Research by Dr. X.J. Meng, University Distinguished Professor, includes the development of vaccines against emerging and zoonotic viral diseases, including Hepatitis E.

Our largest research program is focused on the study of viruses. Scientists on our Blacksburg and College Park campuses are studying a variety of viruses, including hepatitis E (human, swine, and avian), porcine circovirus (PCV), porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), rotavirus, and Newcastle Disease virus (NDV).

Funded by the NIH, USDA, Gates Foundation, and industry partners, projects involve investigation of virus structure and function, disease pathogenesis, host defense responses and development of control strategies. The latter employs a number of innovative approaches, such as effects of probiotics on rotavirus immunity, development of recombinant DNA and virus-like particle vaccines, evaluation of mucosal adjuvants and novel delivery systems to enhance the efficacy of mucosal vaccines using a gnotobiotic pig model, and use of NDV as a vehicle for delivery of viral antigens in development of human vaccines.


Research by Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan, professor of bacteriology, targets infectious diseases, such as brucellosis, tuberculosis, and salmonellosis.

Our college has established a national reputation for accomplishments in the study of bacteria, particularly for the development of vaccines against brucellosis, a disease that causes spontaneous abortions in cattle. Current research involves continued work on Brucella vaccines and using them as platforms for second-generation vaccines for other diseases, such as tuberculosis and paratuberculosis.

Other projects focus on the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and control of Histophilus somni, Haemophilus parasuis, Pasteurella multocida, and Francisella tularensis; the use of photogenic biosensors in diagnosis of infectious diseases; and methods of targeted drug delivery using nanoparticles as carriers.

Center for One Health Research

The Center for One Health Research (COHR) gathers faculty, staff, and students from VA-MD Vet Med and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine who have a shared interest in cooperative research and scholarship related to infectious diseases. This collaboration is founded on the two schools’ One Health philosophy, which is based on the understanding that animal health, human health, and the environment are inextricably linked; consequently, professionals from these fields must work together to protect, promote, and improve overall health. The center coordinates research, instruction, and outreach activities related to understanding the disease processes that affect both animal and human health, and supports the continued advancement of the science and technology of disease-intervention strategies.

In 2020, significant renovations were completely to robustly grow VA-MD Vet Med's research program in infectious diseases. The COHR's research laboratories were renovated to accommodate a large research team led by Dr. Mohamed Seleem, a newly recruited endowed chair in bacteriology. In addition, investments were made to improve the COHR's equipment, administrative infrastructure/operations, and animal facilities and support for ACE2 murine models for COVID researchers.

Faculty research team

Andrea Bertke, PhD
Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases
Department of Population Health Sciences
Research focus
: Comparing the mechanisms by which HSV-1 and HSV-2 establish latent infection and reactivate to cause different presentations and outcomes of recurrent disease, and the role of the autonomic nervous system in these processes

Clayton Caswell, PhD
Associate Professor of Bacteriology
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Research focus: Roles of small regulatory RNAs (AbcR1 and AbcR2) in the biology of Brucella spp., mechanism of interactions between bacteria and hosts, and common regulatory pathways in related bacteria

Tanya LeRoith, DVM, PhD, DACVP
Clinical Professor of Pathology
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Research focus: Immunopathogenesis of viral diseases and how viruses modulate the immune system to cause disease

X.J. Meng, MD, PhD
University Distinguished Professor, Molecular Virology
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Meng Laboratory→
Research focus: Molecular mechanisms of viral replication and pathogenesis and the development of vaccines against emerging and zoonotic viral diseases, including Hepatitis E

Siba K. Samal, PhD
Professor of Virology
Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland
Research focus: Molecular characterization of new and emerging avian paramyxoviruses, engineering avian paramyxoviruses as vaccine vectors against animal and human pathogens, and development of vaccines against avian paramyxoviruses using reverse genetics system

Mohamed Seleem, DVM, MS, PhD
Professor,  Tyler J. and Frances F. Young Chair in Bacteriology
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Seleem Laboratory→
Research focus: Developing new antimicrobials and improving delivery of drugs for the treatment of infectious diseases; developing novel methods for early detection and identification of a single bacterium/fungus in a complex environment  animals

Stephen A. Smith, DVM, PhD
Professor of Aquatic, Wildlife, and Exotic Animal Medicine
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Smith Laboratory→
Research focus: Diseases, pathology and welfare of finfish and invertebrates, piscine mycobacteriosis, fish immunology, hematology, pharmacokinetics, and clinical medicine of fish and other non-domestic animals

Nammalwar Sriranganathan, BVSc, MVSc, PhD, DACVM
Professor of Bacteriology
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Research focus: Develop alternate treatment strategies by improving the bioavailability of therapeutic agents and by targeting specific cells using block-copolymers and amorphous nanoparticles. Infectious diseases targeted in his research include brucellosis, tuberculosis, and salmonellosis

Sharon Witonsky, DVM, PhD, DACVIM
Associate Professor, Equine Field Service
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences
Research focus: Host immune response to infectious diseases, involving both Brucella and Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis

Lijuan Yuan, PhD
Professor of Virology and Immunology
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Yuan Laboratory→
Research focus: Animal models for human enteric viral diseases; using gnotobiotic pig models of human rotavirus, norovirus and Clostridioides difficile infection and disease to study pathogenesis, immunity, and vaccines against the enteric pathogens

Anne Zajac, DVM, MS, PhD
Professor Emerita of Parasitology
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Research focus: Gastrointestinal parasites, especially host-parasite relationships and control of nematodes of grazing animals; Giardia infection in dogs and cats