University or Institution

Cornell University

Area of Research:

This project focuses on improving outcomes for dogs with laryngeal paralysis using modulation of the immune response to nerve injury combined with novel microsurgical grafting techniques.

Primary Mentor:

Dr. Jon Cheetham, VetMB, PhD, DipACVS- [email protected]

Mentoring Team:

  1. Dr. Jon Cheetham VetMB PhD DipACVS, Associate Professor, (PI, Immune response to peripheral nerve injury and airway surgery).
  2. Dr. Julia Sumner DVM DipACVS, Assistant Professor (Canine Laryngeal Paralysis and Soft Tissue Surgery).
  3. Dr. Manuel-Martin Flores DVM DipACVA, Associate Professor (Laryngeal Neuromuscular Function and Anesthesia).
  4. Dr. Cynthia Leifer PhD, Associate Professor, (Macrophage Biology).

Description of Potential Research Projects:

This project provides an opportunity for a Small Animal Surgery specialist to build their microsurgical skills, understand the immune response to peripheral nerve injury, modulate the response to repair and improve recovery in a translational animal model of laryngeal paralysis.

The Fellow will build skills in microsurgery, flow cytometry, immunofluorescence, the use of extracellular matrix scaffolds and the use of genetically modified rodent species. The focus will be on understanding the macrophage response to nerve injury. We focus our work here as macrophages are the dominant cell type early in the repair process, and are required for repair; and because we have shown that modulation of the macrophage response leads to changes in downstream remodeling and improved recovery. These techniques are well established in the PI’s laboratory. Additional mentoring support in macrophage biology will be provided by our immunologist Dr. Leiffer.

As the fellow integrates their understanding, they will apply these skills to a clinical trial for dogs with Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis Polyneuropathy (GOLPP). We will use regenerative and immunomodulatory approaches combined with nerve graft techniques to improve laryngeal function and reduce co-morbidities after nerve graft. Recovery will be assessed over time using novel techniques developed by our mentoring group. Our published and preliminary data support these approaches.

This part of the fellowship will be supported by the PI, Dr.Sumner (small animal soft tissue surgery) and Dr. Martin-Flores (laryngeal neuromuscular function). Relationships within the mentoring team are excellent and they have published together widely.

Additional Training Opportunities:

The Fellow will be included in a twice monthly grant writing mentoring program within the Department which is lead by the PI. They will be supported to present their work at two of three of the American Peripheral Nerve Society, Neuroscience and American College of Veterinary Surgeons meetings. In addition to weekly PI and Lab meetings, the Fellow will develop an Individual Development Plan (IDP) which will be reviewed with the mentoring team twice a year. This will support their progess and career development during and after the Fellowship. Opportunities will be provided to attend and present seminars in Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering, Biological Sciences, clinical surgery and anesthesia rounds and participate in short courses offered within the Cornell Center for Immunology and the Flow Cytometry and RNA sequencing cores.

In addition to these specific training opportunities,Cornell University fosters a nurturing and collegial research environment strongly promoting multidisciplinary research among physicians, veterinarians, cell biologists, geneticists, immunologists, biochemists, nanobiotechnologists, and other experts. As a result, we are in contact with leading faculty and visiting scientists from a variety of fields.