Click on the mentor’s name for a description of their research.
Dr. Jeffrey Adamovicz
Research area(s): Vaccine development and pathogenesis studies for zoonotic diseases
Possible project(s): 1) Exploring bacterial persistence of Francisella tularensis; 2) Development of multi-species bridge ELISA for Yersinia pestis; 3) Animal modle development and therapeutic testing for Zika virus; 4) Development of a recombinant vaccine for B. pseudomallei.
Dr. Pam Adkins (web site under construction)
Research area(s): Current research interests include heifer mastitis, the ecology of staphylococcal species on the dairy farm, strain typing of bacterial species associated with bovine intramammary infections, the effects of intramammary antimicrobial usage, and heat stress.
Possible project(s): 1) Investigating bovine body site sampling techniques; 2) Investigating the effectiveness of intramammary antimicrobial therapy on chronic non-aureus staphylococcal intramammary infections; 3) Strain typing bacterial species from Missouri farms with high bulk tank somatic cell count problem.
Dr. Yuksel Agca
Research area(s): Reproductive biology, gamete, embryo gonad cryobiology and transgenics.
Possible project(s): 1) Gonadal tissue cryopreservation, transplantation; 2) mouse, peromyscus and rat sperm, oocyte and embryo cryobiology, embryo culture, and transgenics.
Drs. Sybil Amelon and Sarah Hooper
Research area(s): Wildlife Ecology in Central Hardwoods
Possible projects: 1) Characterization of blood parameters for eastern bat species; 2) Changes in levels of infection within wing membranes of Myotis lucifugus with WNS with treatments; 3) Fecal hormone levels in eastern bat species
Dr. Jim Amos-Landgraf
Research area(s): Microbiomes and colon cancer
Possible projects: 1) Impact of microbiome on colon cancer; 2) Characterization of a genetically-engineered swine model of colon cancer; 3) Genetic therapy for the prevention of hereditary colon cancer.
Dr. Christopher Baines
Research area(s): Role of mitochondria in cell death and mechanisms of programmed necrosis
Possible project(s): 1) Test the role of the mitochondrial pore in RIP1/RIP3/MLKL-dependent necrosis; 2) Characterize novel regulators of programmed necrosis; 3) Characterize RIP1 cardiac specific transgenic mice.
Dr. Charlie Brown
Research area(s): Inflammation/Lyme disease/arthritis
Possible project(s): 1) Lyme arthritis development in B cell deficient mice; 2) Tick collection in southern Missouri; 3) Macrophage response to prostaglandins.
Dr. Elizabeth Bryda
Research area(s): Molecular genetics, development and characterization of animal models to study disease, rat and zebrafish gut microbiota analysis. Possible project(s): 1) zebrafish husbandry, behavior or microbiome studies; 2) characterization of rodent models of human disease (Polycystic Kidney Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Alzheimer’s Disease); 3) modification of oraganisms using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology.
Dr. Amie Burling (project 2 will be co-mentored by Dr. Craig Franklin
Research area(s): Clinical shelter medicine topics (infectious disease prevention ,behavioral welfare, population health, etc.)
Possible projects: 1) Leptospirosis in Missouri shelter dogs; 2) microbiomes of shelter animals
Dr. Shyam S. Chaurasia
Research area(s): Ocular immunology and angiogenesis
Possible project(s): 1) Development of a mini pig model of Diabetic Retinopathy; 2) Role of S100A8/A9 in the pathogenesis of Diabetic Retinopathy; 3) New drug targets for the treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy.
Dr. Kevin Cummings
Research area(s): CNS control of cardiorespiratory function
Possible project(s): 1) Influence of orexin on sleep architecture and the control of breathing during sleep in infancy; 2) Influence of serotonin on respiratory stability during NREM and REM sleep in infancy; 3) Mechanisms underlying the effects of central serotonin deficiency on arterial blood pressure and cardiac remodeling in adult animals.
