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Faculty receive awards for outstanding teaching, research, service

June 16, 2000

Dean Bennie I. Osburn was honored May 24-25 as a 2000 Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars inductee. Osburn was a special research fellow in ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins between 1968 and 1970.

With the publication of more than 260 scientific publications since his time at Hopkins, Osburn's work on veterinary pathology and immunology has earned him an international reputation and contributed to the disciplines of both veterinary and human pathology and medicine -- especially in the pathogenesis of viral diseases, comparative pathology in infection, and the immune response.

Osburn has led the school as dean since 1996.

Frederick A. Murphy, professor of virology and former dean of the school, has received an honorary doctorate from Canada's University of Guelph.

As dean from 1991-1996, Murphy guided reorganization of the school's departments and established centers of excellence within the school to encourage faculty collaboration based on species interests and specific disciplines.

Murphy came to Vet Med from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he served as director of the Center for Infectious Diseases. While at the CDC, Murphy played a role in the initial discovery of Ebola virus in 1976 and in the outbreak of Ebola disease in monkeys in Virginia and Texas in 1989-90. Over the years he also worked extensively on rabies, viral encephalitis and other diseases transmitted from animals to humans. Recently, Murphy has been involved in efforts of the National Academy of Sciences to make sure that former Russian biological warfare research institutes are permanently converted to peaceful purposes, such as vaccine research. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine, the medical science arm of the National Academy of Sciences, in 1999.

Richard A. LeCouteur, a professor in the Department of Surgical & Radiological Sciences, has received the Carl J. Norden Distinguished Teaching Award, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health. This honor recognizes continued, distinguished teaching performance and significant contributions to instruction within the professional Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, professional Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine, and graduate clinical programs at the School of Veterinary Medicine.

School officials cite LeCouteur's ability, dedication, and leadership as hallmarks of his commitment to veterinary medical education. Students and residents say they are inspired by his dynamic, engaging lectures and his ability to involve and challenge them, skillfully raising their understanding to new levels. He is frequently sought out as a mentor and graduate adviser.

LeCouteur, a specialist in animal neurology and neurosurgery, received an engraved plaque and a cash prize of $1,000 at the School's annual awards ceremony May 17. He is now eligible for the 2000 North American Teaching Award and the UC Davis Campus Distinguished Teacher Award.

Joseph G. Zinkl , professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology, has been selected for the 2000 School of Veterinary Medicine Faculty Teaching Award. Members of the faculty, staff and student body cite Zinkl as "a role model for young faculty" because of his enthusiasm, patience, and reliability as an instructor and colleague.

His teaching of comparative and clinical hematology has been shared in academic and clinical courses with veterinary students and others, including residents in the teaching hospital and students within the graduate group in comparative pathology, where he serves as an adviser.

Zinkl's expertise spans many areas of disease detection in wild and domestic animals, including the effects of pollution on wild species and neutrophil function of domestic animals. A UC Davis DVM and PhD graduate and a member of the faculty since 1976, he is a member of the Association of Wildlife Veterinarians and the American College of Veterinary Pathology. The honor, received during a faculty reception June 15, includes a cash award of $1,000 and an engraved plaque of recognition.

Faculty Researchers Honored

Alan R. Buckpitt, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences, has been presented with the 2000 Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence.

Buckpitt's research includes contributions to our knowledge of human health, particularly in the complex area of pulmonary toxicology. One colleague describes Buckpitt's contributions in the past 10 years as having contributed a "fundamentally new perspective" to our understanding of varying responses to therapeutic drugs or toxic compounds, depending on species, individual respiratory systems and different cell types within the lung.

A graduate of the College of William and Mary, Buckpitt earned his MS and PhD degrees from Indiana University. Before joining the School of Veterinary Medicine faculty in 1985, Buckpitt worked at UC Irvine, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

At the General UC Davis Faculty Meeting May 31, Hanspeter Witschi, MD, Division of Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine, received the 2000 UC Davis School of Medicine Faculty Research Award for his years of excellent research. Witschi holds dual appointments in the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Medicine; his work is conducted mainly at the Institute of Toxicology and Environmental Health on campus.

Witchi's research centers on cancer, particularly in the area of pulmonary toxicology. He has studied the effects of air pollution and tobacco smoke on the lungs; acute and long-term lung injury; carcinogenesis; and risk assessment. Recently published data by Witchi indicate that a diet regimen including both myo-inositol and dexamethasone may aid in the prevention of lung tumors in animals exposed to cigarette smoke.

A $15,000 fellowship associated with the award will support additional research in Dr. Witschi's laboratory.