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Director Dr. Scott Laster
Phone: 919-515-7958
Email: scott_laster@ncsu.edu

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Faculty List

Almond, Glen, DVM, MSc, PhD

Department of Population Health and Pathobiology
NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 513-6370
E-mail: glen_almond@ncsu.edu

We are currently establishing methods to characterize porcine T-lymphocyte subpopulations for two different studies. One involves evaluation of the T cells in weaned pigs following vaccination with a novel adjuvant; the other focuses on the influence of stress on T-lymphocyte populations and immunity in young pigs. Lymphocyte trapping is associated with stress, and we plan to explore this perturbation of the immune system. In addition, other studies focus on understanding the physiological roles of tumor necrosis factor and prostaglandin-E prior to and after the initiation of luteolysis. We are examining the significance of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) in porcine corpus luteum. We utilize RT-PCR and additional genomic methodologies to characterize the expression of the factors and their receptors. We anticipate that future studies will determine the respective signal transduction pathways and re-visit the influence of the cytokines and the immune system on corpus luteum function.

Birkenheuer, Adam, DVM, PhD

Department of Clinical Sciences
NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 513-8288
E-mail: ajbirken@ncsu.edu

My research is focused on companion animal infectious diseases. Tick-transmitted protozoan parasites are emerging infectious diseases causing substantial morbidity and mortality worldwide. Our studies address discovery and characterization of novel pathogens, development of improved diagnostic assays, enhanced understanding of the epidemiology of tick-transmitted protozoan parasites, and identification of treatment strategies resulting in significantly improved survival rates.

Breitschwerdt, Ed, DVM

Department of Clinical Sciences
NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 919-513-8277
E-mail: ed_breitschwerdt@ncsu.edu

My research interests are focused in the area of infectious diseases, with a particular emphasis on diagnostic, therapeutic, and immunopathologic aspects of zoonotic vector-transmitted bacterial and rickettsial diseases. The laboratory has contributed substantially to current understanding of Rickettsia rickettsii, Ehrlichia canis, and Bartonella vinsonii infection in dogs and Bartonella henselae in cats. We are currently capable of handling biosafety P3-level. It is increasingly obvious that vector borne pathogens contribute to a substantial quantity of animal and human disease and suffering. In most instances the immunopathologic consequences of infection with one or simultaneous infection with multiple vector-transmitted infectious agents remains unknown. It is our goal to better define the clinical consequences of chronic infection with these organisms.

Dean, Gregg, DVM, PhD

Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences
NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 513-2819
E-mail: gregg_dean@ncsu.edu

My research focuses on the immunopathogenesis and prevention of human and feline immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV and FIV, respectively).  FIV is a valuable model of human immunodeficiency virus infection in people and represents a significant health threat to the feline population world-wide.  We are investigating the role of innate immune defects induced by HIV/FIV infection.  These studies focus on the function of dendritic cells, natural killer cells, and Toll-like receptors in the immunopathogenesis of opportunistic infections during chronic retroviral infection.  Ongoing vaccine studies seek to employ recombinant bacteria as vaccine vectors.  We are evaluating recombinant Lactobacillus spp. engineered to express FIV/HIV Gag and consensus Env genes as a means to provide effective mucosal and systemic immune responses through oral immunization.

Fogle, Jonathan, DVM, PhD

Department of Population Health and Pathobiology
NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 513-6304
E-mail: jonathan_fogle@ncsu.edu

Using the FIV model for HIV, we have shown that CD4+CD25+ T regulatory cells are constitutively activated and suppress CD4+CD25- T helper cell immune responses during the acute phase and chronic phase of infection. Results of our recent experiments indicate that CD4+CD25+ T regulatory cells suppress the CD8+ immune response during the acute and chronic stages of FIV infection.  We are currently investigating the mechanism(s) of CD8+ cell mediated suppression and the intracellular signaling events that occur in CD8+ targets, following their interaction with activated CD4+CD25+ cell from FIV+ cats.

