Focus on Faculty:
Dr. Tom Cecere

Dr. Tom Cecere

Dr. Tom Cecere (DVM ’05, PhD ’12)

Dr. Tom Cecere (DVM ’05, PhD ’12) is an assistant professor of anatomic pathology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. He completed a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at Virginia Tech before pursuing his doctor of veterinary medicine degree at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary College. After completing an anatomic pathology residency at North Carolina State University, Cecere earned a doctorate in viral immunology at the veterinary college. He joined the college faculty in 2012 and holds a board certification in anatomic pathology from the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.

Roanoke, Virginia

What are your current responsibilities at the college? If you teach, what do you teach?
As with many of our faculty, I have responsibilities in clinical service, teaching, and research. I work in the veterinary teaching hospital as a diagnostic pathologist on the surgical biopsy and necropsy services. I teach fourth-year veterinary students in the laboratory services clerkship as a part of the necropsy service, and I teach pathology in the first and second year of the DVM curriculum. I am also the anatomic pathology residency coordinator for Virginia-Maryland Vet Med and enjoy training pathology residents. When I put on my research hat, I share a lab with Dr. Tanya LeRoith, where we study viral immunology, and I serve as a collaborative researcher on several different projects. 

When did you come to the college, and what brought you here?
I first came to this college in April, 1999 as a high school student visiting the annual Open House. I was about ready to send my acceptance letter to the University of Virginia for college, but I was so enthralled with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine that I chose to attend Virginia Tech instead. Since then, I have been associated with this college as a veterinary student (DVM class of 2005), a graduate student (Ph.D. 2012), and now as a faculty member. The faculty of this college truly makes it excellent, and I am delighted to be a part of that group. Plus, the serene beauty of southwest Virginia helps too.

What interests you about your field?
When I was a veterinary student I noticed that pathologists always seemed to know everything about every species, and I gravitated toward them. The comparative nature of pathology and the challenge of diagnostic medicine particularly fascinate me; this makes teaching veterinary students and residents very enjoyable.

What is your area of research? Why did you decide to focus on that area?
My research focuses on discovering how viral pathogens of swine alter the host immune response such that they can avoid detection and cause more severe disease. This is important for improving methods of treatment and prevention, including novel vaccine development. I developed an interest in pig diseases during my pathology residency at North Carolina State University and was fortunate to find a world-renowned swine research program here at Virginia-Maryland Vet Med for my graduate school work.

Hobbies or interests outside of the college?
Now that our son ambulates on his own, my wife and I enjoy following him around our farm and experiencing life through the eyes of a toddler. We’re working on our spring garden at the moment. I have played the violin since I was four years old and enjoy playing chamber music with Dr. Marion Ehrich and other members of our community several nights a month.

What is one thing students may not know about you?
When I was in high school, I was a cabinmate of Josh Groban’s [the Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and musician] for a summer at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Michigan.

In 2012, Dr. Tom Cecere completed his doctorate in viral immunology at the college through a National Institutes of Health training grant program designed to address the shortage of veterinarians who conduct biomedical research.