Gillian McLellan, BVMS, PhD, DECVO, DACVO

Associate Professor

I graduated from Glasgow University in Scotland in 1990 and worked in general veterinary practice for a few years before moving to London, where I completed a PhD and served as a lecturer in Ophthalmology. I crossed the Atlantic in 2000 to join the faculty at UC-Davis, then Iowa State University before moving North to Wisconsin where I currently hold a joint faculty position in both the School of Medicine and Public Health and School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A European Specialist in Veterinary Ophthalmology, I am a Past-President of the European College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ECVO), serve on the Editorial Board of the Journal Veterinary Ophthalmology, and have co-authored two textbooks: the BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Ophthalmology and Veterinary Ocular Pathology. My main research focus is comparative glaucoma but I treat the full spectrum of eye disorders in veterinary patients in my clinical practice at UW Veterinary Care. Outside of work, I enjoy live music, good food and spending time outdoors (wind-chill permitting) with my husband and very energetic twin boys. We share our family home with three laid-back cats and two hyperactive chinchillas.

Kazu Oikawa, DVM

Research Fellow – Comparative Biomedical Sciences Program

I earned my BVSc (equivalent to DVM) in 2012 from Azabu University in Japan. For three years in the veterinary school, I worked in the veterinary ophthalmology department to assist with ophthalmic examinations and surgical operations. After earning my Japanese national veterinary license, I moved on to Nippon Veterinary Life-science University where I completed a rotating internship at the veterinary teaching hospital and joined a clinical pathology lab where I conducted an investigation of somatic gene mutational status in feline diffuse iris melanoma. I joined Dr. Gillian McLellan’s lab in September 2014 as a PhD student. I am studying the pathophysiology of glaucomatous optic neuropathy utilizing next generation sequencing and biomolecular techniques. Back home in Japan, I have a shiba dog and four domestic tabby cats who I’ve grown up with.

Kevin Snyder, DVM,MS

Resident and Research Fellow – Comparative Biomedical Sciences Program

I graduated in 2016 with a DVM from UW-Madison then completed a one-year small animal clinical internship at Colorado State University before returning to UW-Madison for a 4-year Comparative Ophthalmology Residency.  I have trained in Dr. McLellan’s laboratory since 2013 on multiple projects including electrophysiology and tonometry.  Currently, we are working on leveraging a novel and dynamic aqueous humor outflow imaging technique coupled with immunolabeling and ultrastructural analyses of the outflow pathways to delineate the effects of LTBP2 mutation in cats and mice.  In addition, in collaboration with the Comparative Ocular Pathology Laboratory of Wisconsin, we are conducting a genome wide association study in Siberian Huskies to better characterize the genetics of this blinding disease in dogs.  Outside of research, I work at UW Veterinary Care as a veterinary ophthalmology resident seeing clinical patients.  When not at work, you will find me at home with my wife and baby girl or out running with one or more of our four Siberian Huskies (and one tiny Cairn Terrier).


Julie Kiland, MS


I’m a Researcher with over 20 years of experience in glaucoma research and have worked closely with Dr. McLellan in her studies of feline glaucoma since 2008. I earned my BA in Psychology at UW-Madison. After graduation, I joined Dr. Paul Kaufman’s lab studying the ocular diseases glaucoma and presbyopia. In 2003, I received my MS in Veterinary Science, while in the Kaufman lab. My graduate work focused on a possible association of intraocular pressure (IOP) lowering drops in decreasing flow through the conventional aqueous humor outflow pathway. In 2012 I obtained a Master’s certificate in project management from the UW School of Business and have been involved in the planning, conduct, and data analysis for a number of key studies including validation of rebound tonometry in monkeys and cats, as well as non-invasive in vivo electrophysiology, IOP, and in vivo imaging (fundus photography, fluorescein angiography, and OCT) studies. When not in the lab, I enjoy playing with my 2 standard poodles and 2 cats, biking, hiking, and playing bass in a couple of local rock/pop/alternative bands.

Kore Chan, BA, MS

Research Assistant, Comparative Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

I graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in 2016 and I am currently a veterinary medical student pursuing a DVM degree that I expect to complete in 2021. Having completed two years of veterinary study, I am excited to join Dr. McLellan’s lab for my Master’s research. When not posing for moody photographs or pursuing interests in photography, I focus my research efforts on understanding the  mechanisms of  toxicity of the anti-epileptic drug vigabatrin on the mouse retina.  Our findings could enhance the safety of this drug and limit vision problems encountered in patients who are prescribed vigabatrin for the treatment of severe epilepsy or infantile spasms.

