Cornell Researcher Focuses on Cat Coronaviruses

Feline Health Center and Winn Foundation Add Support

Gary Whittaker, PhD., professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, is a leading researcher in the effort to better understand how feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) infects and causes disease in cats. Dr. Whittaker has been the recipient of over $750,000 in Cornell Feline Health Center (CFHC) grant support over the past 10 years.

Two of his current CFHC grants are focused on the development of diagnostic tests for detecting the coronaviral mutation that makes the infection severe, the use of fluorescent probes to light up the virus’ genetic material under the microscope in tissue samples, and improving our understanding of the molecular mechanism by which coronaviruses use macrophages (a type of white blood cell) to cause FIP in cats.

In addition, Dr. Whittaker is the co-recipient of a recent $17,500 award from the Winn Feline Foundation. On this project, he will work with Susan Baker, PhD., from Loyola University to develop improved cell culture systems for feline coronavirus and on FIP vaccine development.