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Science & Research News


German Shepherd First to Graduate from Penn Vet Working Dog Center Patrol School for Law Enforcement K9s

German Shepherd Rookie, at 19 months of age, is the first dog to graduate from the new Penn Vet Working Dog Center Patrol School. Previously, all law enforcement K9s from the Center attended patrol school at other facilities.


Gene Pair Plays Crucial Role in Colon Cancer, Penn Vet Team Shows

Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide, and researchers are hard at work to understand the disease’s complex molecular underpinnings. In a new study out this month in the journal Cell Reports, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania describe two related genes in the Musashi family that are required for colon cancer to develop, and that may be useful targets for effective treatment.


Mindy and Andrew Heyer Endow President’s Distinguished Professorship to Dr. Christopher Hunter

Dr. Christopher Hunter, BSc, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, has been named the inaugural Mindy Halikman Heyer President’s Distinguished Professor. Established by Penn alumni Mindy and Andrew Heyer, the $3 million endowment will advance Hunter’s research on how the immune system protects animals and humans from infectious disease.


Wiederhold Foundation Funds Challenge Match for Penn Vet Shelter Animal Medicine Program Mobile Unit

A $150,000 challenge match from the John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation will support a new mobile unit for the Penn Vet Shelter Animal Medicine Program. The medical-grade mobile clinical unit will significantly expand the program’s teaching capacity and elevate the quality and breadth of services offered to the Greater Philadelphia community. Through the generous support of the Wiederhold Foundation, all gifts made by December 31, 2015, toward the purchase of the mobile unit will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $150,000. Click here to make a gift.


Penn Vet-led Research Elucidates Genetics Behind Salmonella’s Host Specificity

It’s called bird flu for a reason. Particular characteristics about the influenza virus known as H5N1 allow it to primarily affect avifauna, though in some worrying cases the disease has been passed to humans.


Penn Vet Study Blocks Ebola Virus Budding by Regulating Calcium Signaling

The Ebola virus acts fast. The course of infection, from exposure to recovery, or death, can take as little as two weeks. That may not leave enough time for the immune system to mount an effective response.


Penn Engineering’s Drs. Haim H. Bau and Changchun Liu to Receive 2015 One Health Award

Haim H. Bau, PhD, and Changchun Liu, PhD, of the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) at the University of Pennsylvania have been named the 2015 recipients of Penn’s One Health Award, recognizing their exemplary contributions to expanding interdisciplinary collaboration and improving health care for the benefit of humans, animals, and the environment. The One Health Award was established in 2013 by the deans of the four health schools at Penn—the Perelman School of Medicine (Penn Medicine), the School of Nursing Science (Penn Nursing), the School of Dental Medicine (Penn Dental), and the School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet).

Bale-sperm miRs

Stressed Dads Affect Offspring Brain Development Through Sperm MicroRNA

More and more, scientists have realized that DNA is not the only way that a parent can pass on traits to their offspring. Events experienced by a parent over a lifetime can also have an impact.


Penn Study Stops Vision Loss in Late-stage Canine X-linked Retinitis Pigmentosa

Three years ago, a team from the University of Pennsylvania announced that they had cured X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, a blinding retinal disease, in dogs. Now they’ve shown that they can cure the canine disease over the long term, even when the treatment is given after half or more of the affected photoreceptor cells have been destroyed.


Mother’s Stress Alters Babies’ Gut and Brain

Stress during the first trimester of pregnancy alters the population of microbes living in a mother’s vagina. Those changes are passed on to newborns during birth and are associated with differences in their gut microbiome as well as their brain development, according to a study by Penn researchers.


Penn Vet, Penn Medicine, CHOP to Host 2nd Annual Microbiome Symposium; White House's Dr. Jo Handelsman Featured Speaker

Antibiotic resistance. Innate immunity. Pathogenic microbes. Research on the microbiome continues to pique the interest of many, as scientists explore how bacteria, parasites, viruses, and other organisms interact with their animal and human hosts in ways that either maintain health or lead to disease. These topics and more will be discussed at the upcoming Microbiome Symposium, presented by Penn Vet’s Center for Host-Microbial Interactions and the PennCHOP Microbiome Program.


Penn Vet-Temple Team Characterizes Genetic Mutations Linked to a Form of Blindness

Achromatopsia is a rare, inherited vision disorder that affects the eye’s cone cells, resulting in problems with daytime vision, clarity and color perception. It often strikes people early in life, and currently there is no cure for the condition.


Penn Vet Team Identifies a Form of Congenital Night Blindness in Dogs

People with congenital stationary night blindness, or CSNB, have normal vision during the day but find it difficult or impossible to distinguish objects in low light. This rare condition is present from birth and can seriously impact quality of life, especially in locations and conditions where artificial illumination is not available.


Penn Study Identifies Viral Product That Promotes Immune Defense Against RSV

Almost all human beings are exposed to the respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, before their second birthdays. For most, the symptoms mimic those of the common cold: runny nose, coughing, sneezing, fever. But in some very young infants — and some older adults — the disease can be serious, causing respiratory problems that require hospitalization and increase the risk of developing asthma later in life.


Penn/Baylor Med Study Describes Underlying Cause of Diabetes in Dogs

In a new effort, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Baylor College of Medicine have used advanced imaging technology to fill in details about the underlying cause of canine diabetes, which until now has been little understood. For the first time, they’ve precisely quantified the dramatic loss of insulin-producing beta cells in dogs with the disease and compared it to the loss observed in people with type 1 diabetes.


Penn Vet and Francisvale Partner to Maximize Welfare and Adoptablility of Pets

Behavior problems are the leading cause of pet relinquishment. In order to maximize the welfare and adoptability of pets in need of forever homes, animal behavior experts from Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital are partnering with the team at the Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals.

A new drug target for chemically induced Parkinson’s disease

Penn Vet Study Shows Immune Cells in the Skin Remember and Defend Against Parasites

Just as the brain forms memories of familiar faces, the immune system remembers pathogens it has encountered in the past. T cells with these memories circulate in the blood stream looking for sites of new infection.


Penn Vet Team Shows a Protein Modification Determines Enzyme’s Fate

The human genome encodes roughly 20,000 genes, only a few thousand more than fruit flies. The complexity of the human body, therefore, comes from far more than just the sequence of nucleotides that comprise our DNA, it arises from modifications that occur at the level of gene, RNA and protein.


Disrupting Cells’ ‘Powerhouses’ Can Lead to Tumor Growth, Penn Study Finds

Cancer cells defy the rules by which normal cells abide. They can divide without cease, invade distant tissues and consume glucose at abnormal rates.

A biopsy of an infertile man's testis shows the precursors of sperm, but no mature sperm.

Penn Team Identifies Gene Responsible for Some Cases of Male Infertility

In the most severe form of male infertility, men do not make any measurable levels of sperm. This condition, called azoospermia, affects approximately 1 percent of the male population and is responsible for about a sixth of cases of male infertility.