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Research Laboratories at Penn Vet


Penn Vet faculty are engaged in ongoing groundbreaking research. Here are examples of faculty laboratories and the projects being investigated, both at our Philadelphia campus and at New Bolton Center.

Faculty Laboratories

Anguera Laboratory

  • Our laboratory investigates epigenetic gene regulation involving long noncoding RNAs. XIST FISH, Anguera Lab, Penn Vet

    We use human pluripotent stem cells as a model system to determine how long noncoding RNAs regulate gene expression required for normal development. 

    We study mechanisms of X-Chromosome Inactivation (XCI), an epigenetic phenomenon responsible for silencing one X-chromosome in females. 

    This chromosome-wide silencing is initiated by the long noncoding RNA XIST.

    Lab Mission:

    • To understand how long noncoding RNAs regulate X-Chromosome Inactivation during early human development
    • To determine the epigenetic regulators of the human long noncoding RNA gene XIST
    • To investigate the function and mechanisms for novel X-linked long noncoding RNAs expressed in human pluripotent stem cells and early germ lineage progenitor cells
    • To identify therapeutic opportunities for correcting X-linked dosage imbalances and diseases using insight from human pluripotent stem cell model system
    Read More About The Anguera Laboratory

ASMG Laboratory - Agriculture Systems

  • The Agricultural Systems and Microbial Genomics Laboratory(ASMG Laboratory) was established to support Dr. Dou and Dr. Pitta in their research endeavors.  

    Dr. Dou, Professor of Agricultural Systems, focuses her lab's research on:

    • Transformation and transport of nutrients in agro-ecosystems
    • Environmental fate of manure-borne pathogens, pharmaceuticals, and implications for public health
    • Agricultural productivity, sustainability, and global food security
    Read More About The ASMG Laboratory - Agriculture Systems

ASMG Laboratory - Microbial Genomics

  • The Agricultural ASMG Lab, New Bolton CenterSystems and Microbial Genomics Laboratory (ASMG Laboratory) was established to support Dr. Dou and Dr. Pitta in their research endeavors.  

    Dr. Pitta is the ruminant nutrition and microbiologist at the Center for Animal Health and Productivity (CAHP), New Bolton Center, University of Pennsylvania.

    Microbial Genomics

    Research in the Microbial Genomics section of the ASMG lab focuses primarily on the New Bolton Center, ASMG Lab-Microbial Genomicsgut microbial composition of ruminants, utilizing both culture-based and advanced molecular methodologies. The alimentary tract of a ruminant is colonized by millions of microbes living in a symbiotic relationship with the host. Therefore, knowledge of the microbial composition of the entire gut can provide insights into improving the overall health and productivity of the animal.

    Microbiology Component

    The recent advent of next generation sequencers has greatly enhanced the ability to explore community microbial populations. The ASMG lab has the capabilities to perform metagenomic studies including sample preparation, genomic DNA extraction and generating 16S amplicon libraries for sequencing on next generation platforms. The sequenced data is analyzed at the ASMG laboratory utilizing the appropriate bioinformatics tools for data interpretation. The lab is in the process of streamlining the protocols for generating 18S libraries for protozoa and fungal communities.

    Read More About The ASMG Laboratory - Microbial Genomics

Avadhani Laboratory

  • The research in Dr. Avadhani's laboratory is focused on the following aspects of mitochondrial genetics and regulation of mitochondrial membrane biogenesis in mammalian cells:

    1. Mechanisms of dual targeting of cytochrome P450 and related proteins to ER and mitochondria and mechanisms of activation of the chimeric N-terminal signal by cAMP and other physiological factors. 

    2. Characterization of a novel mitochondria-to-nucleus stress signaling in cells subjected to mitochondrial specific genetic, and or, metabolic stress, which operates through altered [Ca2+]c, and the role of mitochondrial stress signaling in tumor progression and metastasis.

    3. Regulation of cytochrome oxidase gene expression, and modulation of enzyme assembly/activity under chemical and oxidative stress conditions. 

    4. Role of mitochondrial stress signaling in Embryonic Stem Cell function/differentiation, and mammalian mitochondrial transcription under chemical and oxidative stress in ES cells.
    Read More About The Avadhani Laboratory

Bale Laboratory

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    Our research focuses on developing mouse models of stress sensitivity related to neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disease. We utilize genetic and prenatal manipulations to elucidate mechanisms contributing to disease predisposition.

    We have focused on utilizing approaches that range from fetal antecedents in programming of long-term disease risk to genetic targeting of cell type specific knockout mice.

