Comparative, Translational, and Veterinary Research
About our program
Many diseases, like cancer and heart disease, affect both pets and people. Our Translational and Comparative Medicine research focus allows us to identify common biological mechanisms across species and to use that knowledge to improve our understanding of human and animal health.
Our research is underpinned by our veterinary clinical trials program, which uses animals with naturally occurring diseases as models to develop new therapies that will benefit both animals and people. Pets are our patients, and we offer a wide variety of clinical trials for cats, dogs, and horses. We also have extensive partnerships with human-focused clinicians and researchers to allow us to translate our findings into clinical applications for human patients.
Many of the diseases we study have no effective therapies, and sometimes animals don’t respond well to existing therapies. Through our research, we aim to discover new and better methods of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment that will improve the quality of life for current and future veterinary patients.
Faculty across our Blacksburg, Roanoke, and Leesburg facilities conduct clinical research that seeks to discover new methods of prevention, diagnosis, and/or treatment of veterinary diseases and conditions. Well-designed research studies aim to benefit patients while advancing scientific knowledge and discovering new therapies and treatments for veterinary diseases. Our areas of research strength include brain tumors, equine lameness, mitral valve disease, thyroid dysfunction in cats, and novel therapies and devices for cancer treatment.
We aim to improve the quality of life for future patients and unlock new discoveries related to human and animal health. Many times clinical trials offer hope for a patient when other options have failed. In addition, certain studies may offer a financial incentive that covers costs such as hospital visits, surgery, or medicines. For more information or to determine if your pet qualifies for a trial, contact the Veterinary Clinical Research Office.
In addition to providing high-quality consultations to veterinarians on the nutritional management of healthy or sick small and large animal patients, our nutrition service conducts research in a variety of areas related to diet, weight, activity, and health. With interests as varied as the gut microbiome of horses and the use of food toys to manage obesity in cats, our researchers seek to optimize the health of our veterinary patients.
The Center for Animal Human Relationships (CENTAUR) is an academic center conducting instructional, research, and outreach programs designed to foster a greater understanding of the mutual benefits associated with human-animal interaction.
Regenerative medicine is a medical approach that seeks to restore both structure and function of tissues lost to injury, disease, or congenital defects. Researchers at our Blacksburg and Leesburg facilities are conducting regenerative medicine research on topics ranging from blood vessels to tendon, ligament, and cartilage healing to traumatic brain injuries, and turning promising ideas into innovative treatments for a variety of conditions.
From laboratory to clinic
Our Equine Medical Center’s Regenerative Medicine Service takes laboratory findings into the clinic where regenerative therapies promote healing in both horses and dogs. The center is using a wide range of techniques, such as extracting stem cells from bone marrow to regrow tissue, injecting concentrated levels of platelets from a patient’s blood to start the healing process, and performing surgery to stimulate the body’s own ability to regenerate.
Interdisciplinary graduate education
Our Regenerative Medicine Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (IGEP) at Virginia Tech provides students the opportunity to conduct specialized research in stem cell biology, biomaterials, modeling and experimental design, business and public policy, or science studies as related to regenerative medicine. The program trains scholars in the pursuit of translational research that will have maximal impact on human and veterinary patient care and disease management.
Stem Cell Initiative
Our Stem Cell Initiative is an interdisciplinary program bringing together researchers and clinicians to explore potential benefits of stem cell research and therapies in both animal and human health. The goals of the initiative are to facilitate collaboration among faculty and graduate students interested in stem cell biology; understand the basic biological properties of stem cells in tissue homeostasis, their significance in cancer progression and treatment, and their role in tissue regeneration; examine the potential role of stem cells in curative therapies for nervous system injuries, blood and musculoskeletal disorders, cancer, heart disease and diabetes; and investigate the impact of stem cells on iPS technology, tissue engineering, and nanotechnology.
