Cynthia M. Otto

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Associate Professor of Critical Care, Department of Clinical Studies - Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
Research Director, Section of Critical Care, Department of Clinical Studies - Philadelphia , University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
Director Penn Vet Working Dog Center, School of Veterinary Medicine

Contact information
PennVet Working Dog Center
3401 Grays Ferry
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Office: (215) 898-3390
Fax: (215)-463-3870
Lab: (215) 898-2200
Graduate Group Affiliations
BS (Animal Science)
Ohio State University, 1984.
DVM (Veterinary Medicine)
The Ohio State University, 1986.
PhD (Veterinary Physiology)
University of Georgia, 1994.
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Description of Research Expertise

Current Research Interests are focused on the health, genetic and behavioral aspects of performance in detection dogs. I have been following the health and behavior of the search dogs following the 9/11 response. We have established the AKC CAR Detection Dog DNA Bank to study the genetics of complex behavior. We have a DOD funded field study of the effect of different hydration strategies on performance, hydration, and inflammation in detection dogs. Opening Sept 11, 2012, the Penn Vet Working Dog Center will integrate the science and field experience to breed, select, raise and train dogs to use their noses to detect things (e.g. explosives, drugs, people, and even cancer and infectious diseases). The Penn Vet Working Dog Center will be a resource for behavioral, nutrition, development and conditioning studies in dogs being trained for detection work. In addition, the interactions between dogs and humans will be studied, focusing on 3 major groups of volunteers/interns working with the program: homeless youth, veterans, and parolees from prison dog raising programs.

In addition, clinical research in emergency care of dogs and cats, sepsis and trauma continue to be of interest.


dog, performance, genetics, DNA bank, behavior, olfaction, development, hydration, working dogs, reproduction,

Previous Research Focus
-Regulation of nitric oxide synthesis.
-Intermittent hypoxia as an inflammatory stimulus.
-Acute lung injury

Previous Research Summary:

The effects of intermittent hypoxia on regulation of inflammatory mediators, acute lung injury and nitric oxide synthesis was the main interest of the laboratory, but the laboratory is no longer actively pursuing this direction.

Possible Lab Rotation Projects:

none currently available; however field research at the Working Dog Center is possible.

Description of Itmat Expertise

Dr. Otto is interested in naturally occurring diseases, (particularly sepsis and inflammation) and behaviors (learning, focus, olfaction) in dogs and how clinical investigations in this population can facilitate new therapies and new understanding of health and performance for humans and animals.

Selected Publications

Robinson, MA, Baumgardner, JE, Good, VP, Otto, CM: Physiological and hypoxic O-2 tensions rapidly regulate NO production by stimulated macrophages. American Journal Of Physiology-cell Physiology 294(4): C1079-C1087, APR 2008.

Otto, CM, Markstaller, K, Kajikawa, O, Karmrodt, J, Syring, RS, Pfeiffer, B, Good, VP, Frevert, CW, Baumgardner, JE: Spatial and temporal heterogeneity of ventilator-associated lung injury after surfactant depletion. Journal Of Applied Physiology 104(5): 1485-1494, MAY 2008.

Otto CM : Clinical Trials in Spontaneous Disease in Dogs: A New Paradigm for Investigations of Sepsis. J Vet Emerg Crit Care 17(4):359-367, 2007. 17(4): 359-367, Dec 2007.

Alwood, AJ, Downend, AB, Brooks, MB, Slensky, KA, Fox, JA, Simpson, SA, Waddell, LS, Baumgardner, JE, Otto, CM: Anticoagulant effects of low-molecular-weight heparins in healthy cats. Journal Of Veterinary Internal Medicine 21(3): 378-387, MAY-JUN 2007.

Syring, RS, Otto, CM, Spivack, RE, Markstaller, K, Baumgardner, JE: Maintenance of end-expiratory recruitment with increased respiratory rate after saline-lavage lung injury. Journal Of Applied Physiology 102(1): 331-339, JAN 2007.

Pfeiffer, Birgit. Syring, Rebecca S. Markstaller, Klaus. Otto, Cynthia M. Baumgardner, James E.: The implications of arterial Po2 oscillations for conventional arterial blood gas analysis. Anesthesia & Analgesia 102(6): 1758-64, Jun 2006.

Otto, CM, Downend, AB, Serpell, JA, Ziemer, LS, Saunders, HM: Medical and behavioral surveillance of dogs deployed to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon from October 2001 to June 2002. Journal Of The American Veterinary Medical Association 225(6): 861-867, SEP 15 2004.

Slensky, KA, Drobatz, KJ, Downend, AB, Otto, CM: Deployment morbidity among search-and-rescue dogs used after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Journal Of The American Veterinary Medical Association 225(6): 868-873, SEP 15 2004.

Baumgardner, JE, Otto, CM: In vitro intermittent hypoxia: challenges for creating hypoxia in cell culture. Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 136(2-3): 131-139, JUL 16 2003.

Baumgardner, JE, Markstaller, K, Pfeiffer, B, Doebrich, M, Otto, CM: Effects of respiratory rate, plateau pressure, and positive end-expiratory pressure on Pa-o2 oscillations after saline lavage. American Journal Of Respiratory And Critical Care Medicine 166(12): 1556-1562, DEC 15 2002.

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Last updated: 08/06/2018
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