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!

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

November 23, 2020

Penn State researcher to explore how vitamin D affects COVID-19

Funding from the National Institutes of Health will enable Margherita Cantorna, distinguished professor of molecular immunology and nutrition in the College of Agricultural Sciences, to study whether vitamin D supplementation could help people ward off or reduce symptoms caused by COVID-19.

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October 29, 2020

Faculty continues strong research ties with Ohio State

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October 27, 2020

Dr. Troy Sutton receives funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID/NIH) to research COVID-19

Dr. Troy Sutton, Assistant Professor, has received funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID/NIH) to determine how long immunity to COVID-19 lasts after an initial infection. Specifically, Dr. Sutton’s research group will use animal models to determine how antibody levels change over time, and the relationship between decreasing levels of antibodies and susceptibility to re-infection. Using a similar approach, he will also explore how long vaccine induced immunity is protective, and working with Emory University, the findings in animal models will be compared to antibody responses in humans.

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October 26, 2020

Memorandum of Understanding between Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Maharashtra Animal and Fisheries Sciences University (MAFSU) in India now in place.

Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences and Maharashtra Animal and Fisheries Sciences University (MAFSU) have now a Memorandum of Understanding in place to develop an international program in areas related to One Health, Food Safety and Diagnostic Medicine. MAFSU was formed on December 3, 2000 with its operational center at Nagpur. The University comprises of five veterinary colleges, two colleges of fishery sciences, and one college of dairy technology. Since 2003, Penn State faculty including Dr. Bhushan Jayarao and Professor Emeritus Channa Reddy have worked with MAFSU faculty and students on several different occasions, including training MAFSU faculty at ADL, providing research and extension programming support in diagnostic medicine, and dairy production. This is a beneficial relationship for both the Department and the College of Ag, and we congratulate and thank everyone involved who made this endeavor official last week!

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