Office of Research and Graduate Education

Faculty Mentors

Veterinary students interested in applying to the YEAR Program will be encouraged to seek out the program Director and/or Associate Director to answer any questions regarding the program. If possible, students are encouraged to visit and talk with faculty mentors about a research project that may be of interest to both. Although program administration will work closely with each enrolled YEAR Program student participant to choose their research themes, mentors, and laboratories for their four three-month block rotations, these early-on visits with faculty mentor participants will help the student decide with whom they may want to work.

Faculty in the School of Veterinary Medicine and in other UCD colleges and schools who are available to act as mentors for YEAR students have been asked to provide a brief paragraph describing their background, research interests, and other pertinent information.

The list below is updated as new information is received.

Nicole Baumgarth, DVM, Ph.D.

Center for Comparative Medicine

Regulation of immune responses to infectious agents. My lab studies the mechanisms underlying the regulation of immune responses to infections with the emphasis on B cells and B cell subset responses. The murine model of acute influenza virus infection is utilized to understand how early (innate) immune responses against the virus influence and affect antiviral B cell responses. Specifically, we are interested how the B cell is induced to response to pathogens without stimulating potentially harmful immune responses to “self” components, i.e. how autoimmunity is avoided. We are also interested to study why immune responses to influenza infections stimulate lifelong immunity, whereas vaccinations seem to induce much shorter-lived immunity. A different infectious disease mouse model, Borrelial burgdorferi infection, is being studied in collaboration with Dr. Stephen Barthold. The aim of this study is to understand how this spirochete that causes “Lyme Disease” subverts the immune response of its host to establish livelong infection, despite the fact that the host induces a vigorous immune response to the pathogen. Finally, I have a particular interest in the biology of a small subset of B cells, termed B-1 cells, that provides nearly all of the “natural” antibodies that are generated even in the absence of antigen exposure, and how we might use these cells to protect a host from infection.

Visit Dr. Baumgarth’s  website:

Peter C. Belafsky, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.

Voice and Swallowing Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery

I am the Director of the Voice and Swallowing Center at UC Davis. I have a joint appointment in Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at the Med Center as well as in the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology at the VMTH. My primary interests are in dysphagia and cross-disciplinary integrated aerodigestive tract medicine and in the One Health initiative. I work very closely with Dr Stan Marks and we would both love to get involved  in the Year program. We have numerous ongoing projects that would be perfect for T32 students. Our interdisciplinary team has been the recipient of the Deans Award for Excellence in Clinical Care. 

Visit Dr. Belafsky's website:

Alan Buckpitt, Ph.D

VM: Molecular Biosciences

Metabolic activation and detoxication of environmental chemicals that produce tissue selective cytotoxicity, particularly of the lung; mechanisms for cellular degeneration, especially the role of reactive metabolites; use of DNA arrays and proteomics in toxicology. Our work focuses on understanding the underlying biochemical and metabolic mechanisms for the pulmonary toxicity associated with agents which undergo metabolism to reactive electrophilic metabolites by the cytochrome P450 monooxygenases. The overarching goal of this work is to understand the mechanisms in rodent models so that these can be probed in either non human primates or in humans with either appropriate biomarkers or in vitro studies. We are utilizing proteomics to identify protein targets for reactive metabolites, are examining the redox status of the lung proteome in response to some of these agents and are applying genome wide transcriptome analysis to determine the precise reactions of tissue to injury. Overall, this work is intended o aid in the assessment of risk to human populations for the chemicals under study and should identify enzyme pathways where genetic polymorphisms could lead to altered susceptibility of human populations.

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Xinbin Chen, BVM, Ph.D.

Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences

The p53 family proteins are transcription factors and consist of p53, p63, and p73.  p53 is a tumor suppressor and found to be mutated in more than 50% of all human cancers.  Mutant p53 is not only defective in tumor suppression but also promotes tumor formation.  However, p63 and p73 appear to be necessary for the development of various tissues and immune response in addition to tumor suppression.  To address these diverse activities for the p53 family proteins, we focus on the following areas of research:  (1) to determine the mechanism by which the expression and activity for each p53 family protein is regulated; (2) to determine how p53 family proteins and their target genes participate in tumor suppression and normal development; (3) to determine the mechanism by which mutant p53 obtains a gain of function in promoting tumor formation; and (4) to develop a dog model to study the p53 family proteins in tumor suppression.

