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Comparative Pathobiology Department

Mission and Philosophy

The Comparative Pathobiology (CPB) Department in the College of Veterinary Medicine is primarily concerned with understanding the cause and pathogenesis of diseases of animals.  The goal is to apply this knowledge to increase food-animal productivity and to improve the health of man and animals.

The approximately 34 faculty, 50 graduate students, and 35 support staff are sensitive to the needs of society and the industries served by veterinary medicine.  Research, education, and diagnostic programs in the department are periodically reviewed to determine if these needs are being met.  The faculty is committed to addressing important problems that could improve animal or human health and productivity.

The specific missions of the Department of Comparative Pathobiology are to:

  • Generate new knowledge through basic and applied research.
  • Educate students in professional and graduate programs about the concepts and principles of pathobiology, human-animal interaction, clinical epidemiology, and public health, including food safety concepts.
  • Develop, apply, and evaluate new technologies (e.g., diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, etc.) for improving health and productivity.
  • Provide diagnostic and epidemiologic investigational services to support the educational program.
  • Inform the public and food-animal producers about issues of animal and environmental health, animal welfare, and the veterinary profession.

Organization and Facilities

Comparative Pathobiology is currently organized into three sections:  Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, Epidemiology and Public Health, and Microbiology and Immunology.  Many of the research and educational programs of Purdue's Center for the Human-Animal Bond are located within the Department of Comparative Pathobiology.

The close association of the Department of Comparative Pathobiology with the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Indiana State Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory provides an ideal environment for practical training in bacteriology, pathology, toxicology, and virology.  A new building for the Indiana State Animal Diagnostic Laboratory was completed in 1991. An addition nearly doubling the size of the major building of the College of Veterinary Medicine complex which houses the professional curriculum as well as research laboratories was completed in 1995, and provides an additional large multimedia information library center, as well as classroom, laboratory and other support facilities for the College.

Well-equipped laboratories, housing facilities for both small and large experimental animals and other supportive facilities are available.  Modern research methods of molecular biology, immunology, biotechnology, biomedical engineering, and generic engineering are utilized in research and diagnostics. Flow cytometry, cell culture, digital imaging, and transmission or scanning electron microscopy are routinely applied to studies of animal disease models and basic problems in biology.

Graduate training in the department is designed to prepare students for careers in academia, industry, and government. Opportunities are also available for those who wish to prepare for the specialty boards in epidemiology, microbiology, pathology and public health.  State-of-the-art capabilities in nucleic acid and protein chemistry, molecular virology, drug development, and other biomedical disciplines are available within the University and its Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program and Centers for Cancer and AIDS Research.  A limited number of research assistantships and fellowships as well as research and graduate teaching instructorships are available for outstanding applicants. 

Fields of Study

Graduate students may choose their principal field of study from one of the stated areas of specialization within the department. Research programs within these primary fields may include investigations of the epidemiology and pathogenetic mechanisms of infectious, metabolic, nutritional, parasitic, and toxicologic diseases at both the cellular and subcellular levels. Located under Faculty Research interests [link], you will find the research interests of the graduate faculty which indicates the variety of research opportunities that are available.  

Off-campus research has also been possible through collaborative agreements with the Lovelace Inhalation Toxicology Research Institute, Eli Lilly & Company, Marion Merrell Down, The Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology, Genentech, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Other arrangements may be made depending on the interests of the individual student and a faculty sponsor.

Formal Study

The student, with the counsel of the major professor and the advisory committee selected, will design a plan of study to develop competence in a designated area of interest.  Course work may be selected from a variety of academic disciplines to provide sound preparation and understanding of the primary area of research.  Supportive course work is selected from such fields as biology, biochemistry, biostatistics, chemistry, education, molecular biology, pharmacology, physiology, and toxicology.  A thesis is usually required for both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees but a non-thesis M.S.-residency program is available for anatomic and clinical pathology, as well as laboratory animal medicine.

The CPB department has implemented a strategic plan intended to create an environment of excellence for learning.  As part of this plan, a commitment was made to increase international collaborations in our testing and research.  One strategy has been to recruit qualified graduate students from less developed countries and to encourage faculty involvement in international programs.  We have also increased ethnic and cultural diversity within the department.  Purdue University is an equal opportunity / equal access / affirmative action employer / educator fully committed to achieving a diverse workforce.

View Available Programs and Application Requirements

How to Apply