Comparative Biosciences

Comparative Biosciences is creating the future of science and medicine, extending new knowledge into real-life applications to improve the health of animals and people.

Welcome! Our department is a place where students and researchers pursue advances in comparative medicine, from basic science discovery through regulatory approval and successful application to human and animal health. We invite you to learn more about our work.

 Mission | Areas of Focus | Faculty | Key Collaborations | News



  • Instruct veterinary and graduate students in the pre-clinical sciences of gross anatomy, histology, developmental anatomy, neurobiology, physiology, pharmacology and toxicology
  • Conduct original, cutting-edge research on critical problems of animal, human, and environmental/ecosystem health
  • Sustain a university-leading program in comparative biomedical training and research
  • Offer clinical pharmacology and clinical toxicology diagnostic services and engage students in these activities
  • Participate in leadership and governance of professional and scientific societies as well as of the department, college, and university


Areas of Focus

The majority of our faculty work within several interconnected fields of interest. We bring a broad range of techniques and approaches to bear on these core areas: from micro-RNA to animal and human patient epidemiology to ecological assessments, and from cellular biology to applied clinical pharmacology and toxicology and ecosystem health. Experimental models used in the department vary from stem cells to rodent and frog models to domestic animals, wildlife, and large prospective trials involving human patients.

Reproductive Biology

  • Current projects: Endocrine/reproductive biology and toxicology; uterine and placental biology; molecular mechanisms of early embryonic development; circadian rhythms in animal models of shift work and jet lag and impact on reproductive health
  • Faculty: Indrani Bagchi, David Bunick, Jodi Flaws, Quanxi Li, Megan Mahoney, Wenyan Mei, Jing Yang
  • Center: Center For Research in Reproduction and Infertility

Developmental and Stem Cell Research

  • Current projects: Generation of 3D vascularized tissues for total replacement biologic products and other therapeutic purposes in regenerative medicine; the role of PTB (polypyrimidine tract binding protein) in regulating stem-cell-based tissue regeneration
  • Faculty: Suzanne Berry, Wenyan Mei, MT Valarmathi, Jing Yang


  • Current projects: Impact of environmental and dietary compounds on neurodevelopment and on addictive potential of substances of abuse; effects of environmental factors and hormonal influences on cognitive functioning and neurotransmission
  • Faculty: Paul Eubig, Duncan Ferguson, Sidonie Lavergne, Megan Mahoney, Susan Schantz
  • Center: Botanical Research Center

Ecosystem/Environmental Health

  • Current projects: Environmental and ecological toxicology; the interplay between infectious agents and contaminants in wildlife populations
  • Faculty: Matthew Allender, Indrani Bagchi, Paul Eubig, Duncan Ferguson, Jodi Flaws, Sidonie Lavergne, Megan Mahoney, Susan Schantz
  • Center: Children’s Environmental Health Research Center at Illinois (I-Kids)

Comparative Pharmacology and Toxicology

  • Current projects: Stem cells for assessment of small molecule and nanoparticle pharmacology and toxicology; the interplay between  infectious agents and contaminants with wildlife populations; comparative drug disposition and pharmacokinetics; immunopharmacology and drug allergy; cancer chemotherapy
  • Faculty: Michael Biehl, Aditi Das, Levent Dirikolu, Duncan Ferguson, Sidonie Lavergne



  • Department Administration

    Duncan Ferguson, Head

    Indrani Bagchi, Assistant Head

    David Bunick, Director of Graduate Programs

    Carol Bunick, Graduate Program Coordinator


  • Key Collaborations and Affiliations



    News Comparative Biosciences News

    [screen capture from video]

    Department Head Educates Thousands Through TED Ed Video

    Oct 12, 2014 / Comparative Biosciences News

    Dr. Duncan Ferguson, head of comparative biosciences, and Dr. Margarethe Hoenig, veterinary clinical medicine, recently worked with a TED Ed team to create an educational video entitled “What did dogs teach humans about diabetes?” TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. The description of the video...

    [Matt Allender in his lab with a snake]

    Scientists Gear up to Fight Deadly Snake Fungal Disease

    Jul 15, 2014 / Comparative Biosciences News

    Now we can identify the infections earlier, we can intervene earlier and we can potentially increase our success of treatment or therapy. Researchers have developed a faster and more accurate way to test for infection with Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, a fungus that is killing snakes in the Midwest and eastern United States. The test also allows...

    A Minute with … Jodi Flaws on bisphenol A

    Jun 12, 2014 / Comparative Biosciences News

    Researchers have conducted hundreds of studies of the potential health effects of exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical compound found in some plastic food containers, cash-register receipts and resin coatings in food-storage cans. Because it is a hormone mimic, a key concern is that exposure to BPA disrupts normal reproductive function. University of Illinois...

    Submit A Story

    Read More