Siobhan P. Ellison

About Dr. Ellison

What sets one on a path that becomes their life’s work is often unknown, but I knew. I was eight years old, after emigrating to the United States and ending up in California with my family we adopted a pet, a pound puppy in the early and undetectable throes of distemper.

When the disease became apparent, we sorrowfully marched on down to the local veterinarian, who as fate would have it, turned out to be a fabulous wizard. In only a matter of minutes, he took the dying puppy into the bowels of his establishment, exerted his curative powers and returned with a happy, wriggling pet, albeit in a spanking new healthy body. He had performed a rare and impossibly difficult “soul transplant,” the wizard said, causing the puppy’s slightly different appearance. Although there were no lightning bolts in the area, I was struck with a vocation–deciding then and there that I would become a veterinarian. And a wizard too, it that wasn’t asking too much.

My research career launched, circa 1963.
Third place for fermentation and distillation of alcohol.

Milestones in the path include graduation from the University of Florida -four times! Bachelors and masters degrees were achieved in agricultural microbiology. It was 1973 and I discovered the power of antibody’s using indirect fluorescent antibody techniques to investigate leptospirosis in equine moon blindness-an autoimmune condition. I spent a few years honing research skills in a viral diagnostic laboratory at Shands Hospital and a biochemistry laboratory-both with a heavy emphasis on IFAT techniques. After graduating with a DVM (1983) and 14 years of equine practice I returned to the halls of academe to secure a PhD. It was there I joined the EPM research group and concentrated on the molecular biology of a single parasite, Sarcocystis neurona.

Many people contributed to my successes at the University of Florida, none more than the American Quarter Horse Association that funded my PhD work under the direction of Dr. Charles Graham . Dr. Graham was a crusty Texas veterinarian that taught me stubbornness and hard work would be its own reward. I learned this during a summer volunteer-internship at his Southwest Stallion Station in Elgin, TX. Fifteen years later he was the president of AQHA . He instantly remembered our time together when I contacted him about my project and he had no hesitation in granting the funds.

Postgraduate collaborations include projects with three large pharmaceutical companies, individual projects with researchers in Germany and Norway, molecular genetic collaborations at NIH, and individual scientists/clinicians working in universities here in the United States. There have been no greater collaborations that those with horse owners and their veterinarians. Each have contributed uniquely and greatly to my quest to find answers to difficult problems. My most recent research involves amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS. The ALS page is updated regularly. Scientific papers are the milestones of my life’s work.

Siobhan P. Ellison DVM PhD

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