Dr. Amy DeClue
Research area(s): Immunodysfunction and cancer
Possible projects: Investigations of the pathophysiology and potential novel treatments for treatments for cancer in dogs and cats. Research may involve clinical patients or benchtop research depending on the student’s interest.
Dr. Craig Emter
Research area(s): Utilizing exercise gene and drug therapies to treat heart failure in swine and people
Possible Project(s): Analysis of epidemiological characteristics of resistant hypertensive patients to validate a new phone app for clinical assessment of vascular stiffness.
Dr. Brian Flesner
Research area(s): Chemotherapy and epigenetic modifiers in cancer models
Possible project(s): 1) safety and efficacy of demethylating agents in a rat osteosarcoma model; 2) in vitro demethylating agents in canine osteosarcoma and lymphoma; 3) in vitro synergism of zoledronate in combination with radiation therapy for osteosarcoma; 4) circulating tumor DNA in canine mast cell tumor aspirated vs. serum.
Dr. Laurel Grisanti (web site under construction – see also)
Research area(s): G protein-coupled receptor regulation of inflammation in the heart
Possible project(s): 1) β2-Adrenergic receptor regulation of T cell responses in the heart; 2) The use of biased β2-adrenergic receptor agonists to regulated immune responses in the heart; 3) The influence of catecholamine secretion by macrophages on cardiac function; 4) Cardiac immune cell/fibroblast/myocyte crosstalk; 5) Regulation of CXCR4 by β2-adrenergic receptors.
Dr. Marcia Hart (web page under construction) – See the Metagenomics/Microbiome Laboratory
Dr. Gary Johnson (see also)
Research area(s): Molecular genetics
Possible project(s): 1) Identification of mutation(s) responsible for canine Ehlers-Danlos syndrome; 2) Identification of mutation(s) responsible for canine cataracts; 3) Identification of genetic risk factor(s) for canine epilepsy.
Dr. Rebecca A. Johnson
Research area(s): Health effects of human-companion animal interaction
Possible project(s): 1) Feline Friends Study: a randomized controlled trial with a delayed treatment group of families of a child with autism spectrum disorder; families adopt a shelter cat and the lab measures stress (fecal cortisol and behavior) in the cats and prosocial behaviors in the children; 2) the lab also engages VRSP students in a variety of other programs and studies describe on the web page.
Dr. Chris Lorson
Research area(s): Neurodegeneration; Animal models of disease; Therapeutic development
Possible project(s): 1) Analysis of novel animal models; testing compounds and viral vectors for efficacy.
Dr. Leslie Lyons
Research area(s): Comparative genetics of mammals
Possible project(s): 1) population genetics of cats, their breeds and wild populations; 2) genetic mutations causing diseases and phenotypic traits in animals (cats, horses); 3) deciphering genetic influences of resistances / susceptibilities in cats.
Dr. Tony Mann
Research area(s): Small animal emergency and critical care; small animal soft tissue surgery
Possible project(s): 1) retrospective analysis of clinical conditions or techniques; 2) prospective clinical data collection; 3) testing clinical/surgical techniques using cadaveric tissue.
Metagenomics/Microbiome Laboratory (Three prospective mentors that work together; this lab can take 2-3 scholars)
Research area(s): host-associated microbiota, host-microbe interactions, mucosal immunity, intestinal inflammation, colitis-associated colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, autism / rodent behavior, laboratory animal medicine
Possible project(s): 1) Microbiota factors in a mouse models of inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, autism and other disease models; 2) Environmental factors that can modulate microbiome;3) Impact of segmented filamentous bacteria on colorectal cancer; 4) Impact of microbiota on central nervous system development and disease.
Dr. John Middleton
Research area(s): 1) Dairy cattle mastitis; 2) Molecular epidemiology of bacterial mastitis pathogens; 3) Dairy goat mastitis;
Possible project(s): 1) Genomic and metagenomic characterization of mastitis causing bacteria in dairy cattle or goats; 2) Evaluation of udder hygiene protocols; 3) Evaluation of novel approaches to diagnosing bovine or goat intramammary infection.
