor and language recovery.  Additionally, he was responsible for the design and execution of all preclinical safety studies.  Prior to this, Dr. Sheffield was with Johnson & Johnson where he was Ethicon's Director of Pharmaceutical Research and Development, responsible for developing th Regranex and Interceed technologies.  He also served as Director of Surigcal R&D at Ethicon Endo-Surgery, leading to the development of numerous minimally invasive procedures.  Dr. Sheffield is an inventor with multiple patents relating to medical devices and has authored and co-authored numerous medical publications.

Bruce Smith

  • Dr. Bruce SmithProfessor of Pathology and Scientist

    Scott-Ritchey Research Center

    College of Veterinary Medicine

    Auburn University

    VMD:  1988

    PhD:  1993

    Graduate Group:  Genetics

    Thesis Topic:  Canine phosphofructokinase deficiency

    Dr. Smith's research program in muscular dystrophies is currently focused on identifying canine models of these diseases and applying novel genetic therapies to their treatment.  Currently, two models of X-linked Duchenne-like muscular dystrophy (DMD), as well as an autosomal recessive muscular dystrophy (PTPLA deficiency, Labrador Retrievers) are being studied.  The laboratory has identified the gene defects in the DMD models and is working on identifying the pathogenic effects of the gene defects in PTPLA deficiency. The laboratory is using these models to develop gene therapy approaches to the muscle dystrophies, as well as DNA based testing programs to eliminate these diseases from the canine population.

    Dr. Smith's research program on immunologic and gene therapy for cancer is part of a large collaborative program involving multiple investigators from Auburn University and the University of Alabama, Birmingham.  As part of this group, he is investigating several approaches to cancer therapy including conditionally replicative adenoviruses (CRADs) for canine osteosarcoma.  These viruses have been tested and encouraging results were seen in a small clinical trial.  A second approach under investigation is tumor cell targeted suicide gene therapy in canine lymphoma.  This work is currently funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health and involves specifically targeting viral vectors to lymphoma cells and delivery of genes that may be induced to kill tumor cells. Preliminary clinical trials will begin in affected dogs shortly. Work is also proceeding on optimized tumor associated antigen vaccine strategies in malignant melanoma.  Finally, in collaboration with Dr. R. Curtis Bird, the laboratory is examining the potential of dendritic cell fusion vaccines in canine mammary cancer.  These vaccines use autologous dendritic cells fused with canine breast cancer cell lines to create anti-tumor immune responses.

Gail Smith

  • Dr. Gail SmithProfessor of Orthopaedic Surgery

    School of Veterinary Medicine

    University of Pennsylvania

    VMD:  1974

    PhD:  1982

    Graduate Group:  Materials Science Engineering

    Thesis Topic:  Passivation and corrosion kinetics of Stainless Steel 316L orthopaedic implants

    With a background in physical sciences, Dr. Smith has explored and innovated materials and mechanics applicable to orthopaedics.  One example of an idea that went from mechanics laboratory to clinical usage is an improvement in the measurement of hip laxity. Having a reliable quantitative measure of hip laxity allows accurate prediction of dogs and cats that are susceptible to hip OA later in life.  This technology is known as "PennHIP" and is now being adopted worldwide.

John Stambaugh

  • Dr. John StambaughVeterinarian

    Boston Road Animal Hospital

    VMD:  1974

    PhD:  1975

    Graduate Group:  Physiology

    Thesis Topic:  The effects of calcification on diffusion in the epiphysical plate

Todd Strochlic

  • Dr. Todd StrochlicPostdoctoral Fellow

    Fox Chase Cancer Center

    VMD:  2008

    PhD:  2008

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology - Cell Biology and Physiology

    Thesis Topic:  Regulated protein sorting in the endosomal system

    The Rho family GTPases Cdc42 and Rac are essential for Ras-mediated transformation of cultured cells and for Ras-induced tumor formation in mice.  They contribute to tumorigenesis and metastasis through the activation of a diverse array of downstream effector proteins.  One important effector protein of these small GTPases is p21-activated kinase 1 (Pak1) whic acts to regulate the actin cytoskeleton, resulting in increased cell motility and a metastatic phenotype. In addition, a substantial body of evidence has implicated phosphoinositides, specifically phosphatidylinositol-4,5-biphosphate (PIP2), as important regulators of signaling by Rho family GTPases.  Using a combination of biochemical and cell-based assays, Dr. Strochlic tested the hypothesis that phosphoinositides and Rac/Cdc42 function cooperatively to activate Pak1 both in vitro and in vivo.

