Cornell Clinical Fellows



Current and Former Trainees


Dr. April Blong (2014- present) - Faculty Mentor - Dr. Robert Weiss and Dr. Joseph Wakshlag
Research project: Hus1 deficiency and its effects on p53 levels and insulin resistance in mice

April Blong

I was born and raised in Iowa and as long as I can remember I wanted to be an astronaut, a sea lion and dolphin trainer, or a veterinarian. The number of animals that I brought home while growing up probably drove my parents crazy. Among the veterinary field, however, Emergency and Critical Care (ECC) has always drawn me in – combining rapid treatment/response scenarios, as well as in-depth and complex cases. During veterinary college at Iowa State University I became interested in two other areas – nutrition and evidence-based medicine. The aspect of nutrition that I find most interesting is the ability to change a disease course simply by changing the diet; and that what we eat can and does actually change our gene expression! For this reason I was interested in seeking an ECC residency program at an institution that also had an established nutrition service. Fortunately I matched to the ECC residency program at Cornell University – which is what started my career at Cornell. Even as a veterinary student I had a strong passion for evidence-based medicine and wanted to involve myself in more research so that I could contribute to the pool of veterinary knowledge. The Clinical Fellow program seemed like an ideal opportunity for me to gain more research experience while pursuing a second residency in nutrition.

My project is to explore the role of p53 in metabolism. P53 has long been recognized as being important for suppressing tumorgenesis, but in more recent years it has come to light that it also has major impacts on cellular metabolism, potentially making it important in many metabolic disease processes such as diabetes. Using a mouse model I will be exploring the link between obesity, p53, and metabolic pathways.

Dr. Joy Tomlinson (2014 - present) - Faculty Mentor - Dr. Jon Cheetham
Research project:
The effect of macrophage activation phenotype on the regeneration of peripheral nervesJoy Tomlinson

I grew up in California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, and had a pretty good exposure to biotechnology and biomedical engineering early on in high school. When my horse developed a poorly understood neurological disorder, I delved into the relevant literature. I quickly realized how little was known, and began to see myself in the role of biomedical researcher, tracking down answers. I went to Cornell Vet to learn the background that would inform my future research, and found that I love clinical practice as well. I went on to do a Large Animal Internal Medicine Residency at Penn, and now I have come back to Cornell for more intensive research training through the Cornell Clinical Fellowship.

My project explores the effect of macrophage activation phenotype on the regeneration of peripheral nerves. I will be working with knockout mice models to explore the effect of altering the immune response from a classical, or pro-inflammatory, response to a more pro-regenerative state. We hope to identify possible mechanisms of communication between the macrophages, Schwann cells and regenerating neurons that can be used to develop treatment applications to enhance nerve repair. This work was instigated by a desire to improve outcomes following treatment of equine laryngeal hemiplegia by nerve graft, and could be translated to many species and conditions."


Dr. Matthias Wieland (2015-present) - Faculty Mentors - Dr. Daryl Nydam and Dr. Charles Guard                                                                                         Research project: Influence of Machine Milking Induced Teat Tissue Changes on Intramammary Infection in Dairy CowsMatthias Wieland

Growing up on a dairy farm in rural Germany, I have always been around dairy cows.  My interest in working with cattle specifically grew during my veterinary training and was confirmed by a number of externships before and during my university training. Working as a scientific assistant at the Clinic for Ruminants in Munich, I have learned valuable skills in bovine medicine and surgery with a concentration on individual patients referred to our institution. After taking my practical training one step further by enrolling in the residency program focusing on ambulatory medicine my ultimate goal is to have a career that combines clinical production medicine with academic applied research. The Cornell Clinical Fellow Program will implement both some clinical experience and research training with an emphasis on comprehensive research training. It will provide me with the excellent opportunity to both deepen my medical knowledge and gain further experience in clinical investigation in an ideal learning environment.