Visit Dr. Chin's website:

Gino Cortopassi, Ph.D

VM: Molecular Biosciences 

We study mitochondrial, neurodegenerative diseases, and use '-omic' technologies, including microarray and proteomics, to better understand their mechanisms of pathophysiology.  We also carry out drug screening on cellular models to identify drugs of relevance to the diseases.  We are a stimulating, energetic and collaborative group of 10 people.

Please visit our website at

Damian Genetos, Ph.D

VM: Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology

My research focuses upon the skeletal system, its development, and the mechanisms whereby it adapts to changes in the local microenvironment.

The skeleton responds to changes in applied loads. Under conditions of reduced use (as occurs during spaceflight or prolonged bed rest), bone is resorbed; when excess loads are applied, more bone is made, to reduce the stress placed upon them. Osteoblasts, the bone-forming cells, are responsive to a variety of stimuli, and we have begun to characterize the downstream signaling events involved in the conversion of an external load into a bone-forming response. This process is termed mechanotransduction. Current areas of research include purinergic signaling and epigenetic regulation in response to in vitro loading.

I also examine how pericellular oxygen tension affects bone cells bone turnover, and bone repair. The oxygen tension within bone can vary under certain circumstances; for example, fracture and limb unloading promotes hypoxia in osteocytes. In collaboration with a colleague at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, we are examining the influence of altered oxygen tension perception upon Wnt and BMP signaling in mice.

Additionally, we study how aberrant bone formation can cause pathologic conditions, such as vascular calcification.

Visit Dr. Genetos's website:

Laurel Gershwin, DVM, Ph.D

VM: Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology

The major emphasis for Dr. Gershwin's research is bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV): pathogenesis, vaccine development, BRSV's effect on modulating the immune response to aerosolized antigens, and mechanisms causing pathogenic synergy with Haemophilus somnus. Murine and primate models of asthma are used to evaluate the effects of sidestream tobacco smoke and ozone on IgE mediated responses. Equine allergy is another research focus, with an emphasis on development of assays to evaluate horses for allergic vaccine reactions.

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Cecilia Giulivi, Ph.D.

VM: Molecular Biosciences 

Dr. Giulivi's lab is dedicated to understand the molecular mechanisms that lead to mitochondrial dysfunction in several physiological (changes in diets) and pathological (type 2 diabetes, fragile-X, autism, Huntington's disease) states.

Research Interests:

  • Bioenergetics: changes in intermediary metabolism with diets deficient of essential amino acids
  • Role of mitochondria dysfunction in Huntington's disease; fragile X, ataxia and tremor syndrome; and autism
  • Neurodegeneration in Alaskan huskies
  • Type 2 diabetes: role of mitochondria in different organs during prediabetes and diabetes
  • Citrullinemia I: changes in nitric oxide pathways in cerebellum
  • Aging and protein nitration, oxidative and nitrative stress pathways.

Visit Dr. Giulivi's website at

Dallas Hyde, Ph.D.

VM: Anatomy, Physiology & Cell Biology

The role of neutrophils, lymphocytes and macrophages in oxidant induced epithelial injury and repair; airway inflammation and immunology in asthma and cystic fibrosis; postnatal ontogeny of pulmonary inflammation and immunology. Dr. Hyde's research is focused on airways epithelial and inflammatory/immune cell interaction. Interaction of these cells maintains homeostasis (ability to combat infectious disease, removal and/or repair of injured cells) in the lung. Pathways of leukocyte migration in the lung and the influence of these emigrational routes on endothelium, interstitial cells and matrix, and epithelium continue to be an interest. Lung growth, differentiation and aging, particularly under the perturbation of inhaled allergens and pollutants are more important research interests in the future. His laboratory will continue to use asthma, pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema as models for investigation.

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Hsing-Jien Kung, Ph.D.

MED: Cancer Center 

The the role of oncogenes and growth factors in cancer; signal transduction; the molecular biology of RNA tumor viruses; the control of gene expression in eukaryotes; the physical chemistry of nucleic acids; cancer virology. Tyrosine kinases and oncogenic signals: Tyrosine kinases represent major class of oncogenes. Our laboratory has developed effective approaches to define tyrosine kinases differentially expressed in cancer cells and is studying how they are activated to drive the oncogenic signals in cancers such as prostate carcinoma. ErbB, Nyk, Ret and Etk are among the tyrosine kinases being investigated. Molecular genetics of oncogenic viruses: Retroviruses induce cancers by insertional mutagenesis of host oncogenes. The insertional mechanisms and the host oncogenes involved in ALV-J myeloid leukemia are being pursued. Marek disease herpesvirus and Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus are both oncogenic viruses, each encoding a bZIP protein (i.e., MDV Meq and KSHV KbZIP). Our laboratory has identified both of them and are studying their molecular actions.

