Photo: Vet Med Distinctions

School of Veterinary Medicine Distinctions

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has shaped the field of veterinary medicine, from developing dynamic education programs to uncovering solutions for emerging diseases of animals and humans to sharing knowledge with communities worldwide. The school trains tomorrow's small and large animal veterinarians as it develops leaders in veterinary medical practice, higher education, public health, research, disease control, food safety, environmental protection and biotechnology. Established in 1946 and opened in 1948, the top-ranked institution has been led by Michael D. Lairmore since 2011.


  • QS World University Rankings honored the school as #1 in the world four consecutive years--2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
  • U.S. News & World Report ranked the SVM #1 among North America's 30 veterinary schools.
  • The School of Veterinary Medicine is the only school in the University of California system authorized to confer the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, or DVM.
  • The faculty have educated 5,917 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree graduates, more than 1,300 veterinary residents, and 1,013 Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine degree candidates.
  • Faculty and highly trained staff treat more than 50,000 patients each year as they teach essential clinical skills to veterinary students at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, the home base of the nation's largest veterinary residency program.
  • School researchers developed health measurement tools that helped set the nation's first air quality standards in the 1970s and continue to provide data for the Environmental Protection Agency's ongoing refinement of those standards.
    In addition to animal health research, faculty are heavily engaged in human health investigations. Much of the school's $74 million research budget concerns human health investigations into lung disease, influenza, HIV/AIDS, malaria, West Nile virus, Lyme disease, autism, and other disorders.
  • The International Laboratory of Molecular Biology for Tropical Disease developed a genetically engineered vaccine for rinderpest and an inexpensive diagnostic kit designed to be stable under field conditions. In Africa and other regions dependent on cattle for meat, milk products and work, rinderpest has caused famine and economic damage-an estimated $500 million in one outbreak of the 1980s.
  • The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, established in the 1950s as a blood-typing laboratory to verify parentage for cattle registries, has pioneered DNA-based identification techniques to provide pedigree validation, forensic services, diagnostic tests and genetic disease research in large animals, pets and wildlife species.
  • School of Veterinary Medicine researchers first described simian and feline immunodeficiency viruses in monkeys and cats, which became the earliest animal models for AIDS research.
  • Food animal veterinarians developed testing services and the J-5 vaccine, which prevents mastitis infections in dairy cattle, saving producers more than $11 million every year.
  • The school offered the world's first Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine degree program, addressing population health, public health and food safety aspects of veterinary practice; graduates now serve in leadership positions in animal health services, food safety and public health programs in 75 countries.
  • Wildlife veterinarians, in cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Game, administer the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, an international model for rescue and rehabilitation of oiled sea birds and other small marine species; research emphasizes the best achievable care for injured animals.
  • School centers provide indispensable health services, research and education in California and beyond:

    • California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System-Davis, Turlock, Tulare, and San Bernardino
    • Veterinary Medicine Extension-Davis and Tulare
    • Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center-Tulare
    • Western Institute for Food Safety and Security-Davis
    • Center for Food Animal Health-Davis
    • Dairy Food Safety Laboratory-Davis and Tulare
  • School of Veterinary Medicine pathologists first characterized the bluetongue virus, a disease that causes serious illness in sheep and impacts international cattle trade. School scientists first developed bluetongue testing and vaccine strategies for livestock. Related discoveries have influenced global trade policies, important today as the ecology of the disease changes and challenges the agricultural industry.
  • Professor emeritus Murray E. Fowler started the world's first zoological medicine program at the School of Veterinary Medicine; the Sacramento Zoo honored his pioneering achievements and the school's ongoing partnership with the zoo in 2006 by naming its veterinary hospital in his honor.
  • A new species called Bartonella chomelii is named in honor of Bruno B. Chomel, who isolated Bartonella bovis, a bacterial agent of cat scratch fever, from domestic cattle; he has identified new vectors for the pathogen, which can cause serious disease in immunocompromised people.
  • Veterinary researchers first documented the link between a lack of dietary taurine, an amino acid, and feline dilated cardiomyopathy, a fatal heart ailment. Pet food companies now add this essential ingredient to commercial pet food, saving countless lives.
  • A gene mutation responsible for a devastating heart disease in cats-also a leading cause of sudden death in young athletes-was identified by a research team that included veterinary heart specialists at the School of Veterinary Medicine; this was the first report of a spontaneous genetic mutation causing any type of heart disease in a cat or dog.
  • California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System toxicologists discovered that melamine and cyanuric acid, found in samples of pet food recalled in 2007, can be lethal to cats when combined; the study is helping veterinarians better diagnose the causes of kidney failure in cats.
  • A specialty team led by Susan M. Stover documented the presence of previously existing stress fractures in racehorses that suffer catastrophic injuries; this group has also described the role of "toe grab" racing shoes in racehorse injury, leading to a ban of the shoes in California.
  • Hospital faculty and staff developed the Anderson sling to support recovering horses and conduct airlift rescue of large animals.
  • Large animal clinicians developed the first disaster preparedness plans to include animals and animal rescue protocols-the team has deployed volunteers and other support during Northern California floods in 1997, Hurricane Floyd, Hurricane Katrina and the wildfires of 2006 in Yolo County, CA.
  • UC Davis veterinarians were the first to identify Neospora caninum, develop diagnostic tests and conduct research for the first vaccine. The parasite, the most common cause of abortions in cattle, costs cattle producers up to $35 million per year in lost animals and reduced milk production.
  • Food animal researchers collaborated with Stanford University to develop a modified live, genetically altered Salmonella dublin vaccine for calves, one of the only such vaccines available.
  • School of Veterinary Medicine parasitologists first revealed the role of cat feces in the transmission of Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that causes a fatal brain disease in California's endangered sea otters.