    We have focused on developing models of disease including affective disorders and obesity utilizing approaches that range from fetal antecedents, involved in programming of long-term disease risk, to genetic targeting of cell type specific knockouts.

    We have initiated multiple lines of investigation that will provide insight into the timing and sex specificity of early life events promoting disease susceptibility, the maturation of central pathways during key periods of development, and the epigenetic mechanisms involved in long-term effects following stress exposure.

     

    Read More About The Bale Laboratory

Brinster Laboratory of Reproductive Physiology

  •  Our research has involved studies on mammalian germ cells and early embryos. Initially, Ralph Brinster on transgenesiswe developed a culture system and manipulation techniques for mouse eggs that are the foundation for subsequent mammalian egg and embryo experiments in the field, including nuclear transfer and in vitro fertilization of human eggs.

    We then used these methods to show that mouse blastocysts can be colonized by foreign stem cells and result in chimeric adults, which led to the development of embryonic stem cells. Subsequently, we used these culture and manipulation techniques to develop transgenic mice. In recent years, our research has focused on male germline stem cells, and these studies demonstrated that spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) from a fertile male mouse can be transplanted to the testes of an infertile male where they will colonize the seminiferous tubules and generate donor cell-derived spermatozoa, thereby restoring fertility.

    In addition, SSCs of mice and other rodents can be cultured in vitro and their number increased, and the SSCs can be frozen and preserved for long periods. The ability to culture, transplant and cryopreserve SSCs makes the germline of individual males immortal. The transplantation and freezing methods are readily transferrable to the SSCs of all mammalian species.

    Ralph Brinster in ScienceHowever, a culture system for SSCs of nonrodent species has proven to be difficult to develop, and published reports of success have not been independently confirmed and are not universally accepted. Therefore, in recent studies we have attempted to develop a reliable system to culture human SSCs, which is essential to preserve and expand for later use the SSCs of prepubertal boys who will receive germ cell destroying treatment for cancer.

    As part of these studies, we are establishing the genes and regulating mechanism used by mouse and human SSCs to survive and replicate, which will contribute to the understanding necessary for human SSC culture and expansion. In the long term, a culture system will also allow the development of techniques to support SSC differentiation in vitro with production of spermatozoa capable of fertilizing eggs.

    In addition, the SSC assay system provides a powerful technique in which to test the conversion of somatic cells to functional SSCs. Over the past 10 years, we and others have identified transcription factors and micro RNAs that play key roles in SSC self-renewal. In current research, we plan to use this information to reprogram somatic cells into germ cells, specifically SSCs. The transplantation assay provides an unequivocal conformation of this reprogramming for a single cell.

    Moreover, it allows for the identification of gene activation during the differentiation process in vivo and production of progeny from sperm produced from reprogrammed cells. In the future, the approach could be used to address fertility problems in humans and possibly the correction of genetic defects.

    This research is supported by grants from National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development and the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation.

    Read More About The Brinster Laboratory of Reproductive Physiology

Comparative Orthopaedic Research Laboratory

  • Penn Vet, surgery at New Bolton CenterThe Translational Services Program (non-clinical and clinical) is one of the core capabilities of the Penn Vet CORL Group in the Section of Surgery, Department of Clinical Studies New Bolton Center. It is comprised of the Surgical Models Services, Non-Clinical (GLP) and Clinical (VICH-GL9) Trials Design and Management, Imaging and Histological Services.

    The focus of the Translational Services Program is directed towards supporting product development at any level providing a “one-stop-and-shop” R&D platform within and outside the University of Pennsylvania biomedical community. This program has the skills, experience and knowledge to assist researchers, product developers and project managers in a modular manner starting with project design and ending with data analysis, study audits, final report, regulatory filings and publication. The main partners for collaborative projects are scientists from the greater Philadelphia area, national and international clinicians, material scientists and industrial partners. The investigations are typically of an applied nature and are conducted under a research agreement or a fee for services arrangement.

    The PENN VET CORL Group in its current make-up has been a partner in pivotal studies for 10 years, assisting device manufacturers in the successful translation of novel therapeutic interventions and its submission of regulatory filings.

    Read More About The Comparative Orthopaedic Research Laboratory

Equine Pharmacology Laboratory

  • Equine Pharmacology at New Bolton CenterIn 2006, Dr. Lawrence R. Soma, VMD, and professor of Large Animal Medicine at New Bolton Center, and Dr. Cornelius E. Uboh, director of the Pennsylvania Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory (PETRL) in West Chester, PA, and their respective teams at Penn Vet and PETRL became the first research group in the world to develop and establish a method for confirming blood-doping agents in racehorse serum.

