To understand the nature of disease and its impact on humans and animals, the School's Department of Pathobiology is dedicated to research in pathology, infectious diseases and immunology.
Located on both the Philadelphia and New Bolton Center campuses, it has not only built an outstanding reputation for fundamental research, but provides crucial clinical services for the School and the State. Furthermore, by offering the very best training for veterinary students, residents, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, the Department is helping to mold the future leaders in veterinary medicine and in basic research.
The Department excels in research into bacteria, viruses and parasites. The fields of immunology, cell biology, genomics, biochemistry, epidemiology and ecology are brought to bear in designing new ways to attack these infectious agents. Some of the major research programs in Pathobiology study salmonellosis, West Nile virus, avian influenza, plague, ebola virus and herpes to provide new ways of treatment in both people and animals. A unique aspect of Penn's infectious disease program is the strong nucleus of scientists dedicated to the study of parasites. These agents affect companion animals, livestock and people in devastating ways, but are often neglected dieases.
The role of genes in disease is studied in comparative medical genetics. By identifying genes that cause disease, Pathobiology faculty contribute to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of genetic diseases seen in both animal and human medicine. These studies have led to pioneering work in the field of gene therapy. Another major area for the Department is the study of the mechanisms associated with tumor cell development and metastasis. The Department's research efforts in cancer particularly focus on understanding disease as it occurs in animals, and is aimed at designing new strategies to control cancer in both animals and humans.
In addition to its research and teaching missions, the Department provides clinical services in diagnostic pathology, microbiology, parasitology and toxicology for both small and large animals. Its clinical service laboratories at New Bolton Center are part of the tripartite Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System (PADLS), which serves the whole Commonwealth. These diagnostic laboratories provide the frontline detection system for many emerging diseases—such as avian influenza, mad cow disease and West Nile virus—that are of public health significance. The Department is also the home for Laboratory Animal Medicine, which trains veterinarians to ensure optimal care of laboratory animals used in the biomedical community. In addition to providing critical information for our patients and clients, the clinical services are integrated into the research mission of the Department and provide the data necessary to document the natural history of disease.