Resident Training Program in Veterinary Clinical Pathology

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION AND GOALS: The clinical pathology residency is a 3-year program of advanced training in veterinary laboratory medicine designed to fulfill training requirements and eligiblity for board certification in Clinical Pathology by the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP). The program also provides academic training in comparative pathology applicable towards an advanced degree. The program can be individually tailored to accommodate and build upon the resident's experience, interests and career goals.

The key elements of the training program are:

Laboratory medicine and diagnostics

Analytic and diagnostic skills

  • Analytic and diagnostic skills
  • Interpretation of laboratory data
  • Principles and techniques of laboratory methods
  • Quality control, instrumentation, laboratory statistics and management
  • Pathophysiology and mechanisms of disease
Teaching skills and experience
  • Veterinary student instruction
  • Instruction of visitors and residents from other services
  • Continuing education
Research opportunities
  • Resident project, seminars, case reports, collaborative research
  • Opportunity to progress into a graduate training program

Training emphasis is in hematology, hematopathology, immunohematology, hemostasis, clinical chemistry, endocrinology, urinalysis, cytology, and surgical pathology. Many opportunities also exist for interaction and ancillary training in anatomic pathology, oncology, internal medicine, toxicology, wildlife, microbiology, parasitology, immunology, molecular biology, laboratory animals and primates, medical informatics, epidemiology and biostatistics.

Minimum qualifications for residency applicants are 1) graduation from an accredited school of veterinary medicine and 2) one year of internship or equivalent practice experience. Continuation to subsequent years is contingent on satisfactory performance. A certificate is earned upon successful completion of the residency. For further information e-mail Dr. Vernau


  • Clinical Pathology Laboratory, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital Residents are based primarily in the Clinical Pathology Laboratory at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital of the School of Veterinary Medicine. They provide direct diagnostic services and consultation to clinicians, technicians, residents and students under the supervision of 5 board-certified clinical pathologists. The resident is responsible for the evaluation and interpretation of cytologic and bone marrow specimens, blood smears, biochemical profiles, electrophoreses, and other laboratory results. Participation is expected at weekly laboratory management rounds, cytology rounds, and hospital or pathology rounds. Residents have access to all computerized information on the VMTH database and university libraries, and use computers for diagnostic reports, statistical analysis of laboratory data, quality control, method comparisons and analysis of research data. There are facilities for photomicroscopy and a large archive of microscope slides, kodachromes and case studies. The resident is encouraged to creatively investigate hospital cases and contribute to the publication of case material.   
  • IDEXX Veterinary Services, West Sacramento IDEXX operates a large veterinary diagnostic laboratory located about 15 minutes from the university that provides comprehensive laboratory and consultation services to private practitioners and researchers throughout northern California and surrounding areas. Residents spend at least two weeks per year at IDEXX under the supervision of seven board-certified clinical pathologists, where they experience a high-volume laboratory environment, evaluate and interpret cytologic and hematologic specimens, and provide telephone consultation to veterinary practitioners on interpretation of laboratory data.

Residents assist in laboratory instruction and small group discussions in hematology and clinical pathology courses for first and second year veterinary students. They also teach in the senior clerkship in clinical pathology, which includes rotations on the use of reference laboratories and in-house laboratories, data interpretation, urinalysis, blood smear evaluation, body fluid analysis, exfoliative cytology, bacteriology, parasitology, toxicology, and immunology. Opportunities for class lecturing also exist and are encouraged.

Residents must complete an original research project on some aspect of clinical pathology. They are encouraged to apply for competitive intramural grant funds. Research results are presented at House Officer Seminar Day and a manuscript is expected to be submitted for publication. There also are ample collaborative research opportunities available in both clinical and basic sciences; interest in an advanced degree is encouraged.