Kara Vogel, PhD

Post-Doctoral Research Associate

I have a diverse educational background including a B.S. in Mathematical Sciences at the University of Michigan, M.S. in Biology/Biochemistry from Michigan Technological University, and Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences at Washington State. My prior research has focused on mechanisms of pathology associated with developmental or drug-induced aberrations of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. In human patients with heritable defects in GABA catabolism frequent manifestations include delayed gross and fine motor, mental, as well as speech and language development. These patients commonly develop seizures as well. I am interested in the precise mechanisms of how GABA exerts developmental impairments in the nervous system. This interest evolved into a project looking at GABA in neuronal development and studying synaptic remodeling. My continuing interests in research are to study synaptic plasticity and remodeling in the visual system. I had the excellent fortune to join Dr. McLellan’s research group in the Department of Visual Sciences on January 1st, 2019 as a T32 trainee in visual neuroscience and trainee member of the McPherson Eye Research Institute. I will work on identifying new molecular mechanisms related to the development of retinal ganglion cell degeneration in glaucoma, and to execute novel studies comparing specific cell types and the fine mechanisms of disease development as well as to identify new genetic elements of risk. In and out of the lab, I seek happiness every day, cherish life with my best friends Darius, Cyrus and Ezri, love my chickens, and have a boundless list of pleasures including planting, yoga, crossfit, and ultimate frisbee.

Odalys Torne Escude, DVM

Research Assistant, Comparative Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

I graduated in Veterinary Medicine (similar to DVM) in 2016 from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Early on my professional career, specifically during my last year externship at Texas A&M University, I developed an interest in comparative ophthalmology. Since my graduation I attended several international ophthalmology-related meetings like ECVO, ACVO and ARVO. In 2019 I completed a rotating internship in the biggest small animal hospital in Spain (Ars Veterinaria) during which I was involved in a project related to funduscopy teaching models and presented it at the ECVO conference in 2019. After that, I decided to pause my clinical training in favor of basic research to contribute to the scientific community and get a better understanding of this fascinating world of eye diseases. As a graduate student pursuing a PhD in the McLellan lab, I’m working on multiple projects related to glaucoma, including imaging the aqueous humor outflow pathway via immunolabelling and tissue clearing, applying advanced imaging techniques.   My dream is to pursue a vision research career as veterinary clinician – scientist. When I am not working I enjoy outdoor activities. Whenever I can I go out for a run with my dog Zoran, but I also enjoy playing volleyball, listening to music and eating at good restaurants (I love Mediterranean cuisine).

Current Undergraduate Students

  • Chloe Mitro
  • Ryan Lopez (Directed study mentee, 2019)
  • Virginia Mathu (research assistant, 2019-)
  • Hannah Walleck (Directed study mentee, 2019-)


McLellan Lab Undergraduate Student Alumni:

  1. Betsy Elsmo (Undergraduate Laboratory Assistant, 2008-2009; DVM 2013; DACVP Pathologist WVDL)
  2. Kola Xiong (Directed Study mentee 2009, pre-dentistry; DDS 2015)
  3. Jessica McDonald (Undergraduate Laboratory Assistant, 2008-2010; DVM 2014; DACVO Private Specialty Practice, Wisconsin)
  4. Anna Rabinovich (Directed study mentee 2009; pre-optometry, OD 2014)
  5. Galen Heyne (Undergraduate Laboratory Assistant 2008-2010; MS; UW-Madison DVM 2019)
  6. Jeremy Kemmerling (Directed study mentee 2009/2010, OD 2015 Western University of Health Sciences)
  7. Ashley Finch (Directed study mentee 2009/2010; OD 2015 Illinois College of Optometry)
  8. Laura Ramsey (Directed study mentee 2009/2010; Pacific University, OR; MS/PA 2017)
  9. Caitlyn Kuehn (Directed study mentee 2010/2011, pre-med)
  10. Elyse Kleifgen (Directed study mentee 2011; OD 2016 Michigan College of Optometry)
  11. Owen Bowie (Directed study mentee 2012- 2014; pre-med; MPH UW-Milwaukee; MD class of 2024, MCW)
  12. Vincent Yaccarino (Directed study mentee 2012; MD Medical College of Wisconsin 2019, surgery resident UW-Madison)
  13. Jessica Churchill (Directed study mentee 2012,  MD  Eastern Virginia Medical School, 2017 surgery resident Cleveland Clinic)
  14. Rachel Sossaman (Directed study 2013, Hilldale Scholar 2013-14, OD Southern College of Optometry)
  15. Andrea Voss (Directed study mentee 2013, DVM 2017, University of Florida)
  16. Sarah Adelman (external research mentor 2013, BS Iowa State University; UW-Madison DVM/MS 2018; current ACVO Resident, UC-Davis)
  17. Lauren Rutkowsky (Directed study mentee 2014/2015, 2016; MPH, Tufts University)
  18. Alex Shimony (Directed study mentee 2014-2015, pre-med; current Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis)
  19. Mary Mohr (Directed study mentee 2014-2016)
  20. Gopika Senthilkumar (Freshman URS, Research Advisor 2015-2016, current MD/PhD program Medical College of Wisconsin)
  21. Melanie Loppnow (Engineering Sophomore URS, Research Advisor 2014-2016, BS 2018, MEng Carnegie Mellon 2020)
  22. Adam Hoefs (Freshman URS, Research Advisor 2014-2015)
  23. Sarah El-Meanawy (Directed study mentee, 2016-2017, pre-med)
  24. Daniel Shinsako (Directed study mentee, 2015-2016; current University of Illinois, DVM class of 2021)
  25. Zachary Makal (Directed study mentee, 2015-2017, current Southern College of Optometry OD class of 2022)
  26. Suzanne Phalen (Directed study mentee, 2017, BS 2017, current Southern College of Optometry class of 2022)
  27. Sarah Neufcourt (URS, Posse Scholar, pre-vet; Research Advisor 2015 -2016, BS 2020)
  28. E.J. Temme (2016, BS Iowa State University, Animal Sciences program)
  29. Colton Wickland (URS, pharm-tox program, pre-law, Research Advisor 2016-2017, BS 2019)
  30. David Sun (Directed study mentee & Biochem Summer Scholar, 2017, BS 2019)
  31. Shawna Gloe (Directed study mentee, 2016-2017, pre-med, BS 2019)
  32. Brad Whalgren (Directed study mentee, 2016-2017, BS 2019, UW SVM class of 2023)
  33. Abby Rothering (Directed study mentee, 2018-2019, BS 2019, UW SVM class of 2024)
  34. Nickolas Chen (Directed study mentee, 2016-2017, BS 2019, pre-med)
  35. Kiley Brauer (Directed study mentee, 2018-2019, BS 2020, UW SVM class of 2024)
  36. Jacob Lindemann (Freshman URS, pre-med, Research Advisor 2016-2017, BS 2020, MD class of 2024, MCW)
  37. Brenna Wetherbee (Directed study mentee, 2018-2019, BS 2020, pre-vet)

Postdoctoral Training Opportunities

Several projects are available for postdoctoral trainees with a background in molecular cell biology, bioinformatics and / or neuroscience who seek to join our friendly and cohesive lab within UW-Madison’s renowned Glaucoma Research Group. Please see our Research page for examples of some of the projects currently ongoing in our lab.

Qualifications Required

  • PhD in an appropriate field (see above)
  • Strong references from previous and current mentors
  • Appropriate publications track record
  • Ability to work well in a team

Please contact Dr. McLellan by email and provide a copy of current biosketch / CV; a list of referrees,  and a letter of intent that clearly articulates your interests and career goals.

Student Research Opportunities

Several projects are available for students interested in pursuing careers in optometry, veterinary medicine, medicine or graduate studies. Projects in the lab provide the opportunity to develop skills related to vision and neuroscience, that involve a range of research experiences, from studies of protein expression in eye tissues to acquisition of clinical measurements in veterinary patients.  There are opportunities for independent research projects and hourly employment (students eligible for work study are encouraged to apply)

Qualifications Required

  • Students eligible for work-study are preferred. Students with GPA of 3.0 or above preferred.
  • Students interested in staying with lab for at least 1 year and able to commit at least 6 hours /week are preferred (due to extent of training required, we seldom recruit senior students to the lab).
  • Those competent in use of MS Excel preferred but training can be given in use of Excel and basic statistical software and image analysis software.

Please contact Dr. McLellan by email and provide a copy of current resume and information on your interests and career goals.

Research tasks to be performed by undergraduate and veterinary students in our lab provide an opportunity to gain a broad range of transferable lab skills including:

  • Immunofluorescent labeling, Western blotting, ELISAs, solution preparation, microscopy, and retina and optic nerve morphometry, virus isolation and basic cell culture

Students interested in careers in clinical veterinary medicine, medicine or optometry will have the opportunity to learn how to analyze data from retina and optic nerve scans; intraocular pressure and blood pressure measurement and to assist with electroretinography.

Students in our lab typically work on research projects for a minimum of 4-6 hours per week for credit, with the potential to be retained as paid laboratory research assistants in subsequent semesters.  Students conducting research projects are expected to present their work at research symposia on campus and are often listed as co-authors of published research papers when appropriate.

Veterinary Student Research Opportunitiessvm-nvss-2019_monica-kim

Veterinary Students have the opportunity to be involved in our research program as Summer Research Scholars, in a DVM/MS or DVM/PhD program, or through directed study opportunities in their senior year. Pictured here 2019 Summer Scholar, Monica Kim  (front row, second from left) had the opportunity to present her work at the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium in Worcester, MA.

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