Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Rodman G. Getchell

Dr. Getchell's PictureAssistant Research Professor

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
C4 177Veterinary Medical Center
Phone: 607-253-3393

PhD (Cornell University)


Dr. Getchell has been associated with the department since 1995 (previously he was an Extension Associate and Research Support Specialist in the Department of Avian and Aquatic Animal Medicine, (1990-1995). He served as a marine pathologist with the Maine Department of Marine Resources (1985-1990) after graduating with an M.S. from Oregon State University focusing on diseases of salmonids. He has obtained funding (FDA, USDA, NY Sea Grant, etc.) to study emerging diseases of fish, molecular diagnostic methods, and target animal safety studies.

Research Interests

Dr. Getchell has a broad background in fish health medicine, with specific training and expertise in conducting experimental trials with a variety of fish species.  He has focused on research in emerging pathogens of fish, including rhabdoviruses, which are the focus of the two most recent projects.  As PI or co-Investigator on several Sea Grant and USDA-NIFA funded grants, he has administered projects (e.g. staffing, sample collections, budget), collaborated with other researchers, and produced several peer-reviewed publications from each project. 

Collaborations. In 2016 he assisted Dr. Robert Ossibof, a wildlife pathologist at the AHDC, working on a joint project, taking advantage of our VMC Aquatics Facility, where we can conduct experiments with infectious agents and then super-chlorinate the effluent from their holding tanks.  We were working with the Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis), a species listed as a special concern by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation since in 1983 and a member of America’s largest aquatic salamander family.  We tested whether hellbenders could be successfully vaccinated with a killed preparation of the chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, prior to returning them to the wild for restoration purposes.

Dr. Getchell is also collaborating with Dr. Jim Casey and Dr. Donna Cassidy-Hanley on their USDA Hatch grant that is bringing an eDNA curriculum to New York schools.  Our interests in this project are to continue to bring down the costs of DNA extractions and assist with quantitative PCR assay development.  The project concentrates on invasive species detection.  The same technology also can be used to search for emerging fish pathogens, which explains a long-term interest in this extension/teaching effort.

Mentoring. Dr. Getchell informally mentors many students in the Aquatic Animal Health Program.  One of his former high school students has done well at the College of Charleston.  His most recent undergraduate student in the lab completed her senior thesis based on one of our VHSV virulence comparison experiments.  He is mentoring several of the recent AQUAVET® alumni, including Timi Wu (class of 2017), who has assisted him in developing a digital fish pathology collection.  

Diagnostic Investigations. Our laboratory operates the Fish Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, a service laboratory providing disease diagnostic assistance to the aquaculture community, research community and fish hobbyist in New York State. We also assist the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in investigations of fish kills in wild fish populations in the state. Many times these diagnostic investigations lead to more in-depth research investigations in fish health issues. Our diagnostic efforts have led to a major effort to understand the implications of the emergence of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus Genotype IVb (VHSV IVb) in a variety of fish in the Great Lakes Basin.  This effort has been undertaken in collaboration with the Laboratory of Dr. James Casey as well as a number of collaborators including the USDA APHIS,  the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center, Seattle, WA, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Natural Resources in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell.

Related Links


Selected References

Burge C. A., Friedman CS, R. G. Getchell, M. House M, K.D. Lafferty, et al.  2016.  Complementary approaches to diagnosing marine diseases: a union of the modern and the classic. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 371: 20150207. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0207

Susan B. Fogelson, B.D. Petty, S. R. Reichley, C. Ware, P. R. Bowser, M. J. Crim, R. G.
, K. L. Sams, H. Marquis, and M. J. Griffin.  2016.  Histologic and molecular characterization of Edwardsiella piscicida infection in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides).  Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigations.  28(3):338-344.

Breyer, K.E.,  R. G. Getchell, E. R. Cornwell, G. A. Wooster, H.G, Ketola and P.R. Bowser. 2015.  Efficacy of an extract from garlic, Allium sativum, against infection with the furunculosis bacterium, Aeromonas salmonicida, in rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society.  46(3):274-283.

R.G. Getchell, T. Erkinharju, A.O. Johnson, B.W. Davis, E.E. Hatch, E.R. Cornwell, P.R. Bowser.  2015.  Goldfish Carassius auratus susceptibility to viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) genotype IVb depends on route of exposure.  Diseases of Aquatic Organisms.  115:25–36.

Cornwell, E.R., G. B, Anderson, D. Coleman, R.G. Getchell, G.H. Groocock, J.V. Warg, A.M. Cruz, J.W. Casey, M.B. Bain, P.R. Bowser.  2015.  Applying multi-scale occupancy models to infer host and site occupancy of an emerging viral fish pathogen in the Great Lakes.  Journal of Great Lakes Research.  41:520-529.

Imanse, S.M., E.R. Cornwell, R.G. Getchell, G. Kurath, and P.R. Bowser.  2014.  In vivo and in vitro phenotypic differences between Great Lakes VHSV genotype IVb isolates with sequence types vcG001 and vcG002.  Journal of Great Lakes Research.  40:879-885.