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

October 18, 2021

McKayla Nicol Receives the College of Agricultural Sciences Outstanding Dissertation Award

Pathobiology graduate student McKayla Nicol was awarded the College of Agricultural Sciences Outstanding Dissertation Award in recognition for her outstanding nomination for the "Alumni Association Dissertation Award" which showcases McKayla's achievements in scholarship and professional accomplishments. The Alumni Association Dissertation Award is among the most prestigious awards available to Graduate Students at Penn State. The Office for Research and Graduate Education in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has recently submitted her nomination to the Graduate School as one of the top four nominations in the College. Congratulations McKayla!!

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October 5, 2021


Inside each of us there exists a place of bountiful bacteria that contribute to our immune health and overall health on a daily basis. While this is not a part of the body’s innate or adaptive immune system, it still contributes to bodily functions each day. It is the gut microbiome.

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October 1, 2021

Dr. Parisa Kalantari joins Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences as new Assistant Professor of Immunology

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Parisa Kalantari, Assistant Professor of Immunology, to the department. We are very excited to be welcoming back one of our own! From Dr. Kalantari: I am very excited to join the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences faculty. Penn State has always felt like home to me and coming back as a faculty member is a dream come true. As a PhD student, I got to work with incredible Professors and I am now delighted to see them become my colleagues and collaborators. As a faculty member, my goal is to create the same supportive environment for my own students. My research interests focus on innate immunity and infectious parasitic diseases. My work seeks to identify new targets and reveal novel immunological strategies for prevention and treatment of schistosomiasis and other Th17 cell-mediated diseases. I am currently studying the mechanisms of action of two pathways that protect the host from developing severe immunopathology. The first project focuses on the cGAS/STING pathway by defining the molecular basis underlying the anti-inflammatory bias imposed by STING, an adaptor molecule important in DNA sensing and type I Interferon production. The second project is to investigate the role of autophagy in suppressing immunopathology. Interested and motivated graduate and undergraduate students are encouraged to apply.

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September 30, 2021

New tool predicts changes that may make COVID variants more infectious

Researchers at Penn State have created a novel framework that can predict with reasonable accuracy the amino-acid changes in the virus’ spike protein that may improve its binding to human cells and confer increased infectivity to the virus. The tool could enable the computational surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and provide advance warning of potentially dangerous variants with an even higher binding affinity potential. This can aid in the early implementation of public health measures to prevent the virus’ spread and perhaps even may inform vaccine booster formulations.

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