Gilmour, Ian, BSc, PhD

Cardiopulmonary and Immunotoxicology Branch
Environmental Public Health Division
National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Research Triangle Park, NC 27711
Phone: (919) 541-0015
E-mail: Gilmour.Ian@epamail.epa.gov

We study the effect of air pollutant exposure on pulmonary immunity and subsequent development of allergic and infectious lung disease.  Air pollutants are generated in the inhalation exposure facility at the EPA which has the capability to aerosolize simple gases and vapors, various particles including nanomaterials, as well as fossil fuel combustion emissions.  The staff also operates mobile field sampling laboratories that collect size-fractionated particles from various locations across the country.  The relative toxicity of various air pollutants are compared and then applied in animal models of asthma, influenza, or cardiac dysfunction.  Parallel studies are conducted with in vitro systems in order to extrapolate between cell based and whole body responses for the purposes of predicting potential effects in humans.

Hammerberg, Bruce, DVM, PhD

Department of Population Health and Pathobiology
NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 513-7712
E-mail: bruce_hammerberg@ncsu.edu

My current research expertise is in allergic diseases and nematode biology. Regarding allergic disease research, we have developed canine x murine heterohybridomas. One of these produces canine monoclonal IgE specific for a filarial nematode antigen. Another produces canine IgG antibody specific for canine IgE. Using these tools, I have developed mouse monoclonal antibodies against heat stable epitopes of canine IgE and have the opportunity to make canine monoclonal antibodies against canine IgE epitopes that will be useful in preventing allergic disease in the dog. The unlimited supply of canine IgE of known antigen specificity has directed my research toward characterizing inherited differences in mast cell function in the dog, and at this time I am investigating the role of stem cell factor in inherited canine atopic dermatitis.
My work with filarial nematodes over the last 25 years has recently turned to investigating how fatty acid binding proteins function in nematode physiology.

Havell, Edward, PhD

Department of Population Health and Pathobiology
NCSU College Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 515-6184
E-mail: ed_havell@ncsu.edu

The major objective of our research is to determine the roles that tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and host cells play in both innate and adaptive immunity to enteric bacterial pathogens. To study possible roles of cytokines and host cells in anti-bacterial resistance, specific inhibitors (e.g., anti-cytokine antibodies) that block the actions of a given cytokine or host cell are administered before or at progressive times during bacterial infection in mice. The subsequent course of infection is monitored to determine the effect of such treatment on bacterial pathogenesis. The long-range goal of our research is to acquire an understanding of how TNF, IFN-gamma, and host cells having anti-bacterial function interact in the defense of the host against bacterial pathogens. Studies are underway to develop a reproducible model of inflammatory bowel disease that will enable the study of the roles of cytokines and host cells in chronic inflammatory intestinal disease.  Finally, we have generated an avirulent Listeria monocytogenes mutant that does not translocate from the intestinal lumen but induces very strong protective T cell-mediated anti-listerial immunity.  We plan to evaluate this avirulent mutant as an orally administered vaccine platform to present secreted recombinant tuberculosis antigens to the intestinal immune system in order to elicit protective anti-TB T cell immunity

Hess, Paul, DVM, PhD

Department of Clinical Sciences
NCSU, College of Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 513-6183
E-mail: paul_hess@ncsu.edu

My principal interests are CD8-positive T cell immunology and immunotherapy. One focus of the laboratory is examining how the interaction of the MHC class I molecule and the T cell receptor can be manipulated to induce stable tolerance in animal models of autoimmunity and allotransplantation. The second focus is the discovery of new peptide epitopes in viral diseases. Lastly, we are investigating novel clinical predictors of chemotherapy-induced toxicity in the dog.

Hudson, Lola C., DVM, PhD

Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences
NCSU College Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 513-6306
E-mail: lola_hudson@ncsu.edu

Research in this laboratory focuses on the study of viral neuropathogenesis and blood-brain barrier (BBB) function. We are currently investigating feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which has divergent mechanisms of CNS entry, as a model for AIDS neuropathogenesis. We have developed an in vitro feline blood-brain barrier model system to determine the conditions under which immune cells in normal and FIV-infected animals are capable of penetrating the BBB. Additional studies focus on characteristics of attaching cells and mechanisms of attachment to the barrier such as up-regulation of specific adhesion molecules. Additionally, in vivo studies parallel in vitro studies with the aim of increasing detection of neural infection during the early stages of disease. We are currently focusing on various cognitive-motor behavioral tests in normal and infected cats to determine acute losses in neurologic function. Such tests can then be used to assess the efficacy of various therapeutics to delay or prevent CNS infection.

