Graduate student furthers dermatology research with new AKC fellowship

Dr. Lopa Kher

Dr. Lopa Kher

Dr. Lopamudra Kher, a Ph.D. student in the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of small animal clinical sciences, has received a fellowship for the second consecutive year from the American Kennel Club in support of her dermatology research.

The 2022 fellowship will allow Kher to continue the work she began in 2021. Each year’s fellowship was funded for $12,000, including a travel stipend to allow for the cost of presenting at a conference.

The fellowships are also sponsored in part by the Westie Foundation of America.

“I will be studying the effect of signaling molecules, or cytokines, associated with canine atopic dermatitis on S. pesudointermedius bacteria,” Kher said.

Atopic dermatitis is a common skin disease seen affecting dogs, cats as well as humans. Staphylococcus pseudintermedius is most commonly associated with canine atopic dermatitis, exacerbating the disease, she added.

“Staphylococcal colonization is a potential sequel to this disease and is mediated by local cytokines,” Kher said.

So far there have been no studies looking directly into the effect these signaling molecules have on S. pseudintermedius growth, she said.

“Our previous study showed that cytokines are responsible for influencing S. pseudintermedius growth. Therefore, our next aim is to identify the target site using special staining technique for the cytokine on the bacteria,” Kher said.

From her new study, she hopes to accomplish a better understanding of interaction between the cytokine and bacteria.

“If successful, this will help us development therapeutic options to better control the inflammatory response and antibiotic exposure in atopic dogs reducing bacterial colonization,” she said.

Kher completed her Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry and Master of Science degree in veterinary parasitology at Maharashtra Animal and Fishery Sciences University in India. She then completed a Master of Science degree at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine and is now a doctoral candidate in the Small Animal Clinical Sciences Department of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

She hopes to become board-certified in veterinary dermatology and work in research and clinical settings. Her mentor is Dr. Domenico Santoro, an associate professor of dermatology at the college.


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