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Kent Lloyd, DVM, Ph.D.

Center for Comparative Medicine

Transgenic and knockout mouse models of human and animal diseases . Dr. Lloyd is a research physiologist with expertise in targeted mutagenesis of the laboratory mouse. He is Director of the UC Davis Mouse Biology Program and oversees the Mutant Mouse Regional Resource Center, the Knockout Mouse Project, and the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center, all at UC Davis. Dr. Lloyd is involved in developing mouse lines carrying promoter-driven recombinases and recombinase-sensitive coding sequences in the germ line, and conducted genetic, histological, immunological, and behavioral analyses of mutant mice in which the gene has been "knocked-out".

Visit Dr. Lloyd's website:  and the Mouse Biology Program website:

Stephen McSorley, Ph.D.

VM: Anatomy, Physiology & Cell Biology

T and B cell responses to bacterial pathogens; Vaccine development for typhoid and non-typhoidal Salmonellosis; Mucosal immune responses; Innate immune responses and TLR5; Development of reagents to visualize T and B cell responses to infection; Immunity to Chlamydia in the reproductive tract; Immunity to Salmonella in the gastrointestinal tract; Evasion of innate and adaptive immunity; Erythropoesis during bacterial infection.


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Stuart Meyers, DVM, Ph.D.

VM: Anatomy, Physiology & Cell Biology

Gamete interaction; contraception; male fertility; sperm biology and cayopreservation. Research in our laboratory is centered on optimization of gamete cryopreservation and development of new methods for preservation of male gametes. We are working with both the non-human primate and the horse.

These are two species for which individual male variation plays an important role in developing a cryopreservation protocol that can be successfully used for all males. Our goals are to first to develop an understanding of fundamental mechanisms of cellular injury caused by low temperature storage, and then to use this knowledge to develop new methods for gamete preservation. We use the techniques of flow cytometry, confocal, fluorescence, and electron microscopy to evaluate the integrity of sperm cell organization and cell function. We are also focused on understanding the role of sperm on embryo development and have ongoing studies on early embryonic development and gene expression due to the influence of oxidative damage to sperm using intracytoplasmic sperm injection and fluorescence microscopy.

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Christopher Miller, DVM, Ph.D.

Center for Comparative Medicine

Leukocyte trafficking in the lung; leukocyte/epithelium interactions. My lab focuses on understanding how HIV infection is transmitted by heterosexual contact and developing vaccines and microbicides to prevent HIV transmission to women. Much of this work uses the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) model of heterosexual HIV transmission and pathogenesis. We study 4 areas critical to developing interventions to heterosexual HIV transmission: 1) viral factors (dose, phenotype, etc..,) in vaginal transmission, 2) natural history (virus dissemination patterns and host immune response patterns) of SIV infection after vaginal transmission, 3) nature of effective systemic and mucosal antiviral immune responses , 4) understanding the range of antiviral immunity that can be elicited in the female genital tract and eliciting the strongest responses through vaccination. A major goal of the monkey vaccine and microbicide studies is to parallel these studies with planned human clinical trials in an effort to determine the extent to which the monkey model predicts the results of the clinical trial. We have a an PO1 funded that includes non-human primate studies and human clinical trials that were designed in parallel and that will use the same vaccine lots with the goal of comparing mucosal and systemic immune responses of rhesus macaques and humans to the same vaccination protocol. Our current golas are to: (1) define the dissemination pathway of SIV from the genital tract to systemic lymphoid tissues, and the corresponding pattern of innate and adaptive immune responses after intravaginal SIV inoculation, (2) define the role of viral recombination in maintaining the viral population genetic diversity that is a prerequisite for mucosal SIV transmission and virulence, (3) determine how small molecules (TLR-ligands) elicit innate antiviral immune responses after application to mucosal surfaces and determine if these innate responses can protect monkeys from subsequent mucosal (respiratory or genital tracts) challenge with SIV are acute respiratory pathogens (measles virus, influenza virus), and (4) determine the relative ability of several HIV vaccine candidates to elicit mucosal and systemic immune responses and control viral replication in rhesus monkeys. All our work involves extensive collaborations with investigators at pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions throughout the United States , Canada and Europe.

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Lisa A. Miller, Ph.D.