    Previously only the antibodies caused by the drug, not the drug itself, were detectable in the blood. Used in human and small animal veterinary medicine to treat conditions that produce anemia such as cancer and renal disease, erythropoetin (EPO) is a natural hormone protein produced in the kidneys that stimulates red blood cell production. Recombinant human eythropoietin (rhEPO) and darbepoetin-alfa (DPO) are genetically engineered versions of EPO.

    Read More About The Equine Pharmacology Laboratory

Hunter Laboratory

  • Dr. Christopher Hunter's research team has been working on various aspects of basic parasitology since 198Hunter Laboratory, Penn Vet4.

    For the past 16 years, Dr. Hunter's team has focused on understanding how the immune response to Toxoplasma gondii is regulated to allow the development of protective immunity as well as to limit T cell mediated pathology in multiple sites including the gut and brain.

    Read More About The Hunter Laboratory

López Laboratory

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    Virus-Host Interactions and Innate Immunity    

     Our laboratory studies the events that occur early during the virus-host interaction and that determine the successful transition from the less specific initial innate immune response to the more specific adaptive immune response.

    We are particularly interested in the immune responses to viruses that have developed efficient mechanisms to antagonize the immune system. We use a number of mouse models of respiratory infection including influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, human metapneumovirus, and the mouse pathogen Sendai virus.

    We have strong virology and immunology components and use multiple techniques in vitro and in vivo to gather an inclusive mechanistic understanding of the processes that determine the successful development of antiviral immunity. Our work extends to the study of strategies for the improvement of vaccines and to the analysis of determinants of virus persistence.

    Read More About The López Laboratory

Mason Laboratory

  • Cancer cells, Mason Lab research, Penn VetInvestigating canine cancer, Dr. Nicola Mason and her team of researchers at Penn Vet's Mason Laboratory focus on developing novel approaches to generate functional, tumor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes.

    One approach involves active immunization using whole tumor RNA loaded CD40 activated B cells, aimed at activating tumor specific T cells in vivo.

    A second approach involves the passive adoptive transfer of genetically modified autologous T cells that are capable of MHC-independent tumor antigen recognition and activaton/effector function in the absence of co-stimulatory ligands.

    Read More About The Mason Laboratory

Reference Andrology Laboratory

  • The Reference Andrology Laboratory provides complete testing of neat, cooled and frozen-thawed semen from mammalian and avian species. The primary purpose of these services is to aid practitioners in their differential diagnosis of individual/herd/flock reproductive problems.

    These services are also frequently used by practitioners and studs as a third-party quality control component in an ongoing stud auditing process.

    The laboratory strives to perform objective, validated techniques for assessing samples for the basic spermiogram parameters of sample volume, motility, morphology, and concentration. With advanced notification, we will also try to accommodate requests for supplemental assessment techniques on sperm subcellular structures. We also offer semen extender analysis and microbiological testing of the extended semen product and purified water used in extenders.
    Read More About The Reference Andrology Laboratory

Scott Laboratory

  • Dr. Scott's current research is focused on understanding the development, regulation and maintenance of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in order to design new vaccines and immunotherapies for infectioleishmaniaus diseases.

    The laboratory primarily focuses on experimental murine infections with the protozoan parasite, Leishmania, which provides a well-characterized model of T helper cell differentiation.

    Read More About The Scott Laboratory

Swine Teaching and Research Unit

  • Penn Vet's Swine facilityToday the US swine industry finds itself confronted with rapidly changing public opinion and policy on how gestating sows should be housed. Penn Vet is uniquely positioned to provide the industry with relevant scientific data collected from this living laboratory.
    Read More About The Swine Teaching and Research Unit

Vite Laboratory

  • The focus of the Vite lab is to improve the characterization and treatment of neurological Niemann-Pick Disease, Penn Vet, Vite Laboratorydiseases by studying naturally-occurring feline and canine models of human diseases.

    Our lab develops and identifies ante-mortem biochemical and nuclear magnetic resonance markers of disease severity and progression and uses these markers to evaluate the efficacy of gene therapy, cell-based therapy, and pharmacotherapy to treat disease. 

    Read More About The Vite Laboratory

Volk Laboratory

  • In the postnatal organism, adult stem cells provide a source of new cells for the routine Penn Vet, Volk Laboratory, migrating keratinocytesmaintenance or repair, in response to injury, 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.  

    Read More About The Volk Laboratory