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Caroline Zeiss, DACVP, DACLAM

Professor of Comparative Medicine and of Ophthalmology and Visual Science; Chief of Pathology, Comparative Medicine



Caroline Zeiss is a Professor of Comparative Medicine, and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. She is Chief of Pathology in Comparative Medicine, and established and directed its Pathology Research Core from 2005-2019. Trained as an anatomic pathologist and laboratory animal veterinarian, Dr. Zeiss specializes in comparative neuropathology, ophthalmic pathology and non-human primate pathology. Her experience in neuropathology intersects with her research in animal to human translation of therapies for neurologic disease, and the graduate level course she teaches in comparative neuroanatomy. Similarly, her interest in non-human primate pathology stems from her ongoing clinical role as a laboratory animal clinician, almost exclusively practicing with simians. Dr. Zeiss’ expertise in ophthalmic pathology is informed by her research training in genetics and pathology of large animal models for retinitis pigmentosa. She has published broadly on ocular diseases of laboratory, wild and domestic animals. In collaboration with industry and academic researchers, she performs safety and efficacy pathology studies for ophthalmic interventions.

Dr. Zeiss’ research interest focuses primarily on understanding aspects of animal model use that impede translation of promising animal studies to humans. Her interest lies in neurologic disease, particularly in progressive neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. She has applied biomedical informatics, natural language processing and networks analysis to aid large scale evaluation of animal use patterns and the relationship of these to eventual FDA approval. Prior to these efforts, she led an independently funded laboratory focusing on mechanisms of neurodegeneration in retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. She is the Co-Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Yale, specifically to perform comparative neuropathologic analyses of aging primate brains.

Most recently, her translational work has broadened with award of two recent COVID grants, one to determine when COVID will reach endemic status, and the other to assess the impact of concurrent influenza and SARS-CoV-2 infection in hamsters.

Dr. Zeiss' contributions to veterinary education have been through her membership on the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (Chair, 2019), the accrediting body for all US, Canadian and some international veterinary schools. She is currently a member of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research, residing within the National Academy of Sciences.

She received her veterinary degree (with distinction) from the University of Pretoria (Onderstepoort) in South Africa. Following an internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery (University of Pennsylvania), she completed her Anatomic Pathology Residency training and received her PhD degree from Cornell University.

Dr. Zeiss is board certified in Veterinary Anatomic Pathology (2005) and Laboratory Animal Medicine (2012).

Education & Training

  • Fellowship
    National Institutes of Health (2015)
  • PhD
    Cornell University (1999)
  • PhD
    Cornell University (1999)
  • Residency in Anatomic Pathology
    Cornell University (1995)
  • Internship in Medicine and Surgery
    University of Pennsylvania (1991)
  • BVSc
    University of Pretoria (1990)

Honors & Recognition

Master of Arts Privatum (honorary degree)2012
Charles Louis Davis Award2006
Arnold Theiler Award for highest grades over entire course of veterinary study, University of South Africa1990

Professional Service

Conflict of Interest CommitteeMember2020 - Present
Institute of Laboratory Animal Research, National Academy of SciencesMember2019 - Present
Connecticut Veterinary Medical AssociationCommittee Member2017 - Present
Diversity Subcommittee (FAC)Member2016 - Present
Faculty Advisory CouncilMember2015 - 2018
Council on Education (American Veterinary Medical Association), Chair 2018The Council of Education accredits all Veterinary Schools in the United States, as well as Schools in Canada, Mexico, Australasia, Europe, the United Kingdom and the West Indies.2013 - 2019
Diplomate, American College of Laboratory Animal MedicineMember2012 - Present
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary PathologyMember2005 - Present
Institutional Animal Care and Use CommitteeMember2005 - 2007
American Veterinary Medical AssociationMember2005 - Present

Departments & Organizations