Staff and Contact

PLEASE be sure to download, fill out and include this form with your animals.

Download a Fish Submission Form
Download a Bivalve Submission Form

Contact us with any additional questions and to set up a date and time for sample submission.


Please call with any additional questions or concerns: Galit Sharon, DVM (401) 254-3299

The Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory (ADL) Team:

The Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory is directed by Galit Sharon, DVM. The ADL team focuses on grant funded research projects and disease diagnosis for local aquaculturists or researchers.

Throughout the academic year and summer time students at RWU in the ADL actively participate in grant funded and independent research projects along with assisting in disease diagnostic procedures. Many students start in the lab as freshman or sophomores, as either work study (paid) students or volunteers, and by their Junior or Senior year take on research projects which often become senior thesis or credit based research projects. 

Dr. Smolowitz graduated from Purdue University, School of Veterinary Medicine in 1981. She finished a residency in pathology at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, Boston, MA, in 1984 and a Bang Fellowship at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in 1987 where she studied hemocytic leukemia in soft shell clams. From 1987 to 1989, she was a guest researcher with Dr. John Stegeman (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) and studied pollutant effects resulting in P 450 enzyme induction in tissues of fish (especially salmon exposed to the Valdez oil spill). In 1988, she was hired by the Laboratory for Aquatic Animal Medicine and Pathology, University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary School, located at the MBL. She worked for several years as an aquatic pathologist and conducted research projects on diseases of aquatic animals. In 1999, she was hired by the MBL as the Laboratory Animal Veterinarian and as an associate researcher. From 2008 to 2009, she was the Director of Animal Health at the New England Aquarium. In 2009, she became the director of a new Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory (ADL) at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I.

In addition to teaching duties at RWU, Dr. Smolowitz has taught invertebrate anatomy and medicine for Aquavet  and Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and fish anatomy and physiology at Tufts for several years.

Her research has included understanding the pathogenesis and epidemiology of diseases of commercially important bivalves and various species of fish used in the laboratory. A major focus of research has been the identification and description of shell disease, especially Epizootic Shell Disease (ESD) that occurs in populations of American lobsters and the pathophysiology of infection of hard clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) by a protistian, QPX and, more recently, development of diagnostic test methods for bivalves and evaluation of pathogenic Vibrio spp. accumulation levels in oysters and clams.

CURRICULUM VITAE                            


Office Address:
Roxanna Smolowitz, DVM
Director, Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory
Visiting Assistant Professor
Dept. of Arts and Sciences, MNS 246
One Old Ferry Road
Bristol, RI 02809
Ph: 401-254-3299

            1975-76           B.A.                Indiana State University
            1977-81           D.V.M.            Purdue University
            1982-84                                  Resident in Pathology, Angell Memorial Animal Hospital,  Boston, MA
            1985-87                                 Bay Foundation Fellowship, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA
            1986-89           Laboratory Animal Veterinarian, MBL, Woods Hole, MA
            1988-95           Visiting Investigator, WHOI, Woods Hole, MA
            1989-95           Research Associate in Pathology, School of Vet. Med, UPenn
            1995-99           Senior Research Investigator in Pathology, School of Vet. Med., University of Pennsylvania
            1999- 2008      Laboratory Animal Veterinarian/Aquatic Veterinary
                                    Pathologist/Associate Scientist, Marine Biological Laboratory
             2008 - 2009    Director of Animal Health, New England Aquarium, Boston, MA
             2009 –            Visiting Assistant Professor and Director of the Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory,RWU, Bristol, RI
             2011 –            Visiting Scientist, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA
             2011-              Visiting Investigator, WHOI, Woods Hole, MA

Service on Committees and Institutional Boards:

  1. Member of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s committee on Aquatic Medicine (June, 2009 to present)
  2. Member of the RI State Biosecurity Committee (2009 to present)
  3. Member of the Coonamessett Farm Foundation (2009 to present)
  4. Member of RWU IACUC committee (2007 to present)

Major Teaching Responsibilities:
U. Penn. Course, Aquavet I
                 - Introduction to Aquatic Invertebrate Medicine and Pathology (32 contact hours)
U. Penn. Course, Aquavet II
                 - Comparative Pathology of Aquatic Invertebrates (8 contact hours)
Cummings School of Vetertinary Medicine Tufts University,
                 1st year veterinary students -Comparative anatomy of Fishes (2 contact  hours)
                 3rd year veterinary students -Invertebrate medicine (2 contact  hours)
                 Responsible for teaching 6/7 credit hours/semester including Principles of Aquatic Animal Husbandry and Introduction to Biology I and II.  

