Comparative Medicine and Translational Research Training Program

The NIH T32 funded the NC State Comparative Medicine and Translational Research Training Program (CMTRTP), established by the faculty in the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and the Comparative Medicine Institute (CMI) at North Carolina State University, offers fellowships to provide post-graduate (DVM) research opportunities for veterinary specialists in well-funded laboratories that will lead to a doctoral degree (PhD).  The training program emphasizes comparative and translational research and provides experience in multidisciplinary research programs designed to prepare trainees for an early career development award and a rapid transition to independence in a research-intensive career, with a priority on developing fellows for faculty positions in academia.

Eligible applicants will have completed their DVM and specialty residency training either at NC State or another college of veterinary medicine. Excellent academic credentials, prior research experience, and outstanding letters of recommendation emphasizing the potential for the applicant to become a productive, impactful clinician scientist are expected. CMTRTP fellows will be enrolled in the Comparative Biomedical Sciences (CBS) graduate program for the PhD. CBS is an umbrella graduate program consisting of seven concentration areas (Cell Biology, Neurosciences, Immunology, Pathology, Infectious Diseases, Population Medicine and Epidemiology, and Pharmacology). The CBS program has defined curricula for each concentration area with a number of electives available to all CBS students and allows students to take elective courses available in other graduate programs.

  • Associate membership in the Comparative Medicine Institute
  • Annual Fellowship Stipend: based on NIH post-doctoral pay scale
  • Travel Allowance: $1,000 per year
  • Tuition and Health Insurance: Fellow’s tuition and health insurance will be paid by the program.
  • Eligibility for Comparative Medicine Institute funded pilot grants.
  • Coursework: During the fall each year, trainees will participate in a capstone CMTRTP seminar course that emphasizes translational research, animal models of disease and application basic discoveries. The CMTRTP also has a monthly professional development course seminar designed to address topics essential for a successful career as a veterinary clinician scientist. Fellows will take a grant writing course introducing the fundamentals of preparing a successful grant and are eligible to participate in the CVM wide K Club, for those fellows and early faculty members preparing an NIH K Award application. Fellows will complete all the PhD requirements for the CBS graduate program including CBS 662: Professional Conduct in Biomedical Research.
  • Participation in an annual research symposium sponsored by the CVM and an annual research retreat organized by the Comparative Medicine Institute.

The NIH/NC State Comparative Medicine and Translational Research Training Program (CMTRTP) training faculty were selected based on membership in the Comparative Biomedical Sciences graduate program and the Comparative Medicine Institute, the theme of their research, proven track record in graduate training, particularly experience in post-DVM PhD training, and their ability to obtain extramural funding. They were brought together as CMTRTP training faculty because they embrace the multidisciplinary approach to research and share a focus on applying biomedical research discoveries. The CMTRTP fellows will complete their research training under the guidance of major advisor or co-advisor selected from the CMTRTP training faculty (listed below). The training faculty members are well funded, experienced, collaborative, and productive with expertise spanning a broad range of disciplines.

The faculty is multidisciplinary but highly collaborative with interactions in the areas of research, graduate training, and teaching. Areas of research include pharmacology, toxicology, cancer biology, comparative genomics, biochemistry, stem cell biology, gastroenterology, cell biology, developmental biology, infectious diseases, immunology, computational biology, disease modeling, bioinformatics, molecular epidemiology, microbiomics, tissue engineering, and stem cell biology.