Jones, Samuel L., DVM, PhD

Department of Clinical Sciences
NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh NC 27606
Phone: (919) 513-7722
E-mail: sam_jones@ncsu.edu

My research interests focus on how inflammation is triggered and regulated and how inflammation contributes to the pathophysiology of diseases such as colitis, equine colic, sepsis, and endotoxemia.  A primary objective of our work is to understand the cellular and molecular details of cell migration with a focus on the key innate immune cell, the neutrophil.  We are particularly interested in how the signaling molecules protein kinase A, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, and p38 and the actin binding proteins MARCKS, VASP, and L-plastin regulate the actin cytoskeleton, integrin function, and signaling during migration of neutrophils and other cell types.  We use human and equine primary cells, cell lines, and in vivo models including mice and zebrafish for these studies. We are also studying how inflammation is triggered and how pro-inflammatory genes, particularly genes in the prostaglandin synthesis cascade that encode cyclooxygenase-2 and prostaglandin synthase-1, are upregulated in equine leukocytes. In collaborative work, we are studying the effects of neutrophils and inflammatory mediators on intestinal mucosal repair following ischemic injury that occurs in some forms of equine colic.

Koci, Matt, PhD

Department of Poultry Science
NCSU Scott Hall, Campus Box 7608
Raleigh, NC 27695
Phone: (919) 515-5388
E-mail: mdkoci@unity.ncsu.edu

The overall focus of my research is to understand how the immune system responds to viral challenges. The majority of our work focuses on the innate aspects of host resistance to viral infection, particularly addressing how the innate immune system recognizes and responds to infection and thus can have profound affects on the adaptive immune response and ultimately the outcome of the infection. Understanding how stimulation of the innate immune system leads to different clinical outcomes is critical to understanding the genetic basis of disease resistance.

Laster, Scott M., PhD- Immunology Program Director

Department of Microbiology
NCSU Gardner Hall, Campus Box 7615
Raleigh, NC 27695
Phone: (919) 515-7958
E-mail: scott_laster@ncsu.edu

Research in my laboratory focuses on the anti-viral immune response. One aspect of this response currently under investigation is the apoptosis-inducing activity of tumor necrosis factor (TNF). TNF is a product of many cells, including macrophages and monocytes, and is released by these cells during infection. TNF is able to act in an anti-viral manner by causing the death of infected cells before virus replication is complete, thereby reducing the number of infectious virions that are produced. The apoptosis-inducing activity of TNF is selective for infected cells because these cells are unable to transcribe appropriate levels of NF-kB-dependent, anti-apoptotic gene products. The virus under investigation in my laboratory is the human adenovirus. While not a major human pathogen, the adenovirus represents an excellent model system for studies of molecular and cellular immunology. Recent studies from my laboratory suggest that adenovirus induces susceptibility to TNF by preventing the expression of a tyrosine or dual specificity phosphatase, leading us to propose that this phosphatase normally acts in an anti-apoptotic manner by inhibiting apoptotic signal transduction through the dephosphorylation of cytosolic phospholipase A2.

Miller, Jennifer, PhD

Department of Microbiology
NCSU Gardner Hall, Campus Box 7615
Raleigh, NC 27695
Phone: (919) 515-7867
E-mail: jen_miller@ncsu.edu

My research focuses on the interaction between the tick-borne spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi and the innate immune system. B. burgdorferi is the causative agent of Lyme disease, a multi-system disorder whose symptoms include the development of subacute arthritis within both a large joint of afflicted humans and the rear ankle joints of susceptible inbred mouse strains. This subacute arthritis is associated with the presence of B. burgdorferi within the joints. My laboratory utilizes tissue culture and mouse models to examine both the bacterial and host-derived mechanisms driving the induction of Lyme arthritis. We are currently focusing on a novel and previously unappreciated role for Type I interferon (IFN) in the development of severe Lyme arthritis. The goal of these studies is to identify additional bacterial effectors, innate immune components, and mechanistic pathways that drive both Type I IFN production and the development of Lyme arthritis.