Selected Original Papers:

Smolowitz, R.M. and C.L. Reinisch. 1986.   Indirect peroxidase staining using monoclonal antibodies specific for Mya arenaria neoplastic cells.  J. Invert. Path. 48:139-145.

Smolowitz, R.M., D.L. Miosky and C.L. Reinisch.  1989.  Ontogeny of leukemic cells of the soft shell clam.  J. Invert. Path. 52:41-51.

Smolowitz, R., M.J. Moore and J.J. Stegeman.  1989.  Cellular distribution of cytochrome P-450E in winter flounder liver with degenerative and neoplastic disease.  Marine Environ. Res. 28: 441-446.

Moore, M.J., R. Smolowitz and J.J. Stegeman.  1989.  Cellular alterations preceding neoplasia in Pseudopleuronectes americanus from Boston Harbor, MA, USA.  Marine Environ. Res. 28: 425-429.

Leavitt, D.F., J. McDowell Capuzzo, R. Smolowitz, D.L. Miosky, B.A. Lancaster and C.L. Reinisch.  1990. Hematopoietic neoplasia in Mya arenaria:  Prevalence and indices of physiological condition.  Mar. Biol. 105: 313-321.

Smolowitz, R.M., M.E. Hahn and J.J. Stegeman.  1991.  Immunohistochemical localization of cytochrome P-450IA1 induced by 3,3'4,4'-tetrachlorobiphenyl and by 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzofuran in liver and extrahepatic tissues of the teleost Stenotomus chrysops (scup).  Drug Met. and  Disp. 19:113-123.

Smolowitz, R.M., R.A. Bullis, and D.A. Abt.  1992.  Pathological cuticular changes of winter impoundment shell disease preceding and during intermolt in the American lobster, Homarus americanus.  Biol. Bull. 183:99-112.

Smolowitz, R.M., R.A. Bullis, D.A. Abt, and L. Leibovitz. 1993.  Pathologic observations on the infection of Pagurus spp. by plerocercoids of Calliobothrium verticillatum (Rudolphi, 1819; Van Benden, 1850).  J. Invert. Path. 62:185-190.

Hahn, Mark E., Teresa M. Lamb, Mary E. Schultz, Roxanna M. Smolowitz and John J. Stegeman.  1993.  Cytochrome P4501A induction and inhibition by 3,3',4,4'-Tetrachlorobiphenyl and presence of the Ah receptor in PLHC-1 fish hepatoma cells.  Aquatic Tox. 26:185-208.

Wikfors, Gary H. and Roxanna M. Smolowitz.  1995.  Experimental and histological studies of four life-history stages of the Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, exposed to a cultured strain of the dinoflagellate, Prorocentrum minimum.  Biol. Bull.188:313-328.

Wiedmer, M., M.J. Fink, J.J. Stegeman, R. Smolowitz, G.D. Marty, D.E. Hinton.  1996.  Cytochrome P-450 induction and histopathology in preemergent pink salmon from oiled spawning sites in Prince William Sound.  Am. Fish. Soc. Symp. 18: 509-517.

Smolowitz, Roxanna and Sandra E. Shumway.  1997.  Possible cytotoxic effects of the dinoflagellate, Gyrodinium aureolum, on juvenile bivalve molluscs.  Aquaculture Inter. 5: 291-300.

Guiney, Patrick D, Roxanna M. Smolowitz, Richard E. Peterson and John J. Stegeman.  1997.  Correlation of 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) - induction of cytochrome P4501A1 in vascular endothelium with toxicity in early life stages of Lake Trout. Tox and Appl. Pharm. 143: 256-273.

