Dr. Francesca Samarani Joins OVC’s Department of Clinical Studies


March 10, 2022

Dr. Francesca Samarani, veterinary neurologist, recently joined the Ontario Veterinary College’s (OVC) Department of Clinical Studies, at the University of Guelph, as an Assistant Professor.  

Samarani’s main research interests include feline neurology, tumours of the central nervous system and neurosurgery. She is especially interested in studying potential alternative pain medications in the prevention and reduction of postoperative pain following neurosurgeries.  

“I was most attracted to OVC by the opportunity to work in an environment with high quality care standards and a strong research program.” says Samarani. “Also, a priority at OVC is providing the most comfortable in-hospital experience for our patients – which I believe is essential in veterinary medicine.” 

During her residency at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Samarani investigated the expression of the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) enzyme in feline meningiomas, a tumour that originates from the membranes around the brain and spinal cord. COX2 normally plays a role in inflammation and Samarani’s findings suggest that all feline meningiomas express COX2 regardless of the severity of the tumor. Interestingly, COX2 expression was found to be significantly more pronounced if necrosis, or death of body tissues, was present in or near the tumour. This suggests that selective COX2 inhibitors may have the potential for use in therapeutic treatments to reduce brain inflammation caused by these tumours and prevent tissue death. 

Samarani completed her DVM degree at the University of Milan (Italy) in 2012. She went on to a six-month externship in neurology and neurosurgery at a private small animal practice in Rome, before moving to Paris to start a six-month externship in small animal surgery, followed by a one-year rotation internship at the Centre Hospitalier Veterinaire Fregis. Samarani then moved to the United Kingdom to begin an internship in Neurology at the Animal Health Trust, followed by a three-year residency in neurology and neurosurgery at the Veterinary teaching hospital of the Autonomous University of Barcelona in 2015. In 2019, Samarani came to the University of Guelph to work as an assistant professor in neurology and neurosurgery until July 2021, and she is now returning to this position. This past year, Samarani was designated a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Neurology. 

Previously, Samarani enjoyed her role as course instructor in veterinary neurology at OVC, where she taught second-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) students how to localize a possible neurological lesion in canine and feline patients. She has also helped to teach final year OVC DVM students during their clinical rotation in neurology, as well as OVC Neurology residents and interns during their clinical activity. 

Samarani adopted a sweet rottweiler named Pol during her residency in Barcelona. After adopting him, she learned that he was epileptic. Pol has since been treated accordingly and hasn’t had a seizure for a couple of years; Samarani thinks that he was especially lucky to be rescued by a neurologist. 

The OVC community welcomes Dr. Francesca Samarani and extends our congratulations on her new role in the Department of Clinical Studies. 

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