Peter Larsen, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

Peter Larsen

Contact Info

[email protected]

Office Phone 612-626-1694

Fax 612-625-5203

Office Address:
239B Veterinary Science Building
1971 Commonwealth Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55108

PhD, Texas Tech University

MS, Texas Tech University

BS, South Dakota State University


Dr. Larsen is evolutionary biologist and his research is highly interdisciplinary. Broadly, his team utilizes innovative genomic approaches (e.g., transcriptomics, metagenomics, and genome sequencing) to advance research in the areas of Evolutionary Medicine and One Health. Current projects in the Larsen lab include: epigenetics of stress in dairy cattle, origin of mitochondrial dysfunction associated with neurodegenerative disease, and the discovery and surveillance of emerging zoonoses in small mammals.


Genomics, Evolutionary Biology, One Health, Bioinformatics

Awards & Recognition

  • Duke University Postdoctoral Award for Professional Development
  • American Society of Mammalogists Fellowship in Mammalogy


Research Summary/Interests

Dr. Larsen leads a diverse research program that focuses on the zoonotic disease surveillance, field-based molecular diagnostics, and the origins of neurodegenerative disease. Peter has over 18 years of research experience in molecular biology, mammalogy, and genomics. Broadly, his team utilizes innovative genomic approaches (e.g., transcriptomics, metagenomics, and genome sequencing) to advance research in the areas of Evolutionary Medicine and One Health. Dr. Larsen is a faculty member of the Minnesota Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Tech Transfer program (AGREETT). He is also Co-Director of the newly established Minnesota Center for Prion Research and Outreach (MNPRO).

Research Methods/Techniques

Current projects in the Larsen lab include: • Nanopore-based sequencing for pathogen surveillance and discovery in wildlife and livestock • Metagenomic surveillance of food-borne pathogens in rodents associated with farms and food-production systems • Development of prion-amplification assays for the detection of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (including CWD, BSE, scrapie, CJD) • Epigenetics of stress and metabolic disease in dairy cattle • Development of novel diagnostic methods for liver flukes impacting the Minnesota beef industry • The impact of retrotransposons on host response to SARS-CoV-2 • Alu retrotransposons and the origin of neurodegenerative disease

Research Funding Grants

Current Funding Sources

  • Minnesota State Legislature: Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR)
  • Zoetis Inc.
  • United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service
  • Foundation funds supporting overall neurodegenerative research program
  • Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station
  • University of Minnesota Office of Vice President for Research: MN Futures and Research Infrastructure Program
  • University of Minnesota Center for Global Health & Social Responsibility



Teaching Areas

DVM, Graduate, and Undergraduate

Community Engagement

Since 2018, Dr. Larsen has led a public outreach campaign focused on the biology and ecology of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), an emerging prion disease of cervids (elk, deer, moose, etc.). CWD has great potential to negatively impact multiple economic sectors in Minnesota and throughout the United States. Outreach events to members of the public and state and federal legislators include public webinars, lectures, seminars, testimonies, and one-on-one discussions organized by MNPRO and the University of Minnesota Government and Community Relations Office. Funding for these outreach activities has been generously provided by: Minnesota Extension Rapid Ag Response Fund, Center for Animal Health and Food Safety, College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Minnesota LCCMR.