Center of Comparative Medicine & Pathology: Faculty

Odessa Giardino, MS, CVT, RLATG

Ms. Giardino is head of Education and Quality Assurance for the Research Animal Resource Center (RARC), which serves both Weill Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Ms. Giardino received her MS degree in biology from Montclair State University, and is a board-certified veterinary technician and a laboratory animal technologist certified by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). Ms. Giardino is active in AALAS at the national and local levels, serving as committee vice-chair and on the board of trustees, respectively. Ms. Giardino has extensive experience in the development and implementation of training programs and regulatory compliance in laboratory animal science. She has primary responsibility for monitoring institutional compliance with applicable federal, state, and local regulations and provides regulatory and training support to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees at Weill Cornell and Memorial Sloan Kettering. Her special interests include research into models of neuropathology and drug metabolism, and the development of novel surgical models.

Michelle L. Lepherd, BVSc, PhD

Dr. Lepherd is a comparative pathologist for the Laboratory of Comparative Pathology and the Genetically Engineered Mouse Phenotyping Service. She received her Bachelor of Veterinary Science (DVM equivalent) from The University of Sydney, Australia, in 1998 and a PhD in wound healing and the acute phase response, also from The University of Sydney, in 2009. Dr. Lepherd gained experience as a veterinary pathologist at The John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University, Australia, and did postgraduate training in clinical pathology as an intern at The University of Sydney, and in anatomic pathology as a resident at Cornell University. She is board certified in both veterinary anatomic pathology and clinical pathology and has been a member of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists Pathobiology Chapter since 2006. Dr. Lepherd is primary author on multiple peer-reviewed articles on wound healing and the acute phase response in sheep, and has authored or co-authored and presented diagnostic pathology cases and research at regional and national meetings. Dr. Lepherd joined the Laboratory of Comparative Pathology in 2011 and provides diagnostic and research pathology services to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, and the Rockefeller University, with a particular interest in clinical pathology, tissue injury and regeneration, and the tumor microenvironment. She holds a faculty appointment as an assistant professor of comparative pathology in laboratory medicine and pathology at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Christine Lieggi, DVM

Dr. Lieggi is the Associate Director and Head of Veterinary Services in the Research Animal Resource Center, which serves both Weill Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Lieggi received her veterinary degree from Michigan State University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in laboratory animal medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been a diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine since 2005. Dr. Lieggi has experience with a wide range of animal species utilized in the biomedical research setting, including rodents, primates, canines, and farm animals. She enjoys teaching, and her special interests include anesthesia and the management of pain and distress in the research setting.

Neil S. Lipman, VMD

Dr. Lipman is the Director of the Center of Comparative Medicine and Pathology, which serves both Weill Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and serves as Co-Director of the Tri-Institutional Training Program in Laboratory Animal Medicine and Science. Dr. Lipman holds faculty appointments as a professor of veterinary medicine in pathology and laboratory medicine at Weill Cornell and as a Laboratory Member in the Immunology Program of the Sloan Kettering Institute. He received his veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania and training in comparative medicine from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Lipman has been a diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine since 1988. Over the past 24 years, Dr. Lipman has also held various animal resource program service and academic appointments at the University of Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Brown University. His research and subspecialty interests include animal facility design and management, endocrinological disorders of laboratory animals, rodent caging systems, and the in vitro production of monoclonal antibodies

Kerith Luchins, DVM

Dr. Luchins serves as a senior clinical veterinarian in the Research Animal Resource Center, which serves both Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College. She obtained her veterinary degree from the College of Veterinary Medicines at the University of Illinois in 2008. After graduating from veterinary school, Dr. Luchins completed a companion animal medicine and surgery rotating internship at the Louisiana State University followed by a laboratory animal medicine residency program at the Tulane National Primate Research Center. She received her board certification in laboratory animal medicine in 2012 while working as a clinical veterinarian at the Tulane National Primate Research Center. Dr. Luchins has primary responsibility for the veterinary clinical and surgical programs implemented at Memorial Sloan Kettering facilities.

Sébastien Monette, DMV, MVSc

Dr. Monette is a comparative pathologist for the Laboratory of Comparative Pathology and the Genetically Engineered Mouse Phenotyping Service. He holds faculty appointments as an Assistant Laboratory Member in the Sloan Kettering Institute's Cancer Biology and Genetics Program, and as an assistant professor of comparative pathology at the Weill Cornell Medical College. He received his veterinary degree from the Université de Montréal and completed a residency program and master's degree in veterinary anatomic pathology at the University of Saskatchewan. He has been a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists since 2003. Prior to arriving at the Laboratory of Comparative Pathology, Dr. Monette acquired extensive experience in diagnostic surgical pathology, with an emphasis on oncologic and ophthalmic pathology, during his five years as a staff pathologist at the Animal Medical Center. His research interests have included the development and application of diagnostic and prognostic methods for animal tumors, the phenotypic characterization of new genetically engineered animal models, and the radiologic-pathologic correlation of novel minimally invasive tumor ablation modalities.

