Research overview


The College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is an internationally recognized leader in animal health research. Our unique resources position us to tackle current and emerging problems at the interface of animal, human, and environmental health. These problems are global, interlaced, and complex, and require multidisciplinary, integrated approaches that unify biology and medicine.

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Chronic disease biology

Chronic illnesses, such as arthritis, allergies & asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, CNS, diabetes, metabolic disorders etc, afflict large numbers of people. These diseases are complex, difficult to treat, and often associated with inflammation or pain. Investigators in the Chronic Disease Biology cluster explore the biological underpinnings of persistent or recurring diseases in animal cell lines and disease models. Their research is revealing the roles and interrelationships of genes, molecules, and cells involved in the initiation and progression of chronic disease states. This new knowledge leads to innovative therapeutic strategies to alleviate diseases of frequent recurrence or long duration in animals and people.

Clinical and translational research

Veterinarian-scientists in the Clinical and Translational Research cluster conduct research through the Clinical Investigation Center and the Veterinary Medical Center (VMC), with ties to the resources of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). Investigators in this cluster utilize spontaneous animal disease models in clinical trials related to the medical specialties represented in the VMC with translation to both veterinary and human medicine. Several investigators in this cluster conduct associated basic research in laboratory groups represented in other clusters, such as Genetics and Computational Biology.

Ecosystem health

There is a fundamental interdependence between the well-being of people, livestock, wildlife and the environment. These ecological interrelationships are challenged by climate change, global mobility, economic priorities, and other threats. Ecosystem Health cluster researchers utilize transdisciplinary, systems-based approaches to understand how human choices and a changing environment impact the health and sustainability of people, as well as domestic and wild animal species. Their discoveries are shared with a diverse group of stakeholders and deployed to ameliorate the impact that these threats have on ecosystem health.

Food animal health and production

Food animals are the main source of protein for people around the world. Maintaining their health and well-being enhances animal welfare as well as food quality and production. Veterinary scientists in the Food Animal Health and Production cluster monitor infectious diseases affecting food animals, develop effective approaches to prevent or treat infections and assess the impact of diseases on food production, quality, and safety. Their efforts align with the grand challenge of feeding the planet responsibly while protecting and promoting food animal health and well-being.

Food safety and security

The safety and security of our complex global food system is fundamental to ensuring human health. Investigators in the Food Safety and Security cluster conduct basic and applied research across a variety of health and agricultural fields to assure food safety and discover innovative approaches to feed the world sustainably and efficiently.

Genomics and computational biology

All animals pass genes and genetic material to future generations. This genetic information is a significant factor in determining individual and herd health and well-being. Faculty in the Genomics and Computational Biology research cluster discover important associations between genes and health or disease and use this information to improve the health and well-being of animals, including humans. Their investigations on the specific genes and whole genomes of birds, dogs, and horses have created valuable tools for comparative gene mapping and genome analysis.  They are discovering how specific genes are regulated that contribute to metabolism, immune competence, nerve and muscle function, and aesthetic traits in birds and mammals.

Host-pathogen interface

Disease-causing micro-organisms that find their way into feeds and foods or farms and homes can pose a threat to the health of animal and human hosts. Scientists in the Host-Pathogen Interface cluster uncover both the common and unique ways that micro-organisms act to gain entry and produce disease in their hosts, and how protective barriers and defense mechanisms in animal tissues and cells work to combat bacterial, viral, and parasitic infectious agents. Through their discoveries, these researchers are developing innovative approaches to prevent or ameliorate outbreaks of infectious diseases in people, companion animals, and livestock.

Microbiomes and antimicrobial resistance

Micro-organisms – bacteria, viruses, fungi – reside in diverse and heavily populated communities on the skin and mucous membranes of animals, including humans. These microbes maintain intimate and often mutually beneficial relationships between themselves and their animal hosts. The vast community of bacteria residing in the digestive tract can undergo significant changes over the lifespan of animals and people, and these changes can affect the host’s overall health and development. Drugs, particularly antimicrobial agents, can contribute to these bacterial community shifts, but their widespread use in food animals can contribute to increased microbial drug resistance. Similarly, excessive antibiotic use by people can fight disease, but can also lead to the emergence of drug-resistant microbes.

Through genomic analyses and mathematical modeling, Microbiome/Antibiotic Resistance cluster faculty have expertise in characterizing the intestinal bacteria, viruses and the small DNA molecules that transfer antibiotic resistance among bacteria in food animals. They are discovering how changes in the gut microbial community affect animal growth and well-being. Their research contributes to the development of antibiotic alternatives, such as new probiotics.

Pathogen discovery and surveillance

Improving animal and human health requires rapid detection of emerging pathogens and disease trends, plus a deeper understanding of long-standing problematic diseases. Veterinary scientists in the Pathogen Discovery and Surveillance cluster utilize a wide variety of diagnostic and epidemiologic methods, have close ties to veterinary practitioners, and process a large volume of diagnostic field samples from healthy and infected animals. Their capabilities are applied to the timely discovery of new disease agents and the development of sensitive diagnostic tests. Moreover, endemic or recurring known pathogens are continuously surveyed and characterized. These efforts provide crucial new information to veterinarians for the early and effective management of animal health.