Meet our researchers: Dr. Yoko Ambrosini

Yoko Ambrosini in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital lobby.

Dr. Yoko Ambrosini joined the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine this past January as an assistant professor in Veterinary Clinical Sciences and a member of the small animal internal medicine team at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

After she received a veterinary degree in Japan, she went to the University of California Davis for a master’s degree in preventative veterinary medicine and a doctorate in comparative pathology. She completed rotating and medicine internships at private hospitals in California, then a small animal internal medicine residency at Tufts University, and her postdoctoral training at Iowa State University and the University of Texas at Austin. She is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in small animal internal medicine. She moved to the Palouse with her husband, four children, and cat.

She recently discussed her research and other thoughts.

What are your current research interests and what attracted you to that area? 

My research focuses on animals that develop diseases that are similar to those humans develop. So, all the findings from my research could be applied to both people and animals, meaning I could have an impact in both human and veterinary medicine.

My current research involves using adult stem cells from donors and generating long-lasting cell culture lines called organoids. I culture those cells in a unique platform called organ-on-a-chip that allows a more physiologic culture environment to perform detailed molecular investigations. I’m attracted to this multi-disciplinary work because I could potentially answer what happens in our bodies or our pets’ bodies at the molecular levels and find new treatments for diseases that we and they suffer from. 

Specifically, I would like to find out why people or animals develop immune-mediated diseases and identify effective treatments for them. I’m currently interested in diseases in the gut and the effect of microbiome on the disease development and treatment.

Why did you choose to come to WSU? 

This was a place that would enable me to grow as a veterinarian and open the path for me to becoming a specialist in internal medicine. I wanted to come back “home” and contribute to someone like me. WSU was also the only veterinary school that was willing to take a chance with someone like me who has a unique interest in both clinics and basic research.   

As a professor and veterinarian, you regularly interact with students. What do you enjoy most about those opportunities? 

I love working with students and witnessing their aha moments. It’s also great and rewarding to see that I was able to contribute to that moment of growth. It is an honor to be part of the growth of the next generation of veterinarians, scientists, and leaders. 

I hope I can encourage students to stay curious, always question the status quo, and to remember nothing will be handed to them – you have to go grab it. 

What are you most proud of in your career to this point, and what do you want to be remembered for when you have retired? 

I’m most proud of getting a National Institutes of Health IH award to do my research. It’s a prestigious grant and I was very happy and excited when I got funded. I’m also proud of being one of the first Japan-trained veterinarians to become a board-certified internist.

When I look back at my career after I retire, it would be great if someone someday reads my research articles and gets impressed by them and applies it to something bigger.

I also hope my children remember me as their goofy mom!