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Sonja Fonfara

Associate Professor   |   DVM, Dr med vet, PhD, Docent, PGCertHE, CertVC, Diplomate ECVIM (Cardiology)


I am board certified in companion animal cardiology from the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. After graduating from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover in 1995, I obtained a doctoral thesis in Veterinary Pathology at the University of Giessen. This was followed by several years in a first opinion practice, where I found my love for cardiology. To develop my research skills, I took the opportunity of a postdoctoral research project in marine mammal immunology at the GKSS Research Centre and University of Kiel. 
Missing clinical work and wanting to pursue my cardiology interest, I moved to the UK in 2006 to undertake an internship and subsequently a residency in veterinary cardiology at the Small Animal Teaching Hospital at the University of Liverpool. I since have worked as lecturer and senior lecturer at the Universities in Liverpool and Bristol, obtained a PhD and was granted a docent in Small Animal Cardiology at the University of Helsinki. In February 2016, I joined the team at the University of Guelph. 

Research Interests

My research intererst is in cardiac remodelling associated with ageing and in cardiac disease. My team at the OVC in Guelph consists of:

  • Dr. Shari Raheb, my colleague and Clinical Studies faculty member, 
  • Dr. Ananda Pires and Dr. Andrew Chong, DVSc students,
  • Jessica Joshua, PhD student.

We have a close collaboration with Prof. Jeff Caswell from the Department of Pathobiology of the OVC, and with Prof. Anja Kipar and Dr. Josep Monne Rodriguez from the Institute of Veterinary Pathology of the University of Zurich. We have further collaborations with Prof. Maria Wiberg from the University of Helsinki and Dr. Domingo Casamian Sorrsal from the University in Valencia. 

Our research is supported by NSERC and OVC Pet Trust, our ongoing research projects include:

  • MicroRNA profiles as determinants of clinical and pathological outcomes in feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (supported by NSERC and OVC Pet Trust)

  • Why do some cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy develop atrial thrombi? (supported by OVC Pet Trust)

  • Does age influence cardiac structure and function in cats? (supported by OVC Pet Trust)

  • Novel circulating markers for feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (supported by OVC Pet Trust)

  • Canine and feline cardiomyopathies: an out-of-hand cardiac remodelling scenario? (project of Dr. Monne Rodriguez, University of Zurich)  


MSc and PhD opportunities are available in our lab.  






Current Graduate Students




Selected Publications

Fonfara, S., Kitz, S., Monteith, G., Hahn, S., Kipar, A. (2021). Myocardial transcription of inflammatory and remodeling markers in cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and systemic diseases associated with an inflammatory phenotype. Res Vet Sci 136: 484-494

Casamián-Sorrosal, D., Barrera-Chacón, R., Fonfara, S., Belinchón-Lorenzo, S., Gómez-Gordo, L., Galapero-Arroyo, J., Fernández-Cotrina, J., Cristobal-Verdejo, J.I., Javier Duque, F. (2021). Association of myocardial parasitic load with cardiac biomarkers and other selected variables in ten dogs with advanced Canine Leishmaniasis. Vet Rec doi: 10.1002/vetr.198

Gasperini, S., Fonfara, S., Kitz, S., Hetzel, U., Kipar, A. (2020). Canine dilated cardiomyopathy: diffuse remodeling, focal lesions and the involvement of macrophages and new vessel formation. Vet Pathol, 57(3): 397-408-575

Kitz, S., Fonfara, S., Hahn, S., Hetzel, U., Kipar, A. (2019). Feline Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: The consequence of cardiomyocyte-initiated and macrophage-driven remodeling processes? Vet Pathol, 56(4): 565-575.

Malbon A.J., Fonfara, S., Meli, M.L., Hahn, S., Egberink, H., Kipar A. (2019). Feline Infectious Peritonitis as a systemic inflammatory disease: Contribution of Liver and Heart to the pathogenesis. Viruses 11, 1144; doi:10.3390/v11121144.

Fonfara, S., Kitz, S., Hetzel, U., Kipar A. (2017). Myocardial leptin transcription in feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Res in Vet Sci 112: 105-108.

Fonfara, S., Hetzel, U., Hahn, S., Kipar A. (2015). Age- and gender-dependent myocardial transcription patterns of cytokines and extracellular matrix remodelling enzymes in cats with non-cardiac diseases. Experimental Gerontology 72, 117-123. 

Colpitts, M.E., Fonfara, S., Monteith, G., Pires, A.R., Wong, A., Raheb, S., O’Sullivan, M.L. (2021). Characteristics and outcomes of cats with and without pacemaker placement for high-grade atrioventricular block. JVC 34: 37-47.

Morgan, KRS., Monteith, G., Raheb, S., Colpitts, M., Fonfara S. (2020). Echocardiographic parameters for the assessment of congestive heart failure in dogs with myxomatous mitral valve disease and moderate to severe mitral regurgitation. Vet J 263: doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2020.105518.

Lam, C., Casamian-Sorrosal, D., Monteith, G., Fonfara, S. (2019). Heart-fatty acid binding protein in dogs with degenerative valvular disease and dilated cardiomyopathy. Vet J, 244: 16-22.

Search PubMed for additional publications by Dr. Fonfara.