Notable Alumni

  • Werner Heuschele '52, DVM '56, managed the San Diego Zoo veterinary hospital and directed the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species, now the largest zoo-based multidisciplinary research team in the world.
  • Tsegaye Habtemariam, MPVM '77, Ph.D '79, has served as dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health at Tuskegee University since 2006.
  • Roger Newton, Ph.D. '80, who completed his doctorate in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, co-invented the cholesterol-reducing drug Lipitor.
  • Frederick Murphy, Ph.D. '64, professor emeritus and former dean, directed the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He played a key role in the discovery of the deadly Ebola virus in 1976 and worked extensively on rabies, viral encephalitis and other diseases transmitted from animals to humans. Dr. Murphy was the sole veterinarian elected in 1999 to the Institute of Medicine.
  • Marguerite Pappaioanou, MPVM '76, Ph.D. '82, served as acting deputy director of science and policy for the Office of Global Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She developed a national HIV surveillance system and received the U.S. Public Health Service Commendation and Outstanding Service Medals and the Charles C. Shepard Science Award for her scientific paper, "Prevalence of HIV Infection in Childbearing Women in the United States."
  • Russell Burton, DVM '56, Ph.D. '70, a scientist at the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, made outstanding contributions to aviation and space physiology on combating the effects of extreme gravitational forces on pilots. He co-holds a patent for a pressure attachment for valves on anti-G suits and received the 1998 Scientific Achievement Award from NATO.
  • Elizabeth Arnold Stone, DVM '76, has served as dean of the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
  • Richard E. Breitmeyer, DVM '80, MPVM '90, served as the State Veterinarian of California from 1993 to 2010. He oversaw agricultural, veterinary and food safety programs; quarantines; eradication of exotic Newcastle disease in poultry in 2003; animal health emergency response planning; and other cooperative efforts among academics, public health agencies and agricultural producers.
  • Peter N. Quesenberry, DVM '78, MPVM '91, has worked for 30 years throughout Asia with the Christian Veterinary Mission and served as the regional Asia director for World Concern. He is a recipient of UC Davis' Emil M. Mrak International Award.
  • Michael J. McCloskey, residency '81, played a major role as a resident to integrate individual animal medicine, reproduction and epidemiological concepts into patient treatment services. His dynamic career includes sophisticated dairy practice and scientific application of a procedure to maintain milk quality while reducing shipping costs. Dr. McCloskey established several progressive milk and cheese businesses, notably the Fair Oaks Dairy Adventure in Indiana, a dairy, amusement park and consumer education center.
  • Bill Kortum, DVM '53, an environmental activist, helped establish Salt Point State Park on Northern California's coast, maintain public access at Sonoma County beaches, and prevent construction of a nuclear power plant in Bodega Bay. A bluffside trail at Sonoma State Beach is named in his honor.

Impacts of Philanthropy

  • More than 1,000 students have benefitted from scholarships established through a $12.6 million gift from the estate of the late Theodora Peigh. Peigh scholarships are presented to Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and graduate students each year in several areas, including outstanding academic achievement, dual degree programs, and off-campus clinical work, as well as need and merit.
  • A transformational $10.7 million gift from the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation supported renovation and construction of the school's instructional, research and office space, including alterations to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, an expansion of the Center for Companion Animal Health, and the creation of the Veterinary Medicine Instructional Facility for a growing body of veterinary students.
  • The Koret Foundation has provided more than $2.45 million to the Center for Companion Animal Health, expanding the center's shelter animal medicine program, supporting critical research, and creating the Koret Foundation Center for Veterinary Genetics and the veterinary student exchange program with the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.
  • More than $674,000 from Mars, Incorporated helped to establish the WALTHAM UC Veterinary Medical Center - San Diego Clinical Nutrition Program, a partnership with UC Davis. The program provides nutrition treatment for ill or obese pets and is bringing advanced nutrition for the maintenance of health and function to the care of all companion animals.
  • Alumnus Dr. Michael R. Floyd, DVM '61, has donated more than $1.52 million to renovate the Pritchard Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital, create the Michael R. Floyd Dental Operatory Suite, and construct Gladys Valley Hall. As co-chair of the Gladys Valley Hall alumni committee, Dr. Floyd was instrumental in raising nearly $3 million in philanthropic support for the new educational facility.
  • Ms. Carolyn Crosby Lundgren has given more than $3.95 million to establish and sustain the "Angel's Fund," which provides financial support to low-income clients at the Pritchard Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital. Ms. Lundgren's generosity also created Angel's Courtyard at the Center for Companion Animal Health. The courtyard offers a peaceful outdoor waiting area and memorial garden for both humans and companion animals. Its Forever Friends Wall reflects the important roles animals play in our lives and how much they mean to us.
  • Feline leukemia vaccine and canine dialysis were developed at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine with the support of private individuals.