  • Dr. Mary Christopher, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVP, Professor, Chief of Service. Dr. Christopher graduated from Iowa State University (DVM) and did her PhD and postdoctoral training at the University of Minnesota. She has been at UC Davis since 1994, after 5 years on the faculty at the University of Florida. Dr. Christopher's research interests include red cells, diagnostic clinical pathology, wildlife clinical pathology, laboratory and pathology informatics, and veterinary medical education.
  • Dr. Bill Vernau, BVMS, DVSc, PhD, Diplomate ACVP, Assistant Professor. Dr. Vernau is a veterinary graduate of Murdoch University in Australia, and completed his DVSc in clinical pathology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. He received his Ph.D. at UC Davis. Dr. Vernau's research interests include the phenotypic characterization of hematopoietic neoplasia, diagnostic clinical pathology with an emphasis on veterinary hematology and cytology and the diagnostic assessment of cerebrospinal fluid.
  • Dr. Jeanne George, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVP, Associate Professor. Dr. George is a graduate of the veterinary college at Cornell and completed her clinical pathology graduate training at the University of Georgia. Since coming to UC Davis in 1985, Dr. George has worked as a research clinical pathologist in the primate center and feline retrovirology lab and in clinical pathology instruction. She has a special interest in microscopy, computers, and informatics, as well as blood gas/electrolytes and clinical chemistry.
  • Dr. Dori Borjesson, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVP, Associate Professor.
    Dr. Borjesson graduated from UC Davis where she completed her DVM, clinical pathology residency and PhD. She returned to UC Davis in October 2006 after nearly 5 years on the faculty at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Borjesson's research interests include tick-borne diseases (especially Anaplasma phagocytophilum), platelet and leukocyte biology, host cell-pathogen interactions and wildlife clinical pathology.
  • Dr. Sean Owens, DVM, Diplomate ACVP, Assistant Professor. Dr. Owens is a veterinary graduate of Colorado State University and following an internship in small animal medicine and surgery, completed a fellowship in small animal transfusion medicine at the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Animal Blood Bank. Dr. Owens completed his residency training in clinical pathology at UC Davis in 2004, and worked as a clinical pathologist with IDEXX Reference Laboratories, Inc., for 2 years prior to coming back to UC Davis. His research interest include red cell compatibility issues, blood banking and transfusion medicine.
  • Dr. Joseph Zinkl, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVP, Emeritus. Dr. Zinkl has been on the clinical pathology faculty since 1976. He received both his DVM and PhD at UC Davis. Previously, he worked as a clinical pathologist at NIEHS and for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Dr. Zinkl is now retired, but continues to participate in rounds.


Past residents in clinical pathology at UC Davis are employed in a variety of university, private, corporate, and government positions:

Dr. W. Ruehl, Antech Diagnostics, Regional Director (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. L. O'Rourke, Professor, University of Dublin (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. C. Mandell (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. R. DuFort, IDEXX Veterinary Services (Diplomate ACVIM)

Dr. R. Lobinger, Antech Diagnostics, Regional Director (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. D. Fisher, Director, Clinical Pathology, IDEXX Veterinary Services (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. L. Bertoy, Staff Clinical Pathologist, IDEXX Veterinary Services (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. D. Borjesson, Associate Professor, University of California, Davis (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. C. Hotz, Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor, Medical Informatics, UC Davis (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. T. Almy, Assistant Professor, University of Georgia (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. F. Quance-Fitch, Lt. Col., VC, USA, Chief of Pathology, Lackland AFB (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. K. Caruso, Clinical Pathologist, Rancho Santa Fe, CA (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. M. Fry, Assistant Professor, University of Tennessee (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. S. Owens, Assistant Professor, University of California, Davis (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. M. Tivapasi, Lecturer, University of Zimbabwe

Dr. H. Workman, NIH Postdoctoral Fellow in Comparative Medicine, University of Califorinia, Davis (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. T. Holmberg, Staff Clinical Pathologist, IDEXX Veterinary Services, New Jersey (Diplomate ACVP)

Dr. J. Johns, NIH Postdoctoral Fellow in Comparative Medicine, University of California, Davis (Diplomate ACVP)


  • The University of California is one of the largest and most renowned centers of higher education in the world. The Davis campus of the University of California lies adjacent to the city of Davis, 15 miles west of Sacramento and 70 miles northeast of San Francisco. It is the largest of the UC campuses, with an enrollment of approximately 30,000 students. UC Davis is recognized as one of the premier educational and research institutions in the nation, and includes professional schools of veterinary medicine, medicine, law, and management. The School of Veterinary Medicine, the primary health resource for California's animal populations, is regarded as one of the leading veterinary schools in the country. Training and research facilities associated with the school include the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, which provides primary and referral services to more than 32,000 patients each year; the California Regional Primate Research Center; the Center for Comparative Medicine; the California Animal Health and Food Safety System; the Institute of Toxicology and Environmental Health; the Comparative Cancer Center; the Wildlife Health Center; the Livestock Disease Research Laboratory; the Center for Companion Animal Health; the Center for Equine Health; and the Center for Vector-Borne Disease.   
  • The City of Davis has a approximately 65,000 residents, more than half of whom are students, faculty, or staff members of UC Davis. The community offers a wide variety of recreational, cultural and community activities, with 20 city parks, an active farmer's market and a public school system considered to be one of the finest in California. Residents of Davis are committed to planned, environmentally sound development and limited growth. Davis lies within close proximity to the northern California coast, Napa Valley, redwood forests, the Sierra Nevada, Cascade and coastal mountain ranges, Lake Tahoe and the San Francisco Bay area.