James E. Collins, DVM, PhD, MS, DACVP
Research Interest: Anatomic pathology as it relates to infectious diseases, agriculture, public health and biomedical research.
Jennifer Granick, DVM, MS, PhD, Diplomate ACVIM (SAIM)
My research focuses globally on infectious disease and host immune response. I am specifically interested in the role of white blood cell precursors (hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells) outside of their bone marrow niche in response to infection. I study a model of Staphylococcus aureus skin wound infection and how these stem and progenitor cells participate in the innate immune response, specifically 1)mechanisms of differentiation to mature immune cells within the wound environment, 2)trafficking of these cells to sites of infection outside the bone marrow, and 3)how these cells influence the response of other immune cells in the wound. A technical area of expertise is multiparameter flow cytometry.
Jaime Modiano, VMD, PhD
Modiano Lab Research Emphasis: The focus of my laboratory has been to understand cell growth regulation in the context of cancer pathogenesis, fostering an environment that spans basic to translational research.
Cancer Genetics: As part of large, multi-institutional collaborations, we have documented breed-specific risk factors for canine lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, and osteosarcoma. We also have identified evolutionarily conserved, cancer-associated genomic changes cancer in humans and companion animals. Current efforts in this area are aimed at defining mechanisms responsible for cancer-specific mutations as well as conserved gene-environment interactions.
Cancer Immunology and Tumor-Microenvironment Interactions: It is now apparent that interactions between the tumor and its microenvironment are essential for tumor progression and tumor control. Our work is focused on understanding how altering specific components of the tumor microenvironment can respectively enhance tumor growth and survival or promote anti-tumor immunity, and thus delay or prevent progression and metastasis. Current efforts are aimed at understanding the role of innate immune factors in tumor engraftment and survival, as well as the contribution of stromal elements to the tumor immunosuppressive barrier.
Diagnostic Development: The extensive heterogeneity present within and among tumors presents a major contemporary challenge for effective cancer management. To overcome this, we have dedicated significant effort to develop robust schemes to classify tumors according to their biological behavior. We have used cellular, immunologic, and molecular tools, including genome-wide platforms and innovative bioinformatics, to design practical tests for tumor classification and monitoring. Several tests are the subject of patents and have been licensed for commercialization. Our ongoing work in this area seeks to improve on existing tests and on the development of new predictive biomarkers that will help clinicians tailor patient-specific treatment strategies.
Therapeutic development: We have taken advantage of the conserved molecular signatures in spontaneous tumors of domestic animals to test new and innovative, targeted therapies. These studies include target validation in the laboratory, as well as pre-clinical and clinical development in our tumor-bearing veterinary patient populations. Recent and ongoing trials include evaluation of (1) gene-based immunotherapy platforms, (2) genetically engineered, ligand-targeted toxins, (3) enhanced anti-tumor immunity through passive immunotherapy, (4) small molecules, and (5) targeted nanoparticles for gene delivery.
My research globally focuses on comparative and experimental pathology. Primarily, our laboratory studies the pathogenic mechanisms of infectious prion diseases using the cervid-origin prion disease Chronic Wasting Disease as a model. Chiefly, we seek to understand: 1) the mechanisms by which a mis-folded protein becomes infectious, 2) the pathways linking the accumulation of mis-folded protein with neurodegeneration, and 3) the systemic metabolic consequences of protein-misfolding disease. In addition, we are interested in advancing and refining the approach to the diagnosis and classification of canine lymphoproliferative disease.
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Pamela Skinner, PhD
My research program focuses on understanding HIV and prion disease immunopathogenesis and the development of novel treatments for these diseases. Recently we found that HIV- and SIV-specific cytotoxic lymphocytes are largely excluded from B cell follicles where the virus is most concentrated, supporting the hypothesis that B cell follicles are an immune privileged site that allows ongoing viral replication. We are working to develop cellular immunotherapy to target HIV-specific CTL to B cell follicles to functionally cure HIV. In addition, I also study gene expression changes that occur during prion disease to gain insights into disease pathogenesis and develop novel assays to diagnose prion disease.