Andrew Nicholson, DVM, PhD

Dr. Nicholson is the Director of Animal Subjects Research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Director of Animal Welfare Assurance at Weill Cornell Medical College. He serves as the Chairman of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at Weill Cornell (IACUC) and as the Vice-Chairman of the IACUC at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Dr. Nicholson holds faculty appointments as an associate research professor of comparative pathology at Weill Cornell and as an Associate Laboratory Member in the Immunology Program of the Sloan Kettering Institute. He received his veterinary degree from Michigan State University, training in veterinary pathology from the University of Florida, and his PhD degree from the Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University. For the past 20 years, Dr. Nicholson has studied cardiovascular disease and macrophage scavenger receptors using murine models of atherosclerosis with support from the National Institutes of Health.

Skye Rasmussen, DVM

Dr. Rasmussen is a research associate and the Assistant Director of the Comparative Bioscience Center at The Rockefeller University. She is also the attending veterinarian at PsychoGenics, Inc., a biotech company that specializes in rodent behavioral neurobiology. Dr. Rasmussen received her veterinary degree at The Ohio State University. After graduating from veterinary school, she spent several years as an emergency and critical care clinician at a small animal specialty referral hospital. Dr. Rasmussen completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Tri-Institutional Training Program in Laboratory Animal Medicine and Science in 2010 and has been a diplomat of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine since 2011. Her interests include rodent behavioral neurobiology, aquatic species, and the development of rodent surgical models.

Rodolfo J. Ricart Arbona, MLAS, DVM

Dr. Ricart serves as a senior clinical veterinarian in the Research Animal Resource Center, which serves both Weill Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He received his master's degree in laboratory animal science from Hahnemann University School of Medicine. He obtained his veterinary degree at The Ohio State University. After graduating from veterinary school he completed a small animal medicine and surgery internship at Oradell Animal Hospital. Dr. Ricart completed a postdoctoral fellowship in laboratory animal medicine and science at the Tri-Institutional Training Program in 2009. He received board certification in laboratory animal medicine in 2010 while working at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. His interests include animal models in neuroscience, colony health management, and large animal anesthesia.

Ravi Tolwani, DVM, PhD

Dr. Tolwani is Associate Vice President and Director of the Comparative Bioscience Center at The Rockefeller University. Dr. Tolwani received his DVM degree from Auburn University, his PhD degree in molecular and cellular pathology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and his MS degree in management from Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He has been a diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine since 1995. Prior to arriving at Rockefeller, Dr. Tolwani was an associate professor and attending veterinarian at Stanford. His research has focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of plasticity of the nervous system using mouse models of neurological disease.

Julie R. White, DVM

Dr. White serves as a comparative pathologist for the Laboratory of Comparative Pathology and the Genetically Engineered Mouse Phenotyping Service. In addition, she is head of the Clinical Pathology Division of the Laboratory Animal Research Center's Diagnostic Laboratory at The Rockefeller University. Dr. White provides clinical and anatomic pathology support to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Rockefeller investigative staff as well as quarantine and diagnostic services. She received her DVM degree from Louisiana State University and completed an internship in small animal/exotic medicine and surgery at the Animal Medical Center. She completed postdoctoral training in veterinary anatomic pathology jointly at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital and Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, and received board certification in veterinary anatomic pathology in 2003. Dr. White has extensive experience with pathology associated with population medicine and exotic animals, which she acquired in her four years as an associate pathologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society. Her professional activities include numerous abstracts and presentations at international meetings.

Felix R. Wolf, Dr. med. vet, FVH, PhD

Dr. Wolf is Deputy Director of the Center of Comparative Medicine and Pathology, which serves both Weill Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Wolf holds faculty appointments as an associate professor of veterinary medicine in microbiology and immunology at the Weill Cornell, as a Laboratory Member in the Immunology Program at the Sloan Kettering Institute, and as an associate professor in comparative medicine at Yale University. He received both his veterinary degree as well as his PhD degree from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and postdoctoral training at Yale. Dr. Wolf has been a diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine since 1998 and was a founding diplomate of the European College of Laboratory Animal Medicine. Dr. Wolf has 23 years of experience in laboratory animal medicine. His research and subspecialty interests include pathogenesis of rodent viruses, health monitoring, biocontainment, and biosecurity in general.