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Michelle   Dennis DVM, PhD, DACVP

Associate Professor of Anatomic Pathology

Dr. Michelle Dennis attended the School of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University and received her DVM in 2002. She completed a combined pathology residency and PhD program at Colorado State University in 2007. She was a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, and a diagnostic pathologist at QML Vetnostics in Brisbane prior to joining RUSVM in 2014. She has special interest and over 10 years of experience in diagnosing disease in aquatic animals.


BS Biology, Purdue University

DVM Purdue University

PHD and Residency Colorado State University

Graduate Certificate in Higher Education The University of Sydney


Combined training in epidemiology and pathology has been the basis for observational research of naturally-occurring disease in companion animals, livestock and aquatic animals, including prognostication of neoplastic disease, diagnosis and pathogenesis of Johne’s disease, surveillance and diagnosis of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies in ruminants, mortality in sled dogs, morbidity in retail ornamental fish, streptococcosis in sting rays, piscine cryptosporidiosis, nephrocalcinosis in farm-reared cobia, sanguinicolid-associated mortality in southern bluefin tuna, and ecotoxicologic disease in free-living finfish and mudcrabs. Present research examines mortality in leatherback sea turtle embryos and hatchlings, diseases of queen conch, lionfish, sea urchins, Caribbean spiny lobster, and corals.


Current Projects

Histological and parasitic assessment of white sea urchins (Tripneustes ventricous) in St. Kitts
Prevalence and progression of macroscopic abnormalities in annular (Orbicella annularis) and mountainous (O. faveolata) star corals in St. Kitts
Development of a dissection manual and histopathology guide for queen conch (Lobatus gigas)
Health survey of queen conch (Lobatus gigas), in St. Kitts
Pathology of embryo and hatchling mortality in Caribbean leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea)
Contaminants associated with embryo mortality in St Kitts’ leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea)
Connectivity, aging, and diseases of St. Kitts’ Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus)
Microparasite-associated pathology in invasive lionfish (Pterois spp.) from St. Kitts
Pathology of spot bleaching in elliptical star coral (Dichocoenia stokesii)
Pathology of staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) during a thermal bleaching event
Histological assessment of Aspergillosis in the common sea fan (Gorgonia ventalina)


Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Pathologists

Publication Highlights

L. Dagher, A.G. Armién, J. Dundas, M.M. Dennis. Mammary embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma with widespread metastasis in an adult dog. Vet Rec Case Rep. 2017, 5(5).

C.R. Larson, M.M. Dennis, R.V. Nair, A. Llanes, A. Peda, S. Welcome, S. Rajeev. Isolation and characterization of Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni from a dog from Saint Kitts. JIMM Case Rep. 201 Oct 23; 4(10).

R.O. Bowater, M.M. Dennis, D. Blyde, B. Stone, A. Barnes, M.A. Horton, M. White, K. Condon, F. Kong, R. Jones. Epizootics of Streptococcus agalactiae infection in captive rays from Queensland, Australia. J Fish Diseases. 2017, 00:1-10

E. Soto, M.M. Dennis, A. Beierschmitt, S. Francis, F. Sithole, I. Halliday-Simmons, R. Palmour. Biofilm formation of hypermucoviscous and non-hypermucoviscous Klebsiella penumoniae recovered from clinically affected African green monkey (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus). Microb Pathog. 2017, 107:198-201.

E.B. Russell, M.N. Gunew, M.M. Dennis, C.L. Halliday. Cerebral pyogranulomatous encephalitis caused by Cladophialophra bantiana in a 15-week-old domestic shorthair kitten. JFMS Open Rep. 2016, 2(2):2055116916677935.

E. Soto, M. Zayas, J. Tobar, O. Illanes, S. Yount, S. Francis, M.M. Dennis. Laboratory-controlled challenges of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) with Streptococcus agalactiae: Comparisons between immersion, oral, intracoelomic and intramuscular routes of infection. J Comp Pathol. 2016, 155(4):339-345.

M.M. Dennis, B.K. Diggles, R. Faulder, L. Olyott, S.B. Pyecroft, G.E. Gilbert, M. Landos. Pathological findings in finfish and mud crabs (Scylla serrata) during a mortality event associated with a harbor development project in Port Curtis, Australia. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms. 2016. 121(3):173-188.

A.G. Hill, M.M. Dennis, M. Pyne. Squamous cell carcinoma with hepatic metastasis in a saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). Australian Veterinary Journal. 2016. 94(3): 83-6.

M.B. Kung, V.J. Poirier, M.M. Dennis, D.M. Vail, R.C. Straw. Hypofractionated radiation therapy for the treatment of microscopic canine soft tissue sarcoma. Veterinary Comparative Oncology. 2016, 14(4): e134-e145.

M.M. Dennis, B. Diggles. Multicentric orocutaneous fibrosarcoma in a fork-tailed catfish (Hemiarius dioctes). Journal of Fish Diseases. 2015. 38 (12): 1077-81.

P.A. Schaffer, B. Wobeser, M.M. Dennis, C.G. Duncan. Non-neoplastic lesions of equine skin in the central United States and Canada: a retrospective study. Canadian Veterinary Journal. 2013. 54(3): 262-6.

P.A. Schaffer, B. Wobeser, M.M. Dennis, C.G. Duncan. Cutaneous neoplastic lesions of equids in the central United States and Canada: 3,351 biopsy specimens from 3,272 equids (2000-2010). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2013. 242: 99-104.

