Brian Hare, PhD
Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology
Dr. Brian Hare is a core member of the Center of Cognitive Neuroscience, a professor in evolutionary anthropology, and psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 2004, and in 2005, following his work at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, was awarded the Sofia Kovalevskaja Award—Germany’s most prestigious award for scientists under 40. In 2009, after arriving at Duke University, he established the Duke Canine Cognition Center. Hare has published over 100 scientific papers including in Science, Nature, and PNAS. He has received external support from NIH, NSF, ONR, and a number of private foundations. He co-authored The Genius of Dogs, a New York Times Bestseller, and Survival of the Friendliest, an international bestseller with his wife Vanessa Woods. Their third book together, The Puppy Kindergarten, will be out in summer 2024 from Random House.
Michael L. Atchison, PhD
Dr. Michael Atchison obtained his BS degree in biology from the State University of New York at Albany and obtained his PhD in cell and molecular biology from New York University School of Medicine. He moved to Philadelphia to perform a postdoc with Robert Perry at Fox Chase Cancer Center and joined the Penn School of Veterinary Medicine as an assistant professor in 1988. Currently, he is a professor of biochemistry in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. He has directed the VMD-PhD program at Penn Vet since 2001 and co-directed the NIH/BI Summer Scholars Program since 1990. His laboratory studies transcriptional regulation and epigenetic mechanisms of lineage development within the hematopoietic system, particularly the B cell lineage.
Molly E. Church, MS, VMD, PhD, DACVP
Dr. Molly Church earned her VMD from Penn Vet in 2009 and joined the faculty in 2016 as an assistant professor of anatomic pathology in the Department of Pathobiology. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of California (UC) Santa Cruz. After earning her VMD, she completed her residency training in anatomic pathology, as well as a PhD in comparative pathology, at UC Davis. Since returning to Penn Vet as a faculty member, she has had the opportunity to hone her diagnostic abilities in its busy biopsy and autopsy services and to work with a diverse group of clinicians and researchers, resulting in numerous exciting collaborative research projects. As a CE faculty member, her research and clinical interests are intertwined and reflect her passion for neuropathology. Her interests are focused not only on the diagnosis of neuroinflammatory disease and neoplasms of the central and peripheral nervous system, but also on detailed molecular examination of these diseases in an effort to improve diagnostics and gain a better understanding of the underlying pathogenesis .
Dana L. Clarke, VMD
Dr. Dana Clarke graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006. After graduation, she completed a one-year rotating internship at Michigan State University, followed by a residency in emergency/critical care at the University of Pennsylvania. Upon completion of her residency in 2010, she spent one year observing in the interventional radiology service at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She then became the director of the interventional radiology program at Penn Vet and has a dual appointment in the sections of surgery and critical care. In 2015, she was appointed to the first faculty position in interventional radiology in veterinary medicine. Her research and clinical interests include developing a better understanding of the progression and physiology of tracheal collapse, improving tracheal stent design and sizing, vascular malformations and obstructions, and all forms of respiratory disease within the ICU .
Erick Gagne, PhD
Originally from Philadelphia, Dr. Roderick “Erick” Gagne obtained his master’s degree and PhD from Tulane University in ecology and evolutionary biology. There he studied the disease ecology of an invasive parasite infecting Hawaiian stream fishes. Subsequently, he was a postdoc at Colorado State University where he used genomic data of the host and pathogen to assess how landscape features and demographic factors influence the spread of disease. He is currently an assistant professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and a part of the Wildlife Futures Program. His research integrates genetic and ecological approaches to evaluate infectious diseases. His focus is on understanding the transmission of wildlife disease on landscapes as well as the ecology and evolution of pathogen spillover.
Klaus Hopster, DVM, PhD
Dr. Klaus Hopster is the Marilyn M. Simpson Associate Professor of Large Animal Anesthesia in the Department of Clinical Studies—New Bolton Center. Dr. Hopster received his DVM degree from the Hannover School of Veterinary Medicine in Germany in 2006. He then performed a rotating internship at the Equine Hospital while being enrolled in a doctorate program that he completed in 2007 with a thesis entitled “Open-Lung-Concept ventilation during general anesthesia of the horse and its influence on the early post-operative period.” From 2007 to 2011, Dr. Hopster was enrolled in an ECVAA-approved residency program in veterinary anesthesia and analgesia, and after the successful conclusion of this program, he obtained the ECVCAA diplomate status. Upon finishing his training program, Klaus accepted the position of senior lecturer in anesthesia, pain management, and critical care at the Hannover School of Veterinary Medicine's Equine Hospital, which he held until his departure to the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. Over the past 15 years, his research activities have focused on intraoperative lung function and tissue oxygenation in the horse. He has published numerous other original scientific and review articles, book chapters, abstracts, and proceedings in the field of veterinary anesthesiology and is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and seminars. Dr. Hopster is a member of the Association of Veterinary Anaesthetists (AVA), the European College of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia (ECVAA), and the Anesthesia, Intensive & Emergency Care, and Pain Management (VAINS) section of the German Veterinary Association (DVG).
Anna Kashina, PhD
Dr. Anna Kashina's research focuses on protein regulation, including posttranslational modifications, protein isoform diversity, and protein misfolding in disease. She has been a faculty member at Penn Vet since 2004. Her research pioneered the studies of protein arginylation, a posttranslational modification that acts as a global biological regulator and plays a major role in embryogenesis and prevention of heart disease and neurodegeneration. She also discovered that nucleotide coding sequence and silent substitutions can regulate biological functions of closely related protein isoforms. Her recent interests include prion diseases and novel approaches to diagnostics of chronic wasting disease in deer.
