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Research Interests

My current research focuses on the biology of skin in normal development and in cancer.  In our lab, we study faithful models of human skin and also study methods to model invasion in different epithelial cancers (squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, etc.).  By learning the details of the very important process by which a tumor invades tissue, I hope to be able to extrapolate this knowledge to the study of invasive tumors in animals.  The collaborative study of cancer in both humans and animals has a lot of important benefits for human and veterinary patients.  Medications in ongoing trials for humans may be used to treat spontaneous animal tumors, providing important information on safety and efficacy for the human drug approval process and giving animals treatment options where no existed previously.  The unique tumor biology that can be found in some of our exotic species may pokies fun also offer insights into tumor mechanisms that cannot be gained with current research methods.

Additionally, I am working with colleagues at Stanford University to develop a tumor reporting database for tumors in exotic species and wildlife.  It is uncommon for one institution to see enough cases of any one tumor to make any significant statement about response to treatment and prognosis.  However, by pooling data from major veterinary institutions, as well as contributions from local practitioners, we may gain a better sense of the frequency of tumors in our pet exotic population and get better ideas of what works and what doesn’t.  This information may then guide clinical trials and further research into underlying mechanisms of these diseases.

If you are interested in learning more about how to advance cancer research for exotic species and how you can help, follow the link below:

http://www.companionexotics.com/dr-ashley-zehnder-research/exotic-species-cancer-research-alliance/