Faculty & Staff bios

Tom Phillips, DVM, PhD

Professor, Virology & Immunology, Microbiology

College of Veterinary Medicine

E-Mail: tphillips@westernu.edu

Phone: 469-5551


1. University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Missouri; 1973-1978. Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

2. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin; 1983- 1985. Masters of Science Degree, Immunology

3. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin; 1985- 1989. Doctor of Philosophy Degree, Virology

4. The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California; 1989-1990. Post-Doctoral Fellowship

Dr. Phillips received his DVM degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia and practiced small animal practice for five years. After his practice experience, he returned to school and received a MS degree in immunology and Ph.D. in virology both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Phillips went to The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), La Jolla CA, for postdoctoral training in Molecular Virology. Following his postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Phillips remained at TSRI for an additional 8 years, as a Principle Investigator.

Professional Experience

Upon leaving TSRI and just prior to coming to Western University of Health Sciences, Dr Phillips co-founded the Vaccine Research Institute of San Diego (VRISD), serving as Chairman of the Board and Vice President for 4 years. Dr. Phillips supports his laboratory by successfully competing for 6 NIH grants.

1978 - 1982 Veterinary Practitioner, Madison Veterinary Clinic, Madison, Wisconsin.

1983 - 1989 Graduate Research Assistant, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.

1989 - 1990 Research Associate, Department of Molecular Biology, The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), La Jolla, California.

1991 - 2000 Assistant Member, Department of Neuropharmacology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California.

2000 - 2003 Chairman of the Board, Vice President, and Member, Vaccine Research Institute of San Diego (VRISD)

Sandoz Forschungsinstitut, Vienna, Austria, 1993

San Diego Zoological Society, 1992-1997.

Schering-Plough, 1999 - 2000

Immune Complex Corporation, 1999 - 2003

Teaching Experience

2000 - 2006 Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, University of Californiaâ “San Diego, La Jolla, California.

2003 - Present Professor of Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Western University of Health Sciences

2004 - 2005 Assistant Dean of Bio Medical Research, College of Veterinary Medicine, Western University of Health Sciences

2004 - 2005 Associate Dean of Preclinical Programs (Interim), College of Veterinary Medicine, Western University of Health Sciences

2005 - Present Associate Dean of Research, College of Veterinary Medicine, Western University of Health Sciences


“I touch the future--I teach” (Christa McAuliffe)

The most effective learning occurs when the learning is student centered and occurs in a contextual environment (occurs in a similar context to where the information will eventually be used). Effective teaching requires an instructor who truly cares about his students and will use all methods necessary to create an environment that is conducive to learning. It is essential to create a non-threaten environment where the student feels free to risk an answer. The student needs to know that the instructor respects the student and will only correct the student in an amiable/non-threatening manner. To be effective, an instructor needs to engender trust and respect, by being honest, fair, dependable, and at time empathetic toward the students. To keep the students interested and motivated, the instructor needs to be innovative, fresh, excited about the material, well organized, fully prepared, fully engaged, and be willing and able to interject fun into the learning process.

Research Interest

His research interests primarily revolves around two areas of study, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus as a model for AIDS and molecularly modifying Hepatitis B core protein for development of new human and veterinary subunit vaccines. From his research efforts, Dr. Phillips has approximately 50 scientific publications.

•Viral mRNA processing, Rev/RRE regulation
•Lentivirus Astrocyte Interactions
•FIV effects on the CNS
•Effects of Drugs of Abuse on Disease Progression
•Neurotoxicity/Oxidative Stress/Apoptosis
•Stem cells
•Vaccine Development


American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Veterinary Medical Association

Boys & Girls Club of Pomona Valley - Board Member

California Veterinary Medical Association

Phi Zeta Veterinary Honor Society 1977

Phi Zeta Veterinary Honor Society Western University Chapter, Vice President 2006 -2008, President 2008-present


Dr. Tom Phillips was raised in Green Bay Wisconsin, and as a result is an avid Packer fan. His outside interests include AKC dog obedience trials, woodworking, fine dining, travel, cinema, reading, creative writing, and getting together with family and friends. He lives with his wife (Maria Pia, native born and raised Italian, also a faculty member at the CVM) in Upland, Ca. He has 3 sons, Nick (24 years old) and Nathan (18years old), and Stefano (17 years old).

Although Dr. Phillips has had a very interesting and productive research career, he greatly missed teaching and giving back to the veterinary community. Coming to Western University, has allowed Dr. Phillips to fulfill a life-long ambition: To touch the future of veterinary medicine through teaching.