The Comparative Biomedical Sciences (CBS) department was formed in 2000 by the merger of two previous departments — Veterinary Physiology, Pharmacology, and Toxicology with Veterinary Anatomy and Cell Biology. Although there are a variety of disciplines under the umbrella of this new department, it was decided that the common thread to unite everyone in research was cell and molecular biology. With that in mind, the department has successfully recruited faculty with cell and molecular biology skills and significant extramural funding — much of it from the NIH. As a result of the productivity of the new hires and the productivity of the faculty already on board, the department has ranked in the top ten for the past five years among all the departments at Louisiana State University in terms of extramural funding. Given that the departments that rank above us have more faculty than we do, our ranking is all the more significant.
Conducting modern biomedical research requires state-of-the-art equipment and the School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) is exceptionally well equipped for cell and molecular biology techniques. Various centers within the school provide access to equipment that may not be in individual laboratories. Within CBS, a Microscopy Center, directed by Dr. Xiaochu Wu, houses a superb array of equipment that includes a laser capture microdissection microscope, a confocal microscope, transmission and scanning electron microscopes, a fluorescent microscope and a wide array of other imaging instrumentation. An Analytical Chemistry laboratory, directed by Dr. Steven Barker, has equipment for proteomics research. An Inhalation Research Facility directed by Dr. Arthur Penn enables studies to be conducted on the effect of various pollutants and other substances on a variety of diseases, including asthma and cardiovascular diseases.
The CBS department is also noted for its development of a cancer biology group with strengths in DNA repair (Dr. Shisheng Li); and prostate cancer (Dr. Inder Sehgal). Another emerging strength is in cardiovascular physiology in which Dr. Joseph Francis is studying the role of brain cytokines in primary heart failure. Additional disease-oriented areas of research include diabetes and the role of calcium channels in regulating insulin release (Dr. Henrique Cheng); multiple sclerosis and the role of specific proteins in T-cell activation (Dr. Ji-Ming Feng); and alcoholism and and the action of alcohol on signal trandsuction pathways (Dr. Masami Yoshimura). Other areas that utilize cell and molecular techniques are in development and physiology. Developmental areas include studies on the molecular basis of tooth eruption (Dr. Gary Wise and Dr. Shaomian Yao); studies on the molecular genetics of deafness in dogs (Dr. George Strain); and, analysis of zebrafish development in relation to environmental health science (Dr. Kevin Kleinow). Finally, the development and anatomy of the bowhead whale is being elucidated by Dr. Daniel Hillmann, and the functional anatomy of digital end organs is being studied by Dr. Hermann Bragulla.
Instructional activities also are a major component of CBS activities. Within the professional curriculum, the department teaches the bulk of the courses offered to the first year students, courses that include physiology, gross anatomy, histology, cell biology, neuroscience and developmental anatomy. In the second year of the curriculum, the department teaches pharmacology and in the third year, a course in clinical toxicology. The department prides itself on the quality of its teaching in both the professional and graduate curricula. At the graduate level, the department presents a team-taught core course entitled “Biomedical Cell and Molecular Biology”. The department graduate program is rapidly growing and the mixture of graduate students working toward a Ph.D. degree (16) with the numerous postdoctoral researchers (10) provides a lively and scholarly atmosphere in which to work. Our plan for the future of the department can be viewed in our strategic planning document.
Come visit our department. Our faculty, staff and students are proud of our accomplishments and we especially invite those who are thinking of obtaining a Ph.D. in biomedical research to seriously consider enrolling in the graduate program in our department.
George M. Strain, Ph.D.
Professor and Interim Head