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Research


Penn Vet’s Shelter Medicine Program trains future shelter veterinarians to become researchers through the Rosenthal Penn Vet Shelter Medicine Student Research Fellowship, collaborating with faculty members across campus to conduct studies helping shelter animals, and via evaluation of education programs and initiatives at the school. 

By making the university a resource, we are able to directly help animals in our community and also create recommendations, protocols, and strategies that directly improve animal welfare and treatment across the field. Shelter medicine’s research researches not only treatment protocols, but focus is broad and deep, from studies of best practices in shelters, to clinical studies to provide cancer care for shelter animals, to comprehensive evaluation of outreach and educational programs for our students and also the community.

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Research components of the program include both collaborative projects with other faculty and organizations as well as direct student mentorship and guidance in the area of research development, planning, execution, and publication.

Collaborative projects with other faculty include:

  • Heartworm disease research
  • Stem cell research
  • Animal welfare projects

The program’s 2019-2020 intern, Dr. Jafarian, is also completing qualitative research regarding shelter medicine learning.

WaterShed Initiative

Through the WaterShed Initiative, the program is in the process of hiring Dr. Lauren Powell. She completed her doctoral dissertation at the University of Sydney School of Public Health focused on the impacts of human-dog interactions on mental well-being. She will examine quality of life assessments in the shelter and evaluate teaching in the shelter medicine field.

Mentored student projects include independent studies, the PetSmart Charities summer research student program, and the endowed Rosenthal Fellowship.

In addition to collaborative research, Penn Vet Shelter Medicine developed the endowed Rosenthal Shelter Medicine Fellowship Program. It provides funding and stipends for students to pursue shelter medicine research in a mentored program structure.

Students are engaged at all levels of research management (planning, relationship building with shelters, data collection, statistics, writing, publication, etc.) at any one time. Two students from each class are selected each year which allows for peer-learning. There are regularly scheduled “lab” meetings and journal clubs (discussion of peer-reviewed literature).

The first fellow, Charlotte Burns, was a PetSmart Charities Scholarship winner and was supported through the Ambassador Program to present her work at the 2018 ABVP Symposium. Her paper on an outpatient parvovirus treatment paper was accepted for publication through JVECCS.

Other current fellow project topics include:

  • the impact for clients and providers in a one-health clinic (Meriel Walsh),
  • Solliquin efficacy in the shelter (Tabitha Stillo),
  • incidence of Toxoplasmosis in the shelter (Dani Mitchell),
  • profile of exotic animal intake in the Philadelphia region (Anna Shirosky),
  • impact of at-home visits for clients and providers through Pets for Life (Lauren Lundahl), and
  • cost-benefit analysis of upper respiratory treatment options (Tianna Chin).

Rosenthal Penn Vet Shelter Medicine Student Research Fellowship

To encourage authentic and purposeful engagment in the shelter community from veterinary students and future professionals through mentorship and create new research data to help shelters and animals in the community.

This program provides scholarship support and research funding for two students per veterinary class to engage in a three-year training program in shelter medicine.  Students take all shelter electives while developing, executing, evaluating, and submitting for publication a research project that directly helps shelter animals.

Research Topics

Potential research topics include: 

  • Effective behavioral enrichment
  • Upper respiratory disease prevention
  • Decreasing stress in shelters
  • Effective adoption strategies
  • Outpatient parvovirus treatment
  • One Health Clinic impact
  • Interventional programs for preventing surrenders in shelters
  • Disease incidents 
  • Shelter protocols for improving animal health

Meet Our Penn Vet Research and Program Partners
Penn Vet, Dr. Daniel Beiting
Dr. David Holt
  • Dr. David Holt
  • Clinical trials in infrared imaging and lung cancer surgery, as well as with canine mammary tumors
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Michael Povelones, PhD
Dr. James Serpell, Penn Vet
Dr. Carlo Siracusa, Penn Vet