Name Email Appointment(s) Research Interest
Adam Birkenheuer Comparative Biomedical Sciences (DOCS) Vector borne diseases; Genomic approaches to vaccine development
Anthony Blikslager Comparative Biomedical Sciences (DOCS) Gastrointestinal mucosal injury and repair 
Matthew Breen Comparative Biomedical Sciences (MBS) Cytogenomics of cancer
Ke Cheng Comparative Biomedical Sciences (MBS) Cardiac stem cells in cardiac repair
Christopher Dekaney Comparative Biomedical Sciences (MBS) Intestinal stem cells in epithelial repair
Troy Ghashghaei Comparative Biomedical Sciences (MBS) Developmental neurobiology
Liara Gonzalez Comparative Biomedical Sciences (DOCS) Mechanisms of intestinal stem cell differentiation in epithelial repair 
Jody Gookin Comparative Biomedical Sciences (DOCS) Mechanisms of intestinal defense and repair in infectious enteritis
Samuel Jones Comparative Biomedical Sciences (DOCS) Cell and molecular biology of inflammation
Cristina Lanzas Comparative Biomedical Sciences (PHP) Epidemiology and ecology of infectious diseases
Duncan Lascelles Comparative Biomedical Sciences (DOCS) Infectious disease epidemiology and modeling
Kathryn Meurs Comparative Biomedical Sciences (DOCS) Genomics of cardiac disease
Nanette Nascone-Yoder Comparative Biomedical Sciences (MBS) Chemical genetics strategies in amphibian embryos to investigate the mechanisms of digestive tract morphologies
Natasha Olby Comparative Biomedical Sciences (DOCS) Genetic basis of hereditary neurodegenerative diseases and brain neoplasia; Treatment of spinal cord injury 
Xinxia Peng Comparative Biomedical Sciences (MBS) Computational Biology
Jorge Piedrahita Comparative Biomedical Sciences (MBS) Role of imprinted genes in embryo development and in disease; Regenerative medicine
Lauren Schnabel Comparative Biomedical Sciences (DOCS) Stem cell immunobiology
Katie Sheats Comparative Biomedical Sciences (DOCS) Cellular mechanisms of inflammation
Heather Shive Comparative Biomedical Sciences (PHP) Genetics of cancer
Robert Smart Toxicology Dept (CBS) Characterization of genes/signaling pathways that are determinants of tumorigenesis
Siddhartha Thakur Comparative Biomedical Sciences (PHP) Molecular epidemiology of microbial multidrug resistance
Casey Theriot Comparative Biomedical Sciences (PHP) Clostridium difficile physiology and pathogenesis
Jeffrey Yoder Comparative Biomedical Sciences (MBS) Functional characterization of novel innate immune response genes

CMTRTP fellowships are made possible through funds from NC State and an NIH T32 training grant. Fellows are selected by the CMTRTP Executive Committee based on the CBS graduate program application submitted online ( or (for applicants already enrolled in the CBS graduate program), an application packet sent to the program director Dr. Sam Jones (see below for details). Funding for the second and third year is contingent upon satisfactory progress during the preceding year(s) of the fellowship and the availability of funds.

The College of Veterinary Medicine and the CMTRTP welcome visits by prospective applicants to learn about the training program and the CBS graduate program, and to meet with training faculty members and current fellows. Scholarships to offset travel expenses are available upon request. Please contact the Program Coordinator (Ms. Katie Sapko, to schedule a visit and to inquire about travel scholarships.

Application deadline is December 1st, 2021, 5:00pm.

Applicants who are not already enrolled in the CBS graduate program at NC State as a PhD student are required to submit a graduate school application for the CBS graduate program through the NC State Graduate School website.

Applicants already enrolled in the CBS graduate program will submit the following to Dr. Sam Jones.

  1. Letter of intent/personal statement
  2. Complete academic transcripts
  3. Three letters of recommendation
  4. Curriculum vitae

  • Student must be enrolled full time (or admitted to) the Comparative Biomedical Sciences research doctoral program at North Carolina State University by the beginning date of the fellowship.
  • Student must have completed their DVM specialty training at NC State or another college of veterinary medicine. Student must have an outstanding undergraduate and graduate academic record as evidenced by the cumulative grade point average.
  • Student must be a citizen, non-citizen national, or a permanent resident of the United States.
  • Student must select one of the training faculty members listed above as their major advisor or co-advisor. (This may be done after rotating through 1-3 laboratories).

Contact for more information:

Dr. Sam Jones
College of Veterinary Medicine
North Carolina State University
1060 William Moore Drive
Raleigh, NC 27607