VM8054 Veterinary Histology

Biography of Thomas Caceci

Author: Dr. Thomas Caceci

Dr. Caceci is a native of New York City, and thus one of the very few members of a veterinary faculty who can truthfully say that he saw his first cow in the Bronx Zoo.

At the age of 6 he began serving a sentence of 8 years to life at the Elizabeth Seton Academy, a Catholic grammar school. Today he attributes his ability to spell, and some really interesting scars, to the nuns who taught there. In 1961 he managed to cut through the barbed wire, avoid recapture, and make his escape into the New York City public school system. He was a 1965 Honor Graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, a National Merit Scholarship Finalist, and recipient of a New York State Regents Scholarship, much to everyone's surprise, especially his own.

From 1965 to 1969 he attended Kenyon College, a small liberal arts men's school in Ohio, majoring in biology with emphasis on ecology and structural biology. Upon being shoved out the door in 1969 with an A.B. degree in his major (and a minor in English) he entered into a hiatus in his education, by enlisting in the United States Air Force at the request of his Uncle Sam. He served with very modest distinction and in return for his military service he received two decorations, a 10-point Civil Service preference, four years of G.I. Bill support, and a Veterans' Administration mortgage on the house he lives in.

Upon separation from the Air Force in 1974 he resumed his studies as an older "non-traditional" graduate student in the Department of Biology at Georgetown University, where he was lucky enough to become a student of Dr. George B. Chapman, one of the early pioneers in electron microscopy. He received his Ph.D. in May 1980, and then had finally to go find a real job. While in graduate school he worked for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; was one of the first employees of the FDA's Bureau of Medical Devices and Diagnostic Products. In 1980, tired of banging his head against the wall, he turned his back on Federal Civil Service in order to return to an academic career. He spent two years as an American Heart Association Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the George Washington University College of Medicine, leaving there in 1982 to teach briefly at Prince Georges County (MD) Community College.

With this scalp on his belt he moved into the major leagues in his first full-time faculty position at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Fleeing the Lone Star State in April 1987 after five years, he assumed his current position at the Virginia/Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. He plans to leave Blacksburg, "...when they carry me out in a box, and even then I'm not going any farther than Westview Cemetery on Harding Avenue."

He is a Founding Faculty member of the Virginia Tech/Carilion School of Medicine, having been involved from its earliest planning stages. He is an Associate Professor of Basic Sciences, and a member of the Admissions Committee.

Dr. Caceci's principal responsibility at the VMRCVM is teaching in the first-year DVM program. He wrote the syllabi for the courses in Veterinary Histology and Early Embryology. He's Course Leader for the former, and until Academic Year 1992-93 was Course Leader in Early Embryology as well. He has also taught Physiology, elective courses in marine mammal biomedicine and capture/restraint techniques, and has graduate courses in electron microscopy and membrane biology. He supervises independent-study projects for MS and Ph.D. graduate students. He received a College award for teaching excellence in 1990,and for many years he's also worked with undergraduates from Radford University's Department of Biology, conducting a twice-yearly demonstration laboratory to give them "hands-on" experience in using an electron microscope.

Active in international education, he has been a Visiting Foreign Faculty member at three Egyptian universities, visiting Egypt periodically to serve as a co-supervisor for PhD dissertation defenses. In 1998 he was a Fulbright Scholar in India, lecturing in Comparative Physiology at Mangalore University, and developing teaching software for the International College of Health Sciences in Manipal.

He's an anatomist, electron microscopist, and aquatic-animal biologist with a long-standing interest in structure-function relationships. His Ph.D. dissertation was a study of the effects of insecticide pollution on fish, and he's published many papers on the structure of the digestive tract in teleosts and crustacea. While at TAMU he developed an interest in the phenomenon of biological antifreezes found in Arctic fishes, and the possibility of using genetic engineering to design artificial proteins with improved ice-suppression properties. Initial design experiments started at TAMU but active lab work began at the VMRCVM in mid-1989 and his research group succeeded in developing a synthetic antifreeze protein with enhanced activity, for which he has been granted two US Patents (#5,932,697 & #5,925,540 ). His research program and its accomplishments earned him the Smith-Kline Beecham Award for Excellence in Research in 1994, and have been the subject of articles in many national media outlets. The attention he's received has led him to observe that, "Self-confidence is the warm glow you feel when you realize that, so far, nobody suspects anything."

Dr. Caceci serves as Director of the VMRCVM's Morphology Research Laboratory. He maintains a strong and continuing interest in the technical aspects of microscopy, and has published several papers on novel methods and quantitative techniques.

Has has long been a member and an officer of the American Association of Veterinary Anatomists, having been its President, Corresponding Secretary, Program Chairman, and a member of the AAVA executive committee since 1989. His peripheral interests in history and marine mammals have resulted in his giving presentations on the history of the American whaling industry to numerous lay and semi-professional groups. His personal hobbies include outdoors sports, especially hunting, fishing, and gun collecting. He has made two African safaris as of the date of this writing and has a third in the planning stages. He and his wife Susan live in Blacksburg. They have three extremely spoiled dogs, because, as he explains, "A spoiled dog is a better watchdog: he has more to lose."


| Susan |Tycho | Meg | Tessa | Toby | Tucker | Dante | Penny |

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VM8054 Veterinary Histology