Dr. Jimmy Tran (2015-present)  – Faculty Mentor – Dr. Kristy Richards
Research project: Evaluation of the tumor microenvironment in canine non-Hodgkin lymphoma and the Programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) immune checkpoint pathway

Dr. Jimmy Tran


I grew up in Australia and completed my veterinary degree at the University of Sydney. After graduating, I worked briefly as a research assistant specialized in photographing poop from salmonella-infected sheep. Dreams of a glamorous career in photography aside, it did introduced me to the world of pathology. I went on to work as a trainee pathologist at the state veterinary diagnostic laboratory where for over two years I worked with a great team of pathologists and other laboratory specialists, primarily helping field vets with livestock and poultry disease investigations and disease regulatory/surveillance work. Wanting to further my pathology skills I came to Cornell and completed a residency in anatomic pathology. I wanted to better understand the diseases we see with the naked eye and microscope down at the molecular and genetic level.


For my Cornell Clinical Fellows project, I will be studying the how cancer cells evade the immune system, specifically the role of the PD-1 pathway in canine lymphoma. PD-1 is a downregulator of T cell activation important in the resolution of inflammation and prevention of autoimmunity. Exploitation of this pathway by cancer cells is thought to prevent cytotoxic T cells from killing the cancer cells. Blockade of this inhibitory signal would free the cytotoxic T cells to do their job and studies in humans and mice have indeed shown blockade PD-1 has led to cancer remission. However, many pressing questions remain to be answer: which biomarkers predict response to treatment, which immunotherapy is the best option for a specific cancer, what is the optimal treatment regime? For such questions, the companion dog provides the best available, large animal, outbred, immunocompetent model. Better understanding how cancer cells and immune cells interact in dogs not only improves our ability to treat and care for our beloved companions but also yields valuable data to improve human treatments.

Former Cornell Clinical Fellows

Fellow Years in Program Faculty Mentor Title of Research Project Current Position
Dr. Luciano Caixeta 2011-2013 Dr. Daryl Nydam Define the roll of FGF-21, a hormone-like protein, produce in the liver that take action of lipid mobilization, mechanism very important on the attempt to regulate the metabolism on the peri-parturient period
PhD Candidate, Animal Science, Cornell University
Dr. Nedra Holmes 2012-2013 Dr. Robert Weiss Determine the requirement for Sirt5 during malignant transformation in vivo using a mouse model of cancer Staff Veterinarian at Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital
Dr. Jodie Gerdin 2012-2013 Dr. John Parker Investigations into the mechanisms of feline calicivirus infection of epithelial cells Adjunct Professor, University of Florida
Veterinary Forensic Pathology
Dr. Erin Daugherity 2010-2012 Dr. Robert Weiss Analyzing the roles of hepatic lipid accumulation and sex steroids in hepatocarcinogenesis using liver-specific p53 conditional knockout mice Clinical Veterinarian, Cornell University Animal Hospital, with continued work in the Weiss Lab.
Dr. Sarah Pownder 2010-2012 Dr. Lisa Fortier Quantitative MRI for evaluation of meniscal repair in the sheep Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, NY. Research Division, Instructor on the Research Track in the MRI Laboratory. Also works part-time at Cornell University Veterinary Specialists in Stamford, CT as staff radiologist.
Dr. Sarah Helmond 2009-2011 Dr. Margory Brooks Do inflammatory mediators include platelets and monocytes to become procoagulant? Practice, Colorado
Dr. Alexandra Burton 2008-2010 Dr. Daryl Nydam Molecular epidemiology of the zoonotic transmission of cryptospordium species from foals, calves, and crias University of Georgia, PhD Degree Program
Dr. Kelly Hume 2008-2010 Dr. Robert Weiss In vivo investigation of DNA damage responses in mice when Hus 1 expression is reduced Cornell University, Instructor, Department of Clinical Sciences
Dr. Sophy Jesty 2008-2010 Dr. Michael Kotlikoff To determine the effects of ranolazine on fibrillatory parameters (rotor number, dominant frequency) of AF in intact equine atrial tissue using optical mapping
University of Tennessee, Associate Professor, 
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences