The Division of Comparative Medicine

Home | Site Map

DCM Staff

DCM Paw

Division of Comparative Medicine

A Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine was established in 1975 under the auspices of the MIT Medical Department to meet legal mandates and federal guidelines for the care and maintenance of laboratory animals . In 1980, the Division was renamed the Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) to reflect growing involvement in research and teaching. Since 1983, DCM has been a free standing academic unit that reports directly to the Associate Provost and Vice-President for Research. Today DCM employs 175 people and oversees a daily census of 80,000 animals comprising 15 species. Veterinary care and maintenance of animal health are primary missions of the Division. These missions are integrated with diagnostic laboratory services, research funded by NIH and private industry and postdoctoral training in biomedical research.
 

Division of Comparative Medicine Staff

James G. Fox, DVM, MS, DACLAM, is a Professor and Director of the Division of Comparative Medicine and a Professor in the Division of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine. He is a Diplomate and a past president of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, past president of the Massachusetts Society of Medical Research, past chairman of AAALAC Council, and past chairman of the NCCR/NIH Comparative Medicine Study Section. He also is an elected fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America. Professor Fox is the author of over 490 articles, 80 chapters, 3 patents and has edited and authored 13 texts in the field of in vivo model development and comparative medicine.

He has served on the editorial board of several journals and is a past member of the NIH/NCRR Scientific Advisory Council. He has received numerous scientific awards including the AVMA’s Charles River Prize in Comparative Medicine, the AALAS Nathan Brewer Scientific Achievement Award, the AVMA Excellence in Research Award, the ACLAM Award for Scientific Achievement and the AALAS Griffin Award. He has been studying infectious diseases of the gastrointestinal tract for the past 30 years and has focused on the pathogenesis of Campylobacter spp. and Helicobacter spp. infection in humans and animals. His laboratory developed the ferret as a model for both campylobacter and helicobacter associated disease as well as the first rodent model to study helicobacter associated gastric disease including gastric cancer. Dr. Fox is considered an international authority on the epidemiology and pathogenesis of enterohepatic helicobacters in humans and animals. He is largely responsible for identifying, naming, and describing many of the diseases attributed to various Helicobacter species; most notably their association with hepatitis, liver tumors, inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer in mice. His laboratory most recently has described the pivotal role that Helicobacter spp. play in the development of the gallstones in mice fed a lithogenic diet; thus linking this finding to his earlier description of Helicobacter spp. associated chronic cholecystitis and gallstones in Chilean women, a population at high risk of developing gallbladder cancer. He also has had a long-standing interest in zoonotic diseases as well as biosafety issues associated with in vivo models. His past and current research has been funded by NIH and NCI, as well as by private industrial sources, for the past 34 years. He has been the principal investigator of an NIH postdoctoral training grant for veterinarians for the past 21 years. He consults nationally and internationally with government, academia and industry. In 2004 Professor Fox was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Fox
   

Mark T. Whary, DVM, PhD, DACLAM, is the Associate Director and is responsible for management of the MIT animal resource program. Dr. Whary is the principal veterinary reviewer of animal care and use protocols, is a primary contact for regulatory issues and oversees training of new investigators. Dr. Whary also serves on the Radiation Protection Committee, the Divisions environmental health and safety committee, manages the occupational health program, contributes to the postdoctoral program in comparative medicine for veterinarians and provides web page management and technical writing for the Division. Dr. Whary’s research in mucosal immunology has focused on the pathogenesis of helicobacter infections in humans and in genetically engineered mice as models of human infectious gastritis, hepatitis and inflammatory bowel disease. Recent addition of capabilities for germfree and gnotobiotic mouse studies will focus on gut flora ecology and the onset of gastrointestinal and hepatic diseases in animal models.

Dr. Whary
   

Susan Erdman, DVM, MPH, DACLAM, is an Assistant Director and Chief of Clinical Resources within the Division. She completed the postdoctoral training program in Comparative Medicine at MIT and received a Master’s degree from Harvard in 1992. She also serves as a PI or co-PI on several NIH and DOD supported grants. Her research focus is roles of inflammatory disease in cancer. Along with Dr. Marini, she coordinates the training schedule and seminars for the postdoctoral trainees.

Dr. Erdman
   

Alexis García, DVM, is a Research Scientist. He developed an experimental rabbit model to elucidate the pathophysiology of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a leading cause of acute renal failure in children. Other ongoing investigations involve studies that seek to understand the role of Helicobacter spp. in liver cancer pathogenesis.

Dr. Garcia
   

Zhongming Ge, PhD, is a Molecular Biologist in the Division. His research interests include identification of virulence factors from gastric and enterohepatic helicobacters, the pathogen-host interactions and molecular mechanisms of liver and intestinal tumorigenesis in mouse models. He is also actively involved in collaborative research on several NIH-funded projects as well as the training and supervision of undergraduates and post-doctoral fellows.

