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 opened in 2022 and replaced the 52-year-old Henning Building, opening up 105,000 square feet of premium space to foster collaboration and innovation. This is 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

May 22, 2024

Type 2 diabetes treatment found to impact fungal community in human gut

Research led by scientists at Penn State's One Health Microbiome Center have found that metformin, a drug commonly used to treat Type 2 diabetes, has impacts on fungal elements of the human gut microbiome.

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May 16, 2024

H5N1 virus from 2022 mink outbreak capable of inefficient airborne transmission

Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza was detected in dairy cattle for the first time in the United States in March, with nine states reporting outbreaks by May. While the method of transmission among cattle is currently unknown, new research published in Nature Communications demonstrates that a related strain of H5N1, subtype clade 2.3.4.4b, which caused an outbreak in farmed mink in 2022, could transmit through the air to a limited number of ferrets. This is the first time that a member of the group of H5N1 clade 2.3.4.4b viruses has been shown to exhibit this ability. According to the Penn State researchers who led the study, the findings suggest these viruses are evolving to infect mammals and with potentially increased risk to humans.

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May 16, 2024

Srijana Adhikari receives award for one of the 2024 Outstanding Poster Awards at the 27th American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy conference

Pathobiology graduate student Srijana Adhikari recently attended the 27th American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy conference in Baltimore, MD. Srijana has been selected to receive one of the 2024 Outstanding Poster Awards for her abstract titled “Paramyxovirus-Like Particles for Therapeutic Delivery of Proteins to Cells”. The conference is one of the largest in the field of Gene and Cell Therapy, with nearly 1900 poster presentations. Srijana is a member of the Anthony P. Schmitt lab in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences. Congratulations Srijana, we are extremely proud of you!

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May 3, 2024

A big problem: Large animal vet shortage will have detrimental effect on ag industry

A shortage of large animal veterinarians — in the state and across the nation — will have detrimental effects on the agricultural industry if left unchecked, ag officials said.

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