Center for Regenerative Medicine
VA-MD Vet Med entered into a research agreement with the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in 2011 to form the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest Center for Veterinary Regenerative Medicine. Through the center, we are engaged in ongoing collaborations in translational regenerative medicine research to facilitate the application of cutting-edge treatments in both animal and human patients.
Faculty research team
Bio ItemIlektra Athanasiadi, DVM, Dr Med Vet, MS, DACVR–Radiation Oncology , bio
Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology
Bio ItemOrsolya Balogh, DVM, PhD, DACT , bio
Associate Professor, Theriogenology; JoAnne S. O'Brien Professor of Theriogenology
Bio ItemJennifer G. Barrett, DVM, PhD, DACVS, DACVSMR , bio
Theodora Ayer Randolph Professor, Equine Surgery
Bio ItemAndrea S. Bertke, PhD , bio
Associate Professor, Infectious Diseases
Bio ItemMichele Borgarelli, DVM, PhD, DECVIM–Companion Animals (Cardiology) , bio
Professor, Cardiology; Director, Comparative Cardiovascular Laboratory
Bio ItemTimothy Bolton, DVM, DACVIM , bio
Clinical Assistant Professor, Small Animal Internal Medicine
Bio ItemVirginia Buechner-Maxwell, DVM, MS, DACVIM , bio
Professor, Large Animal Internal Medicine
Bio ItemChris Byron, DVM, MS, DACVS , bio
Associate Professor, Large Animal Surgery
Bio ItemJulie T. Cecere, DVM, MS, DACT , bio
Clinical Associate Professor, Theriogenology
Bio ItemLinda A. Dahlgren, DVM, PhD, DACVS , bio
Professor, Large Animal Surgery
Bio ItemStefanie M. DeMonaco, DVM, MS, DACVIM , bio
Assistant Professor, Small Animal Internal Medicine
Bio ItemNick Dervisis, DVM, PhD, DACVIM–Oncology , bio
Associate Professor, Medical Oncology
Bio ItemDavid C. Grant, DVM, MS, DACVIM , bio
Associate Professor, Small Animal Internal Medicine
Bio ItemJia-Qiang He, PhD , bio
Associate Professor, Stem Cell Physiology
Bio ItemWilliam R. Huckle, MS, PhD , bio
Associate Professor, Cell Biology/Pharmacology
Bio ItemMaureen Kelleher, DVM, CVA, DACVS , bio
Clinical Assistant Professor, Sports Medicine and Surgery
Bio ItemShawna Klahn, DVM, DACVIM–Oncology , bio
Associate Professor, Medical Oncology
Bio ItemSunshine M. Lahmers, DVM, PhD, DACVIM–Cardiology , bio
Clinical Associate Professor, Cardiology
Bio ItemMartha M. Larson, DVM, MS, DACVR , bio
Professor, Radiology; Service Chief, Radiology
Bio ItemOtto I. Lanz, DVM, DACVS , bio
Professor, Small Animal Surgery
Bio ItemMichael T. Nappier, DVM, DABVP–Canine/Feline Practice , bio
Clinical Associate Professor, Community Practice
Bio ItemJohn H. Rossmeisl, Jr., DVM, MS, DACVIM–Internal Medicine, Neurology , bio
Interim Director, Animal Cancer Care and Research Center; Associate Department Head, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences; Dr. and Mrs. Dorsey Taylor Mahin Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery
Bio ItemWilliam S. Swecker, Jr., DVM, PhD, DACVN , bio
Director, Veterinary Teaching Hospital; Professor, Production Management Medicine / Clinical Nutrition
Bio ItemMichelle H. Theus, PhD , bio
Associate Professor, Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology
Bio ItemJoanne Tuohy, DVM, PhD, DACVS–Small Animal , bio
Assistant Professor, Surgical Oncology
Bio ItemSharon Witonsky, DVM, PhD, DACVIM , bio
Associate Professor, Equine Field Service
Bio ItemKurt Zimmerman, DVM, PhD, DACVP–Clinical and Anatomic Pathology , bio
Professor, Pathology / Informatics