Research Areas in DVM/MS in Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Cardiovascular Biology

Dr. Kudej

Dr. Kudej is a clinical researcher whose research focuses in the area of cardiovascular physiology. He uses the woodchuck as an animal model in studying heart function as it relates to resting states such as hibernation.

Digestive Diseases

Dr. Anwer, Dr. Schonhoff, Dr. Webster

The overall emphasis of this research area is to gain further insight into cellular and molecular mechanisms of hepatic and gastrointestinal diseases. Current studies include:

  • Cellular mechanisms of programmed cell death in hepatocytes and in hormonal regulation of hepatic bile formation.
  • The regulation of hepatic bile acid transport by second messengers and protein kinases.
  • The role of pH and calcium in bile acid-induced hepatotoxicity.

Equine Sports Medicine

Dr. Kirker-Head, Dr. Mazan

Dr. Kirker-Head’s research focuses upon equine athletic injury, including non-adaptive bone disease and repetitive motion injury. He also is interested in orthopedic surgery, especially internal fixation and arthroscopy.

Dr. Mazan’s research focuses upon the pathophysiology of small airway inflammatory disease with an interest in the effects of particulate matter air pollution on equine respiratory disease. Her interests include possible stem cell applications in equine internal medicine.

Infectious Diseases

Dr. Mukherjee, Dr. Sheoran, Dr. Shoemaker, Dr. Skelly, Dr. Tzipori, Dr. Widmer

This research area supports, among other projects, two major multidisciplinary research initiatives:

  • Cryptosporidium parvum, one of the important opportunistic infections that complicates AIDS;
  • and E. coli 0157:H7, a pathogen responsible for outbreaks of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in children and hemorrhagic colitis in children and adults.

The C. parvum program includes studies on the molecular basis for attachment and invasion, cellular mechanism of disease including newborn calves, and immunological and host risk factors contributing to persistence of infection in the immunodeficient host. This research also involves the development of strategies for control of the disease in patients with AIDS, genetic finger-printing, and genetic methods of detection of C. parvum oocytes in waterborne outbreak of disease.

Investigations on E. Coli include the study of the molecular mechanism and pathogenesis of the disease, development of attenuated candidate vaccines for prevention of meat contamination, and pursuit of therapeutic reagents for prophylaxis for children.

Other projects examine the transmission and biological basis of lyme disease.

Neuroscience and Behavior

Dr. Bridges, Dr. E. Byrnes, Dr. J. Byrnes Dr. Mann, Dr. Nephew

The major emphasis of this research area is to understand the role of neurotransmitters, hormones and opiate peptides in maternal behavior, the secretion of pituitary hormones, and behavioral problems in animals.

Research in Dr. Bridges laboratory focuses upon the physiological events underlying pregnancy and lactation that impact both behavioral as well as endocrine and neurochemical responses and functions in adulthood. In one project, studies are ongoing using the rat as an animal model to delineate the role of the neural prolactin-like system in both the onset of maternal behavior and in maternal memory. A long-term goal of this collaboration is to determine underlying biological processes associated with reproductive-related illnesses, such as postpartum depression and neglect.

Dr. E. Byrnes’ research also focuses upon the transgenerational effects of early drug (opiate) exposure on neural and behavioral processes. Dr. J. Byrnes’ research examines related animal models for psychiatric disorders.

Dr. Mann’s project examines the specific involvement of one area of the brain, the ventromedial hypothalamus, that is key to the establishment of maternal behavior. This project will help define neural pathways that underlie the regulation of maternal behavior.

Dr. Bridges’ and Dr. Byrnes’ project examines developmental aspects of neuroendocrine functions in females. Using a combination of endocrine, neurochemical, and behavioral approaches, the effects of single and multiple pregnancies on brain dopamine functions are being investigated. The implications of these studies include both psychiatric, endocrine and other health disorders.

Dr. Nephew’s research focuses upon the chronic effects of stress on reproductive success and behavior. He uses a rodent model to assess transgenerational effects of ethological stressors.


Dr. Freeman

Dr. Freeman is a clinical researcher interested in the effects of nutrition on cardiac function and animal health (dogs and cats). Dr. Freeman has both a PhD in nutrition and a DVM from Tufts University. Her studies focus upon nutritional modulation of cardiovascular diseases and nutritional support in critical care.


Dr. McNeil

Dr. McNeil’s interests in oncology include the effects of anti-angiogenic therapy in feline oral squamous cell carcinoma, cancer genetics such as DNA mismatch repair in bladder cancer, and the role of metals in feline vaccine-associated carcinogenesis.

Reproductive Biology

Dr. Ayres, Dr. Bridges, Dr. Byrnes, Dr. Mann

This research area combines developmental and molecular biological technology in basic and applied areas to investigate the physiological control of mammalian reproduction. Specific studies in this program include:

  • The production of transgenic laboratory and domesticated (such as caprine and porcine) species to generate desired physical attributes, cell surface epitopes, secretory (milk) peptide production and increased gonadotrophin production.
  • The role of hormones in maternal behavior.
  • The effects of reproductive experience on neuroendocrine functions in female mammals (see the Neuroscience and Behavior research area for greater description of these latter two projects).
  • Molecular and genetic regulation of sexual differentiation.

Respiratory Physiology

Dr. Hoffman, Dr. Mazan

Dr. Hoffman is a DVM with research interests in respiratory physiology with a specific focus on stem cell biology and organ regeneration. His research on the role of stem/progenitor cells in lung regeneration includes examination of the molecular basis for self-renewal and lung stem cell differentiation. In addition, using the horse as an animal model, his research examines animal models for asthma as well as normal respiratory function. The translational component of his research includes the use of aerosol delivery devices and non-surgical, cell therapies.

Dr. Mazan’s research focuses upon the pathophysiology of small airway inflammatory disease with an interest in the effects of particulate matter air pollution on equine respiratory disease. Her interests include possible stem cell applications in equine internal medicine.