Dr. Rajiv Mohan
Research area(s): Nanomedicine and Gene therapy for Corneal fibrosis and angiogenesis, Corneal Would healing, Glaucoma, Autophagy and Laminitis
Possible project(s): 1) Role of autophagy in corneal wound healing; 2) Evaluation of therapeutic potential of novel eye drops for corneal blindness; 3) Development of porcine organ culture model for studying corneal diseases; 4) Approaches for reducing complications of glaucoma filtration surgery.
Dr. Nicole Nichols (project 2 will be co-mentored by Dr. Teresa Lever and project 3 will be co-mentored by Drs. Joan Coates and Teresa Lever)
Three prospective mentors that work together; this lab can take up to three scholars.
Research area(s): Understanding how breathing and swallowing function can be restored in rodent models of motor neuron death and establishing biomarkers of dysphagia (swallowing impairment) in neurodegenerateive disease models (e.g., canine degenerative myelopathy (DM) and rodent models of motor neuron death).
Possible project(s): 1) Impact of inflammation on respiratory plasticity in a novel model of motor neuron death using immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy and/or PCR and flow cytometry; 2) Establishing TEM markers of motor neuron death and atrophy in a novel dysphagia rodent model using TEM; 3) Histological characterization of muscles associated with dysphagia at different disease stages in DM-affected dogs and rodent models of motor neuron death compared to age-matched controls using immunohistochemistry and microscopy.
Dr. Wole Odemuyiwa
Research area(s): Virology, Immunology
Possible project(s): 1) Molecular Evolution of viruses; 2) Development of diagnostic reagents; 3) Immunological basis of chronic airway inflammation.
Drs. Carol Reinero and Hans Rindt
Research area(s): Pulmonology: Respiratory and blood microbiome, respiratory infections, link between respiratory disorders and dysphagia; Immunology: Development of a tool kit of immunodiagnostics in dogs
Possible project(s): 1) Characterization of the normal airway microbiome and how it differs in different disease states in canine and feline respiratory diseases; 2) Videofluoroscopic swallow studies in healthy and dysphagic cats 3) Rapid (<12 hr) culture results in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid 4) Diagnostics relevant for adaptive immunity assessment in dogs.
Dr. Cheryl Rosenfeld
Research area(s): microbiomes, endocrine disrupting chemicals, offspring health and metabolic disorders
Possible project(s): Interested veterinary student(s) will examine how environmental chemicals and paternal diet can affect various microbiomes that might impact offspring health.
Dr. George Stewart
Research area(s): Bacterial virulence properties
Possible projects: 1) Anthrax spore maturation; 2) Virulence properties of coagulase-negative staphylococcus mastitis pathogens; 3) Host specificity in Fusobacterium necrophorum infections.
Dr. Bill Stich
Research area(s): Biology of ticks and tick-borne pathogens, with the goal of developing more effective approaches for control of tick-borne diseases that impact people and domestic animals.
Possible project(s): 1) Factors associated with tick transmissibility of rickettsial pathogens; 2) Preliminary identification of tick salivary gland molecules uniquely targeted by protective immune sera.
Dr. Chuck Wiedmeyer
Research area(s): Rodent clinical pathology, biomarker assay development
Possible project(s): 1) Improving diagnostic abilities of canine osteoarthritis; Comparison of traditional endocrine ELISA to new platforms.
Dr. Guoquan Zhang
Research area(s): Coxiella burnetii pathogenesis and vaccine development against Q fever
Possible project(s): 1) Mechanisms of vaccine-induced protective immunity; 2) Immune response to recombinant protein antigen-based vaccine; 3) Antibody response to peptide mimic vaccine; 4) Host cell-bacterial pathogen interaction.
Dr. Michael Zhang
Research area and possible project(s): 1) Diagnostic test development; 2) Vaccine development; 3) Clinical case investigation.