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Large Animal Core Suite

The Large Animal Models Core was established because in vitro cell culture systems or small animal models have not always translated well to solving human health problems. The core was designed to provide models of digestive disease that are more pathophysiologically similar to humans. The large animal core has made it possible to house and rear large animals, sedate and operate them, recover and maintain them post-operatively.


  1. Consultation with core veterinarians to assess feasibility, logistics and study design.
  2. Procurement, housing, and daily veterinary care of large animals
  3. Coordinate animal procedures (endoscopy), surgery, and imaging.


Anthony Blikslager, DVM, PhD, Core Director 

Dr. Blikslager has 25-years of clinical and research large animal experience focused on gastrointestinal surgery in a variety of large animal species. He has worked with CGIBD members to develop surgical models of digestive disease. In addition, he has experience as a former IACUC member and has worked extensively with all of the surgical and imaging equipment that is within the NC State Veterinary Hospital, where he maintains a clinical commitment to the Equine Surgery section focused on acute surgical digestive disease.

Liara Gonzalez, DVM, PhD, Co-director 

Dr. Gonzalez has 10 years of clinical and research experience with large animals, focused on the impact of injury on the stem cell niche. She has developed novel large animal models for study of GI disease, including porcine and equine enteroids and a porcine small intestinal transplant model with collaborators at Duke. Dr. Gonzalez maintains a clinical commitment to the NC State Veterinary Hospital, where she provides emergency services with a focus on acute surgical digestive disease. 

Tiffany Pridgen, MS. Core Manager

Ms. Pridgen received her MS from the University of Virginia, after which she managed an ophthalmology research laboratory at Duke University for 6-years. She acquired 7-years of large animal specific experience while managing the Gastrointestinal Physiology Lab at NC State. She has written IACUCs, coordinating all studies with the IACUC office, and coordinating UNC and Duke investigator logistics related to working and accessing a different campus (parking, ID access, medical forms related to rabies vaccination, etc.). 

Laura Edwards, BS. Core Technician

Laura Edwards has 17-years of laboratory animal research experience and is a Registered Laboratory Animal Technologist (RLAT). During the past 7 years, Ms. Edwards has worked in lab animal supervisory roles at Wake Forest University and NC State University. She was previously the Core Technician for the CGIBD Gnotobiotic Core at NC State,Ms. Edwards is an expert in handling pigs, which will be particularly helpful in upcoming trials that require frequent administration of medication and drawing of blood.


Anthony Blikslager, DVM, PhD

Liara Gonzalez, DVM, PhD

Tiffany Pridgen, MS
Core Manager