Biological and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

Running horses  


Cornell Combined DVM/PhD Degree Program

Jennifer Cassano, Current Combined DVM/PhD Student

Jennifer CassanoJennifer Cassano
Field of Comparative Biomedical Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Lisa Fortier




Brief Biography

Jennifer Cassano grew up in Valley Stream, NY, right next to Queens at the beginning of Long Island.  As an undergraduate, she became interested in adding the idea of becoming a teacher to her dream of being a veterinarian. Her undergraduate research thesis involved a project using genetics, immunology, and virology to analyze equine sarcoid. She applied to the dual degree program to realize her dream of combining her passions for veterinary medicine, teaching, and research. Since beginning the program, she has completed her laboratory rotations and will be completing her veterinary degree in May.  She will be joining Dr. Lisa Fortier’s lab full time this summer with the support of the college’s Graduate Research Assistantship.  She is an alumna of the Cornell Veterinary Investigator Program and the Cornell Leadership Program. 

She enjoys horseback riding, running with her dog Riley and playing fetch with her toothless cat Tegan. She has been involved in a large community singing group in the university called Chorale for many years. She loves Ithaca, from the gorges to the farmers market, where there is nothing better than breakfast burritos, except perhaps the flatbread pizza.


BS in Animal Science, Magna Cum Laude, Distinction in Research, Cornell University 2009

Research Interests

Jennifer is currently researching the role of immunology in relation to equine mesenchymal stem cells in the Fortier laboratory.  By using the horse as a model, she is looking how manipulating the immunological environment of stem cells impacts their ability to facilitate healing.

Publications and Presentations

Tseng CT, Miller D, Cassano J, Bailey E, Antczak DF. 2010. Identification of equine major histocompatibility complex haplotypes using polymorphic microsatellites. Anim Genet 41:150-3.

poster presentations

“GTPase Activating Proteins in Equine Articular Chondrocytes” at the Merck-Merial Veterinary Student Conference at North Carolina State University (Aug. 2009)