About the Department

Penn State's hub for animal and human health and biomedical knowledge.

Welcome from the Department Head

It is my pleasure to reach out to you as both the head and a longtime member of this great department. I began my career at Penn State in the late 1990s, when the department was still called "Veterinary Sciences," and have had a front-row seat to the transformative changes this department has experienced since.

Should you choose Penn State, your time here with us will immerse you in the realm of animal health, pre-vet, cancer research, gut health, infectious diseases, molecular nutrition, biomedical informatics, and molecular toxicology. Our current 500+ undergraduate students are focused in three majors--Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Immunology and Infectious Disease, and Pharmacology and Toxicology--and their studies have a renewed emphasis on veterinary extension and medicine, infectious diseases, molecular pathogenesis, developmental biology, carcinogenesis, nutritional immunology, and molecular pharmacology in the classroom, in the lab, and on the farm. I encourage you to explore these options or consider our brand-new minor in One Health! We also have a long history of training graduate students as part of our departmental Pathobiology graduate program. Our faculty lead training grants in addition to actively participating in other graduate programs in Molecular and Cellular Integrative Biosciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Physiology, and Nutritional Sciences. 

The department has a lot of exciting and new things happening! The Animal, Veterinary, and Biomedical Science (AVBS) Building is replacing the 52-year-old Henning Building, opening up 105,000 square feet of premium space to foster collaboration and innovation, which will be a new and stimulating learning environment for our students and faculty, bringing everyone together on Ag Hill.

Our faculty are highly trained researchers who specialize in zoonotic diseases and therefore have put COVID-19 research on the front burner, and their research will be part of what shapes our collective future and health. We also work closely with several institutes at Penn State, most notably the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Penn State Cancer Institute, Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Social Science Research Institute, and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, on many interdisciplinary projects that examine real-world problems and provide innovative solutions. These connections also provide us easy access to the state-of-the-art instrumentation that assists our students in collecting high-quality data.

Our alumni have landed in professional schools, graduate schools, federal government, and pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies with their Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences degrees. Our current students are part of clubs and national organizations that allow them to connect with alumni and explore diverse areas of interest, helping to guide them toward successful careers. Our award-winning advisers are also happy to connect with you, and I highly encourage you to reach out to us during orientations or college fairs wherever possible. I welcome you to visit Penn State and our department within the College of Agricultural Sciences to learn more about us. You can also find some of the latest news and day-to-day activities on our social media pages. Together, #WeAre Penn State!

K. Sandeep Prabhu, Ph.D.
  • Department Head

Department Strategic Plan

The department has recently completed the 2020-2025 strategic plan. Within this plan lists the department's goals, objectives, and plan for current and future student engagements and success which also aligns with the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of VBS is to create and disseminate new knowledge related to the impact of environmental factors on animal and human health and well-being. We will apply such knowledge to improve health, food safety, and security, and environmental stewardship and resilience.

Vision Statement

The department will lead in the development and application of science-based new knowledge pertaining to the effects of the environment on animal and human health through excellence in basic and applied interdisciplinary research, state-of-the-art diagnostics, and extension outreach and research activities.  VBS will be universally recognized for excellence in teaching and training the next generation of scientists, and animal and human healthcare professionals. We will continue to proactively respond to emerging challenges locally and globally in areas of integrated health with an emphasis on immunology and infectious disease, molecular toxicology and carcinogenesis, molecular diagnostics, agriculture and food systems, pre-harvest food safety, antimicrobial resistance, and animal welfare. VBS will act with integrity in accordance with the highest academic, professional, and ethical standards to evolve our learning to stimulate sustainability, innovation, and entrepreneurship, while fostering diversity and inclusivity.

Latest News

January 20, 2021

College of Agricultural IID student Hailey Reiss earns internship award

Hailey Reiss, an immunology and infectious disease major from Quakertown. A graduate of Quakertown Community High School, Reiss was the summer scholar at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, where she performed statistical analysis and reviewed and presented data. Hailey is advised by VBS faculty member Dr. Pamela Hankey-Giblin.

