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 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

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

[Fred Kummerow in his laboratory]

A Minute With… Fred Kummerow on the FDA's Trans Fat Ban

Jun 5, 2015 / Comparative Biosciences News

Comparative biosciences professor Fred Kummerow, now 100, first reported a link between dietary trans fats and heart disease in 1957. Trained in lipid biochemistry, Kummerow later determined the mechanisms by which trans fats contributed to atherosclerosis in patients with heart disease. In 2009, he petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban trans fats from...

[blue-gloved hands hold a frog and wipe its yellow belly with a swab]

Task Force Looks at Diseases in Amphibians, Reptiles

May 30, 2015 / Comparative Biosciences News

Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC), a North American conservation network devoted to amphibians and reptiles and their habitats, recently formed a task force to coordinate response to disease outbreaks impacting those species. Matt Allender, DVM, PhD, of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, along with Matt Gray, PhD, from the University...

[3D depiction of the production of steroid hormones]

Flaws' BPA Research Inspires YouTube Video

May 12, 2015 / Comparative Biosciences News

A group of undergraduate students at the University of Pennsylvania recently created a video influenced by Dr. Jodi Flaws, professor of comparative biosciences at Illinois. Dr. Flaws specializes in research involving factors such as toxicants that can affect the female reproductive system. One of Dr. Flaws’ recent research projects looked at how bisphenol A (BPA),...

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