Kleinschuster, S. J., R. Smolowitz and J. Parent.  1998.  In Vitro life cycle and propogation of quahog parasite unknown.  J. Shellfish. Res. 17: 75-78.

Smolowitz, R., D. Leavitt and F Perkins.  1998.  Observations of a Protistan disease similar to QPX in Mercenaria mercenaria (hard clams) fro the coast of Massachusetts.  J. Invert. Pathol. 71: 9-25.

P.A. Mass,S. J. Kleinschuster, M. Dykstra, R. Smolowitz and J. Parent.  1999.  Molecular characterization of QPX (Quahog parasite Unknown), a pathogen of Mercenaria mercenaria.  J. Shellfish Res. 18: 561-567.

S. T. Tettelback, C. Smith, R. Smolowitz, K. Tetrault and S. Dumais.  1999.  Evidence for fall spawning of northern bay scallops Argopecten irradians irradians (Lamarck 1819) in New York.  J. Shellfish Res. 18: 47-58.

C. Brother, E. Marks and R. Smolowitz.  2000.  Conditions affecting growth and zoosporulation of protistan parasite QPX in culture.  Bio. Bull. 199: 200-201.                                                                                        

Noga, E.J., R. Smolowitz and L.H. Khoo.  2000.  Pathology of shell disease in the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, (Decapoda: Portunidae).  J. of Fish Diseases 23: 389-399.

Astrofsky, K.M., M.D. Schrenzel, R.A. Bullis, R.M. Smolowitz, J.G. Fox.  2000.  Clinical Diagnosis and Management of Atypical Mycobacterium spp. Infections in Established Laboratory Zebrafish (Brachydanio rerio) Comp. Med  50: 666-672.

Smolowitz, R., J. Hanley, H. Richmond.  2002.  A three-year retrospective study of abdominal tumors in zebrafish maintained in an aquatic laboratory animal facility.  Bio. Bull. 203: 265-266.

Sunila, I., NA Stokes, R. Smolowitz, RC Karney, EM Burreson.  2002.  Haplosporidium costale (seaside organism), a parasite of the eastern oyster, is present in Long Island Sound.  J Shellfish Res 21: 113-118.

Anderson, R.S., B.S. Kraus, S. McGladdery and R. Smolowitz.  2003. QPX, a pathogen of quahogs (hard clams), employs mucoid secretions to resist host antimicrobial agents.   J. Shellfish Res. 22: 205-208.

Chistoserdov, A., R. Smolowitz, F. Mirasol, and A. Hsu.  2005. Culture-Dependent Characterization of the Microbial Community Associated with Epizootic Shell Disease Lesions in American Lobster, Homarus americanus.  J. Shellfish Res. 24: 741-748.

Smolowitz, R., A. Chistoserdov and A. Hsu.  2005.  A Pathological description of epizootic shell disease in the American lobster, Homarus americanus, H. Milne Edwards 1837.  Submitted to J. Shellfish Res. 24: 749-756.

Lyons , M.M., Roxanna Smolowitz, Kevin R. Uhlinger, Rebecca J. Gast, J. Evan Ward.  2005.  Lethal marine snow:  Pathogen of bivalve mollusc concealed in marine aggregates. Limnol. Oceanogr. 50: 1983-1988.

Lyons MM, Smolowitz R, Dungan C, Roberts SB.  2006. Development of a real-time quantitative PCR assay for the hard clam pathogen, Quahog Parasite Unknown (QPX).  Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 72:45-52.

Gast, R.J., E. Cushman, D.M. Moran, K.R. Uhlinger, D. Leavitt and R. Smolowitz.  2006.  DGGE-based detection method for Quahog Parasite Unknown (QPX) from environmental samples and clam tissues.  Journal of Shellfish Research.  Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 70: 115-122.

Gauger, E., R. Smolowitz, K. Uhlinger, J. Casey, M. Gomez-Chiarri.  2006. Vibrio harveyi and other bacterial pathogens in cultured summer flounder, Paralichthys dentatus.  Aquaculture  260: 10-20.

Ford, S. and R. Smolowitz.  2007.  Infection dynamics of an oyster parasite in its newly expended range.  Mar. Biol. 151:119-133.