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January 6, 2021

"What about the environment? Leveraging multi-omic datasets to characterize the environment’s role in human health"

Kristin Passero (Hall Lab PhD student) and Dr. Molly Hall organized the session "What about the environment? Leveraging multi-omic datasets to characterize the environment’s role in human health" for the Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing (PSB) with environmental health research experts Dr. Chirag Patel (Harvard Medical School), Dr. Arjun Manrai (Harvard Medical School), Dr. Kimberly McAllister (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences), and Dr. Shefali Setia Verma (University of Pennsylvania). Kristin and organizers published an introduction to the session and gave an introductory talk as well: https://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/9789811232701_0029. Hall Lab MD/PhD student, Morris Aguilar, also gave a talk on his metabolomics research which is published here: https://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/9789811232701_0030

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December 18, 2020

Andrew D. Patterson, PhD receives Society of Toxicology Achievement Award

A world leader in the field of metabolomics, Andrew D. Patterson, PhD, has been awarded the 2021 SOT Achievement Award for his leadership, vision, service, and dedication to the field of toxicology. Dr. Patterson has established himself as a prestigious investigator at the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania, where he holds multiple positions, including Professor of molecular toxicology and Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. He is the Tombros Early Career Professor and Huck Endowed Chair, as well as the Penn State Cancer Institute Metabolomics Shared Resource Director. Dr. Patterson received his PhD in genetics in 2006 through a graduate partnership program between George Washington University and the National Cancer Institute. He then undertook a postdoctoral fellowship in the Laboratory of Metabolism at the National Cancer Institute, during which he focused on the development and refinement of metabolomics approaches to determine how toxicants and other environmental exposures influence the metabolome. At a time when this field was just emerging, Dr. Patterson’s work furthered metabolomics as an invaluable tool for understanding drug metabolism and promoted the development and identification of translational biomarkers for ionizing radiation exposure, toxicity, diabetes, and cancer. Dr. Patterson’s research illustrates the connection between toxicology and medicine in ways that have clear implications for the development of therapeutics and for public health measures to address risk factors associated with nongenetic metabolic diseases and their associated chronic disease manifestations. His laboratory has become a world leader in metabolomics research and is a major resource for numerous laboratories within and outside the United States that are trying to incorporate this approach into their science. Dr. Patterson’s current research interests are focused on understanding the host-metabolite-microbiota axis—specifically how the manipulation of gut bacteria affects host metabolites and how these host/bacterial co-metabolites interact with host nuclear receptors and modulate toxicity and cancer. In addition to his research, Dr. Patterson’s service in the field of toxicology is exemplified by his long list of advisees and mentees. Dr. Patterson has mentored nearly 50 young researchers, from undergraduate students to junior faculty. Many postdoctoral fellows under his mentorship have progressed to academic and industry careers, and he has trained graduate students who have earned PhDs with an emphasis on metabolomics and toxicology. Since Dr. Patterson joined SOT in 2012, his laboratory has presented research findings every year at the SOT Annual Meeting, including poster presentations and a Platform Session. He also has served on the Editorial Board of Toxicological Sciences (ToxSci) and currently serves as an Associate Editor of ToxSci and Environmental Health Perspectives. In addition to participation within SOT, Dr. Patterson also is a member of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry and the American Chemical Society and is an Editorial Board member of several high-impact journals. Congratulations Andrew!

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December 15, 2020

Mckayla Nicol receives first place for 2020 CIDD Best Student Paper

Congratulations to McKayla Nicol who won first place for the 2020 CIDD Best Student Paper, McKayla is a Pathobiology Grad student in Dr. Girish Kirimanjeswara's lab in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences: Nicol, M.J., Brubaker, T.R., Honish, B.J., et al. Antibacterial effects of low-temperature plasma generated by atmospheric-pressure plasma jet are mediated by reactive oxygen species. Sci Rep 10, 3066 (2020).

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