VM:Anatomy, Physiology, & Cell Biology, California National Primate Research Center

Environment and Immune System Development.  Our research program is focused on understanding the relationship between early life environmental exposures, immunity and chronic disease.  We study how mucosal and systemic immunity is established during infancy, and determine the impact of air pollutants, allergens, and infectious disease on childhood health.  A major emphasis has been in the elucidation of mechanisms for immune susceptibility that lead to pediatric airways dysfunction, which may ultimately lead to generation of new diagnostics and preventative medicine.  My laboratory at the California National Primate Research Center is a highly interactive team consisting of technical support staff, Ph.D. students, undergraduate students and postdoctoral fellows.  We utilize a variety of cellular and molecular approaches in both rhesus monkey and mouse models to specifically address questions related to the effects of environmental challenges on immune pathways during perinatal development.

Visit Dr. Miller"s website at:

Brian Murphy, DVM, Ph.D.

Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

I am interested in the complex regulatory relationship of retroviral promoters and their host cells.  We work with a variety of retroviruses that infect cats, sheep and goats and result in various immunodeficiency and inflammatory disease syndromes.   I have ongoing research projects with feline immunodeficiency virus-infected cats (lentiviral latency), caprine arthritis encephalitis virus (transcriptional regulation in vivo and in vitro), and the Beta retroviruses of small ruminants (ENTV and JSRV). I am also interested in the use of retroviruses as gene therapy vectors and have an ongoing feline erythropoietin-gene therapy study

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William J. Murphy, Ph.D.

Department of Dermatology and Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology Oncology.

Dr. Murphy spent his postdoctoral years and early career at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Frederick, Maryland. After 12 years and becoming Director of Basic Research at NCI-Frederick in Maryland, he joined the faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). Dr. Murphy later became the Chair of Microbiology and Immunology at UNR, School of Medicine. In 2008, Dr. Murphy moved his laboratory to UC Davis, accepting a position as Professor and Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Dermatology and Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology Oncology.

Dr. Murphy’s laboratory studies various aspects within cancer immunology and immunotherapy for melanoma. Current projects within the lab are exploring how to increase the success of these engraftments as well as to make them safer for patients by decreasing the period in which the patient is immune-compromised. Another focus within Dr. Murphy's laboratory is studying how the immune system becomes activated after the systemic administration of immunotherapies. His laboratory has several NIH R01 grants and is also funded by CIRM looking at stem cell engraftment.

Dr. Murphy has over 200 publications in cancer immunology over his 25 year career and is active on multiple NIH Study Sections.

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Patricia Pesavento, DVM, Ph.D.

VM: Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology

The Pesavento laboratory is interested in pathogens that emerge from intensive housing situations such as in shelters. The approach is one of translational research; from examination outbreaks of infectious disease in real-time in the shelters, to analysis of the causative pathogen/pathogens and their particular virulence. The laboratory research focus is particularly focused on certain pathogens that are “repeat offenders”, or those that emerge frequently in shelter situations, such as virulent forms of Feline Calicivirus or Streptococcus. While both of these pathogens are ubiquitous, there are rare outbreaks of devastating disease, and there is minimal understanding of the changes in the pathogen or the host that contribute to virulence. By using cell culture models of host target tissues, the primary aim of the laboratory is to form a basic understanding of the pathogen:host relationship.

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Kent Pinkerton, MS, Ph.D.

VM: Anatomy, Physiology & Cell Biology

1) Effects of environmental gases and particulates on lung structure and function; 2) cell-to-cell interactions in acute (infection) and chronic lung injury (asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD); 3) mechanisms of particle interaction between combined environmental pollutants, including ultrafine soot and transition metals, ammonium nitrate and carbon particles and environmental tobacco smoke 4) studies on lung growth and development in neonates; 5) effects of ambient and agricultural airborne particles from the Central Valley of California on cardiopulmonary function of neonatal and adult rodents.

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Birgit Puschner, DVM, Ph.D.