Nordone, Shila, PhD

Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences
NCSU College Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 515-7410
E-mail: shila_nordone@ncsu.edu

My research involves studying the mechanisms and consequences of the molecular interactions between pathogenic organisms and the innate immune system. Pathogen-mediated modulation of innate immunity can dictate the pathological consequences of infection, the duration of survival of the pathogen in the host, and ultimately, the ability of the adaptive immune response to evolve and clear infection. At the center of my research is the role of Toll-like receptor (TLR) and Triggering Receptor Expressed on Myeloid Cells-1 (TREM-1) activation in pathogen-immune system interactions. We are currently engaged in the following research areas:  1) Modulation of TLR-mediated responses by HIV-1 infection and 2) TREM-1 mediated inflammation during canine sepsis. The overall aim of both areas of research is to increase our understanding of the basic mechanisms of pathogen-innate immune cell crosstalk and to identify new therapeutic targets for treating HIV and sepsis.

Olivry, Thierry, DrVet, PhD

Department of Clinical Sciences
NCSU, College of Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 513-6276
E-mail: thierry_olivry@ncsu.edu

My principal research interests involve investigating the pathogenesis and therapy of canine atopic dermatitis and autoimmune skin diseases. Current projects on atopic dermatitis include clinical trials on the pharmacotherapy of this disease, modeling skin lesions experimentally, researching novel methods for immunotherapy as well as investigating the genetics of this trait in West Highland White Terriers. My research on autoimmune skin diseases involves the characterization of clinical signs, histopathology and immunological aspects of novel pathological entities of dogs, cats and horses. Additionally, we are investigating the autoantibody response in the blistering disease pemphigus foliaceus in dogs.

Selgrade, Mary Jane, PhD

Immunotoxicology Branch
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Research Triangle Park, NC 27711
Phone: (919) 541-1821
E-mail: selgrade.maryjane@epa.gov

My research interests center around the interactions between xenobiotic compounds (ambient and indoor air pollutants) and the immune system and consequent effects on susceptibility to infectious and allergic disease. The laboratory has developed several infectivity and allergy models in laboratory rodents. The focus is to understand the effects that exposure to environmental agents may have on both local and systemic immune responses, the underlying mechanisms associated with these effects, and the consequent impact on susceptibility to disease.

Sherry, Barbara, PhD

Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences
NCSU College Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone; (919) 515-4480
E-mail: barbara_sherry@ncsu.edu

We study reovirus-induced myocarditis (cardiac inflammation and tissue damage) in mice as a model for this important human disease. Recently, we have focused on the cardiac response to viral infection, with particular emphasis on viral induction of the anti-viral cytokine interferon-beta in cardiac cells. We are interested in both the viral genes that stimulate this response, and the cardiac transcription factors and anti-viral proteins that are central to protection against disease. Our approaches, using primarily molecular techniques, include the use of transgenic mice and primary cardiac myocyte cell cultures.

Sikes, Michael, PhD

Department of Microbiology
NCSU Gardner Hall, Campus Box 7615
Raleigh, NC 27695
Phone: (919) 513-0528
E-mail: mike_sikes@ncsu.edu

As different cells in the body develop, they selectively use specific genes while ignoring others. In fact, development of multicellular organisms is absolutely dependent on differential gene regulation. But how genes are programmed to be activated or silenced at the right time remains a mystery. The research in our laboratory investigates the epigenetic changes that govern selective gene usage during lymphocyte development. Unlike other tissues, lymphocytes develop in discreet stages that can be easily followed using cell surface marker proteins, and for which individual cell line models exist. Specifically, we study the epigenetic programs that regulate the developmentally-timed activation and inactivation of the genes that encode the antibody and T cell receptor molecules. These genes are unique in the body in that they undergo a process of genetic recombination. We believe that transcriptional promoters positioned throughout each gene serve as nucleation points for transcription factors and histone modifiers that work together to shape local windows of accessible chromatin in response to developmental cues. Work is underway to test this hypothesis and to define the protein factors involved.