Gast, R, D. Moran, C. Audemard, M. Lyons, J.Defaveri, K. Reece, D. Leavitt, R. Smolowitz.  2008.    Environmental Distribution and Persistence of Quahog Parasite Unknown (QPX).  Dis. Aquat. Org.  81:219-229.

Tlusty, M., R. Smolowitz, H. Halvorson, S. DeVito.  2007.  Host Suscedptibility   Hypothesis for Shell Disease in American Lobsters.  J. Aq. An. Health 19: 215-225.

Calvo, LMR, SE Ford, JN Kraeuter, DF Leavitt, R. Smolowitz.  2007.  Influence of host genetic origin and geographic location on QPX disease in northern quahogs (= hard     clams), Mercenaria mercenaria.  J Shellfish Res 26: 109-119. 

Spitsbergen, J., V. Blazer, P. Bowser, K. Cheng, K. Cooper, T. Cooper, S. Frasca Jr., D.    Groman, C. Harper, J. Law, G. Marty, R. Smolowitz, J. St. Leger, D. Wolf, J. Wolf.     2008.  Finfish and aquatic invertebrate pathology resources for now and the future.              Comp. Biochem and Phys 149:  249-257.

Quinn, R.A., R. Smolowitz, A. Chistoserdov.  2009.  Eukaryotic communities in epizootic shell disease lesions of the American lobster (Homarus americanus  H. Milne Edwards).   J. Shellfish Res. 28: 1-4.

De Faveri, J., R. Smolowitz and S. Roberts.  2009.  Development and validation of a real-time quantitative PCR assay for the detection and quantification of Perkinsus marinus in the Eastern Oyster, Crassostrea virginica.  J. Shellfish Res. 28: 459-464.

Hégaret, H., R. Smolowitz, I. Sunila, S. Shumway, J. Alix, M. Dixon, G. Wikfors.  2010. Combined effects of a parasite, QPX, and the harmful-alga, Prorocentrum minimum on northern quahogs, Mercenaria mercenaria.  Marine Environ. Res. 69: 337-344.

Quinn, R.A., A. Metzler, R.M. Smolowitz, M. Tlusty, and A.Y.Chistoserdov. 2012. Exposures of Homarus americanus shell to three bacterial isolated from naturally occurring epizootic shell diseae lesions. J. Shellfish Res.  31: 485- 493.

Book Chapters:

Tlusty, M.F., Halvoarson, H.O., Smolowitz, R. and Sharma. U. (eds) 2005.  Lobster Shell Disease Workshop. Aquatic Forum Series 05-1.  New England Aquarium, Boston, MA

Smolowitz, R., Chistoserdov, A., and A. Hsu.  2005.  Epizootic shell disease in American lobster, Homarus americanus.   IN (Tlusty, M.F., Halvoarson, H.O., Smolowitz, R. and Sharma. U. , eds) Lobster Shell Disease Workshop. Aquatic Forum Series 05-1.  New England Aquarium, Boston, MA. Pages 1-11.

Smolowtiz, R.  2006.  Gastropods.   In (G. Lewbart Ed.) Invertebrate Medicine.  Blackwell Publishing, Ames, Iowa.  Pps: 65-78.

Berkins, I. and R. Smolowitz.   2006.  Handling of Pathological Samples from Invertebrates.  In (G. Lewbart, Ed.) Invertebrate Medicine.  Blackwell Publishing, Ames, Iowa.  Pps: 263-274.

Smolowtiz, R.  2012.  Gastropods.   In (G. Lewbart Ed.) Invertebrate Medicine, 2nd Edition.  Blackwell Publishing, Ames, Iowa.  Pps: 95-111.

Berkins, I., R. Smolowitz and G. Lewbart.   2012.  Diagnostic techniques and sample handling.  In (G. Lewbart, Ed.) Invertebrate Medicine, 2nd Edition.  Blackwell Publishing, Ames, Iowa.  Pps: 389-400.

Peters, E.C., R.M. Smolowitz and T.L. Reynolds.  2012.  Neoplasia.  In (G. Lewbart, Ed.) Invertebrate Medicine, 2nd Edition.  Blackwell Publishing, Ames, Iowa.  Pps: 431-439.