G. Ma, M. Dennis, K. Rose, D. Spratt, D. Spielman. Tawny frogmouths and brushtail possums as sentinels for Angiostongylus cantonensis, the rat lungworm. Veterinary Parasitology. 2013, 192:158-65.

R. Barugahare, M.M. Dennis, J.A. Becker, J. Slapeta. Detection of Cryptosporidium molnari oocysts from fish by fluorescent-antibody staining assays for cryptosporidium spp. Affecting humans. Applied Environmental Microbiology. 2011, 77:1878-80.

R. Barugahare, J.A. Becker, M Landos, J Slapeta, M.M. Dennis. Gastric cryptosporidiosis in farmed Australian Murray cod, Maccullochella peelii peelii. Aquaculture. 2011, 314:1-6.

K.A. Briscoe, M. Krockenberger, J.A. Beatty, A. Crowley, M.M. Dennis, P.J. Canfield, A.E. Lingard, V.R. Barrs. Histopathological and immunohistochemical evaluation of 62 cases of feline lymphocytic-plasmacytic enteritis and alimentary lymphoma. Journal of Comparative Pathology. 2011, 145:187-98.

M.M. Dennis, J. Henriquez, G. Keipert, J. Biazik, F. Braet; An outbreak of granulomatous peritonitis caused by injectable selenium in a flock of Merino sheep; Australian Veterinary Journal. 2011, 89:209-12.

S. Wickens, M.M. Dennis, M. Landos, A. Rimmer, R.J. Whittington.  Survey of diseases of sick freshwater ornamental fish in retail outlets of New South Wales. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms. 2011, 94:143-52.

L.J. Gabor, M. Srivastava, J. Titmarsh, M. Dennis, M. Gabor, M. Landos.  Cryptosporidiosis in intensively reared Barramundi (Lates calcarifer).  Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation. 2011, 23:383-6.

M.M. Dennis, M. Landos, T. D’Antignana. Case-control study of epidemic mortality and Cardicola forsteri-associated disease in farmed southern bluefin tuna, Thunnus maccoyii, of South Australia. Veterinary Pathology. 2011, 48:846-55.

M.M Dennis, L.A. Reddacliff, R.J. Whittington.  Longitudinal study of clinicopathological features of Johne’s disease in sheep naturally exposed to Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis. Veterinary Pathology. 2011, 48:565-75.

M.M. Dennis, K. McSporran, Y. Schulman, R. Foster, N.J. Bacon, B.E. Powers; Review of Predictive and Prognostic Factors for Cutaneous and Subcutaneous Soft Tissue Sarcomas in Dogs. Veterinary Pathology. 2011, 48:73-84.

J.D. Webster, M.M. Dennis, N. Dervisis, J. Heller, N.J. Bacon, P.J. Bergman, D. Bienzle, G. Cassali, M. Castagnaro, J. Cullen,D.G. Esplin, L. Peña, M.H. Goldschmidt, K.A. Hahn, C.J. Henry, E. Hellmén, D. Kamstock, J. Kirpensteijn, B.E. Kitchell, R. Laufer Amorim, S.D. Lenz, T.P. Lipscomb, M. McEntee, L.D. McGill, P.M. McManus, A.S. Moore, P.F. Moore, S.D. Moroff, H. Nakayama, N.C. Northrup, G. Sarli, T. Scase, K. Sorenmo, Y. Schulman, A.M. Shoieb, R.C. Smedley, W.L. Spangler, E. Teske, D.H. Thamm, V.E. Valli, W. Vernau, H. von Euler, S.J. Withrow, S.E. Weisbrode, J. Yager, M. Kiupel; American College of Veterinary Pathologists and World Small Animal Veterinary Association Recommended Guidelines for the Conduct and Evaluation of Prognostic Studies in Veterinary Oncology; Veterinary Pathology. 2011, 48:7-18.

D.A. Kamstock, E.J. Ehrhart, D.M. Getzy, N.J. Bacon, K.M. RAssnick, S.D. Moroff, S.M. Liu, R.C. Straw, C.A. McKnight, R.L. Amorim, D. Bienle, G.D. Cassali, J.M. Cullen, M.M. Dennis, D.G. Esplin, R.A. Foster, M.H. Goldschmidt, A.D. Gruber, E. Hellmen, E.W. Howerth, P. Labelle, S.D. Lenz, T.P. Lipscomb, E. Locke, L.D. McGill, M.A. Miller, P.J. Mouser, D. O’Toole, R.R. Pool, B.E. Powers, J.A. Ramos-Vara, P. Roccabianca, A.D. Ross, A. Sailasuta, G. Sarli, T.J. Scace, F.Y. Schulman, Am.M. Shoieb, K. Singh, D. Sledge, R.C. Smedley, K.C. Smith, W.L. Spangler, B. Steficek, P.C. Stromber, V.E. Valli, J. Yager, M. Kiupel. Recommended Guidelines for Submission, Trimming, Margin Evaluation and Reporting of Tumor Biopsy Specimens in Veterinary Surgical Pathology. Veterinary Pathology. 2011. 48:19-31.

R.W. Whittington, J. Becker, M.M. Dennis.  Iridovirus infections in finfish – critical review with emphasis on ranaviruses.  Journal of Fish Diseases, 2010, 33:95-122.