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CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: The NC State Veterinary Hospital is seeing only emergency patients until further notice.

Veterinary Hospital Changes Reduce Risk While Continuing Care



Associate Professor, Oncology & Immunology

Office: 919.513.6183

• BA, English, Biology; Rutgers, 1985
• DVM; Mississippi State, 1992
• PhD, Immunology; NCSU, 2002 [Gilboa Lab, Duke]

Post-Graduate Training
• Small Animal Rotating Internship; NCSU, 1992-3
• Residency, Small Animal Internal Medicine; NCSU, 1994-7
• Post-doctoral researcher, UNC-CH, 2003-8, [Frelinger Lab]
• Residency, Medical Oncology; NCSU, 2002-8
Professional Affiliations
• Graduate Faculty, NCSU Comparative Biomedical Sciences (CBS), Immunology Concentration
• NCSU Biotechnology Program
• NCSU Comparative Medicine Institute
• American Association of Veterinary Immunologists
• American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (SAIM, Oncology)
Hess Lab: CD8+ T cells in Health & Disease

Research Interests
Cancer in dogs: We’re working to develop new immunotherapies for two common, deadly cancers of white blood cells, lymphoma and histiocytic sarcoma. Our goal is to harness the selective killing power of T cells and antibodies to eliminate the tiny number of cancer cells that somehow resist chemotherapy and ultimately claim a patient’s life. We are conducting 4 active studies in this area. With the exception of the first study, we are seeking donations to assist with the development of these technologies.
• Beginning the test of a novel peptide vaccine for treatment of lymphoma. This is an internal clinical trial limited to Golden Retriever and Boxer patients of the NC State Veterinary Hospital that have failed conventional chemotherapy [Funded by an NCSU Chancellor’s Innovation Fund].
• Investigating new antigens and adjuvants (immune targets and stimulants) for the next-generation version of the lymphoma vaccine.
• Developing a novel antibody-based therapy for targeting and eliminating chemoresistant lymphoma cells.
• We recently completed a study, funded by the Morris Animal Foundation, that used state-of-the-art DNA sequencing of lymphoma cell “fingerprints” in a patient’s blood during treatment as a way to measure the invisible burden of chemoresistant cancer cells. We’re now trying to develop a better method of detection that would have a sufficiently fast turn-around time to guide drug choices in individual patients, as they go through chemotherapy.

Viral infections in cats: Cats are afflicted by several chronic viral infections for which no effective treatments exist, such as those caused by the feline retroviruses FIV and FeLV, and the coronavirus that causes feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). Generating effective immunotherapies for these diseases depends on understanding why T cells, whose job it is to clear infected cells from the body, fail to do so when confronted with these particular viruses – how do they evade or disable the normal protective mechanisms? The first step in figuring this out requires much better characterization of the specialized immune signaling system - in cats, the Feline Leukocyte Antigen class I (FLAI for short) system – that cells use to let T cells know that they’ve become infected and should be eliminated. We have 1 active study in this area. The work was previously funded by grants from the CVM and the Morris Animal Foundation, and we’re now seeking additional donations to continue these efforts.

• State-of-the-art DNA sequencing is being used to decode FLAI genes, and to catalog the frequency of different gene versions (alleles) used by cats across the world to fight viral infections.

Current lab members:
• Jenny Holmes, MS; Research Technician / Lab Manager
• Alex Kapatos; PhD Graduate Student, CBS (Immunology)
• Noah Leesnitzer; Undergraduate Student (Genetics)
• Sashank Sabbineni; Undergraduate Student (Chemistry)
• Rachael Camiener, DVM; Medical Oncology Resident

• B-305, NCSU-CVM Main Building
• Dept. of Clinical Sciences
1060 William Moore Drive
Raleigh, NC 27607

Are you interested in becoming a student in the CBS Immunology Program at NCSU?

Are you interested in financially supporting this research?
• Donations can be made through the NCSU CVM Gift website at:
• After selecting “Choose a fund”, scroll to “Other”, check “Other – I would like to give to a different area” , and indicate the Hercules Fund/dog or Hercules Fund/cat, whichever is desired
• Thank you for support of these research endeavors. Even a small donation can have a big impact!

  • (2019) Cancer-Testis Antigens in Canine Histiocytic Sarcoma and Other Malignancies. Nemec PS, Kapatos A, Holmes JC, Stowe DM, Hess PR. | Vet Comp Oncol. 2019 Sep;17(3):317-328. PubMed PMID: 30854786.

  • (2019) Incidence and risk factors associated with development of clinical cardiotoxicity in dogs receiving doxorubicin. Hallman BE, Hauck ML, Williams LE, Hess PR, Suter SE. | J Vet Intern Med. 2019 Mar; 33(2):783-791. PubMed PMID: 30697816.

  • (2018) The prevalent Boxer MHC class Ia allotype dog leukocyte antigen (DLA)-88*034:01 preferentially binds nonamer peptides with a defined motif. Nemec PS, Kapatos A, Holmes JC, Hess PR. | HLA. 2018 Dec;92(6):403-407. PubMed PMID: 30239163.

  • (2018) Oral melphalan for the treatment of relapsed canine lymphoma. Mastromauro ML, Suter SE, Hauck ML, Hess PR. | Vet Comp Oncol. 2018 Mar;16(1):E123-E129. PubMed PMID: 28941072.

  • (2018) The canine MHC class Ia allele DLA-88*508:01 presents diverse self- and canine distemper virus-origin peptides of varying length that have a conserved binding motif. Ross P, Nemec PS, Kapatos A, Miller KR, Holmes JC, Suter SE, Buntzman AS, Soderblom EJ, Collins EJ, Hess PR. | Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2018 Mar;197:76-86. PubMed PMID: 29475511.

  • (2017) Saporin-conjugated tetramers identify efficacious anti-HIV CD8+ T-cell specificities. Leitman EM, Palmer CD, Buus S, Chen F, Riddell L, Sims S, Klenerman P, Sáez-Cirión A, Walker BD, Hess PR, Altfeld M, Matthews PC, Goulder PJR. | PLoS One. 2017;12(10):e0184496. PubMed PMID: 29020090.

  • (2017) Canine acute leukaemia: 50 cases (1989-2014). Bennett AL, Williams LE, Ferguson MW, Hauck ML, Suter SE, Lanier CB, Hess PR. | Vet Comp Oncol. 2017 Sep;15(3):1101-1114. PubMed PMID: 27402031.

  • (2015) Development of an ELISA to detect circulating anti-asparaginase antibodies in dogs with lymphoid neoplasia treated with Escherichia coli l-asparaginase. Kidd JA, Ross P, Buntzman AS, Hess PR. | Vet Comp Oncol. 2015 Jun;13(2):77-88. PubMed PMID: 23253146.