Department of Molecular Biosciences

My academic training is in veterinary medicine and toxicology.  During the last 15 years as a diagnostic veterinary toxicologist, a major thrust of my research has focused on the development of new analytical techniques for the identification of toxicants in biological matrices. As a toxicologist in the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, I am exposed to a great diversity of toxicoses that, combined with my interest in clinical diagnostic toxicology, has led to fruitful and productive work on the development of new diagnostic tests, new disease entities relevant to human and animal health, and interpretation criteria. My solid theoretical background, in combination with strong research and analytical abilities, has resulted in a high level of scientific productivity as evidenced by my publication record. Although the past 12 years of my career has been in academia in the diagnostic/clinical arena, I previously practiced both large and small animal clinical medicine and thus, truly understand what is needed to effectively connect clinical medicine with basic science. Over the past few years, I have expanded my research to include the analytical detection of environmental persistent organic pollutants that may be associated with autism risk, and to study the toxicity of microcystins to the nervous system. I successfully administered various projects (eg staffing, budget, research data protection), collaborated with other researchers, and am in the process of producing several manuscripts from these projects. As a result of these experiences, I am aware of the importance of frequent and transparent communication among project members and of constructing a feasible research plan, timeline, and budget. Throughout my career, I have also been an active participant in education at the undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate and professional levels. Collectively, my research and teaching activities demonstrate a record of successful and productive research projects and mentoring in an area of high relevance with respect to environmental toxicants.

To contact Dr. Puschner, click here

Jon Ramsey, Ph.D.

VM: Molecular Biosciences

Energy metabolism related to aging, obesity, and food intake. My research focuses on energy metabolism as it relates to aging and obesity. I currently have two studies underway. One study is investigating the effect of a 40% reduction in energy intake on mitochondrial proton leak and reactive oxygen species production. The goal of this project is to determine the role proton leak may play in the retardation of aging with energy restriction. Mitochondrial proton leak and hydrogen peroxide production are measured in rats following short- and long-term energy restriction. Dietary fat manipulations are used to mimic changes in mitochondrial membrane composition observed with energy restriction. Another study uses microarray technology to investigate gene expression differences in dogs with either a high or low resting energy expenditure or consuming either a high or low fat diet. The goal of this project is to identify genes that are responsible for regulating energy expenditure or determining energetic response to high fat feeding.

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Helen Raybould, Ph.D.

VM: Anatomy, Physiology & Cell Biology

Neural innervation of the GI tract; sensory neurons; neuropeptides and their receptors; detection of nutrients in GI tract; food intake; GI motility. Neural regulation of the GI tract. Afferent innervation of the stomach and intestine, and the effect of luminal nutrient signals to activate neural and humoral pathways. Role of nutrient transporters in epithelial and endocrine cells in sensory transduction in the GI tract. Expression of neuropeptides and their receptors on visceral afferents. Alteration in visceral afferent activity in functional bowel disease and obesity.

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A Hari Reddi, Ph.D.

MED: Orthopedic Research Laboratories 

Cellular and molecular basis of cartilage repair and osteoarthritis; cellular and developmental biology of bone and osteoporosis; tissue engineering of bone and cartilage based on biomaterials and biotechnology; role of extracellular matrix and growth factors in cell differentiation and morphogenesis of bone and cartilage; hormonal regulation of cartilage, bone, and bone marrow development. Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering: our research is focused on regeneration of bone and cartilage. The current research includes signaling pathways of IL 17 family in chodrocytes; prostate cancer metastases to bone; tissue engineering of bone; regeneration of articular cartilage. The trainees include 4 postdoctoral fellows, one orthopaedic surgery resident, two graduate students and two undergraduate students.

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William Reisen, MS, Ph.D.

VM: Center for Vectorborne Diseases

Arboviral epidemiology. Determine what mechanisms allow mosquito-borne arboviruses to persist in California and what conditions trigger their amplification and tangential transmission to domestic animals and humans; current projects emphasize the role of wild birds in virus overwintering or annual introduction, climates variability and arbovirus epidemiology, and improved methods of adult control. During the last 5 years my research has focused on the epidemiology and persistence of mosquito-transmitted encephalitis viruses in California , including endemic western equine encephalomyelitis [WEE] and St. Louis encephalitis [SLE] viruses, and newly introduced West Nile , a virus from Africa emerging as a widespread public and veterinary health problem in North America . Our unique research program now extends from viral genetics studied in the molecular laboratory to the organismic level of host-virus interactions to the population level studying field landscape epidemiology and ecology to practical intervention using adult mosquito control. Our new research focuses on improved methods of directing of ground and aerial adulticides to improve efficacy in rural environments.

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Clare Yellowley, BSc, PhD.

Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology

Dr Yellowley is an orthopedic cell biologist in the department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology in the Vet School. We are focused on normal bone physiology, bone pathology (fracture) and bone tissue regeneration. We employ both in vitro cell culture models and in vivo fracture models. Our current projects involve assessing the influence of mechanical load and oxygen availability on bone cell signaling and the ability of stem cells to enhance fracture healing.

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