Dr. Ge
   
Hilda Holcombe, DVM, PhD, DACLAM, is a Senior Research/Clinical Veterinarian with primary responsibilities for rodents in the Koch Institute and non-primate species in E17/18. She received her PhD in immunology following graduation from veterinary school and has a primary interest in mucosal immunity. Her current research focuses on novel approaches for using engineered nucleases to generate genetically modified inbred guinea pigs. Hilda Halcombe
   

Robert P. Marini, DVM, DACLAM, Assistant Director, is a member of DCM’s clinical staff and is Chief of the Division’s clinical surgical facilities. Dr. Marini is responsible for coordinating and supervising all major survival surgery in non-rodent mammalian species. Dr. Marini’s interests focus on experimental surgery and anesthesiology. He actively collaborates on several NIH funded research projects as well as being involved in the investigation of spontaneously occurring diseases of laboratory animals. Dr. Marini is closely involved in didactic coursework involving physical and chemical animal restraint, specialized surgical procedures, anesthetic regimens, and basic life support measures employed in a wide variety of animal species. He coordinates the training schedule and seminars for the postdoctoral trainees. He also holds an appointment as a lecturer in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Services and Technology.

Dr. Marini
   

Sureshkumar Muthupalani, BVSc, PhD, DACVP, recently joined DCM as a Comparative Pathologist upon completion of his veterinary anatomic pathology residency training at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine near Boston. Dr. Muthupalani is responsible for diagnostic, necropsy and histology services as well as collaborating with a variety of research scientists within and outside of the Division. His current collaborative research areas include infectious and non-infectious causes of chronic gastrointestinal inflammation and cancer, liver cancer, spontaneous lysosomal storage diseases in animals, and mouse models of cardiac injury, repair, and therapy. In addition, he is interested in the phenotypic characterization of genetically engineered mice as well as spontaneous diseases of laboratory animals.

Dr. Muthupalani
   

Dr. Nicola Parry, BVSc, MSc, DipACVP, Chief of Comparative Pathology, recently joined DCM from Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine where she still holds an adjunct position. Dr. Parry oversees the postdoctoral three-month Experimental Pathology rotation; directs the Comparative Pathology Laboratory (CPL) encompassing the diagnostic, necropsy, and histology services; and collaborates with a wide variety of research scientists within and outside the Division. She is also a member of the ACVP Examination Committee.

Dr. Parry
   

Mary Patterson, MS, DVM, DACLAM, was in a mixed animal private practice for a number of years prior to entering the DCM postdoctoral training program. Now as a Chief of Primate Ressources, she provides daily oversight for multiple animal species. Much of her time is directed toward the social housing of nonhuman primates, as well as the development of policies and standard operating procedures governing their use. Spontaneous disease and basic research studies, on which she has worked and published have involved rhesus macaques, ferrets, and hamsters. An evolving responsibility is to coordinate for DCM animal containment studies performed at MIT.

Dr. Patterson
   

Jonathan A. Runstadler, DVM, PH.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Engineering. His lab seeks to understand genetic factors that impact susceptibility to infectious disease, specific or general and the repercussions for potential epidemics, persistence, and evolution of those infectious agents. His research is conducted within the context of the interactions that define the ecology between an infectious agent, the environment and the host. His focus is on the host/agent interaction and we are exploring a variety of approaches that may shed light on these interactions.

In doing so, the lab’s new research initiatives seek to break down traditional academic boundaries and bring together collaborative teams to address issues including the identification of disease vectors, the role of environmental change and pathogen persistence, population genetics and evolutionary biology, and the ecology of infectious agents.

Dr. Jonathan Runstadler
   

Zeli Shen, MD, Research Scientist, is working on helicobacter pathogenesis, characterizing virulence genes responsible for pathogenic potential in Helicobacter spp., and studying the epidemiology of helicobacter infections using molecular techniques. Her project has been involved with the isolation and characterization of new Helicobacter species and their phylogenetic analysis. She is also working on using H. cinaedi infected IL-10-/- mice as an animal model to investigate the mechanisms of helicobacter- induced inflammatory bowel disease.

Dr. Shen
   

Lynn Wachtman, DVM, MPH, DACLAM, is a Senior Research/Clinical Veterinarian with primary responsibility for the New World nonhuman primate breeding colony recently established at MIT. Following several years in small animal practice, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship and Masters of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. Her research interests include the pathogenesis of metabolic disease and development of refinements for animal models. Previous work has focused on development of the common marmoset as a model for the study of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Dr. Shen
      About Us | Site Map