Ruth Sullivan

  • Dr. Ruth SullivanAssistant Research Animal Veterinarian

    School of Medicine and Public Health

    University of Wisconsin, Madison

    VMD:  1991

    PhD:  1996

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic:  Conotruncal cardiac malformation and neural tube defects in transgenic mice expressing a dominant negative CS43/ß-galactosidase fusion protein

Steven Suter

  • Dr. Steven SuterAssociate Professor of Medical Oncology

    College of Veterinary Medicine

    North Carolina State University

    VMD:  1995

    PhD:  2000

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic:  The isolation and characterization of a population of canine putative hematopoietic progenitor cells and their use as targets for retroviral mediated gene therapy

    The Suter lab studies the molecular underpinnings of canine and feline lymphoma and is involved in the development of novel therapeutics for these diseases.  They are also involved in a collaboration with UNC via the Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research in an effort to determine if canine lymphoma is a relevant model, on a molecular level, of a variant of human non-Hodgkin's lymphoma called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.  Finally, Dr. Suter's group has opened the world's first clinical canine bone marrow transplantation unit where dogs with lymphoma are treated via peripheral blood stem cell transplantation, a technique used to treat human lymphoma patients on a regular basis.

James Thomson

  • Dr. James ThomsonDirector of Regenerative Biology

    Morgridge Institute for Research

    Professor, University of Wisconsin

    VMD:  1985

    PhD:  1988

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic:  Understanding genetic imprinting in early mammalian development

    Dr. Thomson directed the group that reported the first isolation of embryonic stem cell lines from a non-human primate in 1995, work that led his group to the first successful isolation of human embryonic stem cell lines in 1998.  In November 2007 Dr. Thomson's team succeeded in isolating similar pluripotent stem cells from human somatic cells.  The current focus of his laboratory is on understanding how ES cells can form any cell in the body (pluripotency); how an ES cells chooses between self-renewal and the initial decision to differentiate; and how a differentiated cell with limited developmental potential can be reprogrammed to a pluripotent cell.

    Dr. Thomson was elected into the National Academy of Sciences in 2008 and is the receipient of the 2011 King Faisal International Prize, and the recepient of the 2011 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research.

Alexander Travis

  • Dr. Alexander TravisAssociate Professor

    Reproductive Biology and Wildlife Conservation

    Director, Cornell Center for Wildlife Conservation

    Baker Institute for Animal Health

    Cornell University

    VMD:  1995

    PhD:  1999

    Graduate Group:  Cell and Molecular Biology

    Thesis Topic:  Characterization, targeting and functional analyses of male germ cell-specific isoforms of type I hexokinase in the mouse

    Dr. Travis' laboratory primarily studies the compartmentalization of signaling and metabolic pathways in male germ cells.  They focus on two major areas:  the organization and function of membrane micro-domains in the plasma membrane, and the regulation fo the glycolytic machinery that is assembled along a cytoskeletal element in the principle piece of the sperm flagellum.  Studies are designed not only to provide basic understanding of cell biological principles such as targeting and scaffolding of effector pathways, but also to provide insight into how specific stimuli which the sperm require in order to fertilize an egg are actually transduced into the changes within the sperm cell that confer functional competency.  Applications for which they hold patents include diagnostic assays for male fertility, and energy production on nanoscale hybrid organic-inorganic devices.  In addition, the Travis lab sutides new technologies of assisted reproduction such as testis xenografting and spermatogonial stem cell transplantation in carnivores to increase the utility of these models for biomedical studies for wildlife conservation.  They recently performed the first successful spermatogonial stem cell transplantation in dogs.  Dr. Travis is also the PI on a multi-disciplinary project designed to test and optimize a landscape-scale approach to conservation that uses markets to link improvements in food security and rural livelihoods with biodiversity conservation outcomes in Zambia.

    Dr. Travis was a recipient of the NIH Pioneer Award in 2009.

Susan Volk

  • Dr. Susan W. VolkAssistant Professor of Small Animal Surgery

    University of Pennsylvania

    VMD:  1995

    PhD:  1998

    Graduate Group:  Pathology

    Thesis Topic:  Bone morphogenetic protein signaling during chondrocyte maturation

    In postnatal organisms, adult stem cells provide a source of new cells for the routine maintenance or repair of tissues or organs.  These stem cells hold particular promise in the field of tissue engineering to replace tissue or improve organ function damaged by congenital defects, age, disease or trauma.  Dr. Volk's research focuses on a particular type of adult stem cell known as the mesenchymal stem cell (MSC).  Her laboratory is interested in defining regulator cues important to direct MSC homing to sites of injury, as well as in vitro and in vivo signals important to direct their differentiation into appropriate target cell types for use in cell based therapeutic strategies in human and veterinary medicine.  Current work focuses on defining cellular and molecular mechanisms by which MSCs improve cutaneous wound repair, and elucidating the role of the extracellular matrix in modulation of progenitor cell activity during tissue regeneration.  In addition, her laboratory is also working to define optimal donor characteristics for canine MSCs for future clinical applications.

John Wolfe

  • Dr. John WolfeProfessor of Pathology

    School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

    Director, Walter Flato Goodman Center for Comparative Medical Genetics

    Stokes Investigator, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia