Potential SVSRP Mentors

Potential Mentors - Research Areas & Contact Information

Potential mentors from the faculty at VA-MD Vet Med and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are listed below with a brief description of their research interest. Detailed information is available through the links provided. Applicants may contact these faculty to discuss their application and research interests.

These faculty were selected because they have active research funding (mostly from NIH) as well as substantial experience in mentoring research trainees at the pre- and post-doctoral level.

Immunology and Inflammation Team

Ansar Ahmed, DVM, PhD, Head of Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology and Professor of Immunology (ansrahmd@vt.edu, 540-231-5591). By using relevant animal models for inflammation and autoimmune diseases, the laboratory focus is to investigate: (1) the molecular basis of how pro-inflammatory cytokines are induced and decipher aberrant cell signaling events; (2) why these disorders occur predominantly in females? and (3) the role of microRNAs in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Josep Bassaganya-Riera, DVM, PhD Associate Professor in the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (jbassaga@vbi.vt.edu, 540-231-7421). Leads the Nutritional Immunology and Molecular Nutrition Group, a transdisciplinary research group working at the interface of nutrition, immunology, and inflammation.

Marion Ehrich, PhD Professor of Toxicology/Pharmacology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (marion@vt.edu, 540-231-4938). Derivatized fullerenes for their capability to ameliorate acute toxicities and decrease dermal penetration of organophosphorus (OP) surrogates for chemical threat agents.

Terry Hrubec, DVM, PhD Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy in the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Adjunct faculty in the College of Veterinary Medicine (thrubec@vcom.vt.edu, 540-231-1702). Determining the mechanisms regulating embryonic and fetal development to create interventions that can prevent birth defects caused by environmental contaminants in drinking water that may be causing fetal malformations in rodents.

Matthew Hulver, PhD Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (hulvermw@vt.edu, 540-231-7354). Role of local pro-inflammatory responses in skeletal muscle metabolic dysregulation.

Liwu Li, PhD, Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (lwli@vt.edu, 540-231-1433). Molecular and cellular mechanism underlying the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases such as sepsis and atherosclerosis.

Xin Luo, PhD, Assistant Professor of Immunology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (xinluo@vt.edu, 540-231-0977). The research interests in the Luo Laboratory are immunological and microbial regulation of autoimmunity and immunodeficiency. On the immunological side, we are interested in the roles of dendritic cells in inflammation; while on the microbial side, we focus on how commensal bacteria in the gut affect the host immune system, and vice versa. We utilize murine models and human patient samples to study various diseases including systemic lupus erythematosus and primary immunodeficiencies.

Christopher Reilly, Associate Professor and Discipline Chair of Physiology in the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Adjunct faculty in the College of Veterinary Medicine (creilly@vcom.vt.edu, 540-231-5345). Defining the molecular mechanisms and signal transduction cascades involved in inflammation associated with lupus nerphritis.

Infectious Disease Team

Andrew Allison, MS, PhD, Assistant Professor of Molecular Virology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (aba25@vt.edu, 540-231-7949). Mechanisms of virus evolution and emergence, host range and cross-species transmission of viruses, and wildlife virology and emerging zoonotic viral diseases.

Clayton Caswell, PhD, Assistant Professor of Bacteriology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (caswellc@vt.edu, 540-231-5591).  Roles of small regulatory RNAs in the biology of Brucella spp.; mechanism of interactions between bacteria and hosts; common regulatory pathways in related bacteria

Thomas Inzana, PhD Tyler J. and Francis F. Young Chair of Bacteriology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (tinzana@vt.edu, 540-231-4692). Bacterial pathogens, including the select agents Francisella tularensis and Burkholderia mallei, MRSA, and the bovine respiratory pathogen Histophilus somni, the latter as a model to study biofilm formation in the natural host.

Tanya LeRoith, DVM, PhD Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (tleroith@vt.edu, 540-231-7627). Immunopathogenesis of viral diseases and how viruses modulate the immune system to cause disease.

XJ Meng, M.D., PhD, University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (xjmeng@vt.edu, 540-231-6912). Molecular mechanisms of viral replication and pathogenesis and the development of vaccines against emerging and zoonotic viral diseases, including Hepatitis E.

Frank Pierson, DVM, PhD Professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences (pierson@vt.edu, 540-231-7823). Infectious diseases of poultry, particularly in the pathophysiology of multi-factorial diseases, the classification and pathophysiology of the genus Siadenovirus, and Salmonella bioremediation on poultry products.

Namalwar Sriranganathan, BVSc., MVSc, PhD Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (nathans@vt.edu, 540-231-7171). Develop alternate treatment strategies by improving the bioavailability of therapeutic agents and by targeting specific cells using block-copolymers and amorphous nanoparticles.

Dr. Sharon Witonsky

Sharon Witonsky, DVM, PhD Associate Professor in Equine Field Service in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (switonsk@vt.edu, 540-231-2773). Host immune response to infectious diseases, primarily with the most prevalent zoonotic disease, Brucella.

Population Health Sciences

Kaja M. Abbas, MS, MPH, PhD, Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases in Public Health in the Department of Population Health Sciences (kaja.abbas@vt.edu, 540-231-1865). Systems science modeling of public health dynamics, focusing on infectious disease epidemiology

Andrea S. Bertke, PhD, Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases in Public Health in the Department of Population Health Sciences (asbertke@vt.edu, 540-231-2707).  Pathogenesis, latency, and reactivation of herpes simplex viruses, comparing HSV1 and HSV2; development of antivirals to prevent reactivation; autonomic nervous system pathways; interactions between nociceptors and autonomic neurons.

Stephen Eubank, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences (seubank@vbi.vt.edu, 540-231-2504).  Computational modeling and simulation of sociotechnical system, especially its application to infectious disease epidemiology.

Julia Gohlke, PhD, Associate Professor of Environmental Health in the Department of Population Health Sciences (jgohlke@vt.edu, 540-231-7880).  Human health implications of global environmental change, human health risk assessment and communication after large-scale environmental disasters, bioinformatic and alternative model techniques for disseminating the molecular underpinnings of environmental effects on human health, and quantitative methods for estimating interspecies differences in brain development.

Integrative Oncology

Irving C. Allen, MS, MBA, PhD, Assistant Professor of Inflammatory Disease in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (icallen@vt.edu, 540-231-7551). Cancer immunology; animal models of innate immunity; animal models of allergic disease; host-pathogen interactions

Nick Dervisis, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVIM: Oncology (Dervisis@vt.edu).  Translational research – modeling of neoplastic processes using spontaneously-arising canine and feline cancers; Pharmacogenetics – effect of genetic polymorphic variants at the metabolism and kinetics of anti-cancer agents.

Eva Schmelz, PhD Associate Professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (eschmelz@vt.edu, 540-231-3649). Use of dietary sphingolipids in cancer prevention.

Edward Smith, PhD Professor in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (esmith@vt.edu, 540-231-6797). Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in eukaryotic genomes, including human and different avian species.

Translational & Regenerative Medicine

Linda Dahlgren, DVM, PhD Associate Professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (lad11@vt.edu, 540-231-5234). Mesenchymal stem cells and tissue engineering in tendon/wound biology and healing.

Jia-Qiang He, PhD, Assistant Professor of Stem Cell Physiology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (jiahe@vt.edu, 540-231-2032). Controlled cardiac lineage differentiation of embryonic stem cells, iPSCs & adult cardiac stem cells; iPSC reprograming and characterization; Electrophysiological and functional maturity of stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes.

Terry Swecker, DVM, PhD Professor and Interim Director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (cvmwss@vt.edu, 540-231-7375). Translational science from lab to clinic.

Neuropathobiology Team

John H. Rossmeisl, Jr., DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM: Internal Medicine and Neurology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (jrossmei@vt.edu).  Vascular biology and tumor angiogenesis; primary brain neoplasms; traumatic brain injury; endocrinology.

Michelle Theus, PhD, Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (mtheus@vt.edu).  Stem cell therapies for adult central nervous system repair following traumatic injury.