Suter, Steven, VMD, MS, PhD

Department of Clinical Sciences
NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 513-0813
E-mail: steven_suter@ncsu.edu

My research interests focus primarily on hematologic malignancies in companion animals, specifically canine and feline lymphoma. Elucidating the underlying molecular abnormalities associated with these diseases, as well as the development of novel therapeutics is the main thrust of my research. Although canine lymphoma is phenotypically and biologically similar to human non-Hodgkin’s diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, it is not known if these diseases share similar genetic perturbations. We aim to begin to elucidate these perturbations in dogs with lymphoma to both enhance dog lymphoma as a pertinent large animal model of human non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and develop more targeted therapeutics for this disease.

Tompkins, Mary, DVM, PhD

Department of Population Health and Pathobiology
NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
(919) 513-6255
E-mail: mary_tompkins@ncsu.edu

The research in my laboratory is directed towards understanding the immunopathogenesis of feline retrovirus infection. In particular, we are examining mechanisms of virus-induced immunosuppression and persistence, especially alterations in cytokine regulation and cell-mediated immunity. We have been studying the immunopathogenesis of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which is one of the best animal models for HIV infection. Our early studies described alterations in peripheral blood lymphocyte subset numbers, in vivo virus tropism, and disease progression. More recently we have described in detail cytokine dysregulation associated with FIV infection that leads to the inability of the infected cat to mount a successful cell mediated immune response to a secondary intracellular pathogen.

Tompkins, Wayne, PhD

Department of Population Health and Pathobiology
NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 515-7394
E-mail: wayne_tompkins@ncsu.edu

The focus of my research is immunopathogenesis of FIV infection in the cat: a model for human HIV infection. We are studying the cellular and molecular basis of T cell dysfunction and progression to AIDS in FIV-infected cats, utilizing RT-qcPCR and multi-color flow cytometry to define the receptor phenotype and cytokine profiles of CD4-positive and CD8-positive T cells. We are specifically exploring the role of B7 co-stimulatory molecules and the cytokines IL-10 and TGF-beta in mediating T cell anergy and apoptosis.

Tonkonogy, Susan, PhD

Department of Population Health and Pathobiology
NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919) 513-6252
E-mail: sue_tonkonogy@ncsu.edu

The overall goal of my research is to identify the molecular mechanisms that regulate the intestinal immune response. Our current approach is to determine the patterns of cytokines produced by T cells, B cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells isolated from mucosal lymphoid tissue of genetically manipulated rodents that spontaneously develop chronic intestinal inflammation when maintained in specific pathogen free housing. Germ-free rodents with identical genetic alterations do not develop inflammation, implicating the microorganisms that colonize the intestinal tract in the initiation of disease. The long-range goal of these studies is to provide a basis for designing therapeutic strategies aimed towards down-regulating the intestinal immune response that we postulate to be an underlying cause of the chronic inflammation that occurs in inflammatory bowel diseases.

Ward, Marsha, PhD

Immunotoxicology Branch
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Research Triangle Park, NC 27711
Phone: (919) 541-1193
E-mail: ward.marsha@epamail.epa.gov

My research interests involve the assessment of indoor environmental contaminants, particularly fungi for the potential to cause allergy/asthma using laboratory rodent models. The focus of our studies is hazard identification including 1) the identification and characterization of the allergenic proteins and 2) the identification of potential biomarkers that differentiate an allergic response from a non-allergic inflammatory response.  Additionally, we are interested in the area of food allergies that could occur due to the introduction of genetically modified crops.

Yoder, Jeffrey, PhD

Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences
NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Campus Box 8401
4700 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: (919)-515-7406
E-mail: jeff_yoder@ncsu.edu
Web site: http://www4.ncsu.edu/~jayoder/

The overall goal of my research is to develop and utilize the zebrafish as a model for innate immunology.  The larval stage of zebrafish development provides a unique resource for studying innate immunity: during this time, the zebrafish possesses a highly competent innate immune system, but does not yet possess a functional adaptive immune system.  We are specifically interested in identifying and characterizing novel innate immune response genes with a special emphasis on natural killer cell receptors.  We utilize comparative genomics and microarray analyses to identify genes of interest. We then knock-down or knock-out gene function in both zebrafish embryos and in mammalian cell culture in order to evaluate gene function.  We partner these genetic disruptions with functional infection assays in order to better understand the role of specific genes in the response to and recovery from infection.