Veterinary dermatologist named UF Research Professor

Dr. Rosanna Marsella

Dr. Rosanna Marsella

Rosanna Marsella, D.V.M., Ph.D., a veterinary dermatologist at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, has received a UF Research Foundation professorship.

Sponsored by the university’s Office of Research, the professorships are awarded to faculty members campuswide who have a distinguished record of research and a strong research agenda that is likely to lead to continuing distinction in their fields. The honor includes a three-year salary increase of $5,000 and a one-time $3,000 grant for research support. The professorships are funded from the university’s share of royalty and licensing income on UF-generated products.

Thirty-three UF faculty members were selected as UFRF professors this year. All were recommended by their college deans based on nominations from their department chairs, a personal statement and an evaluation of their recent research accomplishments. Marsella, a professor in the college’s department of small animal clinical sciences, studies the immunology of allergic skin diseases and has a special interest in the causes of and treatments for atopic dermatitis, which affects both dogs and children.

Atopic dermatitis has become extremely common in westernized countries, now affecting up to 40 percent of children of preschool age in countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

“Dogs naturally develop atopic dermatitis that is clinically and immunologically identical to the human condition, thus constituting the ideal species for an animal model that can help identify ways to prevent or halt the progression of the disease,” Marsella said.

Marsella developed and validated such an animal model using a colony of beagles with naturally occurring atopic dermatitis, which has led to the testing of promising drugs for use in both children and pets. In addition, these dogs have aided the study of natural strategies involving beneficial bacteria to minimize the development of allergies, and also serve as a model for the study of peanut allergy.

“We hope to one day formulate a vaccine that will help children with food allergies,” Marsella said.

She plans to expand her research efforts into allergic skin disease through a collaborative long-term effort with the UF College of Medicine to increase overall understanding of mechanisms of atopy and to identify safe new treatments to overcome these diseases and improve the quality of life for affected patients.

Marsella also received a UF Superior Accomplishment Award in 2006 and the Florida Association of Kennel Clubs’ Clinical Investigator Award in 2002.

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