Andrew J. Modzelewski, PhD
Dr. Andrew J. Modzelewski (Dr. Modz) is an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences who was recruited to Penn Vet last year. Dr. Modz received his BS from Penn State University with a major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. Modz then went to Cornell University for his PhD in genetics, genomics and development with Dr. Paula Cohen where he developed an interest in reproduction and development with a special interest in non-coding RNAs. He did his postdoc at the University of California at Berkeley with Dr. Lin He, an expert on miRNAs and cancer, but shifted to early embryos and ancient viral elements (retrotransposons). Dr. Modz modified and developed various tools to study the phenomenon of retrotransposon reactivation that occurs in all mammalian preimplantation embryos. One of these tools is an electroporation-based CRISPR/Cas9 delivery system called “CRISPR RNP Electroporation of Zygotes” (CRISPR-EZ). Despite being called “Junk DNA,” Dr. Modz published evidence of the first essential retrotransposon in mammalian preimplantation development, suggesting instead a “symbiotic” instead of parasitic relationship. At Penn, Dr. Modz plans to further study the developmental roles of retrotransposon reactivation in the early embryo and reproduction and extend this to instances of epigenetic breakdown that occur in aging, disease, and cancer, where retrotransposons frequently re-emerge and potentially contribute to malignancies.
Wojciech K. Panek, DVM
Dr. Wojciech Panek serves as an assistant professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Penn Vet. He graduated from Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Poland. Following rotating and surgical internships, he completed a 2-year neuro-oncology fellowship at NU, Feinberg School of Medicine in the Department of Neurology/Neurosurgery, Chicago, IL. He then went on to complete a 2-year fellowship focusing on neuro-aging in companion dogs at NC State University, followed by a 3-year neurology and neurosurgery residency program at UC Davis. His research includes translational neuro-oncology and neuro-aging and primarily focuses on developing a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory signals that govern the immune system mobilization and/or exhaustion in patients suffering from CNS tumors and canine cognitive dysfunction.
Dipti Pitta, BVSc, MVSc, PhD
Dr. Dipti Pitta completed her Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Master of Veterinary Science programs in India. She then received her specialty training in ruminant nutrition and microbiology as a part of a PhD degree program from Massey University, New Zealand. Her career took her to AgResearch, New Zealand as a junior scientist, then to Texas A&M University before joining as a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. She has worked on several projects involving forages, environmental issues, nutritional aspects, microbial ecology, biometrics, and food safety. In her Agricultural Systems and Microbial Genomics (ASMG) Laboratory at Penn Vet, she has several ongoing projects using dairy cattle both at Penn Vet’s dairy herd and commercial herds. The current work predominantly focuses on two major areas: (i) understanding the mechanistic basis of methanogenesis to develop novel mitigation strategies for enteric methane abatement, and (ii) investigating the lasting effects of early life microbial interventions on health, well-being, productivity, and methane emissions in ruminants. Dr. Pitta is also involved in several collaborative projects to investigate the role of gut microbiome in health and disease in equine, swine, and honeybees. She has secured over $4 million in extramural support, serves as an advisory board member for multiple organizations, and mentors graduate students from diverse disciplines.
Darko Stefanovski, PhD
Dr. Darko Stefanovski’s independent research program is in the area of biostatistical and biomathematical modeling and, most recently, the integration of these two fields under the umbrella of machine learning. Furthermore, he oversees the maintenance and development of the mathematical modeling software WinSAAM. For many years, his research has been focused on glucose metabolism and associated pathologies such as sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Boris Striepen, PhD
Dr. Boris Striepen studied biology at the universities of Bonn and Marburg, and conducted undergrad research on liver flukes in Bonn, and trypanosomes in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. He earned a PhD for work on parasite biochemistry with Ralph Schwarz, was a postdoc with David Roos, studying parasite cell biology, and started his own laboratory at the University of Georgia in 2000. In 2017, he moved to the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Striepen studies the cell and molecular biology of apicomplexan parasites. His current research focus is the parasite Cryptosporidium, a leading global cause of severe diarrhea and mortality in young children. His lab pioneered molecular genetics and mouse models for this important infection and leads a range of interdisciplinary efforts to understand fundamental parasite biology and advance translation toward drugs and vaccines.
Susan W. Volk, VMD, PhD, DACVS
Dr. Susan Volk is the Corinne R. and Henry Bower Professor of Small Animal Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Volk completed the Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program (VMD-PhD), as well as a small animal rotating internship and surgical residency at the University of Pennsylvania, before joining the faculty of Penn Vet in 2007. Her laboratory is focused on defining mechanisms by which the extracellular matrix, particularly collagens, regulate cell activities and fate in both regenerative and tumor microenvironments. This NIH, private foundation, and industry-sponsored research has basic and translational components, including clinical trials in veterinary patients. As a veterinary surgeon-scientist, she is passionate about applying this basic science knowledge to develop innovative regenerative and oncologic therapies to close clinical gaps for both veterinary and human patients. In addition to her translational research and clinical work, she also serves in national leadership positions in the field of tissue repair and regeneration, including currently serving on the board of directors for the North American Veterinary Regenerative Medicine Association and as vice president of the Wound Healing Society.